THE NEW YETI SB MTB FAMILY

REVIEWING THE NEW SB120, SB140 & SB160

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Max Rhulen
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics

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New for 2023, the Yeti Cycles SB family – the 120, 140, and 160 – have been given a host of new tech and features to reinvigorate the SB lineup as one worth considering when the time comes to make that next bike purchase. “Much of what you’ll see when you look at the bike is the same, and that was very intentional,” Peter Zawistowski, Yeti’s director of engineering told us. Zawistowski continues, “the new SB is about refinement, improving ride experience and durability of the complete system.” If the devil is in the details, then Beelzebub just got three new buddies, because the new Yeti SB120, SB140 and SB160 bikes will have you pulling out a magnifying glass to examine all the subtleties found within. Let us dive into those in this installment of our Dissected series.

As with all of our Dissected Features, this is not intended to be a long term review or endorsement of a product but is instead a chance for our viewers and readers to get a deep dive look into some of the newest tech and products in the mountain bike space. We thank Yeti for the opportunity to create this feature and getting you some valuable beta on these new offerings.

Yeti's New SB Family Lineup Dissected | SB160, SB140 & SB120

PLATFORM CHANGES

While each model has its own application and unique changes over the outgoing model, many of the refinements will be found across the entirety of the new SB lineup. Performance increasing changes were at the heart of Yeti’s mission to update the SB, so as you’d imagine the refinements may not be as drastic but instead focus on eeking out even more performance for the end user.

Size Specific Geometry – Something that more and more brands are doing and will no doubt be welcomed by potential customers. Bikes will be available from XS up to XXL, and each have their chainstay length and seat tube angles tailored to work best for the size. This meant that for each model, Yeti had to build and design six different bikes to offer a balanced ride no matter your height. Seat tubes also got shorter, allowing riders to use 150mm to over 200mm dropper posts depending on inseam and frame size, improving control and maneuverability on the descents.

SB160 GEO

Yeti SB160 Geometry

SB140 GEO

Yeti SB140 Geometry

SB120 GEO

Yeti SB120 Geometry

Frame Features – Threaded bottom bracket shells make their way to the new 2023 Yeti SB frames, removing the possibility of a creaking or misaligned BB. They also feature integrated ISCG-05 tabs. Out back, the new Yeti SB frames also sport a SRAM UDH (Universal Derailleur Hanger) for ease of replacement no matter if there’s a Yeti dealer nearby or not. Another welcome update to the frame feature list is Yeti’s new cable management system. The cables are now securely clamped at entry and exit points, and if you’re lucky enough to run a wireless drivetrain, then some handy port plugs keep the inside of the frame protected from debris and water ingress. The new clamped ports work as described as all three of our test bikes are deathly silent, and it makes for easier maintenance too.

Also updated is the frame’s silhouette and feel on the trail. Yeti studied their old frames, took rider and racer feedback, and were able to reduce the size and width of the frame in many dimensions to give a much sleeker, and slimmer profile. The new frames give stiffness where needed, but compliance where appropriate, and have their layups tuned so that the average-weight rider on each size will receive the same trail feel. Also improved is the ground clearance as Yeti was able to tuck the downtube up 25-30mm higher than the outgoing models to make those technical climbing attempts or chunky downhills less concerning for the frame.

Yeti's new SB Family Dissected | SB160, SB140 & SB120

Suspension Feel – We can’t talk about Yeti’s SB refinements without talking frame alignment, new pivot designs and the improved Switch Infinity unit. Yeti’s team kept reinforcing the “death by a thousand papercuts” analogy in how they attacked the SB updates. By making a number of small improvements, the new Yeti SB’s are claimed to offer a big ride improvement on the trail. Yeti’s Switch Infinity unit is now claimed to be more durable and sensitive thanks to updated slider material and frame changes that reduce stiction and free up the movement. The new bushing assembly is longer wearing and has a lower coefficient of friction, as well as black oxide bearings to improve corrosion resistance and grease ports for service every 40hrs. The new tech is backwards compatible, so current Yeti owners rejoice!

Yeti's new SB Family Dissected | SB160, SB140 & SB120

The new pivot design features standard sized cartridge bearings, which are secured via precision-machined floating collet axles. These bearings are pressed into the linkage instead of carbon parts of the frame, making servicing the parts easier and reducing the chance of damage to the carbon mainframe. The floating collet pivot axles increase frame stiffness as well, which increases bearing life and works to improve suspension performance as there’s less flex or binding during compression. Frame alignment was another big focus for Yeti, as a straight frame moves smoothly through its travel, without binding up or causing more stress on the shock.

Also new is Yeti’s shock extender unit. Depending on the model, either a one-piece or two-piece compact wishbone extender increases stiffness, improves alignment and offers an easier shock removal process. The updated. streamlined units allow for a more compact placement of the shock, increased water bottle clearance, more shock compatibility and updated leverage rates.

Yeti's new SB Family Dissected | SB160, SB140 & SB120

THE MODELS

No matter if you’re a cross country ripper or want to be like Richie Rude, the new Yeti SB lineup will have something for you. Yeti will be offering the 2023 SB mountain bikes in frameset options, C-series carbon or Turq carbon completes with a wide range of pricing.

