When Peter asked me to do a review on my new bike the Yeti 5.5, I was like “yeah, of course!” But as I got more into thinking about it and deciding what to write, I realized it might be a bit tougher than I had originally thought. This is a pretty famous bike, tons of reviews online, showdown battles between other bikes, the list goes on. Then I realized that not everyone spends hours and hours reading about bikes, researching, and gaining knowledge about every new bike that is out there that is comparable to the 5.5. Another thought I had, was to me most reviews were done by professional riders, who spend all day riding different bikes comparing and nitpicking one small detail over another, that’s not me and probably not you.
When deciding on what new bike to get, the choices were overwhelming, besides just brands and suspension travel, there was the wheel size debate. My old bike was a 26” full suspension with similar travel as the 5.5. One of my first concerns was whether this was going to be enough travel for me, since my riding has been progressing a lot in the past year, spending a lot of time up at Blackrock honing my jumping skills. Watching videos with guys like Nate Hills take this bike to Whistler among other bike parts, helped to stop those doubts. Now that I’ve owned the Yeti for a few months and had the opportunity to get it airborne, I’m definitely convinced it’s the right bike for me. My other big decision was wheel size, 29er or 27.5. Never ridden anything but 26” I wasn’t sure. At first I was definitely leaning towards 27.5 since a lot of people were saying it was the perfect balance between 26” and 29”, especially for someone who isn’t extremely tall. Being 5’ 8”, I was a bit worried that a 29er would feel too big or unwieldy for someone of my height. Fortunately for me, the Yeti demo was coming to town and I would get the opportunity to try them all.
When I first got on the 5.5, I immediately noticed how comfortable and familiar the bike felt, it was just so natural. There was no issues with the 29” wheels feeling too big or hard to turn, everything just felt right. On my ride, I had a few “tests” that I wanted to perform on weather deciding that the 5.5 was the bike for me. First was a sharp downhill 180 degree turn between two narrow trees. On my old bike, I usually made it 50% of the time, on the 5.5, I made it on my very first try! So much for 29ers not being able to turn. Another test I had was climbing switchbacks, especially sharp ones. Another flawless victory for the Yeti. Probably one of biggest deciding factors for me to choose the 5.5 was just how well it performs on the downhill. This bike is an absolute blast to ride! When describing the Yeti 5.5 the very first thing that comes to mind is fun! It is such a joy to ride. One of the major benefits of 29” wheels is its amazing roll over capability and speed. Having had the opportunity to ride my Yeti all over Oregon on many different kinds of trails has shown me how versatile this bike is. One of my favorite new trails is called North Ridge (aka Capt. Jacks) and is located in the Spence Mountain trail system just outside of Klamath Falls, Oregon. This trail showcases how great the Yeti 5.5 really is. North Ridge is rated a black diamond is this system and has plenty of drops, jumps, and big technical rock gardens. At the very end of the trail is a section I like to call the “choose your own line”. In this section the trail basically turns into a hundred yard long boulder field with many options. With the combination of the 29” wheels and the magic of the Yeti switch infinity system, I’ve successfully made it through this section many times. Another great advantage of the 5.5, is its amazing ability to climb technical trails. The climb up to North Ridge has a few sections of punchy rocky climbs, which in the past have been challenging for me. On the 5.5 they were much easier and my success rate has improved drastically.
Overall, I couldn’t happier with my choice of the Yeti 5.5, it is such an amazing all around fully capable mountain bike. I have noticed my Strava times getting faster, up and down. It has challenged me to push myself harder, faster, steeper, and higher than ever before. But most importantly it is Fun! Every time I get on my bike, it is a joy to ride. I see many years of adventures to come on my new Yeti, plans for a trip up to Canada and Whistler in the future and many new places this summer.
Ride hard, Skyler