From The Top: Yeti Cycles' President Chris Conroy

May 22, 2014
by Mike Kazimer  
 
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Chris Conroy Yeti president


Yeti Cycles' story begins all the way back in 1985, when company founder John Parker decided to sell his 1928 Indian motorcycle in order to buy the materials necessary to enter the world of mountain bike frame building. After a few years building frames with the Herting brothers (Chris and Eric), and Frank 'the Welder' Wadelton, Yeti moved from California to Durango, Colorado, where they remained until relocating to Golden in 1999. It hasn't always been smooth sailing, and there was a period in the late '90s when the future of the company was uncertain, but Yeti managed to soldier on, relying in part on the dedication of their loyal customers, a contingent of riders known as the 'Tribe.'

In addition to maintaining a band of rabid followers, Yeti has also always had a strong focus on racing. The list of former team members is a veritable 'Who's Who' of mountain biking's best. Tinker Juarez, John Tomac, Missy Giove, Myles Rockwell, Kirt Voreis, Jill Kintner, Aaron Gwin, Sam Blenkinsop – there's never been a shortage of world-class athletes on Yeti's roster, and the tradition continues today with Jared Graves and Richie Rude battling it out on the Enduro World Series circuit. The competitive spirit carries over into the workplace at Yeti as well, and the daily lunch time rides often escalate into race-pace sufferfests.

We visited Golden, Colorado, a town probably best known for being home to the Coors brewery, to chat and ride with Chris Conroy, Yeti's president. Conroy has been a mountain biker since the late '80s, and his dedication to the sport has taken him all the way from working in a bike shop to running a well respected bike company. But being the president of a bike company doesn't need to mean trading in your mountain bike for golf clubs and jeans for a three-piece suit, and more often than not Conroy takes advantage of Yeti's location to ride the miles of singletrack located a short pedal from the company's front door.

• Founded in 1985 by John Parker, who sells his 1928 Indian motorcycle to buy a frame jig and tubing

• 1990: Juli Furtado wins the first mountain bike world championships in Durango, CO.

• 1992: Missy Giove joins the Yeti team.

• 1995: John Parker sells Yeti to Scott Sports Group / Schwinn.

• 1999: Yeti is sold by Schwinn to Volant, moves to Golden, Colorado.

• 1999: Chris Conroy and Steve Hoogendoorn take over management of Yeti.

• 2008: Aaron Gwin places 10th in his first World Cup race.

• 2009: Jared Graves wins 4X World Championships

• 2014: Yeti announces they will not have a World Cup DH squad, and will be focusing on enduro racing.

How did you first get into mountain biking?

That's a good question. I grew up in Ohio, and I bought my first Stumpjumper around '85 or '86. That was a huge deal - I spent 800 bucks on a mountain bike. My parents thought I was crazy, since at that point mountain biking was pretty darn new. That bike had handlebars that I cut down to 18' wide and it had 1.5” tires on it; it's just crazy how far it's come. I also had an early Diamondback Apex, which was one of the few mountain bikes back then, at least in Ohio, that you could have access to. We would ride gravel pits near where I lived in southern Ohio when I wasn't going to Ohio State. There was lots of hilly stuff down there and we just kind of poached trails, and I rode whenever I could.

I moved to Sun Valley, Idaho, right after I got married - I married young, so I was 24. I had always worked in bikes shops leading up to that, and in Sun Valley I worked as a reporter for a while and split time between that and a bike shop. I eventually ended up at Scott USA in the warranty department, and that was when a lot of stuff was happening in the industry, the early '90s. I was really hooked into the industry early on, beginning with working in a bike shop, and I've just been doing it ever since.


Vintage Yeti images. Photos Yetifan.com
Yeti's logos are instantly recognizable, as are the company's signature turquoise and yellow colors. Photos: Yetifan.com


Can you describe the path you took to end up as the president of Yeti Cycles?

When I was living in Sun Valley, Scott USA bought Schwinn out of bankruptcy. I moved to Boulder when they combined the bicycle product teams of Scott and Schwinn.. I think I was one of the only people on the planet that ever went kicking and screaming to Boulder, Colorado, but I loved Idaho. I moved down to Boulder, and was part of the first 15-20 people in that building. That number soon became 100 people, and then the Scott and Schwinn business' merged. That was '93, '94. Then Schwinn bought Yeti, and I was brand manager for Yeti in the mid-90s. That was right after the '97 launch of the Troy Lee Designs stuff, the colors and graphics. I worked with Brett Hahn and with John Parker to make a more traditional product line with complete bikes. I did that for a few years, and then they pushed me back on the Scott side. I've had a long history with Yeti.

