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.