Compare-O Bottom Line: Yeti SB95C is a gorgeous high-speed weapon

29er Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014

This article is part of the Mtbr’s Enduro Compare-O. See all the stories in this special section here–

Sporting the classic turquoise Yeti livery and beautifully sculpted carbon fiber tube shapes, the Yeti SB95C was arguably one of the most visually captivating bikes in the Enduro Compare-O. While some other bikes sport complex linkages, bars and multi-valve shocks, the eccentric pivot design execution of the Yeti is refreshingly clean and simple with minimal pivots or linkages. But did the Yeti’s riding characteristics match the knockout looks?

On the ascent

The Yeti SB95C was a curious climber. On the first section of wide-open fire road up the 1,500 vertical foot Sulphur Springs trail, test riders noted that the Yeti felt a bit sluggish due to its 30-pound weight and 29-inch wheels.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

However, once into the steeper, more technical and rocky sections, the eccentric pivot suspension design of the Yeti known as Switch Technology did a superb job of biting down for catlike grip. Initial suspension travel on the eccentric pivot moves in a counterclockwise direction when climbing, improving anti-squat for more efficient pedaling performance.

With the Fox CTD Adjust Kashima rear shock in Climb mode, very little pedal-induced bob was felt, and with the added traction, one test rider cleaned the steepest and most technical section of Ridge Trail, something he wasn’t able to do on the lighter Santa Cruz Bronson.

“Suspension works very well through rocky tech sections and the bike feels very well balanced,” he noted. “So long as you keep the speed up, the Yeti can clean a lot of techy spots that other lighter bikes with smaller wheels get hung up on.”

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

Although the Yeti climbed well for its weight class, there was one issue that several riders noted. The SB95C features extremely wide seatstays, causing frequent heel strikes when pedaling. The strikes were so frequent, in fact, that black scuff marks could be seen on the area in question. As with the Lapierre Spicy 527 we tested—and any bike, really—we recommend a test ride to see if you have interference issues like this.

Big wheels bring high-speed stability

Thanks to its simple and efficient 127mm Switch Technology rear suspension design, the Yeti SB95C delivered confidence-inspiring performance on rolling terrain and high-speed corners, especially when paired to the capable Fox Float 34 CTD fork with 140mm of travel. One rider commented the Yeti felt solid, with no perceived slop in any of the systems. He also called its responsiveness instant, thanks in part to a solid, stout rear end featuring a 12x142mm rear thru-axle.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

The slacked out head tube angle of 67.6-degrees and longer 17.5-inch chainstays equated to a bike with superior high-speed stability and cornering. A large 2.4-inch Maxxis Ardent front tire helped dig into the hard-packed Demo Forest dirt. One of the test riders took the Yeti down the fire road decent of Corral Trail, a trail where speeds can easily approach 40 mph.

“I got the Yeti loose in a few high-speed turns, but it pulled through with impressive composure giving me added confidence,” said one rider. “Other bikes with 27.5-inch tires would have been sent skittering off into the weeds.”

The only downside of the longer chainstays on the Yeti is its less nimble handling characteristics in really tight, technical spots with numerous switchbacks. The Yeti is definitely better suited for more open, high-speed descending.

Continue to Page 2 for more on the Yeti SB95C and full photo gallery »

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • Sean says:

    Can you clarify the issue with the shimano xt brakes? What is it about the bike or the brakes themselves that was an issue? Rotor too small?

    • corey says:

      the pictures show it doesn’t have the ice tech rotors. which is what make shimano brakes run cooler and by extension reliable.

  • Matt B says:

    ‘“I got the Yeti loose in a few high-speed turns, but it pulled through with impressive composure giving me added confidence,” said one rider. “Other bikes with 27.5-inch tires would have been sent skittering off into the weeds.”’
    These Compare-O reviews are so trashy, so over-the-top with marketing speak, that it comes across like an artsy in-joke at the expense of credulous mountain bikers and MTBR users. Don’t think about the wheel sizes themselves, or the Internet bickering over them that has become a meme in its own right. Just re-read that little passage above, and ask yourself WTF this kind of pointless, speculative nonsense is doing in a review written by average-ish amateur reviewers for average-ish mountain bike consumers. This bike will bone your mother but always leaves you the last piece of pie. Earn your turns. Enduro. !!11!

  • Francis says:

    When did 17.5″ chain stays become “long” for a 29er?

  • VII says:

    I’m curious about the chain stays. Here, you write in the negatives: “Longer chainstays not ideal for tight, technical trails.”

    But in the SJ EVO review, you state: “The low BB height and shorter, 17.9-inch chain stays helped the bike track nicely, even through the few tight turns on our test track.”

    My question is, are these discrepancies in your reviewing? Or does the overall geometry of a bike influence the feel and turning ability, regardless of chain stay length?

    • Gregg Kato says:

      Hey VII,

      Chainstay length by itself will only tell you so much. Typically, a longer chainstay would mean less nimble, but more stable at high speed. However, chainstay is just one measurement and overall geometry and suspension design differ a lot between the SB-95 and the Stumpy and these will play a bigger part into how the bike handles overall then just how long the chainstays are.

  • Jason says:

    For those seriously looking at buying this bike, just an FYI: I purchased this exact same build (Large, Race), swapped out the DT Swiss wheels for a set of Mavic Crossmax ST, tubeless, lighter weight saddle, reverb dropper, and xtr pedals. These changes dropped the weight down to 28.4 lbs. Run a 1×11 and you could probably get into the upper 27 lb range. Not bad for 5″ 29er all mountain ripper and you don’t have to go crazy spending $10K on top-end components and carbon wheels. Also, with the exception of the Specialized Enduro 29er, the 17.5″ chainstay length is pretty much right in the ballpark with other tested long-ish travel 29ers. When shopping, I considered 17.5″ fairly short for this type of bike, and a selling point. The bike handles really tight, technical trails like a champ. Do swap out for a longer bar and shorter stem….makes a HUGE difference.

    • grumpy says:

      i built up an alloy front/carbon rear, large. 27lb12oz. spinergy wheels ,9speed, carbon bars, XO gripshift. I am guessing the wheels and components are where the weight lies with their test bike.

  • jamesc says:

    Have a 95c built with xx1, xo trails (a must), 150mm pikes, ks lev, raceface carbon bars on Thompson stem, roval carbon wheels and it is under 28lbs, so god knows what they used to get this 30lbs+. The pike was recomended from a friend at yeti and is perfect, i don’t even have to lock it on 99% of climbs. I also have a carbon camber running xx group and the yeti is almost as close on the ups but so much better on the down, handles all but the most extreme dh tracks amazingly. Camber for race day, yeti for the rest.

    If you only want 1 bike this is definitely worth considering. Mines yellow and gets comments everywhere, rare, beautiful and amazingly capable.

  • AaronH says:

    It is not true that the eccentric rotates counter clockwise during climbing and clockwise during descents. The eccentric basically stays put in one location until you get to the last third of the travel on the rear shock, at which point it rotates counter clockwise. Don’t believe the hype.

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