First Ride – New Yeti SB-66 Trail Bike

Yeti has a new six inch trail bike coming out: the SB-66. And we’ve already ridden it…

Ready for it? Here's the Yeti SB-66 in 'Sulphur', which seems a hot colour for 2011

Starting with how it looks… we can see it being a bit ‘Marmite’ with Yeti fans and haters alike. It’s certainly a different look to Yeti’s normal bikes. However, we reckon it’s a pretty purposeful looking machine.

Did that caption say ’2011′? Yes, that’s because it’s a bike that you’ll be able to actually buy this year, unlike many of the product launches we go to in the spring, this bike is being produced right now…

Comes in 'invisible' too.

And 'Yeti Turquoise'. Natch.

Let’s see the bike from the non-drive side. Looks like a normal single pivot. Only you have to remember that Yeti doesn’t do ‘normal’. It’s kind of a single pivot, but it’s kind of a dual-link bike too. Confused yet?

At least they'll spot you on this yellow/sulphur one. Less horrible than it might sound

What do we reckon on the slab Yeti graphic on the top tube?

Before you ask, 'will it come in carbon too?' - Yes, it will, but you'll have to get that one for yourself for Christmastime.

Comes in 'none more black' too.

So, what’s it all about then? We’ll let Schmoozer in Chief, Chipps, take up the story:

Back in April, on the first day of the Sea Otter, while everyone was roaming the pits, a few select journalists, known for their mighty riding skills, rippling physiques, fine wit and appreciation of good wines were assembled – well, actually it was mainly because we could be trusted to keep a secret for a while – went to a small park a few miles away from the Sea Otter venue for a sneaky preview and test-ride. Yeti was prepared to show us these new bikes (at the same time at everyone else was showing 2012 stuff for all to see) and would then lock the bikes back up in the van and not show them to anyone else – in return for our temporary silence. Why the fuss? Well, the chance to show the bikes off to journos over at the Sea Otter was too great, but Yeti didn’t want to create a rush for a product that wasn’t ready yet. So we were asked to sit on the story until now. The bikes you see here will be shipping in the next fortnight or two, with the UK stock expected mid-to-late July this summer.

Flared head tube and bolt-on front mech as this year demands.

OK, so what’s the deal with this bike then? What makes it so special?

About this point, we’re going to need a tech-based shot and to start waving arms around a lot… While the bike might look like a single pivot, it isn’t. There are plenty of designs out there that use some sort of linkage to adjust the leverage ratio of a single pivot, what the ‘Switch Technology’ on the SB-66 does is to adjust the apparent single pivot’s, er… pivot point throughout the stroke. So there’s still, really, only one pivot, but the anchor point of that pivot moves, which kind of makes it a dual-link bike.

Why do that? Well, it’s to try to isolate the suspension completely pedal feedback, but without making it feel like a squishy mess in the early, pedal power stroke of the suspension and to give a plush feel at the mid and end stroke of the travel without doing odd things to the crank feel.

The blue bit is attached to the - oh, just read below...

The top (orange seal) bearing is where the top of the swingarm pushes on the suspension. No change there. The lower bearing in the blue circle is where the pivot sits. That blue circle rotates… no, it’s not that simple. First it rotates clockwise, moving the lower pivot rearwards, to counter pedaling forces, then at the ‘inflection point’ (around 50-60% travel) it changes direction and starts to rotate anti-clockwise, to give up the rest of the plush-feeling travel. However, all you feel from the pedals is, well, nothing actually. There really isn’t any pedal feedback, no matter how scruffy your cadence is, or what gear you’re in, yet the bike doesn’t wallow or squat when motoring uphill, or while on the juice on the descents.

Despite any potential colour clash, it seems the blue link stays blue whatever the frame's colour scheme. Seat dropper guides as standard. There'll be custom elastomer anti-chainslap guards supplied on production bikes.

Chris Conroy in 'relaxed' mode. He's a great guy and you can't help but admire his enthusiasm for just about everything when you meet him. He does love a long sock too.

And you thought it was only journos that took sneaky 'hip shot' photos...

Forget the clever suspension, we reckon this is the coolest bit of the bike: a keyed, slide-off ISCG (03 or 05) mount (held in place by the BB). There's rumoured to be a blank plate in the works too for non chainguiders.

There are four sealed bearings hiding in that blue cylinder. The main pivot pin runs on a 15mm thru-axle, the upper link pin is 17mm with sealed bearings throughout.

The short distance between Switch eccentric housing and link pivot allows Yeti to forge this link and make it super stiff.

For those who missed it the first time... It's apparently been tested (in the field and lab) by Yeti for two years.

Complex, yet the mechanic had it fully stripped down in a couple of minutes. The bearings are all pretty well protected - especially the ones in the eccentric.

The eccentric is in two-pieces, which bolt together, seating them in their bearings.

The one great thing that our private viewing allowed us to do was to get in a good test ride – two actually – on some real trails so that we could make our own minds up about the bike. It certainly climbed well – especially for a 6in bike, with no pedal oddness when pushing hard and no wallowing. On the flats, you could keep the power down and not be affected by rear wheel travel upsetting your cadence – and on the downs, it worked like a good 6in trail bike should: keeping to lines and sucking up the bad stuff. We could even add the ‘endless travel feel’ cliché because it’s actually well-earned.

Obviously trying a bike on unfamiliar terrain and on sunny, dusty Californian trails can’t really compare to six months of a British Winter, but I’ll have to say that I was impressed with the bike and I’m really looking forward to getting to ride one in the UK when they come out.

Talking of which – UK importers Evolution Imports reckons on a July on-sale date. The UK price, it reckons, will be ‘a little under two-grand’.

The ever-photogenic Israel Romero, doing a bit of scenic stuff for the lenses.

Not forgetting the usual modern Yeti touches, like flared head tube and 142mm or 135mm dropout options. The rear brake mount is for post-mount brakes. This was our first go on a new XTR anti-bounce clutch derailleur too and it seems to work really well.

Even with a half-hour climb to earn our descent, it's days like this that make the job pretty good.

Decent mud room and internal cable guides on the rear triangle make the bike neat and pretty winter-proof.

Yeti's local hooligan, Dave Ziegman has been running this coil shock version for a while and loves it. Yeti is keen to point out that the design is optimised at the moment for 6in travel, but could be scaled up or down in the future...

Here’s the official Yeti video for your viewing pleasure:

And now for some charts:

It’s interesting that all of the Yeti lines seem to be the opposite of what the dw-link bikes do. Perhaps we need to get CC and DW in the ring together…

Frame weight should be 7lbs with rear shock. There will be a carbon one out late this year which’ll slice a pound off that weight. Oh, and what does the ‘SB-66′ stand for? Seems no one at Yeti was entirely certain, though the suggestion of ‘Super Bike’ was offered more than once. And we’d have to agree on that.

Geometry? Here’s a quick peek at the official Yeti figures… Click it to enlarge.

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