According to Yeti, “SB” stands for “super bike.” Normally this type of marketing claim makes me skeptical, but I was mightily impressed with the SB-66 and its Switch suspension. Given that, I was itching to see if the 66’s settled chassis, snappy pedaling performance and ready-to-rally spirit translated to Yeti’s big-wheeled trail bike.Tweet Print
By Justin Steiner
There’s been much hubbub in recent months about Yeti’s newest flag- ship trail bike, the SB-66. At first glance, it seemed strange that Yeti might keep their venerable 575 alongside this new 152mm-travel machine, given their similar geometries and travel figures. Yeti’s Chris Conroy described the differences and the reasons for having both bikes in the Yeti lineup: “The 575 is plusher, the SB-66 will feel more ‘performance.’ Those are subjective descriptions, but the SB-66 will pedal better than the 575. Riders interested in comfort and being able to blast through rock gardens with a more muted feel would prefer the 575. On the SB-66 you will feel the nuances of the trail more.”Tweet Print
By Mike Cushionbury
Yeti Cycles held a special off-site ride day to introduce its two newest carbon offerings: The SB95 Carbon and the ARC Carbon. Both are based on the iconic brands successful aluminum versions of the same names.
Yeti president Chris Conroy readily admits it took his brand a long while to come out with its interpretation of a long-travel 29er so as such, it began with an aluminum frame, the successful 5-inch travel SB95. According to Conroy, reports of riders saying, “If you make this in carbon it will be my favorite bike” left them with little reason to not take the plunge for 2013.
Following the design elements of the original ARS5, the platform has a slack head tube, low bottom bracket and long top tube (a concept Yeti incorporated in 2001.) This new carbon frame weighs 5.7lbs, shedding a whopping two pounds from the aluminum SB95 frame. Goals for using carbon are obvious: optimize stiffness, loose weight and maximize ride quality, a feat Yeti easily achieved.
During our short stint aboard the new bike we had little to complain about. Some of that came from the frame’s instant response, light weight and chatter muting characteristics but we also we can’t deny that the Switch technology suspension played a major role as well. This single pivot suspension design uses an eccentric lower pivot. When the suspension compresses, the eccentric initially rotates counter-clockwise. Then about halfway through the travel it reverses direction and rotates clockwise. This subtly changes chain stay length to counteract pedaling forces. On the trail it essentially eliminates pedal bob by pushing the rear wheel into the ground for maximum traction, small bump compliance and zero harshness under braking, making it one of the most effective designs available for all types of trail riding.
The test loop aboard the new carbon consisting of a long, steep climb and ripping singletrack descent reconfirmed just how great the long travel SB95 platform climbs. With the carbon bike’s two-pound weight savings and noticeably stiffer frame it rocketed up the incline (with the FOX CTD shock set in Trail mode) more in tune with a shorter travel 29er. Though test time was limited, the Yeti provided initial sensations of good stability at speed and great responsiveness in tight, twisty switchbacks and serpentine singletrack. The suspension was tender off the top in Descend mode to comfortably absorb smaller hits on our smooth-ish test loop without sacrificing square edge ability at higher speeds. Though just an initial test, results were highly positive.
Yeti has also reintroduced its legendary ARC in carbon. Conroy was blunt by saying, “It’s one of the most iconic bikes in history so we can’t screw it up.” One of the most storied frames ever made, the Yeti ARC was the very first Easton aluminum Taperwall frame ever made (the Easton logos were bigger then the Yeti logos Conroy recalled) and it was ridden to victory by such greats as Missy Giove, Juli Furtado and John Tomac, who rode one of the first ever carbon framed bikes, the ARC C26. “We had to live up to the legacy of the ARC name,” Conroy said. While that original aluminum frame weighed about 3.1 pounds, this new carbon wonder hits a feathery 2.6 pounds.
The loop chainstays remain but what’s new besides carbon are 29-inch wheels for sizes M-XL while XS and S use 27.5-inch hoops to better fit smaller riders. By doing this engineers were also able to make handling consistent across the size range—a huge plus of riders who fall at either height extreme. Yeticycles.com
- Enduro $4,700
- Race: $5,800
- Pro: $8,000
- Frame: $3,200
- Enduro: $ 3,400
- Race: $4,400
- Pro $6,400
- Frame: $2,000
By Matt Kasprzyk
Why mess with a good thing? To make it better, of course. If you agree with the reviews and press; Yeti’s SB-66c is a good thing – if not a great thing. So good that I leapt at the chance for the super-bike to kill my quiver. Yeti has already received several accolades from our staff and many others for their Switch Technology suspension bikes. They must be a good thing, right? So why f’ck with it?
