Earlier this month, Yeti unveiled its new 27.5 mountain bike, the SB5c, which is built around a suspension system unlike any you've ever seen.
It's called Switch Infinity, and it's the next generation of the company's much-heralded Switch suspension technology.
The original Switch linkage featured an eccentric pivot that reverses direction partway through the bike’s travel. The system provided excellent pedaling platform and small-bump compliance while still offering a plush, linear feel in the deepest portion of the travel. That Switch Link debuted on a six-inch 26er, and a year later was carried over to a five-inch 29er. We tested the aluminum SB66 and the carbon SB95 extensively—and loved each one.
Then a strange thing happened. Last year, Yeti migrated the Switch Link to a new 27.5 platform, the SB75, and while it rode fine, the bike lacked the magic of its counterparts. It received decent, but not glowing, reviews from our testers (and throughout the industry), though oddly Yeti didn’t seem terribly concerned.
In hindsight, they must have known the SB5c, with its Switch Infinity suspension, was on the way. This carbon-only 27.5 machine has five inches of rear travel and is built around a 5.5-inch (140mm) fork. Yeti is billing it as an aggressive trail bike and will sell only two premium builds ($6,600 and $10,600) to start.
At first glance, the SB5c seems to have a secondary shock system tucked above the bottom bracket, but that’s actually the core of the new Switch Infinity suspension design. The system uses the reversing eccentric pivot of the original, but it connects the pivot to a forged aluminum body that slides up and down on two gold, Kashima-coated tubes. The idea was developed in conjunction with Fox, which manufactures the tubes exclusively for Yeti.
Switch Infinity is supposedly lighter and requires less maintenance than the original Switch Link. Yeti also says that the end result of the design is “unprecedented pedaling efficiency and small bump sensitivity when climbing paired with plush, controlled travel when descending.”
That sounds like the same thing Yeti wrote when they launched the Switch Link, which makes us skeptical. Is this actually better or just marketing speak? But as the SB66 and SB95 rode very well, we’ll reserve judgment until we’ve tried the SB5c.
According to Yeti, the SB5c won’t replace the SB75, though it’s difficult to see how the older model will stick around very long if this bike is both lighter and rides better. Given the Infinity in the design’s name (which the company says reflects the ease with which the design can be adopted to bikes of any travel length), we have to wonder about the future of the current SB line. Indeed, over the weekend, Jared Graves dominated round five of the 2014 Enduro World Series on an as-yet-unreleased SB6c.
That makes two bikes we’re anxious to throw a leg over.
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