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. July 2019.
Should I Buy This Bike?
The Beti SB5 is a sporty mid-travel trail bike that performs well on both the climbs and the descents. This carbon fiber beauty has 127mm of rear-wheel travel and utilizes Yeti's unique Switch infinity suspension platform. Up front, they've equipped it with a 150mm travel fork and a 66.5-degree head tube angle that is ready to tackle anything on the descents. The Yeti's modern, but not too extreme, geometry plays a considerable role in its well-rounded on-trail performance, and this bike climbs and descends with the best of them. It has a refined feel with precise and direct handling, tackling technical climbs and descents with purpose and control. The Switch Infinity suspension platform provides ample support and helps make the SB5 an efficient climbing machine. This platform offers excellent small bump compliance and reliable mid-stroke support, though testers found that it didn't handle as well deep in the stroke on larger hits as some other competitors. That said, it took a lot to overwhelm the Beti, and we feel this is an excellent trail bike for everything from all-day excursions to after-work hot laps.
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 measured with 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.
- Available in carbon fiber only
- 27.5-inch wheels only
- Switch Infinity suspension platform
- 127mm of rear-wheel travel
- Designed around a 150mm travel fork
- Women's specific shock tunes
- Internal cable routing and integrated downtube protection
- Offered as frame and shock only for $3,400
- Available in 5 builds ranging from $4,999 to $8,999
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 chewed 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 operated well in many situations. There was no hesitation or falter until pushed beyond its comfort zone. When opened up on flow trails, the Beti was a smooth operator. Small bump compliance was excellent, and the bike didn't shutter when the speedometer was cranked to 11.
The Yeti Beti SB5 danced through bigger rock gardens reasonably well for a bike with only 127mm of rear-wheel travel. The combination of a 66.5-degree head tube angle, 437mm chainstay length, and 1142mm wheelbase, this bike handled some poor line choices. That said, it left us feeling a little short-changed on bigger drops and knuckled landings. While small bump feel was predictable and buttery smooth, big impacts made this bike shutter. Where the Juliana Joplin reacted well deep in its travel, the Beti was a little more disturbed.
Cornering proficiencies of the Yeti were impressive at any speed. Low-speed cornering was intuitive. At medium to high speeds, this bike remained composed and in control. The Maxxis Ardent 2.4/2.25 tires left a lot to be desired. While they hooked up well-enough on rock and true hardpack, they tended to wash out in loose to loose over hard conditions. We feel that some more aggressive tires 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 together. 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. We believe the Beti SB5 would surely benefit from a longer dropper post.
The climbing abilities of the Yeti Beti SB5 exceeded our expectations by a long shot. The comfortable, mid-range, 66.5-degree head tube angle resulted in solid uphill handling while the slack-ish 73.7-degree seat tube angle is decisively fine. The Beti's pedaling platform felt quite efficient while still being active enough to maintain traction.
Efficiency levels on the Yeti Beti SB5 both seated and standing were great. The bike had a light, mountain goat, feel as it meandered up trails and steeper terrain as long as the trail surface wasn't too loose. We seldom felt 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 in loose conditions.
The Yeti Beti SB5 motored up moderate-gradient, tighter switchbacks with reasonable energy output from our testers. The geometry in the rear made it slink around turns without much in the way of line choice. In very steep scenarios with uber steep corners, the Yeti pushed 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, you can put more power down with the 46-tooth ring when you're out of the saddle.
Technical and steeper climbs were not troublesome for our small frame Beti. The Yeti Beti SB5 Shimano XT/SLX came with a Shimano SLX 11-46T cassette and a Race Face Affect 30T 170mm crankset. Surprisingly, this bike climbed like a champion even without the 50 tooth 'bailout gear' of a 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.
We tested the entry-level, $4799, Beti SB5 XT/SLX. This was the least expensive build kit. The GX build listed below is their least expensive option that addresses the few complaints we had with the build we tested. There are a total of 5 builds offered, ranging in price from $4,999 up to the top of the line $8,999 XX1 TURQ.
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, and the 36mm stanchions on the fork should provide a stouter feel in the front end.
If you've got money burning a hole in your pocket, the $6399 TURQ XO1 build is very nice. This bike runs Fox Factory suspension, carbon bars, and a SRAM XO1 drivetrain. 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 super high-end brand, we feel the Beti is reasonably priced for the amount of performance this bike delivers. Yes, $4,999 is a lot to spend on a bike, but we feel that you get a quality component specification and the high-end performance you deserve for that price.
Many of the upgrades suggested in this section have been addressed since Yeti doesn't offer the XT/SLX version we tested. The GX build is superior to the 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 others we've tested. 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