The Yeti SB4.5 XT/SLX is a quick-witted and slender trail bike with swift climbing abilities. This bike grinds uphill very effectively with light gearing and comfortable positioning. It ascends exactly like a 114mm 29er should. On the way back down, the SB4.5 has a heavy preference for flowy trails or those with isolated hits. Pumping through berms and crushing buff trails are a strong suit. When you get into rough and rocky terrain, the Yeti vocalizes its displeasure very loudly, with audible clunking and a harsh feel. Testers agree this ultra-efficient bike belongs on day-long adventures where riders don't intend to pin it down bony trails. The SB4.5 is the most expensive bike in the test at $4,799 but does come equipped with a fantastic drivetrain, dropper post, and solid brakes.
We recommend this bike for a rider hell-bent on maximum efficiency and climbing abilities. Riders who want a short travel bike that is more comfortable and fun on a wider range of terrain should check out the nimble and sporty Ibis Ripley LS. While the Ripley can't match the outright climbing abilities of the Yeti, it is far more fun on a much wider range of terrain. Riders who want a balanced trail bike that has no qualms about getting rad in the rocks should check out the mean and aggressive Santa Cruz Hightower. Where the Ripley prefer a precision based downhill approach, the Hightower charges through rough terrain.