In 1999 Scott and Schwinn separated, and I saw the opportunity to move on at that point. I did a short stint in Chicago, and during that time all I wanted to do was get back to Colorado. I had some friends at the Volant ski company and they were looking for counter-seasonal business. Yeti wasn't technically for sale, but I knew all the top guys at Schwinn, and they just didn't know what to do with it. They were focused on other things. We were able to put together an investor to buy it and I came in as general manager. We started across the street from where we are now. Steve Hoogendoorn, my partner here, was the only guy I inherited out of that Volant thing. They told me “You can pick your whole team, but we want to keep this guy because he's really important to the business and he wasn't super happy on the ski side.” Hoog and I really started managing it in 1999; I was doing product development, marketing, sales, and he was doing all the operations and finance. Since then he's done a lot more engineering as well, so I do sales and marketing, and because I have a product development background we kind of meet in the middle on product development, and he does the engineering and the financial side of the operation. It's a really good yin and yang kind of balance.


Yeti Cycles headquarters
Racing has always been a driving factor for Yeti, and historic bikes fill their headquarters. That massive chainring is on the bike that Caroline 'Curly' Curls reached the 98mph mark on in 1997. Other bikes include Jared Graves' 4X World Championship winner, and the bike that Aaron Gwin rode for his World Cup debut at Mont Saint Anne, where he placed 10th.


Yeti has always had an extremely passionate fan base. What do you attribute that to?

I attribute a lot of that to John Parker and what he built back when Yet started. Yeti has always been a very authentic company, you know, what you saw is what you got with Parker and Brett Hahn back in the day. Yeti's commitment to racing, which includes forming the first professional mountain bike race team, has also played a role. People really tied into that because it was new, it was exciting, And then there was that era in the early 90s when the first World Championships took place in Durango – Yeti was at the epicenter of all of that. There was a lot of momentum going on in the industry and it always seemed like Yeti was one step ahead – the deep dish carbon rims, the early adoption of full suspension, Easton taperwall tube frames. One of the coolest things is that you have this real slick race part of Yeti, but that isn't really what the Tribe is. The Tribe is people that are all about riding their bike, and hanging out with like-minded people. I think the catalyst that brought people together was the product itself. A racer could enjoy a Yeti at the highest level, while also any other customer could enjoy a Yeti out on the freedom of the trails. It's a strange dichotomy in our brand, but it seems to work.



John Tomac, one of Yeti's
original racers. Photo: Yetifan.com
Yeti has consistently managed to attract some of the top riders in the sport; how do you go about finding athletes to be on the team?

It's an interesting thing - it's a long term commitment to racing, plain and simple. We're there, we're at the local races, we're at the national races. We’ve been racing for over 25 years, so it’s not something we’re fickle about or jump in and out of like other companies. We’re a race driven company. It’s what we do.

People always ask, “How do you find these guys?” I can point to so many in our recent history; let's take Aaron Gwin as a great example. Nobody knew Gwinny – he was a moto racer and it didn't work out for him, and at that point Rich Houseman was on our team. Rich was in charge of scouting for our SoCal regional team. Ever since I've been here we've relied heavily on racers to give us that information, and Rich said, “Hey, this guy's really fast – we need to put him on the regional team.” So we put him on the regional team, took care of him with product, and after two races we moved him up to the national team. One more race after that we moved him up to the World Cup program and he finished top ten at the first World Cup he ever did at Mont Saint Anne. A few different things led to that – one, we had the infrastructure in place to have a regional, national, and World Cup team, and be able to move him through that, and secondly, we had racers that told us how fast he was. I had him ride with Blenki, Jared Graves, and Justin Leov, and I asked them, “Is this guy fast enough to race at the World Cup level?” And those three guys told me he could finish top ten at the World Cup... and he did.


Is it hard when racers move on to a bigger company, one with deeper pockets, or do you know that will eventually happen?

For us, and maybe we're just too emotionally involved in the sport, no; I think it's awesome. Yes, it's bittersweet, because we want them to race in the Yeti colors, but the sport is limited in terms of what an athlete can make, and at the end of the day I want that athlete to make as much as they possibly can, because they have a fairly limited career, just by virtue of injuries and all sorts of other stuff. Oftentimes we have long conversations with the team they're moving to prior to that, to make sure it's a good fit. Then we hand them off, and if those guys are able to make more money, and sometimes get better support, more resources, then we fully support that. We have a longstanding relationship with our racers – I think there are very few that would go away and say, “Oh man, it wasn't a good time.”


Looking back, are there any bikes in the Yeti line that you wish had never made it to market, or that didn't end up working exactly as intended?

One bike comes to mind - the AS-3. It was designed back in the Schwinn era and it represents what happens when you make a bike by committee. Ugh. There have been plenty of designs we've shown that didn't make into production. The ASR 7, with the single-sided swing arm, was an expensive learning experience. We threw away a bunch of carbon parts and tooling, but in the end feel really good about the decision.

Yeti ASR 7
This configuration of the ASR 7 didn't quite work as Yeti intended, and turned into an expensive learning experience.


Earlier this season you ceased production of the SB-66, the same bike that Jared Graves piloted to a third place finish at the 2013 Downhill World Championships. What was the reasoning behind this?