Here’s my reason. Maybe you’ve heard about the 650b craze that is now the 27.5 craze, or what may become the 27 rage? If you have, then you’ve also heard about the shortcomings of 26-inch wheels and the overcompensating 29-inch wheels. What you’re about to read is my attempt at taking a good thing and making it slightly better by asking one question: How would a really ballin 26-inch bike feel with a 650b front wheel.
The steps to answer that question aren’t so simple. Sure, you could grab any 650b fork with a wheel and slap it on there.
The problem with that solution is it could affect the bike’s geometry and characteristics. Maybe the new axle-to-crown length is longer, thus slackening the head-tube-angle. In turn that raises you handlebar and bottom bracket height. Blah, blah, blah and see what a slippery slope this gets into. Sure some of those adjustments could be favorable, but this experiment is solely about a 650b front wheel on a 26-inch bike and what the slightly larger diameter wheel feels like out front. Will this give the “goldielocks” ride while largely maintaining the personality of the bike? Is the slight diameter increase even perceivable?
First, I needed to isolate some variables in this experiment. I wanted to preserve the geometry of the bike as much as possible. That means you need to do some math. Or find someone smarter than you who knows what math to do, which is exactly what I did. Enter Justin Steiner, our resident engineer and mecha-builder. (I’ve never seen Justin build a mecha, but it would be cool.)
Step 1: Measure twice
Know your current measurements
- Head tube angle
- Front wheel axle height
- New fork axle-to-crown
- New wheel axle height
Step 2: Sketch
Step 3: Math
Step 4: Space fork down and install
Step 5: Ride
I’ve done some intense rides on this 627.5er or SB6/27.5-6/5. My first impression was that there was more wheel flop. With equal HTAs the math shows that there will be a slight increase to Trail. This could account for the added perception of wheel flop while climbing.
However, other than that there really isn’t much to say. The bike’s character wasn’t drastically altered. The 650b wheel is actually not smack-dab in the middle of 26 and 29. It’s closer to a 26-inch wheel then a 29. On the trail I could hardly tell a difference. I like to think that I was able to truck through the rough a little easier without getting a smaller wheel sucked into divots, but it wasn’t as obvious of a change as the move from 26-inch to 29-inch. I attacked descents with the same reckless abandon and emphasis on inertia, rather than grace, as I always do and there was never a moment where I wished for a smaller wheel up front.
The X-Fusion Vengeance fork used in this conversion was slightly heavier than the Fox 36 I had been using. Even so, with the larger wheel and heavier fork, lofting the front wheel wasn’t unwieldy. The Vengeance travel was supple and smooth but I did miss the CTD settings of the Fox.
I think there’s still some fine-tuning and experimentation yet to do, but my final verdict is that the 650b wheel is on there for keeps. I see no reason to take it off. Even if the benefits are minimal, there weren’t any drawbacks.
By Justin Steiner,
Our review of Yeti’s much anticipated, and subsequently revered, SB-95 has traveled a rocky trail to fruition. First, we intended to do a head-to-head comparison with the SB-66 like we had with Specialized’s Stumpjumper 29 and 26.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned. When our SB-95 tester arrived, yours truly was “forced” to ride my first 29er since the Jones Diamond frame back in late 2011. Prior to that, my last full suspension 29er was Niner’s WFO 9 in late 2009, early 2010. It’s been a while.
That’s a long-winded way of explaining that my riding has evolved to a more gravity-inspired style over recent years. I’ve been enjoying the fun, playful nature of my recent string of 150mm+ travel 26-inch test bikes, and have to say I wasn’t thrilled to switch back over to “wagon wheels.” I use that term in jest, as I do fully see the value of the various wheel sizes depending on a rider’s style, terrain, and physical size.
Enough already, let’s talk about the bike. The SB-95 is one of a growing group of “new school” 29er trail bikes with more suspension travel and slacker, more rugged trail bike geometry. This 127mm (5”) travel frame can be paired with either a 130mm-travel RockShox Revelation or a Fox 34 CTD set to 120mm of travel out of the box. The beauty of the Fox 34 is its ability to increase to 140mm of travel with the removal of an internal spacer. With the fork set to 120mm, the SB’s headtube angle sits at 68.5-degrees. At 140mm, it slackens to 67.6-degrees.
From the beginning, Yeti’s approach to the geometry of the SB-bikes intrigued me. The SB-66 is designed with longer-than-average top tube lengths to accompany shorter-than-average stems. However the SB-95 offers shorter top tube lengths with longer stems. For instance, the size small SB-66 I tested has the exact same top tube length as my size medium SB-95 (given the choice, I would have tested a medium of both). The end result, and I’m guessing one of Yeti’s key design ideals, is very similar wheelbase measurements size-for-size.
