PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Words by Mike Kazimer, photography by Trevor Lyden
The SB165 showed up this season to stake its claim as the longest travel bike in Yeti's lineup, with 165mm of rear squish that's paired with a 180mm fork. It's rolling on 27.5” wheels, and according to Yeti was built for “hucking, sending, and enduro-ing.”
The SB165's geometry numbers follow the trend that was started with the SB130 and 150, and in fact, the reach numbers and seat tube angles are nearly identical for that trio of super bikes. Reach numbers range from 430mm on a size small all the way up to 505mm on an XL, with our size large test bike checking in at 480mm. It's built for the descents, but there's a relatively steep 77-degree seat tube angle to help create a comfortable climbing position. The chainstay length remains the same for all sizes, a fairly short 433mm.
Yeti SB165 Details
• Travel: 165mm rear / 180mm fork
• Carbon frame
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Head Angle: 63.5° (geometry
• Seat Tube Angle: 77°
• Reach: 480mm (L)
• Chainstay length: 433mm
• Sizes: S, M, L (tested), XL
• Weight: 33.3 lbs (as tested)
• Price: $7,699 USD
Yeti stuck with the Switch Infinity suspension layout for the SB165, a design that uses a translating pivot comprised of two short Kashima-coated rods in order to alter the amount of chain growth as the bike goes through its travel. Yeti wanted the SB165 to work well with coil-sprung shocks, so they adjusted the kinematics to give it a 27.5% leverage ratio progression; compare that to the SB150, which sits at 15%.
We tested the T2 version, which is equipped with a Fox Factory 36 fork, Factory DHX2 coil shock, SRAM X01 drivetrain, Code RSC brakes, and a DT Swiss EX1700 wheelset. Total price? $7,699 USD.Climbing
The SB165 has a gravity-oriented focus, but it possesses geometry numbers that make it possible to earn those descents without too much struggle. The slack head tube angle is noticeable on slower speed sections of trail, but it’s still manageable; it just takes a little bit more effort to navigate around tight switchbacks. It definitely feels like the type of bike that you’d use to search out gnarly descents rather than cruising through rolling terrain. Luckily, that's a fitting description of the terrain that's available around Pemberton – there are plenty of long climbs followed by long, steep and loose downhills.
When it comes to suspension efficiency, the Yeti does an excellent job, especially considering the amount of travel and the fact that it’s spec’d with a coil shock. It’s not a wallowy mess, and it’s totally feasible to leave it wide open for more technical climbs. The climb switch is pretty much just there for fire roads. Descending
The SB165's short chainstays make it really easy to whip around, and it feels great in the steeps and when jumping. A longer back end would likely give it even more outright stability, but that’d come at the cost of the ‘park bike’ feel. As it is, it's a quick bike that's easy and enjoyable to hop, pop, and manual whenever possible.
In the high-speed rough chunder it was a little easier to knock off line compared to the big-wheeled Specialized Enduro, but it still handle the chunky stuff very well. Bigger hits didn't pose any problems, and even when all of the travel was used there wasn't any harshness as the shock reached the end of its stroke.
The parts spec is very well matched to the bike's intended use, as it should be for the price. That being said, there's often at least one component on a bike that could be swapped out for something better, but from the suspension to the grips there's really nothing we'd change on this build kit.