In October myself, Peter and Sean were invited to demo ride the 2017 Yeti Offering in Hood River. The weather called for the worst storm the North West had seen in years so steady away we picked our way up to Hood River in the shop Sprinter van.
After a full nights rest and a hearty breakfast we were the first dealer on the scene and found both inside and outside Yeti vans on station with some of the demo bikes hung up literally brand new and never been ridden!
For the first lap on the hill Sean picked the SB5, while Peter and I took the brand new from the ground up for 2017 SB5+.
We met at the Syncline trail head to ride on the Washington Side of Hood River. We climbed a steady incline of around 650ft in two miles called the Jeep Trail. It’s a steady climb with gorgeous views of the Columbia River as you increase in elevation. I ride a plus bike half of the time at the shop, so the big tires weren’t out of my element as I tried to wake my legs up and test the 5+ on the climb. It seemed to do OK and up we went.
The stoke was high as we got ready to drop in. Now coming riding in Southern Oregon the conditions were not what we are used to. After dropping into Little Maui you’ve got fun narrow single track and just as you’re gaining speed you’re faced with a rock garden with a three foot incline. Basically a slippy, rocky, unmade staircase, which I failed to clean any of the four times we rode it. From there the trail carved its way down the hillside with some fast, off the brakes sections followed by some rocky sections. Some tight, unsupported corners and some that inspired you to lean on them and carry speed. There was also a wide, off camber rock face that we rode down, which had me super concerned the first lap even on wide, sticky plus tires. We made it to the bottom, below is the evidence to prove it, and pedaled the old highway back to base to swap out and take a new bike for lap 2.
For lap 2 I decided to take an SB5, to contrast relatively skinny tires back to back with the plus tires. Sean, to do the same contrast test, took the SB5+ for the second lap. Peter was talking sizing and decided to take the SB5+ again but in a large this time, he’d ridden the medium on the previous lap. As we climbed I had a feeling that the SB5 was climbing better than it’s over sized tire’d counterpart. It could have been simply that my legs and body were warm, I had the expectation of the climb set in my head, or the coffee had kicked in.
For lap 3 I took Peter’s advice and tried a larger frame size. At 6’ tall I would usually ride a large frame, I set up and took out the XL SB5.5, what a great decision! After talking to the Yeti Demo Truck driver about the Switch Infinity Link I climbed the 5.5 without using any of the shock lock out, or pedal platform. I was very impressed with how well it climbed with everything wide open. Now, when we got to the drop in this is where this bike clearly comes into its own. I was so excited to get the 5.5 pointed down hill it appears that I missed the trail head picture for the this lap. I therefore have no idea what Peter and Sean were riding this lap, but back to the action! The 5.5 dropped in and the first thing you notice about this bike is it’s just fast. When you get off the brakes the bike accelerates regardless of anything it may encounter in its path. The second thing, after tackling some obstacles and coming away unscathed, was the overwhelming feeling of being unstoppable on this bike. We’d ridden the same trail on bike after bike and while the trail is becoming more familiar throughout the day I’m becoming more fatigued. This run down the trail felt the fastest of the day, but with ease. It made the rider feel there was nothing this bike couldn’t handle! What a weapon.
Now we’d arrived at the bottom it was SB6 time. I was feeling pretty weary after giving the SB5.5 a thorough test on the last lap, however at that point the local Yeti Dealer, Hood River Cycles, offered a shuttle a little further up the hill and we jumped at the opportunity.
Sean went with the group, being a faster rider and Peter, being a Shop Ranger, didn’t leave me behind. So Peter and picked our way down the hill from a higher starting point. When you let the SB6 go and point it down the trail it feels fast! It picks up speed quickly and gobbles up obstacles. The difference between it and it’s larger wheeled, shorter traveled cousin from the last ride was it just didn’t feel as lively. Now I’ve ridden big bikes and while they seem to ride fast and take on all the trail has to slow you down, they feel they need to be ridden with a point down the hill and let the bike do the work attitude. The SB6 felt by no means as dead as a long travel DH bike would, but as it was the last bike of the day and everything else had been so responsive, it did feel a little more that way. I enjoyed the last run of the day on the “big” bike, it was completely different from what I’m used to riding and different from everything I’d ridden that day, but it was great to have that comparison and knowledge that riding them all back to back had given me.
At the end of the day we sat with the other dealers, the Yeti staff and each other for much needed food and beer. The chatter around the different tables had the stoke level high. The discussion in the Unreal Camp before the trip had us all feeling that the long travel 29er would be the bike for us. After riding them all this was absolutely the answer. For climbing or descending, technical or flat out, there wasn’t a situation we felt that over all the SB5.5 was not the bike for the job.
So there you have it. If you’re looking for the go everywhere and do anything you throw at it bike the Yeti SB5.5c is the bike you’re looking for.
The Yeti demo truck is potentially coming through the Rogue Valley in November. If you’re interested in trying some of these models out head to our polls page and help us nail down the format for the day. Click Here. If you’re interested in talking spec, price and sizing beforehand stop in the shop, we’ve got SB5 and SB5.5 available to touch and feel, with the SB5.5 Large available for demo any time.
Get out and ride!