YETI SB66 Review - Issue #43

blueyeti

Yeti is a name so synonymous with highperformance mountain bikes that it has spawned a cult-like following under the banner of ‘Yetifan’. Its downhill reputation is well proven, as is its crosscountry pedigree. In the all-mountain/trail category, the 575 is highly regarded by weekend warriors around the world. Our own Leif Roy got a little weak at the knees in his review of the 575 back in Issue 41, and the new SB66 (Super Bike, 26 inch wheel, 6 inches of travel) with the new ‘Switch’ suspension technology is intended to perform even better. The Switch platform is effectively a single pivot that moves around an eccentric, rotating pivot location. This allows the rear axle to move both back and forwards as well as up and down to give a greater range of suspension movement over a variety of trail obstacles. Rather than giving a botched attempt to explain exactly how it works, check out the beautifully shot videos on Yeti’s website (www.yeticycles.com). But suffice to say, it works like nothing we’ve seen before. The aluminium frame has a tapered head tube, rear disc post mount, a splined bottom bracket shell with removable ISCG 03 and 05 tabs, dropouts that can accommodate either a 135 mm QR or 142 x 125 mm thru-axle, internal cable routing on the rear triangle, direct mount front derailleur and is fully equipped to take a heightadjustable seatpost. The frame weighs in at a very respectable 7 lbs (3.1 kg). With Kashima-coated Fox suspension (Float RLC up front and new Boost Valve RP23 out back), Shimano XTR 2 x 10 drivetrain, XTR Trail brakes, Easton Haven cockpit, Chris King headset, RockShox Reverb dropper post, DT Swiss EX500 rims on DT 240 hubs, this bike certainly is a dream build and could only enhance any ride. The XTR Trail brakes are my new all-time favourite brakes; absolutely sensational. The XTR drivetrain was good, but I still prefer the SRAM XO 2 x 10 I tested for Issue 39. The DT Swiss wheels are quality, but with their light weight I’m not sure they’re really up for the type of punishment this bike invites. The good news is you can get the bike in a variety of different builds, or frame only if that’s your preference. I am yet to find a chink in the SB66’s armour. It really does have everything dialled, from suspension action to frame stiffness and geometry. It’s a bike that gives immediate confidence, but still the opportunity for growth. The SB66 is going to get a lot of attention due to its unique suspension action (which is very good), but a supple rear end does not a great all-mountain bike make. Yeti has brought together some fantastic angles here too, which should not be overlooked. Just by looking, you may see a slightly longer top tube giving you a more stable ‘centre’ in the bike, along with a slack 67 degree head angle (with 150 mm fork) and a stable 1130 mm wheelbase. These numbers don’t translate to a lazy cornerer though, with a low front end that loves being thrown into the turns with abandon. Yeti provides geometry figures for a 160 mm fork because they know that 32s aren’t going to be enough for some owners. In the roughest of terrain (think riverbed boulders) things could get out of shape and the prospect of a 36 or Lyric on the front was certainly appealing, but the versatility of the 32s ultimately won me over. I’d trade off some big hit capability for the sharp snappyness of the lighter and lower front end. Then again, if there was a chairlift around… I never felt the rear end put a foot wrong during the whole test. The agility of the bike was felt everywhere, whether diving into or powering out of corners, over lips or through transitions, up sharp climbs or down steep drops. This bike is sex on wheels. It’s not a screamer though; in fact it’s one of the quietest bikes I’ve ridden. Although a very capable climber, I never felt encouraged to attack a climb. I would lock out the forks, switch to the suspension platform on the rear and fluently spin my way to greatness. I am well impressed by the SB66. As of right now, this is as good a bike as you’ll find anywhere. At $9925 (as tested) it will be out of reach for many riders, but if you can sell a kidney or go for the frame only option, you won’t be disappointed. Yetifans of the world unite. MARK DANGERFIELD