Yeti's Chris Conroy Talks About SB 66 Switch Suspension

Sep 19, 2012 at 6:27
Sep 19, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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Chris Conroy is the man who powered Yeti into mountain bike's modern era - a highly charged experimental period that produced a number of suspension designs. Yeti's hunger for the ultimate ride spawned a variety of simple single-pivot swingarms, and some out-of-the blue configurations like the 303 downhiller's sliding-track 'Rail Technology' and more currently, the use of a rolling cam to moderate the rate changes of its longer-travel trail and all-mountain suspension. 'Switch Technology' is the name that Yeti coined for its new eccentric-cam suspension and Conroy was on hand at Dirt Demo to share some of the back story of the design as well as to walk PB through its most important features.

Chris Conroy with the Yeti 66 suspension demo frame

Owner Chris Conroy poses with Yeti's SB 66 demonstration frame that is used to illustrate the action of its Switch Technology suspension. The eccentric cam (blue) functions as a short link and in combination with the upper rocker, creates a true four-bar suspension system.



Conroy says that Yeti was approached by Sotto Design Group, who showed him a raw prototype of the suspension system. At that time, Yeti's mid-travel ASR 5 was based upon a single-pivot swingarm that drove the shock via a rocker link. Conroy didn't bite the first time because the ASR 5's suspension rate curve was very consistent and he felt that its pedaling was as good as an XC-trailbike gets.

Yeti 66 demo frame showing suspension linkage.

The eccentric cam rides on large, sealed, angular-contact ball bearings. The eccentric and upper rocker link pivots are both machined into a single forging to ensure perfect orientation in the aluminum SB 66 frame.



What changed Conroy's mind, was the fact that Yeti's cross-country suspension, like almost every contemporary design, compromises some degree of mid to end-stroke performance in order to provide firm pedaling in the beginning of the suspension's travel. Short-travel bikes don't suffer as much from this problem, but as travel increases, so does the unwanted rate change. The Switch suspension's eccentric cam had the potential to provide the same degree of firm pedaling action without causing the suspension to push through the mid stroke the first time that the bike hit a substantial bump. Shortly afterwards, when Yeti was developing its six-inch-travel SB 66, they realized that they could use the cam's two-way action to control the shock's leverage rate all the way to full compression.

Yeti 66 Switch cam in action

(From left) The key to the SB 66's smooth suspension action it that the Switch cam rotates counter-clockwise, lengthening the chainstay in the initial part of the suspension travel to provide pedaling firmness. As the swingarm moves into the mid-stroke, the cam reverses direction (far right), creating a smooth-acting linear suspension rate.



Conroy admits that there are a couple of AM/trailbikes out there that may pedal a bit sharper than his SB 66, but that, he explains, is a compromise that Yeti can live with. To maximize pedaling firmness, he explained, one must live with a slightly harsher feel throughout the suspension travel. 'Like us or hate us,' says Conroy. 'Yeti has always made our bikes to showcase handling and suspension performance, even if those attributes may compromise pedaling slightly. In the case of Switch, I think we got both sides of that equation spot on.'

Yeti 66 rear dropout has an interchangeable dropout inserts that fit both types of 12mm through-axles as well as the quick release standard

The SB 66 features a replaceable dropout insert that can accommodate 142/12mm through-axles or conventional quick release types. Construction is elegantly executed throughout the chassis.



Yeti SB 66 aluminum frame

The SB 66 frame is available in either 26-inch or 29-inch configurations. It has rapidly become Yeti's most popular model. The frame and shock reportedly weigh 7.5 pounds in the aluminum version.



When asked about braking vs suspension action, Conroy shouted out a short, but enthusiastic string of adjectives that probably shouldn't be repeated here, but the gist of it was, 'Switch suspension performs extremely well under braking in any situation.' The fact that Switch suspension is a true four-bar system underscores the possibility of braking being decoupled from the rear suspension, and initial ride impressions bear witness to Conroy's battle cry.

Yeti 66 Carbon

Yeti's SB 66 Carbon is almost two pounds lighter than the aluminum version - and with looks that could kill. The compact nature of Switch rear suspension keeps the bike's stand-over height very low.



Yeti 66 Carbon suspension detail

A close-up shot of the Switch cam illustrates how compact the system is, with plenty of room for the direct-mount front derailleur and outboard, a narrow profile for feet to clear the swingarm. The main swingarm pivot runs through the eccentric, so torsional forces in the frame are countered by the wide stance of the eccentric bearings and by the rigid upper rocker link.