We love the SB-66 and it's the best selling bike we've ever produced. We still sell the bike in international markets and online through Competitive Cyclist. The simple reason we stopped producing the bike is our dealers weren't comfortable stocking a 26" bike when 27.5" is all the craze. We still like 26" wheeled bikes and the SB-66 was one of the best in the category, but ultimately we have to make what our customers want. I can say that most of the Yeti staff still chooses the SB-66 carbon as their ride of choice.


Yeti's bike lineup includes both relatively simple single pivot designs like the 575 as well as more complex rail or eccentric driven offerings like the 303 and the SB line. Is there any underlying design principle that affects what suspension layout you choose go with for certain models?

In a perfect world, we would run a single technology throughout the entire product line. That could happen in the future... In our current product line, we choose technology based on application and in some cases cost. The SB platform works great for trail / enduro bikes. In its current configuration, it's a bit too heavy to push down into lower travel bikes and it's relatively expensive to make, so we couldn't push it through the entire line. We use single pivot technology on the 575 because it allows us to produce a high-performance trail bike that is relatively lightweight and costs less than our SB platform bikes. It's also a legacy bike for us - one of the first trail bikes on the market. The 303 is a purpose built, price-is-no-object, downhill racing machine. The 303 technology is amazing on square edged bumps and super technical sections, so it's ideal for DH.


Yeti frames in Golden Colorado
Rows of frames await final assembly and quality control before being shipped out to shops around the world.


Wheel size and frame material seem to be the hot topics regarding downhill bikes these days. Are we going to see a carbon fiber, 27.5” DH bike any time soon?

Of course, 27.5" carbon DH bikes are on the horizon. I think the question many of us are asking is what the DH bike of the future looks like? Is it a long-travel enduro bike? I've heard it said that many EWS courses are essentially World Cup DH courses ridden on 6" bikes. Maybe the DH bike and enduro bike each have traits that could be combined to make the ultimate gravity bike? We have some ideas, but aren't ready to talk about them yet.


What do you consider to be the hardest part of running a bike company?

I think that there's no doubt about it – I have the dream job. This is what I've always wanted to do, and every day I'm lucky to be sitting in this chair. I think one of the things that is the most difficult is that it's incredibly competitive in the mountain bike industry, and it's incredibly competitive at the high end. You have the need to produce the highest end product, and because we're a smaller company, we don't have the volume to drive that through, so every investment you make is pretty substantial. We love it, we thrive on competition here, but that doesn't mean it's easy – sometimes it's really hard, but everyone here is crazy competitive, so that makes it easier, because our people just want to win.


What do you do in your spare time when you're not at the office?

I love to ride – weekends are for epic rides. I have kids now that are in their twenties, so it's great to get out with them and have them beat me around. I also love to fly fish, I'm a huge fly fisherman. I can stand in a stream all day and be just as happy as being on a bike all day. Really anything involving being outside, doing something active.


Team Yeti in Chile. Images by Dave Trumpore.
  Yeti may have dropped their World Cup DH team, but that doesn't mean racers like Jared Graves are slowing down. Photo: Dave Trumpore


This last season you announced that there would be no Yeti World Cup downhill team for 2014, and the focus would instead be on enduro. What was the reasoning behind this decision?

For us it was a few different things. For one, all of a sudden we were running two World Cup level programs. You need to remember we're a really small company, and our commitment to racing, even for one World Cup program, is monumental relative to our size. When the World Series first happened many of the events were in Europe and we were able to split our time between it and the World Cup, and have racers compete in both disciplines. But two things happened – it became so competitive that you had to focus 100% on one discipline, and it also became a true worldwide event. We simply couldn't afford to run two teams. And with Jared doing so well our strengths were on the enduro side, so we decided to go in that direction. But it's not unprecedented for Yeti – remember, Yeti used to have one of the best cross-country teams in the world, and then when we went to downhill we had the same uproar, “Oh, Yeti's giving up on cross-country.” The fact of the matter is we love all racing, and we haven't given up on downhill – we could very well have a downhill team in the future. This is just the way it worked based on the talent we have on our team right now.


bigquotesThe fact of the matter is we love all racing, and we haven't given up on downhill - we could very well have a downhill team in the future. This is just the way it worked based on the talent we have on our team right now.


Where do you see Yeti going in the future? Are there any major changes in the works, or do you feel like the company is on the right track?

I think we're on a good path. We have some exciting stuff we'll be launching in the next three months, and that will kind of set the technology platform for a lot of years moving forward. We will continue to be committed to having really strong riders on our staff. It's important when you're testing products to be able to push it at the highest level, even before you hand it to your World Cup racers. I have this theory that if we ever have an average age that's over 32 here we're in trouble. We'll continue to bring young people in to make sure they keep old guys like me honest in terms of where the product's going and what we need out on the market, because at the end of the day we're not smart marketers – we just make product that we want to ride and we try to make it based on the kind of riding we do here. If we can control those variables we feel like we can find people that will also share those same values, so we have to make sure that we have the right people on staff to make that happen. We're as good as the people that work here.

