Interbike 2011: Yeti SB-66 versus SB-95
Yeti unveiled the SB-66 earlier this summer, and now its big-wheeled brother is almost ready for prime time.The SB-95 we rode was a pre-production version. Small changes, like water bottle bosses on the underside of the down tube and routing for a dropper post were absent on this bike but will be included in the production version, which should be available in early 2012.
As noted by a head honcho at a competing brand these two “Super Bikes” proved to be the sweathearts of this year’s Outdoor Demo. We rode both to compare and contrast the personalities of the SB-66 with that of the SB-95.
Tested by Justin Steiner
This bike was first to make an impression on me this year, simply due to the buzz around the show about it, and the shear quantity of SB-66’s out on the trail.
We interviewed Yeti’s president, Chris Conroy [link] about the SB-66 earlier in the year, and there’s certainly been much anticipation about this bike all across the Interwebs.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the SB-66’s Switch Technology and a quick spin in unfamiliar terrain makes judgement quite difficult. Initially, it seems as though the suspension reacts quite differently when pedaling and coasting, firming up while on the gas and eagerly using more of its travel while coasting. Both sensations may be explained by his bike’s rearward initial axle path.
I also perceived a change in suspension character after the eccentric begins rotating the opposite direction (beyond 100mm of travel), where the suspension feels less firm and eager to soak up big hits. In my short spin the SB-66 used full travel, but never bottomed noticeably. During this quick ride I wasn’t able to come to a conclusion about how these changes in suspension character might translate over the long haul. I’ll wait for our long-term test before drawing any conclusions.
Chassis-wise, the SB-66 felt stiff and responsive, within the scope of a trail bike with a 67-degree headtube angle. I’m awfully stoked to put this bike through its paces on familiar terrain.
Tested by Josh Patterson
Much like the SB-66, the SB-95 is a slack bike (68.5-degree tapered head tube). It’s intended to be ridden with a short stem, wide bars, and balls to the wall. Ok, so the last part I made up. But if you decide that’s where you like to keep them the SB-95 will accommodate you.
The SB-95 comes equipped with a Fox 34. I was very impressed with the performance of this fork. It’s stiff, plush and unflappable through rough terrain.This fork is opening up a world of possibilities for longer-travel 29ers. Look for a review of the Fox 34 in an upcoming issue.
I also felt the suspension firmed up while pedaling, but I didn’t notice as abrupt a change in performance as on the SB-66. It could be that the 30mm more of rear travel on the SB-66 resulted in more exaggerated changes to the axle path. It is equally plausible that I was too busy enjoying the outstanding handling characteristics of this bike through rough terrain to also take note of the nuances of the suspension.
Following in the footsteps of the recent introduction of the carbon SB-66, a carbon SB-96 is also in the works. No firm date on the availability of the carbon version.
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