The fact that Yeti's entire fleet of Demo SB 66 bikes were loaned out throughout the two days of Interbike's Dirt Demo indicates that Yeti did something right. We look forward to an in-depth review of the '66 this fall. In the meantime, visit Yeti's well-organized website to get the 411 on the geometry and specs of the SB 66.



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62 Comments

  • + 24
 Not new at all Decathlons homebrand Rockrider used this system for almost 10 years.
  • - 2
 Klugscheisser - Erstens alt und zweitens: who cares?
  • + 0
 that Decathlon Rockrider sure is ugly :-)
  • + 2
 Quick question then. What would you rather have? A Decathlon Rockrider or a Yeti SB66? Not really a question of who did it first but a question of who did it better.
  • - 1
 lol, tablecrap84 is here too^^ go home
  • + 2
 Definitely love mine, hugely capable bike you can pedal all day...go for a 36 or lyric out front tho
The bike shines at higher speeds and when pushed. Top of stroke is stiffer but that is a benefit when hammering out. Likes to be lofted and float over chatter IMO. I run it at 25%+ sag, no pro pedal. I've had ZERO issues with it
  • - 1
 @ Mr Broiler, i always saw Yeti as just another Foes... but like cheaper and better. just another very well marketed single pivot like scott etc that does a pretty good job if you like a bit of real "fox 36 gnar"... but still just a single pivot
just maybe i'll pop this at no.1 in the 'next suspension style to try' list
  • + 7
 I'm totally stoked on my SB-66! It climbs great especially with the Fox CDT shock. Goes down hill great too. Here's a link to a video of the SB-66 in action. www.pinkbike.com/video/272172
  • + 2
 good god, man. i think i need to learn how to ride my sb-66 now.
  • + 2
 Freaking right! This is exactly what I want this bike for. A mini DH rig that I can still pedal around and even go uphill with.
  • + 0
 Did/ have you ridden the B95? 29er version? I'm leaning heavily towards getting one this year.
  • + 4
 I have one and several other bikes that use various designs. Here is what I give for my opinion.
The SB66 does ride very well, it corners amazing and extremely stable at speed. Compared to other designs: the Maestro link feels similar in the DH side, but seems a little bit firmer on the climbs. The DW link is much stiffer on the climbs but not nearly as smooth or bottomless feeling. The VPP is more smooth on the small chatter, and about equal on the climbs. There you have it a quick synapse of the differences. The SB66 is a great bike as are many others, my advice would be to ride one and see if it is the right choice for you, it may well be?
  • + 4
 iv had my SB-66 for about 3 months now and i love it.... eveyone that has seen it and had a go loves how it rides.... there is always going to be people out there that dont like things and others will always jump on the bandwagon, but, hey thats life..... its a great bike and if you ever get a chance to ride one that is set up how you would ride it, on a trail that you know, im sure you will think the same......
  • + 2
 Great looking and sounding bike! But "stucon", why did you feel the need to take up so much space for your comment?
  • + 1
 lol, posted it from my phone... i have no idea why it came out like that.. glad it bothered you that much that you needed to point it out tho..... by "take up so much space" are you indicating that there is a limit on how much space there is available to reply to a topic??.... if not, then it really isnt a problem is it...........!! ;0)
  • + 4
 It's easy to nay-say about bikes over the internet, but try riding one of these. I've had a blast on one round some local trails (fairly techy and very fast) and this bike's a total demon to ride! Honestly, you'll be grinning from ear to ear having ridden one.
  • - 2
 I disagree, in my experience it was harsh over rough terrain and you could feel the link switching as you got deep in the travel which was very annoying. Havent they been having a lot of warranty and durability issues with the 66? Can someone confirm?
  • - 1
 I rode one and I have to admit was slightly disappointed however his setup was pretty heavy it was heavier than my bike. It just didn't feel as nice as it looked it was disappointing I don't think I would buy one would consider the as7 though.
  • + 2
 IMO: In the 3 months ive owned my SB66c, Ive come to terms with the feel of the ride. The only time you can really "feel" the switch is when you are rolling/pedaling slow threw rough terrain on a more inclined grade. The "ear to ear grin" comes when you straight turn the steed around and point it back down the rough terrain you just conquered. The faster you go, the smoother the bike performs. As for pedaling proficiency, thats what CTD is for Big Grin . even with out it, it isn't that bad. I will admit though, that i was rather disturbed that within the first month an inset alloy thread that grab onto the treads of a bolt within the carbon had detached itself. On the plus side, yeti was aware of the problem and quickly replaced my rear triangle. I may be a little bias but they work for me.
  • + 2
 I wanted an SB66 when they first came out, so I rode a demo bike. And the power transfer and the snappiness of the bike coming out of corners was awesome, I was annoyed when I felt the travel switch direction. I ended up getting an ASR5, and no regrets at all.
  • - 2
 "the only time you can really "feel" the switch is when you are rolling/pedaling slow", you mean when you are tired and climbing a hill ?, if that happens to me i will probably leave the bike on the the hill !, when you pay premium you must not feel any transitions at all!.
people who pay this much for a frame will never admit that it has problems!
saying that the bike is great in the downhills is such a stupid thing imo , anything that i had ever rode on downhill was GREAT even if it was a sliding downhill on a piece of cardboard !
when will the sb650b will be available?
FLAME ON!
  • + 1
 @PooZank