SB160 HIGHLIGHTS

Yeti SB160 Highlights

• Fox Factory 38 & Fox Float X2 Shock
• Fox Transfer dropper post
• DT Swiss EX Wheels
• 4 piston brakes
• ODI Elite Pro grips
• 220 front and 200 rear rotors for max stopping power
• Maxxis Assegai 2.5 & Minion DHR 2.4 EXO+ casing
• Downhill tested and used by the Yeti Fox Factory team

FRAME HIGHLIGHTS
NEW Switch Infinity assembly on T-Series
NEW Threaded bottom bracket
NEW High-clearance downtube
NEW Dual-density downtube protection
Universal derailleur hanger
Secure, fully enclosed internal cable management
Compatible with long dropper posts
100% standard sealed Enduro Max bearings
Floating collet axle pivot design
Compact-wishbone shock extender
Downhill tested
Yeti-Fox Factory team approved
Boost spacing
Sizes S-XXL

Complete Price Range: $6,700 – $12,000
Turq Series Frame Only: $5,000

 

SB140 HIGHLIGHTS

Yeti SB140 Highlights

• Fox Transfer dropper post
• DT Swiss XM Wheels
• 4 piston brakes
• ODI Elite Pro grips
• 200 front and 180 rear rotors
• Trail tires: Maxxis DHF 2.5 & Aggressor 2.3 EXO casing
• Standard SB140: Fox Factory 36 & Fox Float DPS Shock
• Lunch Ride (LR) builds featuring 160mm Fox Factory 36, Fox Float X, Maxxis DHF 2.5 & DHRII 2.4 EXO casing, and more powerful brakes with larger rotors

FRAME HIGHLIGHTS
NEW Threaded bottom bracket
NEW High-clearance downtube
NEW Dual-density downtube protection
Universal derailleur hanger
Secure, fully enclosed internal cable management
Compatible with long dropper posts
100% standard sealed Enduro Max bearings
Floating collet axle pivot design
Compact-wishbone shock extender
Boost spacing
Sizes S-XXL

Complete Price Range: $6,400 – $11,700
Turq Series Frame Only: $4,500

 

SB120 HIGHLIGHTS

Yeti SB120

• Fox Factory 34 & Fox Float DPS Shock
• Fox Transfer dropper post
• DT Swiss XM Wheels
• 4 piston brakes
• ODI Elite Pro grips
• 180 front and back rotors for max stopping power
• Trail tires: Maxxis DHF 2.5 & Aggressor 2.3 EXO casing
• Pinner T4 build featuring DT Swiss EXC 1501 Carbon wheels, Fox Transfer SL dropper and Maxxis Rekon/Rekon Race tires

FRAME HIGHLIGHTS
NEW short travel trail frame platform
NEW Switch Infinity assembly on T-Series
NEW Threaded bottom bracket
NEW High-clearance downtube
NEW Dual-density downtube protection
Universal derailleur hanger
Secure, fully enclosed internal cable management
Compatible with long dropper posts
100% standard sealed Enduro Max bearings
Floating collet axle pivot design
Ultra-compact shock extender
Boost spacing
Sizes XS-XXL

Complete Price Range: $6,300 – $12,100
Turq Series Frame Only: $4,300

Yeti's new SB Family Dissected | SB160 & SB140

THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

As with all our Dissected Features, our first ride review is not our official long-term opinion, but instead our first impressions after spending several days riding and filming the bikes for this launch-focused feature. Across the board all four testers were very impressed with the Yeti bikes thus far. It did take some of the bikes a bit longer to get dialed in, as we found the suspension really likes to be in a tight range for setup. For example, the SB160 calls for 19.5mm of sag and being just a little too under sprung resulted in a stiff and harsher ride. By increasing compression a few clicks and resetting our air pressure to hit about 19 – 19.5mm of sag, the bike instantly felt better – smoother and more composed. It’s still not a Cadillac, but we reckon Yeti riders are already aware of how these bikes ride. They ride more like race machines than plow-horses.

Speaking of racing, each of these bikes love to go fast. All of our riders commented on how silent and scary fast the bikes are, both pedaling and when pointed downhill. The bikes accelerate effortlessly and carry momentum well over a wide range of terrain. That comes without isolating the bike to a race-only scenario, and while they all certainly feel like they’d hold their own between the tape, they’ve also been a pleasure to ride in a more casual setting. The stack height certainly feels towards the race-focused low front end, which we’re typically not such a fan of, so we’ll be looking to add a higher rise bar in the future to bring things up to a more comfortable height.

The somewhat unique suspension feel of the Switch Infinity platform on the 2023 Yeti SB bikes is a talking point. It feels to be somewhere between a DW-Link and well-tuned VPP in terms of platform, pedaling efficiency and compliance. It’s unique and so far, we like it in most conditions. As we mentioned though, there does seem to be a relatively narrow window of tuning where it feels the best. We’ll be interested to experiment some more with the setup to figure out if this is definitely the case and if there’s more performance there to unlock.

Our crew is excited to put more miles on the bikes during this winter. We’ve always been skeptical of the Switch Infinity system from a durability standpoint and it seems like this winter will give us all the crappy conditions we’ll need to find out how it holds up. So far we’ve been very pleased with all of the bikes, and with a bit more time to tweak and tune the cockpit and suspension set up, we’re sure that we won’t be struggling to find reasons to take these bikes out for test rides any chance we get. It seems Yeti has succeeded after our initial rides and we look forward to updating you in a couple of months.

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Yeti's new SB Family Dissected | SB160