YETI SB150 First Impressions Review *Updated
THE BEAST IS UNLEASHED
BUILD, SIZING & COMPARISON
Last month Yeti released a new enduro machine, the SB150. Yeti claims it rides “strikingly similar to nothing.” I’d say it rides like a bicycle, and a fine one at that.
First things first. Let’s get all the obligatory build, weight and spec details of of the way. The bike is the GX build. It comes with the GX stuff on it. It’s carbon and it’s not lightweight. This one weighed 31.5 lbs (I’m actually lying. It was 31.8. I’m just trying to be nice) without pedals in XL. I’m 6’2” or 6’3”, depending on which doctors office I’m in, and I’d say the XL is big. Oh yeah. It has a short offset fork and a slack head tube angle (better throw that in because “short offset” is the buzzword of 2018.) Done — glad that’s over.
I took the SB150 to Moab for a proper thrashing. Nothing quite like jumping on technical desert trails your first time out on a bike. I was really looking forward to riding Mag 7 and finishing on Gold Bar and Portal. On the upper Mag 7 stuff the bike was too much bike. The SB130 probably would have been a better choice. On the chunky, ledgy and frankly scary stuff at the bottom (Gold Bar/Portal) I was glad to have a huge bike under me with a lot of squish and slack angles. Having a little extra confidence built into the bike when you’re hitting double drops feet from a large cliff isn’t a bad thing — it’s actually pretty great.
I normally ride a Rocky Mountain Instinct BC edition so I’m going to compare the Yeti bike to that bike. They’re both bicycles, they both hold water bottles inside the front triangle, they both have two big 29” wheels (read: the correct wheel size) and they both have lots of squish. The Yeti is slacker, longer and has more travel in the front. The Yeti wins in terms of pedaling efficiency. There’s much less pedal bob on the SB150. My Rocky wins the overall climbing battle though — after all it’s nearly two pounds lighter and is dressed in carbon wheels. They’re both very good bikes when pointed downhill. The Instinct is plush and controlled just like the SB150. They both have some decent pop. Not giant Trance 29 pop, but pop nonetheless. The SB150 handles straight and chunky trails better while the Instinct feels more agile and maneuverable. There’s not really a clear winner on the downhills — it all depends on your downhills. The Rocky wins on price and versatility. The Yeti wins on being bright orange and getting you dates (cool factor.)
Mag 7 doesn’t have a ton of sustained climbing. It does however have a ton of punchy short climbs with all the technical bits mixed in. It’s surprisingly a good test for how well a bike climbs. The SB150 made it up most of the hard techy bits that I can normally clean. It didn’t suffer because of the slack angles and long travel fork. The Switch Infinity platform was pretty nice. It stayed rather high in the travel for most of my pedaling efforts, though I did notice I had a few more pedal strikes on the SB150 than on my personal bike. I’m not sure if that’s just Moab being Moab or if the BB is extra low. It would be something to look into.
Getting to Gold Bar Rim, requires a terrible grunt of a climb up a jeep road. It’s not fun and I’m sure it sucks on any bike, but on a 32-ish pound bike it really sucked. The SB150 was efficient enough and climbed well enough but the weight started wearing me down. A more expensive build or stronger legs would fix that problem though.
The SB150 obviously shined here. I mean it’s Richie Rude’s bike. It’s got to go downhill like a bat out of hell — it did just that. It’s fast and stable… like really fast and stable. Over ledgy and chattery slick rock sections the bike moved so little underneath me I wasn’t sure if the wheels were still even on the ground. The suspension worked really well and was rather plush, but with a nice little ramp up right at the end. That ramp up really helped on those surprise huck-to-flats. The numbers lie when it comes to getting this bike off the ground. With so much bike in front of me I thought it would be near impossible to get the front wheel off the ground. It was surprisingly easy to pull of a quick, stabby bunny hop or ledge drop.
My biggest nit to pick with the SB150 is that with such a looong wheelbase the cornering was a little tricky. Getting that thing around some tight chunky corners was pretty tough. The short offset fork helped keep the handling quick, but getting a school bus around a corner is always going to be tougher than a golf cart. I’m not calling the SB150 a school bus, more of a stretch Hummer with a hot tub in the back — you get my point. It’s big and stable — thats not the best recipe for small, quick and nimble.
*UPDATE - Now that I’ve had a chance to ride the SB150 in L and XL, I can say the XL was too big. I rarely find bikes that are too big — this might actually be the first one. The size L is a great fit, though. I should have just listened to Yeti in the first place when their size guide said I should ride a L. Thats what I get for thinking I’m smarter than the folks who make the things.
I was worried the cockpit in the L would feel way too short due to the steep seat tube angle. It was shorter than what I’m used to but it was quite nice to be pretty upright on the bike. My weight felt nice and balanced between the wheels and I didn’t have to scooch forward on the saddle when the climbing got steep. Where I noticed the biggest difference though was on the downhill — the corners especially. The L felt much more maneuverable and quicker through corners. The stretch Hummer feeling was gone. The bike still has a slack head tube angle so it’s never going to feel as sprightly as a more trail oriented bike. That slack head tube is what makes the bike party harder than Rod “Hot Rod” Kimble on the descents, though. The L felt just as stable and quiet underneath me as the XL did. I was a quite surprised by how little the bike bounced around when I picked the stupidest lines through the rocky bits. I guess lots of travel and slack geometry will do that for you. If you call the brakes “coward levers,” the SB150 will match your riding style. It wants to go fast. It dares you to not pull the coward levers.
Last thing for this update. I’m more and more impressed by the Switch Infinity suspension platform. It is very efficient and sits rather high in the travel. There’s little to no pedal bob. It is a more progressive platform that tends to fit my riding style. I have only ridden this bike with the Fox DPX2 but I can imagine it only gets better with the X2 shock specced on the X01 and higher builds.
If Richie Rude’s two EWS wins aboard the SB150 weren’t convincing enough, my opinion probably wont matter too much. But I think you you ride this bike. Throw a leg over it and see how strikingly it rides like a bicycle that doesn’t give a damn. Lucky for you, we have demos in certain sizes with more to come. Give us a call and reserve your demo.