Must Read This Week

103 Comments

  • + 97
 Nice read. still can't get my head round axing the sb66. it's the best seller, outperforms everything, graves chooses it over the fad bikes, most their staff also prefer it but the market and shops don't want it?? strange world. dumb world.
  • + 36
 It is half true that customers demand something, be it 29ers, 650B-ers. At the end of the day it is that way, but well it is about generating demand by big companies. Guys like Yeti or banshee just have to follow to stay in the business. Even Specialized said, fk it, it's stupid but if you want it, we will give it to you. Santa Cruz was the same, Bronson blew them shtless, they were not expecting such a rush. It is all revolving around that sentence: "we did this new thing, and it is( sad in "maybe" tone) better than the older thing", and the average customer takes the bate, he feels better making that choice. It's boils down to that: an incentive or excuse for consumption. To make a "want" feel like a "need". A good story about a new feature is needed to make that transformation. A story that will make you feel bad about what you have now, so that this new thing will save you from the discomfort.
  • + 16
 It's so annoying to see what is a fad cripple awesome options on the market. I'm scraping everything I can together now just to get my hands on an SB66, because vogue wheelsize or not, it's an amazing bike. It's such a shame to see brilliant bikes having to be phased out simply because of market pressure, and in the end, Yeti are in a business to make money and you can hardly hold it against them for adapting to market forces in order to stay in business. Although I'm sure Yeti won't fall prey to it, this is the kind of market pressure that has the ability to produce crappy bikes because they're being made to fill a market gap, rather than being made to be a brilliant bike.
  • + 6
 Yeti answered this one themselves over on MTBR - they had only 12 orders for the SB66 from US dealers for the year. Dealers/customers in the US want 650b bikes, and it made no sense for Yeti to produce a bike they couldn't sell.
  • + 3
 He says they still sell them online, does that mean they're just selling off old stock and they aren't produced and will run out, or you can order them direct...?
  • + 0
 Seem to be available form a lot of big online retailers - CRC for example - think they've dumped some stock
  • + 3
 Consumer behavior is more about how a product makes the buyer feel, than any need or actual performance gains over the product it's replacing.

Interesting read on Vital yesterday:

www.vitalmtb.com/forums/The-Hub,2/Small-differences-looming-large-and-the-perceived-increasing-cost-of-MTB,7990
  • + 5
 The online retailer's are blowing them out, really great deals on these things if you are comfortable with staying 26 in this climate.
  • + 6
 why wouldn't you be comfortable on a 26? #InB4WheelsizeDebate
  • + 22
 The deals on 26" bikes have been freaking-tastic after 275 histeria came along. I bought a carbon frame cheaper than alu frame 6 years ago!!! I definitely benefitted from 275 "technology"
  • + 1
 For sure, I didn't mean comfortable riding one, I'm still all 26! ... I just meant dropping big bucks on a frame when wheel and tire/fork choice is starting to dwindle.
  • + 2
 yeah I see what you mean, especially for XC/AM bikes. I doubt tire choice will decline for 26', especially as tires get replaced more than forks. fork choice yeah I guess it might decline for the mid-travel market but you can always lower something like a lyric or a 36 (which quite a lot of people do anyway). *edit* same goes for wheels, DH wheels will probably always be available in 26, and many aren't too much heavier than what is offered for lighter use
  • - 4
flag nsahbti (May 22, 2014 at 6:14) (Below Threshold)
 "sb66. it's the best seller, outperforms everything, graves chooses it over the fad bikes, most their staff also prefer it but the market and shops don't want it??"

This indicates to me a fail in their marketing process. If you have such a good product, it is the job of your marketing people to send the right messages out to potential buyers and dealers. If the marketing team cannot do that, you need to think of a change. Yeti will turn to follower from leader if the keep up like this.
I have a 66, my fav go to bike, it is good, very good and I prefer it to lots of newer 27.5 I try.

Analyzing the MTB marketing dynamics in the past few years, you see everyone trying to message "we have the best bike", Yeti even named it SB (for super bike), there is minimal differentiation, even the videos they use for marketing look the same and present similar capabilities. If you need an example for good marketing check out Santa, each one of their bikes has a clear message about what it is intended to do and who is the target user population, they did not show their 5010 doing loops in the air or big drops cause it is not intended to do so. I saw their video and could relate to the type of trail riding it was intended for.

