First Ride: Yeti SB-66 and SB-95

 

If you had any question what was the hot bike this year at Outdoor Demo, all you had to do was look to see who had the longest lines, and the most empty bike racks. Yeti consistently fit that bill, and even with quite a few bikes in all sizes and in both models, getting a chance to ride an SB proved to be a challenge. Eventually, with help from both Yeti, and our friend Mark Riedy, I was able to track down both bikes and spend a little extra time getting to know the two new “Super Bikes.”

While both turned out to be excellent bikes, one surprised me much more than the other. Read on to find out why…

Both of the Yeti SBs benefit from Yeti’s new Switch eccentric based suspension platform. Unlike other eccentric based systems, the Switch’s eccentric actually changes direction mid stroke, hence the name Switch. This inflection point in the eccentric allows for a completely unique suspension curve, and one that Yeti’s engineers have been able to work with to create what they feel is the best suspension possible.

 

An engineer’s word is all well and good, but the real test is what it’s like out on the trail. I have to say that with the SB-66, I was a little jaded as I expected it to be good. With Yeti’s heritage, I just assumed that the 66 would be everything they promised and maybe even more – and I wasn’t far off. The SB-66 had impeccable handling, and dialed trail manners. The suspension was surprisingly pedal friendly even with the shock under sprung for my weight (note the o-ring position). The 66 was so smooth and planted a fat grin on my face the entire test ride and was a bike that instantly felt at home. The only real negative came in the form of a dropped chain at a few inopportune moments, though I’d like to chalk that up to it being an abused demo rig.

As good as the 26 inch wheeled 66 was, much to my surprise the 29 inch wheeled SB-95 was way more than I had anticipated. With myself not being a huge evangelist of the big wheels, but always willing to try new bikes, the SB-95 was easily one of the best 29′ers I have ridden to date. Sure, there were sections of the trails that I had more fun on the SB-66 (drops and jumps), but the 95 was still ridiculously good. Perhaps the best feature of the SB-95, is the ability to hide the fact that you are rolling the big wheels in terms of handling. If you think about it enough it’s there, but otherwise the bike is flickable and playful enough to hide the big wheels but still eek their benefits.

 

 

At 29.6 pounds the SB-95 isn’t that light, but then again it is 5 inches of travel and aluminum. Even at that weight, the 95 never felt slow, and in fact felt like it was a much lighter bike. Unfortunately, the Feedback weigh station wasn’t out when I rode the SB-66 (something about torrential rains and flooding? In Vegas?), so I didn’t get it on the scale but I’m guessing a fairly similar weight. Obviously, the SB-66c is already out, and a carbon version of the SB-95 can’t be far behind.

 

Comments

Mark Sevenoff - 09/20/11 - 12:34am

Hopefully they’ll have some XL’s @ Outerbike to demo!

Ben - 09/20/11 - 2:00am

How did it compare to Santa Cruz and Pivot 29ers ?

Chiz - 09/20/11 - 3:03am

Ever since i heard the rumor about the the SB-95, I’ve been hanging for a review… Please tell us more!

yesplease - 09/20/11 - 7:44am

The SB95 is the funnest, best 29er I have ridden. I came straight home from the dirt demo and put my bike on ebay. Now we wait for them to ship…..

yesplease - 09/20/11 - 7:45am

@Mark they had 2 XL’s in the demo fleet at Interbike so I imagine they will stay around for outerbike.

29ersSuckAtJumping - 09/20/11 - 9:35am

My 29er has essentially replaced much of my bike quiver, but it sucking at jumps (big wheels essentially make all the jumps smaller and get less air) is the primary reason I look to 26″ bikes with some envy. When riding something like Mammoth’s Recoil, it’s a bit disappointing to be going scary fast yet only be able to clear the first jump after each turn.

Bluur - 09/20/11 - 12:42pm

So in terms of everyday ridability, do both the 66 and 95 make sense for enduro/xc/trail rigs? Or are they more tuned towards the trail/DH side? SB66 sounds great, but 6″ is a lot of travel to lug up and down hills! wtb SB65?

Jose - 09/20/11 - 3:04pm

One thing that is in short supply are writers willing to make real and critical comments. Cheer leading is all too much the norm unfortunately.

That said, I rode the Yeti too and it has some issues. Yes it was mentioned here is that it’s heavy, and the suspension works well. Yet it’s not any better than some of the others. The Pivot 429 is easily just as good. And it’s proven in durability and lighter.

Another thing was that the steering was too quick and simply not dialed in enough. The Tallboy has the SS65 beat in this regard.

Best to let a new model and design get the bugs out first.

Mja - 09/20/11 - 9:53pm

I was about to place an order for an asr 5 until I read the sb 95. Sounds like I’m gonna wait til I can test her out. Any word any pricing?

Blacksheeper - 09/22/11 - 3:50pm

@ Jose – very different geo than the 429… With 17.5” CS length and a slacker HTA than even the new Ripley, this bike is a solid push into more of the Trail/AM segment of the market. That’s different than the Tallboy and the 429, both of which are 100mm travel XC, race oriented rigs with steeper HTAs.

As a long time Turner Sultan rider, on the 3rd iteration this season, and a custom AM 29er Ti SS hardtail rider, I’m psyched to see the SB95 come along. Its a real attempt and bringing a versatile 29er to the market for your all round trail rider.

XCers aren’t the target market for this bike, I’m guessing guys on 26ers that ride a variety of trail will look at and flock to this bike, especially those that pedal to play if you will vs. train or just lay down miles. The ripley has a slightly steeper HTA but will do much of the same thing. Pair the SB95 or Ripley with a Fox 34 140 and you have a very capable rig that can handle most of what your typical rider is going to throw at it… My sultan already does all of this well with a 120mm 20mm REBA, I have to cut the steerer tube on my new Fox 140, but have a feeling I’ll be riding my 26” AM bike a whole lot less…

Nick - 09/24/11 - 3:34am

I could ride my SB-66 for the rest of my life and never want another bike.

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