Though the wheelbase measurements may be very similar, the ratio of front-center to rear-center lengths goes a long way toward explaining handling differences. The SB-66 has shorter chainstays coupled to a longer front-center, while the SB-95 has a shorter front-center teamed with longer chainstays. As expected, the SB-66 lofts it’s front wheel with less effort and offers a touch more stability descending steep terrain. The SB-95 handles with a bit more traditional “steering” feel, requiring a less committed lean into corners, while the larger wheels provide ample stability. The SB-95 rolls through rough terrain with less effort, but requires more effort when trials-style moves are required. Everything has a trade off.
Overall, the SB-66 handles with a bit more gravity influence while the SB-95 feels comparatively XC inspired—exactly what the suspension travel suggests. In my opinion, Yeti really nailed the geometry on both of these bikes, given their intended use.
Like the SB-66 I recently reviewed, the SB-95 utilizes the Sotto Group’s Switch suspension design, which employs an eccentric lower link. This eccentric lower link provides snappy pedaling thanks to healthy anti-squat characteristics during the initial stroke, as well as a plush, controlled end of stroke as the eccentric “switches” directions.
Out on the trail, the SB-95 handles rough terrain quite capably, rolling through chunky rock sections with little effort required of the rider. In general, it begs to be ridden hard, as its capable geometry and suspension comes alive as speed increases.
After swapping the fork to the 140mm-travel mode, I personally dug the SB-95’s ride even more. The slacker angles provide a touch more stability and a little bit more carve when turning. If you’re running the 34 fork, you’re carrying that extra 20mm around regardless. Might as well put it to good use.
Thus far in the test, the Yeti has gone a long way toward reinstating my confidence in 29-inch wheeled bikes. It’s much more fun and capable than XC-ish 29ers, while offering an efficient pedaling platform. For the time being, I’d personally opt for the SB-66 thanks to its more playful nature, but can’t help but wonder how awesome an SB-27.5 might be…
Look for the full review in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag. Subscribe today to have that issue delivered directly to your mailbox.Tweet Print
Yeti unveiled the SB-66 earlier this summer, and now its big-wheeled brother is almost ready for prime time.The SB-95 we rode was a pre-production version. Small changes, like water bottle bosses on the underside of the down tube and routing for a dropper post were absent on this bike but will be included in the production version, which should be available in early 2012.
As noted by a head honcho at a competing brand these two “Super Bikes” proved to be the sweathearts of this year’s Outdoor Demo. We rode both to compare and contrast the personalities of the SB-66 with that of the SB-95.
Tested by Justin Steiner
This bike was first to make an impression on me this year, simply due to the buzz around the show about it, and the shear quantity of SB-66’s out on the trail.
We interviewed Yeti’s president, Chris Conroy [link] about the SB-66 earlier in the year, and there’s certainly been much anticipation about this bike all across the Interwebs.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the SB-66’s Switch Technology and a quick spin in unfamiliar terrain makes judgement quite difficult. Initially, it seems as though the suspension reacts quite differently when pedaling and coasting, firming up while on the gas and eagerly using more of its travel while coasting. Both sensations may be explained by his bike’s rearward initial axle path.
I also perceived a change in suspension character after the eccentric begins rotating the opposite direction (beyond 100mm of travel), where the suspension feels less firm and eager to soak up big hits. In my short spin the SB-66 used full travel, but never bottomed noticeably. During this quick ride I wasn’t able to come to a conclusion about how these changes in suspension character might translate over the long haul. I’ll wait for our long-term test before drawing any conclusions.
Chassis-wise, the SB-66 felt stiff and responsive, within the scope of a trail bike with a 67-degree headtube angle. I’m awfully stoked to put this bike through its paces on familiar terrain.
Tested by Josh Patterson
Much like the SB-66, the SB-95 is a slack bike (68.5-degree tapered head tube). It’s intended to be ridden with a short stem, wide bars, and balls to the wall. Ok, so the last part I made up. But if you decide that’s where you like to keep them the SB-95 will accommodate you.
The SB-95 comes equipped with a Fox 34. I was very impressed with the performance of this fork. It’s stiff, plush and unflappable through rough terrain.This fork is opening up a world of possibilities for longer-travel 29ers. Look for a review of the Fox 34 in an upcoming issue.
I also felt the suspension firmed up while pedaling, but I didn’t notice as abrupt a change in performance as on the SB-66. It could be that the 30mm more of rear travel on the SB-66 resulted in more exaggerated changes to the axle path. It is equally plausible that I was too busy enjoying the outstanding handling characteristics of this bike through rough terrain to also take note of the nuances of the suspension.
Following in the footsteps of the recent introduction of the carbon SB-66, a carbon SB-96 is also in the works. No firm date on the availability of the carbon version.
Yeti’s president discusses the new Switch suspension platform and the new SB-66 all-mountain bike
By Josh Patterson
First off, there were rumors and speculation about a new suspension platform being developed but Yeti did a surprisingly good job of keeping things under wraps. How hard is it to keep something like this a secret in this day and age?
