Update from Moab October 2016: I tested the 4.5 against the 5.5 and 5+ at this Outerbike and for combined agility and roll-over at intermediate speeds this is my preferred ride. However, the 5+ is VERY tempting 🙂
I rode the new 2016 SB4.5c during the fall 2015 Outerbike demo event near Moab. I headed out to the all too bouncy Rockn’ A Trail, a slick rock trail gone bad with choppy gnar that really tests suspension. This trail almost requires a kidney belt but you won’t need one with the 4.5c. I was stunned by the silky smooth ride from the newly designed frame with the Switch Infinity rear suspension and the redesigned 2016 Fox 34 Factory fork with 140 mm of travel. I really enjoyed diving into those V shaped grooves in slick rock that seem like they will throw you over the handlebars but the suspension lifts the bike out of the slot with little effort and I never felt off balance.
I was so excited by the ride that I forgot to photo the bike so I stole this image off Yeti’s site.
Frame geometry: I’m showing the specs for a large frame and the Fox 34 140 mm fork but you can also use a 130 mm fork. I really like the new internal cable routing!
Frame material: Carbon.
Rear travel: 114 mm / 4.5″ – too little normally but I didn’t notice a problem. Maybe the Switch Infinity requires less shock. It rides like a bigger travel bike.
Wheel size: 29″.
Head tube angle: 67.4 degrees – right on the mark for a trail bike.
Bottom bracket height: 334 mm / 13.2″ – dead on trail bike height.
Wheel base length: 1180 mm / 46.5″ – typical stable trail bike length.
Weight: 27 pounds.
Component package: My bike was setup with the Scram 1-11 gearing, XT everything else, a KS dropper post which is nice but not my favorite Thompson Elite Dropper, and the exciting new 2016 Fox 34 Factory 140 mm fork. Yes, there are other components but they make little difference to intermediates.
Safety, Stability, and Control: I intentionally hit almost vertical walls up to 18″ high and dropped off 2 – 3 feet ledges. The bike climbs like a mountain goat when I was clipped in and remained stable and controllable with everything I tried. I never felt like it was trying to put me over the handlebars and it didn’t. This trail does not have long climbs or descents through gnarly rocks but offers some serious challenges to intermediates with V notches, choppy tread, and short but steep climbs and descents that are sometimes technical. The sporty SB4.5c rode perfect through it all.
Comfort for longer rides: If a bike is comfortable on the 1.5 mile Rockn’ A Trail it will be comfortable for a lot longer rides. This bike could drop Porky or Downieville and leave the rider feeling almost refreshed.
Design: The beautiful organic design just flows in a fine coherent style. Yetis always get positive attention on the trail and a rider would be proud to own this bike. It is a premium bike so something like riding a Lexus.
Conclusion: Can you safely ride at a higher skill level with this bike? Yes. This is one of the top trail bikes in production for 2016. It is sporty and playful like an XC bike but handles the gnar like an all mountain bike. It is on my shortlist for a next bike.