Black and rapid out of golden.
DIRT ISSUE 133 – MARCH 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones
Yeti SB66 – the reviewFIRST THOUGHTS
More than anything this Yeti SB66 hammers home the fact that if you are driving a long travel trail bike it needs to be light. And, that if you will be utilizing it fully, at speed, then that amount of travel in the right places will more than likely be needing hardware to match the frame’s potential.
The Yeti comes built for action and by God it’s fast, without question one of the quickest 160mm bikes that I’ve ever ridden. We could talk until the cows come home of the plusses and minuses of Yeti’s take on the way a bike should be suspended – in this instance the eccentric bearing ‘Switch’ – a system that attempts to neutralise suspension bob and eliminate pedal kickback as much as possible. Essentially this bike backs up the declarations.
Still, you have to get the basics right, in this instance the bike has a good low standover, is super lightweight, has a good range of sizes and pretty much perfect angles. Like I said, it’s fast, very fast. The power transfer is immediate, the steering precise, and you get a good response from the wheels via the suspension. Out of corner urgency, high–speed stability, the bike is a dream to ride.SECOND THOUGHTS
It takes a fair chunk of cash to get a 160mm bike in under 30lb. This bike with pedals was 29.07lb at £5299, but that’s with super skinny Continental 1.8 Mud Kings. Slap on a RockShox Reverb and bigger 2.35 tyres and you’re over the 30lb marker. Still, for this you get one of the few true 26×160 bikes capable of all–round use. It would be an awesome enduro race bike or for multi stage gravity events such as Trans Provence.
The suspension system, although complex is reasonably easy to tune, for pick and place riding the Yeti SB66 responds instantaneously, something aided by the lightweight. Up front I was pleasantly surprised with a good performance Fox 34 not really needing any oil top up to give the fork more progression. The rear travel only had a slight hint of weakness during successive and bigger hits and I felt at times it needed a smaller pocket in the stroke which to launch any trail adjustments off. But that’s just being picky.
On the parts list, well you have a fair old choice, but really the bike could also do with a clutch type mech to quieten the business down a touch, but it does come with some good carbon protection. Cable routing is thorough.
Note: For those of you sensitive to wheel size talk look away now: More than this, I was desperately trying to avoid wheel size talk. “Think outside the box, but work within it”, as one very good UK bike journalist once said. But you know what, it really worries me and I wouldn’t be giving the full story if I avoided this subject. We rode a 33lb Norco Range 650Bx160 bike (£2800) the same day and found an equally easy pedal characteristic but offering more stability on descents. So two questions: 1) when will Yeti launch bigger wheels on this already incredible bike, and 2) why would I buy a 160x650B when there are currently no mud tyres available.>>
This bike reminds me very much of the Specialized Enduro in terms of weights and measures. The Yeti SB66 is a shade shorter up front than the Spesh but otherwise pretty similar in its attacking mindset. This bike rides light in most situations and it enables you to change direction in an instant. Bikes like this simply don’t come around often so be sure you’re using it as a charger rather than a sofa. Yeti describe it as ‘six pounds and six inches for back country rides and enduro races’, that pretty much sums it up nicely.
And that’s pretty much it. With excellent drive it’s relatively simple and is a step in the right lightweight enduro direction that for some reason is a rare find. All that without even mentioning the smooth lines and beautiful colour balance of the frame! But it does need saying I guess, I mean this really has had some love…well proportioned, subtle, effortless on the eye. It’s a great bike, I love every second riding it and if I had to choose a 26”x160 bike it would be in my top three without any doubt.
Price £5299 (Carbon frame £2,699, Ali frame £1,999)
Bottom Bracket: 13.4”
Front Centre: 29.2″
Frame: Yeti SB66 Carbon, Large
Shock: Fox CTD Adjust K+
Fork: Fox 34 150 Kashima 15
Stem: Thomson 4X
Bars: Easton Haven Carbon
Grips: Yeti Lock–On
Headset: Cane Creek
Shifter: Shimano XT 10 Spd
Derailleur: Shimano XT 10 Spd
Brakes: Shimano XT R–160/F–180
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Seat: WTB Yeti Branded
Crank: Shimano XT (24/32/42)
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT Direct Mount
Cassette: Shimano 10 Spd
Chain: Shimano 10 Spd
Wheelset: DT Swiss X1600
Tyres: Maxxis Ardent
Sizes: S, M, L and XL
Hit the links below for more from Yeti: