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YETI SB95 | BIKE TEST

The Yeti SB95 drives out of the blocks with a fiery turn of speed settling into a balanced ride that is fun, instinctive and direct. That’s pretty much it – she’s a winner! 

DIRT ISSUE 129 – NOVEMBER 2012

Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones and Ben Winder

Very much an ‘express’ rather than a ‘stop–at–every–station’ railroader, this one took ages to arrive here in the office and thankfully now she’s rolling only carries a small amount of unwanted baggage. The wait was fully worth it. In large it’s tailor made for six foot riders, the geometry communicated into a lively, responsive and aggressive ride aided by a low standover and component set with details that include a wide bar, short stem and solid wheelset.

The 125mm headtube allows for correct bar and weight placement that provides a bit of give–and–take dependent on rider shape. The 46” wheelbase is shared out nicely front and rear and the bike comes in four really usable sizes. Its slightly shorter in travel and size than the burlier North American hand built 140mm Intense Tracer 29, but pretty much identical to a large Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 in geometry. The SB95 comes in slack and this is a good thing, simply adding to the Yeti’s super aggressive trail mindset.

The frame detail is nice with chain and seat stay protectors. Cable routing is mixed yet neat, and the bearings should be of Yeti quality long term. Good tyre clearance, RockShox Reverb Stealth inlet (but no Reverb stealth), removable ISCG mounts, oversized fully sealed bearing detail, seat dropper guides, chip system for 135 or 142mm rear axles. The bike is compact and well proportioned too.

Design wise, featuring Yeti’s dual–link suspension that involves a certain amount of chain growth to reduce suspension squat, which often leads to bobbing whilst pedalling, the design is essentially an eccentric mechanism that switches direction as the bike moves through its travel. Yeti say “this creates a micro–link that continuously repositions the lower pivot of the swing arm”. They go on to say this provides a unique wheel–path.

Any frame however is dependant on solid set piece suspension dynamics, together with good dampers. In this department the complex heart of this bike has a reasonably simple and tuned–up Fox rear damper. Up front the fork came with a 120mm Fox 24 fork with CTD damping. She’s a five–inch (127mm) with the option of fitting a shorter or longer fork, but Yeti stress the bike was not designed for use with a rear coil.

Bike Wheelbase Chainstay Bottom Bracket Height Headangle Standover Height
Yeti 127mm 46.3″ 17.5″ 13.2″ 67.6º 29.3″
Spesh 135mm 46.6″ 17.5″ 13.2″ 68º 29.5″
Intense 140mm 46.5″ 18″ 13.6″ 70º n/a

 

ON THE HOOF

Now for the difficult part, and I envisage that to be choosing which Yeti to buy. Yeti say of the SB95 that it’s “a bike that climbs extremely well but descends even better”. And I have to agree, it motors the descents. But in the back of my mind is the super lightweight SB66 Carbon. The folk in Golden, Colorado describe this as so…“if you want to get to the top of the climbs first and then put even more time into your friends on the descents, this is the bike for you”. From where I’m based I see the SB95 as a stunning general purpose trail machine, a bike that probably wouldn’t be too happy to be chairlifted in the Alps for too many weekends.

On the hoof the SB is a diamond, it’s svelte in shape and it’s nimble in mindset. The rear Fox offers support once you have the firmer compression setting dialled, but the weaker circuit will only be for seriously thin slower riders. This is fine in hard dry conditions, but in the general October to April conditions the rear lacks sensitivity in the firmer setting. Switching to the lighter compression works to a degree on the flat yet collapses too easily amongst hits. It also resonates a fair amount more clatter out the back.

Up front the Fox 34 with CTD (climb/trail/descend) felt cheap, too lacking the sensitivity I’d come to expect of the brilliant older 34 we’ve had fitted to an Intense Tracer 29. Once it was warmed up the subtle difference between climb, descent and trail mode was slightly more noticeable, and many riders will welcome this simplification of the fork dials. The 34 boasts great rigidity and its size matches the SB’ s chassis well, but in reality it’s a case of good girth lack of length. More than this, with higher pressures this fork just lacks sensitivity and that little bit more travel to see it through.

Not that for one minute did the lacklustre fork put me off however, and with the rear dialled firm you can raid through corners with high exit speed, the short chainstays pulling you out and in rapidly. There really are not many sub–130mm bikes that will get anywhere near it. And that’s partly the issue – there are limits to what any 130mm bike will do and maybe the bike would be better suited to the 140mm fork after all…I just wonder if that will affect its wonderful balance.

Certainly the deadliest sub 130mm travel trail bike I’ve ever ridden, giving a superb all–round performance that many riders will thrive on.

HEADSET Cane Creek, Inset (zerostack) 44mm/56mm tapered
CRANKSET Shimano XT (24–32–42)
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano XT
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano XT 10SPD
SHIFTERS Shimano XT
CASSETTE Shimano XT 10SPD
CHAIN Shimano
WHEELS DT Swiss 350/XR400 F-15/R-12
TYRES Schwalbe (Maxxis on test bike)
BRAKES/LEVERS Shimano XT
HANDLEBARS Easton Haven Carbon
STEM Thomson X4
GRIPS Yeti Lock–On
SADDLE WTB Yeti Branded
SEATPOST Thomson Elite
COLOURS Black/Grey Grey/Turq
WARRANTY 2 Years manufacturer’s warranty

Complete Bike £4395, Frame £1999

www.silverfish-uk.com

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