Yeti SB66 Enduro mountain bike review
They call it the Super Bike. Really, they do. Yeti, a mountain bike company based in Colorado, shook the mountain bike world with their SB66. The SB, of course, stands for Super Bike, and the 66 represents 26 inch wheels with six inches of travel in the suspension. But what really makes this bike “super,” is the revolutionary frame that has what they call Switch Technology in the rear suspension. It’s a complicated mess to explain, but essentially the Switch Technology it is a dual-link suspension that relies on a concentric sealed-bearing pivot/micro-link that the main pivot actuates on a pivot within a pivot. Did you get all that?
Well, I’ve been riding the Yeti SB66 Enduro for a few months now, searching to see whether or not this really is a Super Bike. After cruising the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and Corner Canyon, bombing down the Bobsled, and even competing in an 18-hour race in Fruita, I got a pretty good handle on the personality of this bike. But really, I fell in love upon the first pedal stroke.
I first took the Yeti SB66 to the Emigration Canyon trailhead for some leisurely riding on the Shoreline Trail, then up Dry Creek and back. The beginning of the ride starts out very steep, which is a great place to test the climbing prowess of a bike. I’d read other reviews that trumpet the climbing abilities of the SB66, even going as far as comparing it to a hardtail 29er. While I wouldn’t go quite that far, I was seriously giddy with the lack of pedal bob when rapidly pumping my legs to get to the top. Pedal bob is the nemesis of everyone riding a full suspension as that rear shock absorbs every pedal stroke, seriously killing momentum. But the with the Yeti SB66, that dual pivot kicks in as soon as it senses the increased forces in the chain.
Again, it’s hard to explain without feeling the effect, but the Switch Technology controls the rear wheel travel path, chain stay growth, and the leverage ratio throughout the full six inches of travel in the rear shock, allowing hardtail-style pedaling efficiency.
Ok, so uphill is great and all, but mountain biking is really about the down, and boy does the Yeti SB66 perform. The Enduro model I rode comes with Fox Float RP32 shocks that have 150mm of travel, more than enough for killing any rocks, roots and ruts that lay in its path. A slack head tube (67 degrees) also angles the front tire in a way that makes the bike feel more stable, and inspires confidence that you would have to actually try to go over the handlebars. But compared to other bikes I’ve ridden, stability is the number-one aspect that made me smile wide when zipping around banked turns on the Bobsled, or jumping the bike over berms on the Rush Trail in Corner Canyon. Not once did I feel any felxing in the frame, or rattling of parts when the going got rough. Cornering is a dream as the bikes relative light weight allowed me to make tight turns with instant reaction.
But back to the Switch Technology and the bike’s ability to climb and travel on even terrain as good as a hardtail bike… I still wasn’t completely convinced despite my giddy experiences in the previous months. So I took the SB66 to Fruita, Colorado to race in the 18 Hours of Fruita bike race. Riding among all those spandex-clad racers mounted on carbon bikes built for speed made me feel a bit foolish as I rolled up on an all-mountain, full suspension bike with six inches of travel. But the rest of my team also brought their all-mountain bikes, and we had a ball racing against single-speedsters and Pugsleys. Our team came in 5th place (out of 16) – not bad for beer-drinking misfits racing on the wrong bikes.
However, on the race course, the Yeti SB66 shined. Sure, she didn’t climb quite as fast as the single-speed 29ers, but she did climb much better than any full suspension bike I’ve ever demoed, and once on the downhill, I thanked my stars that I was on my Yeti as she devouered terrain that made the competition slow down to a crawl. In a nutshell, I may have looked foolish racing on the Yeti SB66, but I sure didn’t feel like it.
I have few complaints with the Yeti SB66, except that the bike feels really low… and it is. The bike is very low to the ground, which is by design. The lower profile allows the bikes to stick to corners and be more reactive with better ground-feel for the rider. I get that, and can feel the difference. But one drawback is that I get a lot more pedal strikes on rocks as a result. Not a huge issue, but I foresee a future when I’ll be replacing my pedals more often.
Overall, the SB66 not only made riding easier, it also turned me into a better mountain biker. The stability, climbing ability, amazing downhill performance, and the unprecedented dual-link design mix together to create a do-it-all bike that straddles the lines of downhill, cross-country and all-mountain bikes. Yes, I’d say the Yeti SB66 is can really be called a Super Bike as it really is a bike that can do it all.
But if you’re still confused about the dual-link Switch Technology that makes the amazingness of the SB66 possible, below is the explanation, straight from the Yeti’s mouth:
An Optimized Dual Link Design
Though it looks like a single-pivot design, Switch Technology is actually a unique dual-link suspension design that switches direction as it moves through its travel. This allows us to create a bike that has excellent anti-squat characteristics for crisp pedaling, but still maintain suspension independence throughout the bike’s travel.
How it Works
Switch Technology uses an eccentric assembly to create a micro link that continuously repositions the lower pivot of the swing arm throughout the range of travel.
In the early stage of travel, the micro link is guiding the lower pivot of the swing arm rearward. This rearward direction counteracts chain forces and gives the bike excellent anti-squat characteristics.
Plush, Controlled Travel
As the bike moves past sag, the micro-link rotates in the opposite direction. This switch in direction controls the rate of chain stay growth, which is necessary to eliminate pedal feedback, and allows for uninhibited suspension performance.
The suspension rate has been optimized to work with Switch Technology. The rate switches from falling to rising to falling (dual inflection point) in order to achieve ideal anti-squat and suspension characteristics. We have worked extensively with our friends at Fox Racing Shox to tailor the rate and shock tuning. In its current configuration, it is optimized for six inches of travel but can be modified for different travel.
Other Advantages of the Switch System
• The eccentric pivot assembly is low-maintenance, fully sealed and provides a stiff interface between the swing arm and front triangle.
• It is patent pending and has been tested in the field and in the lab for nearly two years.
• The minimized distance between the eccentric assembly and link pivot enables us to design these into a single forged part. This allows us to hold tight tolerances and ensures the suspension characteristics are the same on every bike.
Did you get all that? It’s okay if you don’t quite understand the process. Just ride the bike for yourself, and you’ll feel the effect. Here’s the specs of the Enduro version from Yeti:
Frame Material: aluminum
Suspension: Switch Technology
Pivot Type: cartridge bearing
Rear Travel: 6 in
Rear Shock: Fox Float RP23 (high-volume Kashima-coated Factory Series)
Headset: 1.125 – 1.5 in Cane Creek 40
Rear Axle: 135 x 10 mm quick-release
Fork: Fox Float FIT RLC (Kashima-coated, tapered steerer tube)
Front Travel: 150 mm
Wheelset: DT Swiss M1900
Front Derailleur: SRAM X.7
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.9 (10-speed)
Shifters: SRAM X.7
Crankset: SRAM X.7
Chain Rings: 22 / 33 / 42 t
Crank Arm Length: (medium) 175 mm
Bottom Bracket: SRAM GXP
Brake Levers: Avid Elixir 5
Brake Calipers: Avid Elixir 5
Rear Rotor: 160 mm
Front Rotor: 185 mm
Handlebar: TruVativ Stylo Race
Handlebar Width: 680 mm
Handlebar Rise: low
Grips: Yeti lock-on
Stem: TruVativ Stylo
Chain: SRAM 1051
Cassette: 11 – 36 T SRAM PG-1050
For more information, visit YetiCycles.com