First Impressions: Yeti SB150

First Impressions: Yeti SB150

Orange is the new turquoise.

The SB150, Yeti’s new long-travel enduro-crusher 29er, is out, and it’s loud and proud. It’s out because it’s launched tonight, loud because check out how bright that orange is. And it’s proud because it’s as new-school as a mountain bike gets: it’s long, its low, it’s slack, it’s a long travel 29er, it’s got a low-offset fork and a steep seat angle. You don’t get more up-to-date than that. Oh, and it can fit a water bottle.

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So, before I talk about how it rides, here are some tech details:

*150mm rear travel with 170mm fork

*64.5 degree head tube angle

*77 degree seat tube angle

*460mm reach (medium size)

*1223 wheelbase (medium)

*433mm chainstays

*water bottle mount inside front triangle (all sizes)

*2.5 tyre clearance

*Internal cable routing

*ISCG05 chainguide mount

*Meets Yeti’s DH standards in testing

Big bike

The Yeti SB150 is 150mm out back and 170mm up front. For a 29er this is getting up there. The medium I rode features a generous 460mm reach and a 1223mm wheelbase - that’s longer than most large size bikes from recent years.

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Ride

I only had the bike for a little under a week, which wasn’t enough for a full review, but it did give me time to get a bit of a handle on the SB150’s main traits. It rides big, just like its geometry; there is stability in spades, so at high speed over nasty stuff the bike feels unflappably calm. Clearly, high speed and nasty stuff is what the SB150 is for. That stability and 64.5 degree head angle, and stable-steering low-offset fork also mean that, despite the relatively short 433mm chainstays, the bike feels a bit like a limousine on slow tracks with awkward tight corners, especially if those tracks have trees encroaching such that you can’t lean the big bike over. You need to lean the SB150 to make it work; do this and the bike digs in and holds a line around a corner with ease. Steer from the 800mm handlebars and you’ll find yourself running wide at the exit of tight corners (ask me how I know…). 

It pedals great, and mainly like a bike with less travel, which is no surprise given it employs Yeti’s excellent Switch Infinity Link system – striking an enviable balance of neutral pedalling and bump absorption. The steep seat angle also means seated climbing is easier than it otherwise would be, because the rider’s weight is naturally kept forward. Intense out of the seat efforts can remind you you’re on a big travel bike with some softness to the pedalling, but there is a reachable lever on the Fox X2 shock if you are facing a long and vert-gaining gravel road slog. There is a new linkage driving the shock, which as well as ridding the rear shock eyelet of bushings and replacing them with smoother-operating bearings, allowed Yeti’s engineers to tune the back-end’s progression independently of anti-squat. I found rear shock’s progression about bang-on for me, so faster riders hitting gnarlier stuff will probably want to play with some volume reducers in the shock. This is the way it should be IMHO; selling a bike with the shock set up suitable for Richie Rude wouldn’t make much sense because not many riders (“if any”) hit stuff that hard. I was pleased to see the full carbon rear triangle has a bit of compliance to it – it isn’t tank-rigid like say the Intense Carbine, another big bruiser 29er. I’ve got to assume this is an intentional design feature to produce better traction. It’s worth noting the SB150 meets Yeti’s DH testing standards, which is comforting.

We’ll have some more ride impressions in our next print issue, out in about a month. Until then, mull over the build options and the prices, and meet up with Yeti NZ on the road to swing a leg over one before stock arrives in New Zealand.

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Build options

Our test bike was Yeti’s stock XO1 Race kit, which featured Fox 36 Factory fork and Fox factory X2 rear shock, along with SRAM Eagle drivetrain, the very impressive Code RSC brakes, DT 1501 alloy wheels shod with big 2.4/2.5 Maxxis Minions, a Fox Transfer dropper post, and even a WTB Volt seat – a bit wider and more comfortable than usually found stock on such bikes. I couldn’t fault the build. OK, I could in just one way: I would fit a Maxxis Minion with a Double Down casing to the back of a bike designed to be smashed into rugged stuff like the SB150 is designed to do. Aside from that, the X01 Race kit was faultless. Of course, it should be because our T- series (top-end carbon frame) XO1 Race kit goes for $13,000.00. The T-series start at $11,800.00 and goes up to $14,200.00 with four options in kits, plus a frame only option with T-series going for $5,800.00. The C-series (cheaper carbon frame) can be had at $8,200.00 and $9,400.00. 

Availability and test rides

You wanna ride one? Of course you do. Well, you’re in luck because all you need to do is go check out the Yeti Demo Page and arrange to be where Yeti will be on their demo tour. Until stock lands in mid-September, the SB150 demo is limited to carpark rides. After mid-September you’ll be able to take one for a proper ride. Speaking of which, limited stock of mediums and larges arrive in NZ in mid-September. In November, small, medium, large and XL frames will be in stock (XS is by special order).

Is the SB150 too much bike for you? Unless you are a really aggressive rider hitting up steep rugged tracks at high speed for lots of your riding, then quite possibly you’d be better served with something a little less than what the SB150 brings. If so, don’t fret, Yeti aren’t likely to leave you out there without a new bike for long…

Words: Carl Patton

Check out the upcoming issue for more.  the print edition of NZ Mountain Biker to get the full review.