Yeti SB130 long term review
The Yeti SB130 created a fair stir when it was first released nearly a year ago. At 130mm rear travel, 150mm or 160mm front and 29” wheels its the most ‘ideal’ style of bike for most riders. Fun on smoother trails whilst still capable on enduro descents, the best of both worlds? But, this is possibly the most densely populated bike category with many great bikes from various brands available. So, how does the Yeti SB130 stack up against the competition? We’ve put the bike through six months of thrashing to find out.
The Yeti SB130 on test was a custom build designed to increase this bike’s much hyped descending capabilities, bumping the DVO Diamond D1 fork travel up to 160mm and putting in the Cane Creek DB Inline Coil shock rear shock. Sram Code RSC brakes were installed to slow things down when descending and the Sram XO1 Eagle / GX drivetrain made sure the ascent was as painless as possible. The rest of the build was rounded out with Chromag components and Maxxis tyres. The bike was tested with both carbon Crank Brothers and aluminium DT Swiss rims.
The previous bike I was riding had great pedalling characteristics and minimal to no pedal bob so jumping on the Yeti SB130 I didn’t expect to be impressed yet, I was. Both bikes offer minimal pedal bob so they should climb the same? On smooth terrain sure, but when going up technical and rough climbs the Yeti simply excels. Riding other bikes, it feels like the rear wheel gets hung up on rocks and roots when climbing, which is to be somewhat expected. The Yeti just seems to pull itself over them naturally. All of a sudden, I was climbing more comfortably and getting up technical descents I had yet to complete with ease. I’ve never ridden a mid-travel trail bike with such climbing prowess, the Yeti gets full marks from me in this department.
The SB130 has been described as a capable descender, but with 130mm rear travel how hard can you push it? I’ve taken this bike everywhere from Gap Creek to Tewantin and the Toowoomba DH track to find out. With a 65.5 degree head angle and 1230.2mm wheel base (large) the bike is long but not too long. I found it to be a great balance, I could ride around flowy trail and all mountain tracks without feeling like I was trying to get a dragster around corners, the bike was nimble and fun. Yet, when speeds picked up the bike was steady, giving me the confidence to hold on and push harder. Only when going flat out down the DH track did the bike start to protest mildly and give me the reality check that I needed.
Yeti’s Switch Infinity linkage handled all I could throw at the bike. Coming across a fast, rough traverse the bike held its geometry well as it used what travel was necessary, no more, no less. Braking hard for the upcoming corner the bike held its line without fault and let me brake hard before letting off the brakes, allowing the bike to accelerate through the corner. The trail wasn’t buttery smooth, it was still rough and challenging and working my arms and legs to absorb the impacts, but the bike remained in control, the only thing slowing the bike down was me. Once I learnt to trust the bike and keep off the brakes I was well rewarded with speeds that I never saw myself achieving on a 130mm travel bike. This is also a reflection of how good a coil shock is for modern trail bikes. For a small weight penalty riders can have heightened small bump sensitivity and extremely consistent suspension through out the bikes travel.
As capable and willing as this bike is though it’s not a big hitting enduro or DH bike and there were times riding this bike where I was made acutely aware of the fact. If you go long and deep off a big jump / drop and don’t eye up that smooth landing you’ll find yourself at the bottom of that 130mm very quickly. It’s not a harsh abrupt bottom out, the leverage rate of the shock makes it as smooth as possible but there’s no doubt that you’ve found the end of this bike’s travel. You can still go big on this bike, bigger than most rides will be willing to go on a trail bike. But, if you’re going to be asking all this from the SB130 its going to ask you to land precisely or endure a rougher landing than desired.
The SB130 is a leading class trail bike that allows you to push your limits on bigger terrain. There are bikes out there with longer travel that will no doubt make riding extreme, rough terrain easier. But, few blend a lively playful nature that allows you to pick lines with ease whilst also remaining steady and true in the rough of it. Turn things around are the SB130 excels upwards as well. If you seek a modern trail bike that will flourish on all mountain tracks, go hard on Enduro descents and still survive DH terrain the SB130 is worthy of your full attention.
If you'd like to ride a Yeti SB130 to make your own verdict we have a SB130 in our Brisbane mountain bike store demo fleet. If you decide that this is the bike for you there is the potential to put your demo cost towards the price of a new bike with us. Talk to the For The Riders sales team for more info.
The 2020 Yeti SB130 frame comes with a Fox Float DPX2 Factory series rear shock and has a RRP of $5290. Complete GX level bikes starting at RRP $8,490. If you have any questions about build options or want to do up a custom Yeti SB130 we have everything you need, talk to us today.