First Ride – New Yeti SB-66 Trail Bike

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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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Chipps Chippendale

Singletrackworld's Editor At Large

With 23 years as Editor of Singletrack World Magazine, Chipps is the longest-running mountain bike magazine editor in the world. He started in the bike trade in 1990 and became a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the last 30 years as a bike writer and photographer, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish, strengthen and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

More posts from Chipps

Comments (37)

    that does look and siound nice but the swapabble BB mounts are the best bit- would like to see them on a lot more bikes!

    Now, there is a Yeti I like.

    Mmmmmm. The Science bit almost makes sense to me. Carbon 120mm version next Mr Yeti.

    Damn! Another of the ideas I had in my head put into practise before I got my butt into gear….not that I ever would have of course.

    So is this going to replace the 575? I really like this new frame. Wonder how much it weighs?

    *cough*GT I-drive*cough*

    I like how they strip it down, shows you the gubbins.

    What is “Natch” ? Is it ‘cool-speak’?

    DoctorRad said: On June 7, 2011
    *cough*GT I-drive*cough

    I see your thibking due to the large eccentric pivot but its nothing like i-Drive. More VPP/DW/meastro

    i-drive actuates the bottom bracket position relative to the whole bike. The BB here is stationary to the mainframe (and saddle).

    unecessary complication? Does the industry need another suspension design? Who could tell the difference under normal riding conditions?

    Any idea on the geometry?

    Maverick/GT iDrive variant surely? Well sort of. No but yes.

    Ben – I was reading that the head angle is a super-slack 66!

    It’s nothing like the iDrive or Monolink designs. The axel path is completely different, the bottom bracket is part of the frame, not the swingarm etc, etc.
    Although the Maverick is absolutely brilliant in terms of pedal feedback and lack of bob, they don’t really seem to be doing much in terms of keeping up-to-date with current trends. (plus I like a different bike every time I swap).

    A couple of people have pointed to the I-Drive similarity. Only with this, the cranks aren’t moving in relation to the rest of the frame, something that tends to unsettle many new to I-Drive.

    Geo chart now added, Benji. I didn’t have my anglefinder handy at the time. A few other readers have questioned whether the difference between a 150 and 160mm fork would slacken the bike by 1.1 degrees, so that might need verifying…

    They were doing so well up until this point:

    “a little under two-grand”

    Looks like my 7 year old, £800 new Heckler frame will continue to soldier on! you can have our technology for 3 years


    decathlon did it 10 year ago….so we will word our patent funny and if anyone wants a legal fight

    design is not design anymore its legal engineering

    The slide off ISG mount is a great idea.

    I note the bruise on the mechanics thumb. Does the couple of minutes easy strip down involve a hammer?!

    Freakin’ AWESOME! …Yeti rule.

    …I have absolutely no idea what one would do with 6 inches of travel though.

    i’m with shakleton. 2 grand?? Bonkers.

    Cool. I’ve been wanting a Carbon Nomad or an Ibis Mojo HD for a while now, but haven’t been able to afford it. Now there’s three six inch carbon bikes I want but can’t afford. It’s great to have so much choice.

    yep – exactly.

    Cheers Chipps. And yes, 10mm more travel equaling 1.1 degrees slacker does sound quite iffy! Unless it’s a 150mm fork with an internal headset compared to a 160mm fork with external headset cup? :]

    Looks great. Don’t like all of the Yeti ideas but that one looks good. Sounds like it works in practice too. Expensive, but isn’t most good stuff..?

    I’ll stick with my 2006 575. It doesn’t “bob” cos I know how to ride it. And it LOOKS like a Yeti 🙂

    If the 150mm fork was say a Fox 32 or RS Revelation and the 160mm fork was the Fox 36 or Lyrik, then the total difference in A2C would be about 25mm not 10mm and thus the HA would likely slacken by a whole degree.

    If this is what they’ve done it’s a really good thing to be highlighting/quoting because the difference between those forks is pretty big both in terms of weight and overall a2c. Being able to run a 32mm stanchion 150mm fork without screwing up the geometry too much is a real bonus to getting a sub 30lb bike without having to throw money at it.

    Good point.

    I’m 6 foot.. Looks like I’m going for a small..

    I’m 5ft 9in or so and I rode a medium, which seemed to fit well. It certainly didn’t feel like a 24in top tube!

    looks fantastic, now where is the 29er version?

    Those figures do seem a bit bonkers, especially the top tube!

    Apparently this is not going to replace the 575. The 575 will continue in the line up alongside the SB66. Apparently the SB66 is for those that prefer a ‘Sportier Ride’ whatever that means!

    Long top tube + short stem = shorter top tube and longer stem.

    60mm stem + 24in top tube = 100mm stem + 22.5in top tube :]

    i like, anyone fancey a mojo sl with carbon shox so i can put my order in now

    I like this too. After having my bikes stolen two weeks ago I’m gagging for a new ride. Can I wait until July? Maybe.
    I’m a traditional 4 bar linkage lover so was going to plump for a Knolly or a Nicolai. I wonder if I’ll get on with this. Chips seems impressed.
    I’ll call Mark at Evolution and see if there are any left!

    I bet the eccentric will squeak horrendously after six months’ riding in Pennine mud.

    ‘A little under two grand’ seems to be the default for full-suss frames these days. Glad I’m not the only one who’s a bit depressed by this 🙁

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