Yeti, you have some of the best bikes out there, just tell people about them!!!
  • + 7
 Waki is right - if you prefer 26, there are insane deals right now, especially on used frames. You have benefitted from 650.
  • + 7
 All the armchair analysts need to stop hypothesizing and listen. Conroy said it, and asa retailer, I'll say the same thing. I ride 26, love 26", but my customers didn't want it. It has not been easy to convince anyone that the sb66 was tits and it's the bike you want. After the initial wave of sales, it all dried up, and every single SB bike I sold last season was 95 or 95c. Same goes for any excellent 26" bike we stocked...
  • - 4
flag SlodownU (May 22, 2014 at 6:47) (Below Threshold)
 I call bullshit on the whole customer demand thing. Customers don't walk into the dealer demanding something, the dealer tells the customer what they need and sell it to them. I see it first hand every day. The industry decided that they were going with something different, and the dealers didn't have a choice. Sell what your given.
  • + 10
 Yeah because Yeti is going to make bikes nobody wants to buy ... because that makes sense. It's not bs man, people are buying 650b.
  • + 5
 I think he meant that there is no actual customer demand, people cannot demand stuff that is not made yet. If a regular bloke had the time and imagination to design a bike, there'd be more bike companies and less bikes made Smile But Joe Simpleton does not have it, thus he relies on someone else to make a bike for him and he pays him to do so. And that someone else may want to mess things up to get more profit, and generates demand. Then some other guy having smaller company has to follow that messed up idea, or he runs out of clients. So there is not original demand, it is nearly always created. Sure I had an idea that a tyre like ROck Razor would be great and I had it since 3 or 4 years but fk that, I am not making my own tyres Wink I apay people to do so, I hope they would make one.
  • + 6
 Its a bit of a catch-22. people want to buy 650b because a large chunk of the industry tells them it's the best. The rest of the industry then can't sell any 26' because people want 650b. therefore the rest of the industry have to make 650b bikes as that is where the demand is. obviously its not quite so black and white but you get the idea, it works both ways.
  • + 0
 I think some people are missing the point. No one is blaming Yeti for giving the customer what they want. That's what they should be doing. Its more that because of marketing and hype, the 'public' is demanding a lesser product. That's what annoys people.
  • + 13
 MOst importantly no one out there will care what we here have to say, as we are no buying force, we are btchy, sneaky, cheap basterds who virtually never buy anything at MSRP, extremely rarely buy bikes in the shops, rarely buy complete bikes. We look for deals. We eat the creme of our knowledge. But we live off people who we call rich pricks with no skills. Whatever you despise someone for, he may rightfuly despise you equally for something else. You buy a bike for 2k he buys for 9k and you call him a sucker, he thinks you are a sucker cuz you did not get a job giving you money to do so. Your 2k may be 2 month salary, his 9k may be his month salary. Everyone likes to stick up their noses though Big Grin
  • + 1
 But they had been made... maybe not by Yeti but by others.... look at well they sell... who wouldn't want a piece of that pie?
  • + 3
 The crucial question is why they are buying 27.5: because they experienced them as better or because someone's marketing convinced them of it. I believe it is the latter (and also just a lot of bored riders looking for something new instead of working on skills) and for that reason it is a product of ignorance and the phasing out of great 26ers driven by ignorant fanaticism is like burning books. There should be a rider initiative to educate the market and set the record straight. I said it before, the smaller the wheels the more fun but the harder to shred. So if fun and the level of riding are the benchmark 26 is a better compromise than 27.5 but bmx bikes sure are even more playful but even more difficult.
  • + 14
 Have any of you guys ridden 27.5 bikes? I'm sorry, but I just don't think it's marketing hype.

I built up an SB66 dream bike last year. That bike ruled. Still does.

Then, I got worried that I'd just invested in a bunch of standards that were quickly becoming obsolete. I was annoyed with the whole industry jumping ship on a standard that had worked for decades.

Then I tried a Santa Cruz Bronson. It's just a bit better: carries momentum better, feels more stable on technical descents, and seems to 'carve' turns a bit better, sorta like a great pair of big mountain skis.

I'm not saying 26 bikes are shit, or that 27.5 is revolutionary. But, for me, it's just a bit better for te terrain I like to ride.

Dismissing it as nothing more than marketing hype is simplistic and lazy.
  • + 1
 Preferring a Bronson to an SB66 may well come down to wheelsize. They're great bikes and one has bigger wheels. However in the case of Yeti people jumped to buying SB75s, a bike meant for different riding than the 66. Seems like a pretty clear case of buying because of the wheelsize.
  • + 2
 Bronson and SB66 or Slash 27.5 is down to own preference, like blondes and brunettes. That probably applies to 29ers as well. In most cases it is always about what you feel works best for what you want to do with it. Give me a home in big mountains and selling Blur TR then hetting Enduro 29 is on top of to do list after getting a new job and fixing preschhol to the kids. Wheel size is overrated. These are just bikes.
  • - 3
 Within Yeti, they prefer the SB66 b/c the SB75 was a half-assed effort at making a 650b version of the SB. It had more in common with the SB95 than it did with the SB66.

