Yeti SB165 Unveiled
While the recent trend in new bike launches has been decidedly 29er flavored, the 27.5 wheel platform is not dead just yet. At least not for Yeti Cycles. On Tuesday, the Golden, Colorado-based bike maker lifted the lid on its latest smaller-wheeled trail smasher, the SB165, which is the slackest and longest travel option in their line-up. It also comes stock with a coil shock.
Falling in line with the nomenclature applied to the stable of bikes Yeti launched in 2018 (SB100, SB130, SB150), this highly capable rig boasts 165mm of Switch Infinity rear travel paired with 180mm up front. Other key metrics of an offering that comes in the standard four frame sizes (S-XL) include a 63.5 head tube angle, 77-degree effective seat tube angle, 433mm chainstays, and a rangy 480.1mm reach size Large. And thanks to a frame-shock configuration similar to the SB130 and SB150, you can fit a water bottle inside the main triangle.
For comparison sake, the outgoing SB6, which the SB165 effectively replaces, had 152mm of rear travel, a 170mm fork, 64.9-degree head tube angle, 73-degree effective seat tube angle, 442mm chainstays, and 440.9mm reach size Large. And of course, you could not fit a water bottle inside the main triangle.
“This new bike is very similar to what we did with the SB130 and SB150 with geo that’s steeper, slacker, and has longer reach,” explained Yeti director of engineering Peter “Stretch” Zawistowski, adding that the SB165’s suspension utilizes a 27.5% leverage rate that’s optimized for the coil shock that will come standard on all builds. “With Switch Infinity we have the freedom to choose whatever rates we want. And we chose those for the standards reasons, small bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support, bottom out resistance. But we also aim to use all the travel and not have that feeling where you are hitting a wall at the end of the travel.”
So why the coil shock? Performance. While air shocks are typically lighter and more adjustable, coils are renowned for their consistent, fade-free operation, especially on the long, rowdy descents where this bike will be most at home.
Another obvious question is what box does this bike fit in? Yeti has already effectively covered the XC and enduro race disciplines with the SB100 and SB150. Now they’ve separated their bikes into two distinct categories, Race and Rip, with the SB165 falling into the later. It could easily become a park bike that doubles as the daily driver for a rider that prefers to pick and pop versus straight line charging everything on a 29er.
“Part of our goal here is to appeal to a younger audience that may be looking for a different experience,” said Yeti director of marketing Kristi Jackson.
Indeed, while this 27.5 bike may not be as all-out fast as the analogous 29er, it could be more fun. “It’s designed to be super playful. Anywhere in the travel you can pop off things and jump,” added Yeti product manager Ryan “Rocket” Thornberry. “And yes we all agree that 29er is faster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fast on this bike, too.”
The SB165 will come in five build options with complete bike prices ranging from $5599 for the C-level carbon frame dressed with SRAM GX and Fox Performance parts to the higher end Turq carbon frame fully blinged out with SRAM XX1 and Fox Factory for $8799. There’s also a Shimano 12-speed XT build ($7199) for those looking for a different drivetrain option. Complete bikes come with a standard Fox coil spring, with spring weights set at SM: 350lb, MD: 400lb, LG: 450lb, XL: 500lb. If those weights don’t work for you, replacement springs run about $30 and Yeti dealers are being encouraged to keep a stockpile on hand for easy switches. Turq frame and shock only is $3999, and you get the upgraded Fox Factory DHX2 SLS Spring that comes in 25lb increments. Replacements run $130.
Other notable spec highlights include 170mm cranks to help diminish pedal strikes and 31.6mm Fox Transfer dropper posts that increase in travel over the frame size run, topping out at 175mm for L and XL frames. Yeti is also going with 50mm stems.
“With the updated geo, we learned that the slightly longer stem helps people get over the front of the bike more easily,” Thornberry explained. “This bike works better with a more forward riding position, and that stem length helps riders weight the front end and push the bike.”
First Ride Impressions
With just one ride on the new bike, it’s impossible to draw any real conclusions. But just like the SB130 and SB150 we tested last fall, the new SB165 appears to have solid climbing capabilities combined with trail-charging descending chops. However, it’s definitely not a flyweight, with our size XL Turq XO1 tester tipping the scales at a meaty 32.8 pounds. But given the bike’s downhill prowess, that’s certainly not out of line. And while the extra heft will likely eliminate you from KoM consideration, the geo and suspension design are such that the rider sits in a comfortable upright position during seated climbing.
Indeed, I had no issues cleaning a handful of techy reversals and tricky step-ups during an hourlong test ride. And when it came time to descend, the Yeti SB165 felt all but unstoppable, soaking up all manner of bumps and drops in a confident and controlled fashion. The lone caveat is that this is not a bike for the timid. Indeed, the slack front end requires its pilot to push forward, keeping weight on the front wheel, lest you start blowing turns and wandering off line.
Mtbr has a test bike in hand and will be putting it through its paces on our home trails in Crested Butte, Colorado. Stay tuned for a longer term review a couple of months from now.