The final piece of the revamped (and bottle cage enhanced) Yeti puzzle fell into place today, as the Golden, Colorado-based bike maker lifted the lid on its new SB140 trail bike. Falling in line with a naming structure already applied to the stable of bikes Yeti launched in 2018 (SB100, SB130, SB150), and earlier this month (SB165), this playful 27.5er combines 140mm of Switch Infinity rear travel with 160mm of front-end rock-smashing capability.
Yeti SB140 Highlights
- 140mm rear travel / 160mm front travel
- 65-degree head angle
- 77-degree seat tube angle
- Five frame sizes: XS-XL
- Frame-only: $3,499
- Complete builds: $5,399-$8,299
- Available now
- Visit www.yeticycles.com for more information
Yeti’s latest (and presumably last release for a while) also follows a similar pattern to its recent predecessors, with a slacker head angle, longer reach, and steeper seat tube angle. Key metrics include a 65-degree headtube angle, 77-degree effective seat tube angle, 433mm chainstays, and a long, 480mm-reach for a size large. And thanks to a frame-shock configuration similar to other bikes in Yeti’s line, you can tuck a water bottle inside the main triangle of the SB140.
For comparison sake, the outgoing SB5, which the SB140 effectively replaces, had 127mm of rear travel, a 150mm fork, 66.5-degree headtube angle, 73.5-degree effective seat tube angle, 437mm chainstays, and 444mm reach size Large. And of course, the only place you could attach a water bottle cage was underneath the downtube in cow poop land. No thanks.
In addition to modern geometry, the SB140 also has an increased shock leverage rate designed to deliver the holy trinity of sensitive small-bump performance, supportive mid-stroke, and confidence-inspiring bottom-out resistance.
“[With the SB140] we want you to feel like you are using all the travel, but not feel like you’re hitting a wall as you get near the end,” explained Yeti director of engineering Peter “Stretch” Zawistowski. “So our rates combined with what we do with kinematics results in a lot of people talking about how our bikes feel like they have more travel than they do.”
Yeti SB140 Pricing, Specs and Availability
The SB140 will come in three frame colors (traditional turquoise, inferno orange, and gray), and five build options with complete bike prices ranging from $5,399 for the C-level carbon frame dressed with SRAM GX and Fox Performance parts, to the higher end Turq carbon frame with SRAM XX1 and Fox Factory for $8,299. There’s also a Shimano 12-speed XT build ($6,899) for those looking for a different drivetrain option. The SB140 Turq frame and shock will run $3,499.
Other notable spec highlights include 170mm cranks to diminish pedal strike potential, 31.6mm Fox Transfer dropper posts that increase in travel along with frame size, topping out at 175mm for L and XL frames. Yeti is also spec’ing 50mm stems, claiming that due to the bike’s updated geometry, where the bikes respond more precisely when the rider is in a more forward riding position, they opted for the slightly longer stem to encourage riders to get over the front end.
Starting in 2020, the rest of Yeti’s bikes will follow a similar frame/spec pattern (thankfully including the inclusion of a Shimano XT 12-speed option). Model year 2020 will also see the elimination of the Beti line of women’s-specific bikes, as the brand decided there just wasn’t a real need to demarcate between the genders.
“Our decision to discontinue the line was driven by the women who work here,” said Kristi Jackson, Director of Marketing. “We create products that resonate with female riders. When launching the Beti bike line we developed a custom rear shock tune to achieve better performance for lighter-weight riders. After rounds of internal testing, we found that the enhanced tunability of FOX’s current suspension means we can achieve the same ride performance across a wider range of weights – male and female.”
Who’s the SB140 for?
So what niche does this bike fill? With these two latest releases, Yeti has promoted the idea of two distinct genres: Race and Rip. The company’s race bikes are the SB100 (XC) and SB150 (enduro), while the other three, including the new SB140, are for ripping. The goal was to make sure there were offerings that appeal to a younger audience, concluding that while 29ers may be faster going from Point A to B, the smaller-wheeled (and shorter rear-ended) 27.5ers are arguably more playful, poppy, and perhaps more fun.
And as long as we’re talking 29er versus 27.5, it’s worth noting that the new Yeti SB140 (with its 20mm suspension travel difference front to rear) could be the perfect bike to play around with increasingly interesting mullet set-up. In this case, you’d swap a 140mm 29er fork and 29er wheel onto the front end, with the aim of gaining the roll-over-anything brawn of a big wheel bike without losing the ability to flick around the rear end and get drifty in corners. It’s definitely something I’m personally curious about, as I found myself having a lot of fun on this bike, but also sometimes missing that 29er crush-everything capability in chundery terrain.
Yeti SB140 First Impressions
This brings us to my time on the bike, which has been about a half dozen pre-launch rides, mostly around my home in Crested Butte, Colorado. Overall, I’m a huge fan of the Yeti SB140 and what it brings to the table. The revamped geo, with its slacker front end and steeper seat tube angle, results in a bike that really does a lot of things well. And while, there’s arguably no race this bike is right for, there’s almost no ride it’s wrong for.
For instance, on one test session, I managed to claw my way up a lengthy and precipitously-steep ascent (Teocalli Ridge for those familiar with the area), including clearing the upper climb for the first time ever. Granted, the legs were feeling good, and the dirt was tacky from rain the previous day. But there’s no way I’m getting up that grunt if I’m sagging into the suspension and the front wheel is wandering around, which would be the case on a lot of similarly slack 27.5 bikes with this much travel. I should note that I did dial up the low-speed compression damping a hair on the shock—not all the way to “firm” mode, but maybe a quarter of the way there. That helped keep me fully upright while seated but still allowed the suspension to do its thing and maintain rear-wheel traction.
Admittedly, I felt like I had to be better at finding clean lines and shifting my weight around to get the smaller-wheeled bike up and over obstacles that a 29er would have just mowed down. It almost becomes a stylistic thing: What kind of ride do you feel like today? One where you’re more actively engaged physically and mentally, or one where the bike does most of the work as long as you can provide power through the pedals.
Flip it around and head downhill, and that same dichotomy exists. With a 29er, say the Yeti SB150, which I’ve also ridden a bunch, you can essentially steamroll everything in your path. You don’t have to be particularly choosy with line choice. At the same time, it’s not always the most spirited experience, more an exercise in the sheer force of will, which in itself can be really fun. Go fast. See rock. Smash rock. Keep going fast.
Conversely, and this will reek of cliché, when on the SB140, I found myself riding more playfully, intentionally ping-ponging from one side of the trail to the other. Messing around, if you will. And while likely not as fast, that style is a lot of fun, too. I guess in a perfect world, I’d own one of each, then pick the bike based on mood. And that’s not to say you need to baby this bike. With a 2.6 tire and 160mm of Fox suspension up front, it had no issues taking the most direct path no matter how ugly.
I need to log a handful more test rides before making any definitive conclusions. For now, though, I will say that while the pendulum has undoubtedly swung to the camp of 29er trail bikes as the be all end all, there remain some strong arguments for considering 27.5s such as the Yeti SB140. And fun is at the top of that list.
Click here to visit the Yeti SB140 thread on the MTBR forums.