It’s a challenge—it seems like everyone has a helmet cam or a smartphone. We tested the SB-66 on trails for more than a year and a half. We were pretty covert about it. On our local trails we would have a couple guys riding prototypes and others on current bikes, if someone came by on the trail we’d surround the prototypes with the current bikes.
Talk to us about the development of the suspension design used on the SB-66. How did the development of this suspension platform come about?
David Earle and Luke Beale [of the design and engineering firm Sotto Group] approached us two years ago at Sea Otter with the concept. At that point it was just an idea on a computer. We thought it had promise. Shortly thereafter, they came out with the first prototype, we rode it and instantly saw the potential. Over the next year and a half they worked with our engineers—going through a half-dozen iterations—to come up with this bike.
Numbers on graphs seldom tell the whole story. Can you compare/contrast how the SB-66’s suspension performs relative to other common suspension platforms such as the dw-link, VPP and single pivots such as the Yeti 575?
We were looking at the pros and cons of dual link designs such as the dw-link and VPP. With both designs there are compromises that must be made for pedaling performance versus suspension performance. When you change one thing, it affects the other—sometimes in a negative way. We wanted a better-performing pedaling platform, but didn’t want to compromise suspension performance through the middle and end of the suspension’s travel.
What is unique about the Switch Technology is that it switches direction about 100mm through the travel. So you have an optimized pedaling platform in the initial travel, without compromising the mid and end of the travel. The SB-66 pedals well, but still feels like a 6-inch bike. On other 6-inch [dual link] bikes you can have a great pedaling bike, but it comes at the expense of the travel, or you have an OK pedaling bike that gets the most out of its travel.
Unlike many brands—which use one suspension platform for all their bikes—Yeti seems to choose a suspension platform, be it a single pivot, rail system, or the pivoting dual link on the SB-66, based on the intended application. What applications is this latest design best suited for?
Good question. Honestly, we choose technology based on the application, we don’t take one technology and ram it through the product line for marketing purposes. We’re working on other designs as well. I think the Switch has a lot of legs to go up and down in travel.
As stated on Yeti’s website, the SB-66 is not replacing the 575. Though the SB-66 appears to be a similar bike, in terms of intended usage, to the venerable 575. Many riders may wonder what the primary differences, as far as handling and suspension feel will be.
I think the best thing I can say is go ride them both. The 575 is plusher, the SB-66 will feel more “performance.” Those are subjective descriptions, but the SB-66 will pedal better than the 575. Riders interested in comfort and being able to blast through rockgardens with a more muted feel would prefer the 575. On the SB-66 you will feel the nuances of the trail more. People will also be looking at price points—there’s about a $500 difference between the SB-66 and the comparable 575 build kits.
Was there a set of handling characteristics you were going after when designing the SB-66?
We’ve always been a little more progressive when it comes to geometry. We’ve always been a little slacker and a little lower [bottom bracket height]. It’s really influenced by the terrain we ride, in the Rockies we tend to go straight up and straight down. We also have really rough terrain at times, so our geometry is a function of our terrain. The 67 degree head angle [with a 150mm fork] may be slack for some people but having our bikes slack and low gives you excellent handling characteristics: it allows you to be really aggressive through technical terrain and handle high speed turns and berms.
A quick glance at the geometry also reveals the top tube lengths for the SB-66 are significantly longer than many comparable bikes. Does this point to a trend of running shorter (50-70mm) stems on trail/all-mountain bikes?
Absolutely. If you look at our employees’ bikes, we ride wide bars, short stems, and 1×10 drivetrains with chainguides. Many of us consider ourselves trail/all mountain riders more than gravity riders, but many of us come from the gravity side of the sport.
The site lists geometries for both 150mm and 160mm forks, but no built kits offer a 160mm option. All the built kits come spec’d with forks with 32mm sanctions, as opposed to burlier 36mm models. Does this point to the intended usage?
[The SB-66] really blurs the lines. In our mind, it is way more of a trail bike than it is a de-tuned gravity bike. Very similar to the 575 in whom it targets. It will be more for XC guys going long than DH guys going short.
The FAQ page for the SB-66 explains the naming conventions and appears to hint at a 29er version. Quote: “So, if we were to do a 29’r with this technology and it was a 5" travel bike, it would be the SB-95.”
[Laughs] “I guess people do read that stuff! That’s what it would be called… It does suggest that there will be other travel platforms, and we are working on 29er stuff as well.”
Can we expect to see other Switch-equipped bikes in the near future?
Yes. In addition to the carbon version of the SB-66 there will be other travel and wheel sizes for sure. We have a tremendous amount of product coming out in the next eight to 10 months.Tweet Print