When the SB76 comes out, the S66 will be nothing more than a distant memory.
  • + 9
 The best thing 650b ever did for me is getting me my SB66 for a stellar price... I absolutely LOVE that bike... I can keep up on climbs with my buddies on their 29ers and on descents with my other buddies on full DH-rigs... has 100% converted me to a Yeti fan..
  • + 5
 Zaff: do it. I passed my mojo hd onto the wife and picked up an sb66c frame. Best bike purchase I've ever made. It's a bit firm, but when you open it up it's amazing. The geo and balance are just perfect. Hey it may not roll over as smoothly as other wheel sizes, but what's going on these days, is EVERYBODY a racer now? We need to squeeze out every half second on every ride? Consumer eat that sh$t up!
  • + 2
 Ukr77 improvement in roll over and tyre contact patch with 650b is a BS. You get better results in that department by using wider rims. On a 29er it's another story. I am pxxed off only because it is a waste to prodice so much of different kinds of sht. Let's don't cry over spoiled milk though.
  • + 1
 Similar BS with the new Pike. Fox 36RC2 is using charger like, bladder equipped damper since 2005, suddenly rct3 is revolutionary...
  • + 5
 In the market for a new bike, I did the smart thing a few months ago and picked up a complete SB66 Carbon XT build for $3200. The frame alone used to retail for $2700. A deal so good that no amount of proclaimed "improved rollover" or "increased stability" could keep me from snatching up one of the last 26" Super Bikes.
I might even buy another frame just to have on hand a few years down the line while everyone else regrets witnessing its passing.

You could accuse me of hyperbole, but that just means you haven't ridden one.

Not saying 27.5" doesn't have it's scientific merits either, I'm just saying that they are most likely psychological in nature to the average rider. And not anything that anyone below an experts ability can even discern.

Meanwhile, the SB66 truly transcends the majority of bikes in its category, 27.5, 29 or 26. F

Few other bikes (regardless of wheel size) can even compete in the same rarified air.
  • - 2
 Contact patch has the same area no matter what wheel size. Only the shape is different. Science is fun!
  • + 2
 "Not saying 27.5" doesn't have it's scientific merits either, I'm just saying that they are most likely psychological in nature to the average rider. And not anything that anyone below an experts ability can even discern."

Sounds like you're talking authoritatively about something you've never tried.
  • + 3
 Right Waki. I am one of the old fucks people will diss here but I worked hard and got lucky to be able to have just the bike I wanted. it just happened to be 27.5. I would have bought the same bike in 26 and never llooked back.
  • + 1
 Ukr77: money where my mouth is. Shelled out on a closeout SB66 with a Float X on it.
In the opinion of this poster, good bikes will be good bikes, bad bikes will be bad bikes and what makes them great or bad is rarely a result of wheelsize alone. Buy a bike because you're going to love it! I had a friend comment on my SB66 purchase saying that it will no resale value and all i could do was say "As if the thought of ever giving this bike up, rather than wanting to be buried with it, ever crossed my mind when purchasing it."
  • + 14
 Dear President Chris Conroy, All I want is a Yeti SB76. Please and thank you.
  • + 2
 Yes! Sooner than later!
  • + 5
 The SB-75 made no sense to me. It was poorly done compared to the 66 and 95. I thought it was going to be as good as the 66, but it was more like the 95.....but nowhere as good as the 95. Please take your time to correctly make the 76 like how SC made the Nomad into!
  • + 9
 So it IS just a big conspiracy from the bike shops! "The simple reason we stopped producing the bike is our dealers weren't comfortable stocking a 26" bike when 27.5" is all the craze."
  • + 6
 I have to say that comment got me. I mean, I ride both 27.5 and a 29er but majorly considering buying another 26 as I miss the ride! And the geo just works for me a little bit better. Weird that this 650b is taking off in a way that sounds like a potentially fatal blow to the 26. I say, ride what you like but don't make one obsolete just because another is in major fad right now. And the SB66 is a rad ride!!!! Stupid to discontinue such an awesome performing bike. I was actually thinking of buying one as my 26" beast. Ho Hum.
  • + 12
 Then buy one. The only reason this is really happening is because people are talking but not putting their money where their mouth is. I can't afford a Superbike but did vote with my purchase and bought the 26" wheeled bike I preferred the feel of over the others. At the end of the day talk is cheap.
  • + 6
 Yea that statement just proves how much of the 650 craze is marketing BS. You have the president of one of the most respected companies out there basically admitting it. Telling you that they stopped selling one of their best products (and are thus selling us something they feel isn't as good) solely based on hype. And you can bet that's the case all over the industry as well.
  • + 6
 We all whine and complain because we think the bike companies aren't responsive to us, but really, how many of us buy new bikes? Most the people on this forum buy their bikes at an employee discount or they buy used. The only ones who buy new, carbon, $6k+ bikes are the "fat accountants who can't ride" that get so much hate.
  • + 1
 Ugh. It's not hype! It's demand! You can't continue to produce something that nobody wants to buy!

Everyone who argues that this is nothing more than hype need to actually ride a 650b bike. Or just shut up. There are clear upsides to the intermediate wheel size. If you think it's just a marketing ruse, I don't think you know what you're talking about.

Whether or not 650B is better technology is debatable depending on where/how ou ride. But regardless, its not just some snake oil. And Yeti can't afford to sell a bike that nobody wants.
  • + 3
 That comment is an interesting one. Santa Cruz said the same thing when the Bronson came out. I remember Joe Garney saying the only reason they made it 27.5 was that was what people wanted it not because it performed any better than the 26inch version. That logic is kind of sad because there are some great 26" wheel bikes out there.

