So background first. For those don’t really know me, I’ve been riding for the past 5 years, and I’m geared more towards technical and DH stuff rather than gravel road rides. I’ve done some races in the past, including the BCBike Race, and the recent TransNZ Enduro, and have ridden XC, AM and DH in other countries before as well.
I’ve ridden the Nomad for almost 10 months and was familiar with how it rides. This bike build was not very heavy, but I could feel the weight when I pedal on flats and up slopes. Going down, however, the Nomad ate up the trails, felt super steady and stable, and with a low-ish feel to it, carving corners were a blast. I’ve also ridden the Pivot Mach 6 and 5.7 before that, and am quite familiar with how the DW links feel. Given the chance to try the YetiSB5C, I thought it’ll be interesting to try the bike since I’ve not read anything about the SB5C, other that it’s got some raving reviews.
When I first got the bike, we managed to build it up using the parts from my previous bike, the Nomad, so the parts were purely identical, and the review would focus more on the SB5C, than on the bike parts. The only exception was the shock, as my Rockshox Vivid from the Nomad would not fit the SB5C, so I used the Fox Float that came with the bike.
I did the first ride on the wet trails of Bukit Timah, and it immediately it felt very different from my Nomad. In the car park area, playing around with the bike, it’s easier to manual than the Nomad, but not as overtly-easy as the Mach 6. It reminds me much of the Mach 5.7 I had previously, rather that the Mach 6, but with bigger wheels.
Starting the ride, for those who have ridden BT before, you would know the first part is a rocky ascent. The SB5C went up the rocks easily with no tyre slipping. It was definitely easier than the Nomad, as can be seen and felt from less huffing and puffing at the top of the ascent.
Shortly after, we were at the downslope corner that is preceeded by two short rocky sections. Cornering was sharper than the Nomad, but it doesn’t carve as nice. On the Nomad, I always had to prep myself before I reach the corner so it carves around the corner. The cornering on the SB5C feels closer to the way the Mach 6 corners - fast, quick and agile.
Then next section were the drops after the tunnel. On the Mach 6, somehow, I tend to land rear first. On the Nomad, it’s very stable and lands smoother and better the faster I rode. On the SB5C, the drops and landing feels closer to the Nomad. It’s very well balanced, and the faster you go, the smoother the landing. In fact, it feels so smooth, that it boosts up confidence to do the drop faster and faster… hmm maybe good, maybe bad, depends who you asks.
Next, we came to the sharp S turn after the grasslands of Dairy Farm. The bike was really fun to ride here. Being a small rider, I’ve always had a hard time trying to throw the bike around the corners. However the SB5C was very maneuverable here for me as at each turn, I tried to flick the bike around the corner… and it worked!! Finally, a bike that I can easily flick.. small victory!
And finally, the short spurt of downhill after the turns. Here, the SB5C, being the lighter bike, unfortunately, gets kicked here and there more than the Nomad or the Mach 6. It still goes down fast, but I needed to pay more attention to keeping the bike right side up as the wheels go over the rocks and whats not. I was thinking it could be the suspension set-up, but in the end it just boils down to the fact that the Nomad and Mach 6 just had more travel. The SB5C actually descended as how I’d imagine it to descend as a trail bike, so comparing it to All Mountain Bikes would be unfair. :)
So, I’ve been using the bike for about 3 months now:
I’ve brought the bike down to Kiara in KL and it was the almost perfect bike for Kiara. The trails in Kiara were well known to be tight and twisty, and the climbs up to Twin Peaks, a lung busting experience. The SB5C took to all these easily. My only gripe was the rocky downhill part along Flinstones, where the bike’s lightness and shorter shock travel took a beating. The Nomad and Mach 6 normally would have just eaten the rocks up alive. Maybe the SB6C would be a better option in this part of the trail. Hmm….. (Ed. note : hmmm.... )
The SB5C also seems to be the perfect exploration bike. Being a light trail bike, I’ve took it on some “explorations” into some unknown trails, and it felt like the perfect tool to bring around. It’s easy to carry across unrideable sections and around fallen trees. It’s good at tight corners and saves energy at climbing. I can imagine that it’ll be a good bike to bring for long expedition rides that lasts for hours on end.
To summarise, the SB5C is a really good bike, both for beginners and veteran riders. It’s a fun bike to ride, with a very stable and balanced personality. It climbs well and descends very well in the trail bike category, although shy of the bigger and more carefree bikes mentioned above. I think anyone looking for a bike should give this a shot and see how much fun this bike brings.
Jonie and her partner Jason moved to a new home, just to be closer to the trails. That's how much they ride.