Yeti SB5 Beti XT/SLX 2018 Review
Cons: A couple questionable specifcations, slack seat tube angle
Manufacturer: Yeti Cycles
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The SB5 Beti returns for 2019, although the XT/SLX build we tested does not. The base model is now the GX Eagle build and the price has gone up slightly to $4,999. There are some component tweaks, like a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, a Fox 36 fork, beefy 2.6" Maxxis tires, and SRAM Guide R brakes. The frame, geometry, and the rest of the build remain the same and we don't expect serious performance differences. April 2019.
The Beti SB5 is an aggressive little ninja who stands up to to a wide range of terrain. With the combination of a dialed frame design and lighter-tuned suspension, it chews through chop and bony terrain with ease. Yeti's Switch Infinity suspension design allows for a unique articulation of the rear triangle, which plays a key role in how well this bike handles on rough trails.
The Yeti Beti SB5 is a dependable soldier that operates well in many situations. There is no hesitation or falter until pushed beyond its comfort zone. When you decide to open it up on flow trails, the Beti is a smooth operator. Small bump compliance is excellent and the bike doesn't shutter when the speedometer is cranked to 11.
The Yeti Beti SB5 dances through bigger rock gardens reasonably well for a 127mm bike. The combination of a 66.5-degree head tube angle, 437mm chainstay length, and 1142mm wheelbase, this bike can handle some poor line choices. That said, it does heave us feeling a little short-changed on bigger landings and knuckled landings. While small bump feel is predictable and buttery smooth, big impacts make this bike shutter. Where the Juliana Joplin reacts well deep in its travel, the Beti is a little more disturbed.
Cornering proficiencies of the Yeti are impressive at any speed. Low-speed cornering is intuitive. At mid to mach speeds, this bike remains composed and in control. The Maxxis Ardent 2.4/2.25 tires leave a lot to be desired. While they hook up well-enough on rock and true hardpack, they tend to wash out in loose to loose over hard conditions. Some Maxxis Minions would do wonders for this bicycle.
The downhill positioning had one of our testers scratching their head at first. The other tester found the downhill positioning to be exceptional and confidence-inducing. We concluded that the slightly longer 419mm seat tube length and a short, 100mm, dropper post don't play well. When dropping the seat, we found the saddle to still be in the way when trying to get into the low attack position. Due to the geometry quirks of the bike, we had to raise the entire seat post for the correct height for seated climbing. However, on the descent, the 100mm dropper inhibited the rider from getting far enough back without hitting the saddle on the inner thighs. The Beti SB5 would surely benefit from a longer dropper post.
The climbing abilities of the Yeti Beti SB5 exceed our expectations by a long shot. The comfortable, mid-range, 66.5-degree head tube angle results in solid uphill handling while the slack-ish 73.7-degree seat tube angle is decisively fine. The Beti's pedaling platform is reasonably efficient while still being active enough to maintain traction.
Efficiency levels on the Yeti Beti SB5 both seated and standing are great. The bike has a light, mountain goat, feel as it meanders up trails and steeper terrain as long as the trail surface wasn't too loose. We seldom feel the need to get into a standing position and crank up-hill, even on the steepest sections. In loose or sandy scenarios, we attribute our struggles to the tread of the tire. Although respectable on the downhill, the Maxxis Ardents don't provide uphill bite on loose terrain.
The Yeti Beti SB5 motors up moderate-gradient, tighter switchbacks with reasonable energy output from our testers. Climbing is not as enjoyable as going downhill. The geometry in the rear made it slink around the turns without much in the way of line choice. In very steep scenarios with uber steep corners, the Yeti pushes the rider out of the saddle and this is where the true test of leg strength comes into play. Once again, an Eagle drivetrain may prove valuable here if you can stay in the saddle a bit longer. Regardless, out of the saddle, you can put more power down with the 46-tooth ring when your out of the saddle.
Technical and steeper climbs are not troublesome for our small frame Beti. The Yeti Beti SB5 Shimano XT/SLX comes with a Shimano SLX 11-46T cassette, Race Face Affect 30T 170mm crankset. Surprisingly, this bike climbs like a champion even without the 50 tooth 'bail out gear' of an SRAM 1x12 drivetrain. No matter what, one must climb and this is a bike that is suitable for just that. Comfortable enough for the long, mellow, 20+ mile ride of ups and downs and stout enough for a hot lap after work.
The Beti SB5 is built around the Switch Infinity suspension design. This system uses a main link above the bottom bracket. This is where the Switch unit is located. This unit slides up and down as the bike moves in its travel. Another pivot is located about halfway up the seat tube. This suspension design provides excellent small bump compliance and traction.
Our small test bike has a 578mm top tube and 402mm reach measurement. The chainstays are 437mm long and the wheelbase comes out to 1142mm. The head tube angle is 66.5-degrees and the seat tube is 73.7-degrees. Our small bike weighs 28 lbs 4 oz set up tubeless without pedals.
We tested the entry-level, $4799, Beti SB5 XT/SLX this was the least expensive build kit. If you have some extra cash stashed under your mattress, you have options to bump up to a nicer build. Since the XT/SLX build isn't offered in 2019, the GX build listed below is their least expensive option that is superior in many ways.
The GX Eagle build carries a $4999 price tag and offers a wide-range SRAM 12-speed drivetrain. In addition, this bike runs SRAM Guide R brakes instead of the Shimano SLX binders on our test bike, and comes with a Fox 36 fork as opposed the Fox 34 we tested. We feel that jumping up to a 12-speed drivetrain is well-worth the additional $200 up front.
If you are looking to ball out a little bit, the $6399 TURQ XT build is very nice. This bike runs Fox factory suspension, carbon bars, Shimano XT cranks and upgraded wheels. In addition, this bike uses Yeti's TURQ carbon fiber which is slightly lighter than the stock regular carbon fiber.
While Yeti has a reputation among the mountain biking community as being a high-end princess, the Beti is reasonably priced for the amount of stability and shredder machine you get. Maybe a few components are lacking, but this bike delivers on the trail.
Many of the upgrades suggested in this section have been taken care of since Yeti doesn't offer the XT/SLX version we tested. The GX build is superior to version we tested.
This bike could use a 12-speed Eagle drivetrain. While this bike crawls uphill effectively with the stock 46-tooth climbing gear, who wouldn't want a 50-tooth bail-out-gear. You can upgrade to a GX Eagle drivetrain for $300-$350.
The Maxxis Ardent tires have to go. You could slap some Maxxis Minions on the Beti SB5 for about $65 each. That is relatively small dollars for the gigantic performance gain you will receive.
Another relatively straightforward upgrade is running a 125mm or 150mm dropper post. As we discussed in the section about downhill performance, the 100mm dropper post can be problematic as it can be difficult to balance proper pedaling height with a low enough seat height in downhill mode.
The Beti SB5 Shimano XT/SLX is a stellar bike that blends impressive downhill performance with rock-solid climbing abilities. This bike offers excellent small bump compliance but the deep stroke support can't match the Juliana Joplin. Climbing is smooth and impressive despite only having a 46-tooth climbing gear. The geometry keeps the rider in a relaxed position while charging uphill and maneuvers with laser-point accuracy on a playful downhill.
— Tasha Thomas, Lani Raspen