It bums me out because I would love an SB66, but are there going to be good parts for 26" wheel bikes in 2-3 years?
  • + 5
 Jerrytek is right. Our local store does yeti, Santa Cruz, orange, ibis, Scott etc. when the Bronson came out of the 50 or so lines they carry I'm guessing 2 or 3 were 27.5, the rest 26 or 29. So what sold? Bronsons. Shed loads of them, probably 1 Bronson for every other bike. That's consumer demand not companies shoving it down your throat.
  • + 6
 Benpinnick,

Yup, I've heard similar stories from people who work at shops near me. Same thing from bike manufacturers. People seem to want to see this as some sort of industry conspiracy to take away everyone's favorite 26er. Talk to anyone in the industry: EVERYONE was amazed by how fast the 27.5 thing was adopted by CONSUMERS. The industry had to react to a HUGE change in consumer demand, and many of them got caught on their heels. There are only a few companies that really got in front of it, like Intense, Norco, Jamis, and most recently (yet most intensively) Giant.

Bikes like the SB-75, Pivot Firebird 27.5, and the new Specialized Stumpjumper 27.5 are great examples of how unprepared the industry was for this. All three of those bikes were basically tweaked versions of non-650b models rushed into production to meet consumer demand. That's why they are quite mediocre. It simply takes a while to design a bike around new standards. We should expect to see more bikes that are designed to really take advantage of the new wheel size. The new Santa Cruz Nomad is a great example of what we should expect: a bike built to take full advantage of the new wheel standard and the increasing popularity of 1x transmissions.

If this was some industry conspiracy, it was a really poorly executed one.

The more reasonable conclusion is that, due to a perfect storm of factors - enduro racing, the long experiment with 29ers, and improvements in wheel technology that facilitated lighter, stronger wheel builds - people jumped on this bandwagon really quickly. Faster than anyone anticipated.

Some advice to everyone who is grumbling about industry conspiracy to kill the 26er: instead of complaining about what other people like, vote with you wallet and continue to use and buy 26ers. Or maybe try a 27.5 bike and see what all the fuss is about before you bash them as a fad.
  • + 3
 ^^ Well said
  • + 8
 Richie Rude is too good not to race DH. I wouldn't be surprise if he get scooped up by Specialized or Trek or ?
  • + 5
 This is a direct message to Chris Conroy as a loyal customer, I hope he can read this Wink .
I have a SB66 Aluminum bike, and as many as your customers I abuse it all the past year. Review the bike is easy, it is the most fun, versatile and fast do it all bike I ever had, but (yes there is a but) is hard to mechanically maintain. (Big part of the fun is giving myself maintenance to the bike)
Maybe all of the dudes are moving to 27.5 or 29 wheels but I’m sure if you can offer the same “ride experience” that the sb66 has, no matter any shitty wheel format that will come in the future, you will crush competence. Just one favor, please, PLEASE, PLEASE!!! give an easiest way to maintain the bearings, you boys need to work more there, maybe give some access to use an oil gun to easy grease the bearings will be really good, and sale third party bearing install-remove tools in your site, to make easier life to riders that give personal love to their bikes 
Last but not least, one personal favor, wait until December to quit SB66C from sale hahaha, I’m saving money right now to buy one from competitive cyclist but with a new kid in the family this will take some time 