They did have a warranty issue with the SB66. Yeti was very upfront about it. The frame was spec'd with the wrong bearing in the switch link in the first batch. The bearings failed almost immediately and Yeti sent out replacements. They've had no other major issues regarding the frame.
  • + 4
 @Aibek

Have you ridden one? The feeling isn't in the ride its self but more or less through the pedal stroke as your riding slow threw terrain that is more rough, then smooth. Otherwise the suspension stroke is as smooth as butter, you can't feel the switch activate.....UNLESS your pedaling slowly through a more rough section which compresses your suspension deep into its stroke. Thats when your pedaling platform is interrupted, only in the slightest manor. Im not admitting its a problem, your right, but im not also saying its a problem.....its just a characteristic of the frame/supsension design. You don't agree with it but I love it! Brap!
  • + 2
 Have to say it's a lovely bike. geo is fantastic. the switch works well although I have had to put a volume spacer in the shock as the switch seemed to make it bottom out quite easliy. unbelieviable in the corners. absoutly no complaints about the design or how it works. My real bug bare about the bike though is the paint work. I say paint work however this is unfair because I think it might be light butter thats on it. Truely disappointing, I really can't put in to words how dissapointed I am with this element. I would say that Yeti have made a AM race bike a bit like a boxer world cup. There are amazing but you can't use it every week and you better have some bubble rap for when your not!
  • - 1
 Don't get me wrong, as long that your happy i'm happier!, i personally ride a 2007 gt idrive5 (the most hated bike in the world!), and i haven't changed it yet because i like it, but my new EL GUAPO is in the mail (for 900$ shipped i couldn't let it pass )!!!!!.

Smiles for Miles!
  • + 1
 Stooky I recently stripped the paint of my old Strange 160. There was almost a pound of weight in difference. You could save a half pound in weight if you put it on thin enough!
  • + 5
 I've have had my SB66 for almost 6 months now averaging 2 rides per week and absolutely love it. I'm running 36 up front, but have an angleset to bring the HA back to 67. I have to agree with Stooky about the paint though. The cable rub is awful and I even managed to rub some paint off of the top tube just by slinging it over my shoulder to walk through a washed out section of trail.

I have not experienced any problems with the bearings, or switch components; they are buttery smooth everytime. I have also never noticed anyhing when the switch changes direction, but I may now that I'll be looking for it. I pull everything apart and grease it maybe once a month. The bike climbs great, but I have been riding strictly DH for the 5 years prior so I guess it's all relative. That said, I have noticed very little pedal bob (even when out of the saddle) and generally run the rear compression completely open, with the exception of flat, dusty trails in Central, OR. I also run slightly less sag because I like to sit a little higher in the travel and running the rear wide open helps compensate when it comes to traction. I have only bottomed this bike out on 4-5' drops to near flat.

I did see another poster that was dissapointed in the suspension response of fast chatter and I have noticed this as well on some occassions, however, the bike performs great on successive medium to large hits and the long wheelbase keeps stability in the fast rough stuff. I prefer to skip over the chatter than attempt to soak it up so this bike works great for my style and feels glued to the ground in every corner.

