In 2018, Yeti rolled out three new bikes, the SB100, SB130, and SB150, a trio of 29ers that cover the bases from downcountry all the way to enduro. The SB6 was left to hold down the fort as the longest travel 27.5” bike in Yeti's lineup, a position it had maintained for the last four years. That is, until today, when the SB165 steps in to take its place.
As the name implies, the SB165 has 165mm of coil-sprung rear travel, with a 180mm fork up front. Yeti says it's for “hucking, sending, and enduro-ing,” which all seem like fitting uses for a bike with this much travel, and such long and slack geometry numbers.
Yeti SB165 Details
• Wheel size: 27.5"
• Travel: 165mm / 180mm fork
• Carbon frame
• 63.5° head angle
• 433mm chainstays
• Weight: 32 lb / 14.5 kg (size large)
• Price: $7,699 USD as shown (T2 model)
• Lifetime frame warranty
There are three complete Turq series models, with prices ranging from $7,199 up to $8,799 USD for the T3 model. All of the Turq bikes come with the same suspension components – a Fox Factory Float 36 fork and a DHX2 coil shock – it's the drivetrain and brakes that change as the price goes up. There's also a SRAM AXS upgrade option for riders who want to go the wireless electronic route.
Yeti also offers two models in their C series, which use a 220 gram heavier frame, but are said to still deliver the same strength and stiffness. The C series bikes are both equipped with a Fox Performance 36 and a Vanilla coil shock; the difference between the two models, which are priced at $5,599 and $6,199, is in in the wheels and drivetrain.
Want to build up your dream bike from scratch? The SB165 frame and shock will set you back a whopping $3,999. Frame Details & Suspension Design
The SB165 strikes a similar silhouette to the SB150 and 130, but the frame as a whole has a beefier appearance, especially around the headtube. Want to run a 180mm dual crown fork? That's allowed. How about setting it up as a mullet bike
, with a 29" front wheel? Sure, you can do that too, although the head angle will get even slacker and the bottom bracket will get higher depending on the fork length.
There's plenty of room for a water bottle, which is good news, since even freeriders get thirsty sometimes. The seat tube heights are low enough to accommodate longer travel dropper posts - the size L and XL frames come with a 175mm Fox Transfer post, the medium has a post with 150mm of drop, and 125mm for the smallest frame size.
Not surprisingly, the SB165 employs Yeti's Switch Infinity suspension design. If you're not familiar with the concept, it uses a translating pivot that moves upwards in the beginning of the travel, and then downwards deeper in the travel. That change in position is intended to give the bike enough anti-squat for supportive pedaling, while reducing the amount of feedback delivered by bigger hits.
The Kashima coated rails and the sliding mechanism that make up the heart of the Switch Infinity design are the same size on the SB130, 150, and 165 – it's the location in the frame and the amount that the carrier moves that's different. 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%. The higher number means that the bike ramps up more as it goes through its travel, which should help prevent it from bottoming out too often. Of course, that'll depend on how far you take your hucking and sending.
The SB165 has a more progressive suspension curve than the SB150, and all complete models come with a coil shock. Geometry
The SB165's reach numbers are nearly identical to those of the SB130 and 150, ranging from 430mm on a size small all the way up to 505mm on an XL. To balance out those long reach numbers, the SB165 has a 77-degree seat tube angle, which helps keep the seated pedaling position from feeling too awkward and stretched out.
At 433mm the chainstays are on the shorter side, and the length remains the same for all sizes. I wouldn't mind seeing longer chainstays on the larger sizes, or at least the option to alter the length depending on personal preference. We're seeing more companies add in some level of chainstay adjustability, but it's still far from the norm. Maybe someday.
It's the headtube angle that really puts the SB165 into the seek and destroy category – at 63.5-degrees it's 1-degree slacker than the SB150. That's a number that would have seemed extreme just a few years ago, but an increasing number of bikes are inching into that sub-64 degree zone, a territory formerly only occupied by smaller European brands like Nicolai and Pole.
I thought for sure the word 'freeride' would appear somewhere in Yeti's description of the SB165, but no matter how hard I looked I couldn't find it. They refer to it as a 'rip' bike, as opposed to a 'race' bike, which sort of makes sense, but I'm going to stick with calling it a modern freeride bike. It's lighter and much more pedal friendly than anything we used to lug around during the height of the freeride era, but the intended use is still the same – seek out the gnarliest descents possible and figure out a way to get down them in one piece. Climbing
The SB165's climbing manners aren't quite as refined as the SB150's, and there was a little more suspension movement when I stood up out of the saddle to pedal, likely due to the combination of the coil shock and the different leverage ratio. The compression lever is easy to reach, though, and I'd usually flip it into the firmer setting when faced with one of the extended logging road climbs that are common in my area.
The actual seated pedaling position was comfortable enough to maintain for hours at a time, and I ticked off some fairly substantial days of pedaling without any issues. Of course, the point of all that pedaling was almost always to reach a burly downhill – the SB165 feels out of place on mellower terrain, similar to the way that super-fat powder skis aren't the best on groomers. Yes, they work, but there are better tools for the job. Descending
Once gravity takes over the SB165 wakes right up, and it'll make short work of pretty much any obstacle that gets in its way. I'll admit, I'm partial to 29ers these days, but there was something extra-satisfying about whipping the Yeti's 27.5” wheels into a tight turn. The combo of a long front center and a relatively short back end made it easy to break the rear wheel free whenever I wanted to get sideways, or to carve turns down a steep chute. A little extra attention is required on flatter corners, though; I had a few moments where it felt like the front end wanted to wash out because I'd let my weight get too far over the back of the bike.
There's a fine balance between creating a bike that progressive enough to avoid bottoming out too easily, and one that ramps up so much that it feels like you're hitting a wall part way through the travel. Thankfully, the SB165 falls into the former category - if felt like there was just enough ramp up to deal with bigger hits, and excellent traction on slippery, loose terrain. I did notice that the Fox DHX2 felt like it was topping out a bit on my last ride - I'll update this article or the longer term review if that turns out to be an issue.
Other than that, the component spec is exactly what you'd hope to see on a bike of this caliber. There's plenty of power from the Code RSC brakes and 200mm rotors front and rear, and the alloy DT Swiss EX1700 wheels are holding up well. I've also been having very good luck with Maxxis' EXO+ tires - that additional SilkShield layer seems to do the trick when it comes to warding off pinch flats and casing slices.
Up until this point I've been riding the SB165 on more secluded trails in an effort to keep it under wraps, but now that the cat's out of the bag it's time to see how it handles a steady diet of bike park laps and even bigger pedal-accessed descents. Look for a follow-up report later this year.