Sorry if there is any writing mistakes, but English is not my native language Razz
  • + 6
 So all you guys who wanted 650B bikes so bad can feel bad that you killed one of the best 6" bikes of all time. Good job. Smile
  • + 4
 this. idiocy, for the sake of following a fad....
  • + 1
 Killed? lol, yeah, it's so dead it could never possibly be made ever again. Ever.
  • + 1
 Psst yah, didn't you know thats how that works? That's just how bad they should feel. They killed it dead.
  • + 3
 Rocking a yellow sb95c with a pike - love it yeti, simply love it! Does absolutely everything i ask of it and more, all i have to say is bravo, keep up the amazing work! And your videos and pics on pinkbike are top class! Yours sincerly, One very proud tribe member R.I.P. sb66, you inspired me to my sb95
  • + 2
 Yeti marketing is first class
  • + 5
 Just built my 66 and I love it. I just flat out can't afford to keep up with the new technology, so I got great tech that'll last for a long time.
  • + 1
 Only thing to watch out for is the bearings. Make sure to replace it yearly if you ride a lot. Other than that it's a solid bike!
  • + 4
 steel yeti fro with an accu-trax fork was my first serious mtb purchase. that bike is still alive and rippin with a friend in colorado
  • + 2
 yah, received a second-hand 1991 or so Ultimate when I finished high school; big 'ol accu-trax forks, Scott Pederson brakes on the front. Thing was solid and I learned both how to ride and wrench. Was stolen out of a garage in San Diego...never should have gotten rid of that bike Frown
  • + 2
 always wanted an ultimate. i had no money after i bought that fro frame/fork that i had to put a king hs on layaway. haha
  • + 1
 Great read. I've had a please of riding with Chris Conroy in Durango, many years back on an epic shuttle from the top of Kennebec Pass. Great guy and he runs a great outfit!
  • + 4
 If said SB76 is a carbon 650b 165mm travel bike, me too please Mr Conroy.
  • + 2
 165 seems to be the desired #. Capra, sanction, new devinci, gwins winning bike, for these guys that race w/untimed ups on almost wc dh trail level..65-66ha, 73ish st, 17less cs, long front centers (love yeti top tube sizing)
  • + 1
 Not many frame only options yet, hope we see some more by year end (though that GT Sanction looks NICE...)
  • + 1
 Love my SB66c. Hope this is all the bike I want or need for a long, long time. Goal is to be that old fat guy with a super light bike.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/10866878
  • + 2
 I just purchased a SB66 this year. Words cannot describe this bike. It must be ridden. I am glad that parts will still be available.
  • + 1
 love these in depth interviews so much online content is based on quick reads these days its really nice to see articles like this that give you a true sense of what something is about. Amazing read Pinkbike!
  • + 3
 I love my SB66. I ride in the Pisgah mtns almost every weekend and the SB66 works perfect every time.
  • + 2
 Still searching for the secret Yeti graveyard that is rumored to be high in the Colorado Rockies… I haven't found it yet, but the looking keeps me in shape.
  • + 1
 Post a full report when you find it
  • + 1
 VERY interested to see the new suspension platform mentioned in the last paragraph. Something tells me that we may finally see a worthy successor to the SB-66.
  • + 3
 yeti = nathan rennie. that is all
  • + 1
 What happens when Graves wins the enduro World Series on the SB66? Ahead of all the 650b"s.
  • + 3
 Long life Yeti!
  • + 1
 Word is they also ceased production on the current DJ frame Graves helped design. Wonder if Chris will confirm this too?
  • + 1
 change my local yeti dealer or their customer service attitude and i'll snap up a yeti bike anytime...
  • + 2
 Have lusted after a Yeti since the early 90s. One day, one day....
  • + 2
 26 for the win. Just ordered a new costom yeti sb66! super stoked.
  • + 1
 Damn, I need to get a SB 66 before it is out of stock everywhere! Nice interview!
  • + 5
 Buy one. I just purchased one this year. Holy Feck!! Keeps me smiling.
  • + 1
 bikes should be things of beauty. why I ride a Yeti, summed up in one photo: www.pinkbike.com/photo/10546579
  • + 2
 The thing has sweet-ass lines. Only thing swoopier is the carbon version. Bad ass ride.
  • - 3
 So those bikes waiting to be assembled and sent out around the world are in Taiwan or in the USA?
Also I know there is a loyal fan-base but when you look at customer reviews there are quite a lot of complaints about bearings and frame cracks.
  • + 3
 Those frames are in the USA. They're welded / laid up in Taiwan, and the final steps take place in Golden, Colorado.
  • + 1
 Jared Graves was second ,not 3rd. last year. This year maybe 1st.
  • + 1
 i would buy a sb-66 if i would search for a frame
  • + 1
 Yeti, an important brand in the bike industry.
  • - 2
 Did you have to screw Richie Rude over in the process of axing the DH world cup program???...let him leave!! He is the future of US DH racing in a sport where the US has struggled to develop talent
  • + 3
 I'm sure Richie, like Cam Cole had the option to leave if he wanted too. He chose to stay with Yeti give enduro a try. Whether that was the right decision, or if Richie is happy with the decision likely won't be determined until after the season. It probably wasn't an easy choice. Based on what Cam Cole has said, he was left to scramble a bit and his deal with Commencal was a last minute thing. If Richie was in the same situation, there was likely no premiere spot on a big team waiting for him that late in the game for this season. This offseason will be a different story, with many more options available to him, so we'll see what he does.
  • + 1
 Cam didn't really have a choice. They told him they stopped DH racing. They probably offered him a spot on the enduro team, but why would he, he's pretty successful in DH
  • - 1
 sino....logically that sounds good, but unfortunately was not the case
  • + 3
 LaXcarp - what was the real story?
  • - 1
 I call bullshit. You have to make "what the customers want" so you stop making the best selling bike?
  • + 4
 You're confusing the time scalse on which they sold I think.
  • + 0
 So how about an SB77?
  • + 6
 He crashed it and tried to touch up paint it to hide the damage, which was why he refused to send the frame to the LBS for inspection. When the truth was revealed he completely left mtbr.
  • + 4
 that video looked like the start to a gay porno, or so I've heard thats what they look like..
  • + 3
 That dude was crazy. Don't remove the bushing and try to redesign the bike. We sell a ton of those bikes and have never had an issue.
  • - 2
 Hopefully the bike shops are asking for a carbon SB75 in XL.
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