When it comes down to it the same old rule applies -try it before you buy it. I've got a medium if anyone in Portland wants to go out for a ride and swap bikes part way.
  • + 1
 ??? WOW!!!!, I REALLY love the look of this bike, but have never ridden one... didn't know it was such a hotly debated frame aye. Sad cause it sounds like a GREAT bike on paper... I'll reserve MY judgement for when/if I ever get to ride one, but it's pretty interesting to hear from the people who HAVE owned/ridden them that there's so much mixed feelings about the bike aye... Bummer.
  • + 3
 I had an Sb66 in black for about a week. Bike rode amazing, I had the 142 axle upgrade, and a 36 up front. Rode decent. But the paint was terrible, and linkage was rather rough :/. Sent it back, got a mojo hd and never looked back. Sn is a great bike, just wasnt for me!
  • + 3
 I'm close to a year on a sb66 and can say it's a pretty impressive bike. I have had some issues, but Yeti and the shop i bought it from have been quite good about getting it sorted. It is definately different than other suspension systems, but I like it alot, and find it really likes to be pushed to get them most out of it, if you're lazing about it dosent feel spectacular, its when you hammer it it really gives you the oh wow moment, which is reverse to some other bikes I've ridden which start to get hung up and weird when pushed too hard. But to each their own.
  • + 1
 well for what its worth, ive had my yeti sb66 for 5 months now and it aint put a foot wrong yet, it loves the rock gardens eats them up like they aint there, climbs like a mountain goat ,and handles 4/5 foot drops with ease, cant see what all the negative comments are pointing at ,class bike..........But......SHITE PAINTWORK.nothing a good helicopter tape session cant sort out though .
  • + 0
 You can't fault Yeti for thinking outside the box. But they are just trying to get 4 bar suspension performance without 4 bars. Be it with rails or a rotating cam. Their frames have always been among the best looking, but the different and often finiky designs have kept me from buying. Please bring back the Lawwill.
  • + 0
 I'm going to say it. At the risk of neg props, I don't like the sb66, my mate had a demo on it, and it honestly felt like it was pure metal on metal on the switch thingy, Probably was just a bad one of the bunch. Would love to ride one properly.
  • + 3
 Now as long as the judge sides with them in the patent lawsuit, all will be fine.
  • + 2
 i´m so happy with my sb66, its the best frame i´ve ever ridden.

its so smooth uphill and it makes so much fun going down!!!
  • + 4
 Best suspension design out right now IMO, and yes I've riden it.
  • - 1
 I owned an sb66 for 4 monthes and got rid of it because it was terrible, awful build quality, bearings exploded a couple times and needed replacing, snappe rear swingarm and not a very good paint job on the lime one I had. The ride wast to bad but I goin it didn't pick up the small bumps very well and the switch technology didn't really work either. Unfortunately dissapointed with it and have now got rid.
  • + 3
 big fat who cares
  • + 1
 I'm pretty sure the SB66's suspension system isn't adjustable, outside of fork and shock adjustments. I don't see anything in the article that indicates otherwise...... I could be wrong though.
  • + 0
 i wish the yeti had 160mm travel in the back instead of 152 but its not that big of deal
  • + 2
 SB 88... Is that a typo?
  • + 2
 I thought I had missed a newer variation of the sb66 when I saw that too! Like a freeride bike or something! So I frantically scrolled around but found nothing Frown
  • + 3
 Going by their naming convention.... 28" wheel size, 8" travel!!!
  • + 1
 Midnight typo - Fixed. Thanks for the catch. RC
  • + 0
 is this bike a single pivot? Does this design solve all the brake-jack issues?
  • + 1
 those dropouts are beauties
  • + 0
 Whenever I look at that "Switch Cam", I think of Mountain Cycle's "Turntable".
  • + 1
 @BDKR , they were designed by the same Guy. Dave Earle / Sotto Group: www.sottogroup.com/turntable, www.sottogroup.com/switch
  • + 1
 It's about time word spread on the goods
  • + 0
 How is it any better than a GT Force Carbon?
  • + 0
 less idrive squeak.
  • + 2
 And less ugly...
  • + 0
 Grease the dropouts, squeek gone.
  • + 1
 Force Carbon frame looks mint, the flow is mega.
  • + 0
 impressive bit of kit for sure!
  • + 1
 Al right Chris!
  • - 3
 Great looking bike but it ain't no mojo HD...
  • - 3
 Yeti using an old Rockridder design???? strange... I waited more from Yeti!!!
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