From bringing up some of the best downhill racers the sport has ever seen, to their current focus on the Enduro World Series, Yeti has a long and storied history in gravity racing that could easily fill a book. That gravity-focused DNA has always been present throughout their range of bikes, too, with one notable exception: Yeti's cross-country machines. Their ASR Carbon could be run as a sporty trail bike, but its angles and suspension can't match the expectations of what some cross-country types are looking for these days. Those expectations include low weight, suspension that offers more than just efficiency, and angles that allow a cross-country whippet to ride much bigger than its travel might suggest. So the ASR and its flex-pivot design was retired a few years back, and now we finally have its replacement.
The SB100 is their all-new cross-country platform, and it's also their answer to Yeti President Chris Conroy's question of ''How capable can we make a 100mm travel bike?''
• Intended use: cross-country / trail
• Wheel size: 29''
• Rear wheel travel: 100mm
• Fork travel: 120mm (all models)
• Revised Switch Infinity suspension
• Carbon front and rear triangles
• 2-bolt ISCG-05
• Uninterrupted seat tube
• Internal routing w/ molded-in guides
• Room for bottle inside front triangle
• Fits 2.4'' tires
• Frame weight: 5.5lb (with shock, hardware)
• MSRP: $5,999 - $9,899 USD
• Frame MSRP: $3,400 USD
Yeti isn't exactly known for their inexpensive bikes, and it's the same story with the SB100. You can get a Turq (lighter carbon) frame and shock for $3,400 USD, but the standard frame that's said to weigh about 300-grams more isn't available on its own. Complete bikes start with the SB100C GX Comp that goes for $5,999 USD, and it tops out six models later at $9,899 USD with the SB100T XX1 Eagle that comes with carbon wheels. You can check out the whole range on Yeti's website
if you're looking for all the spec details.
Yeti also has their similarly priced, four-bike Beti range that are all assembled around the same frame but get shorter, 170mm cranks and WTB Deva women’s specific saddles. More importantly, Yeti has worked with Fox to come up with a shock tune that better suits lighter weight riders.
The SB100 doesn't have much travel, but this ain't no cross-country waif.
The gist of the SB100 is a relatively relaxed 67.8-degree head angle, a 120mm-travel fork on all models, a moderately long reach and loads of standover clearance, room for long-stroke dropper posts, 2-bolt ISCG-05 guide tabs, and a stock build that includes proper tires. The frame, which has been in development over the past two years, is said to weigh 5.5lb with its Fox shock and all the small bits in high-end Turq form; the standard carbon frame is about 300-grames more. Yup, that's heavier than some but, as Conroy explained during the bike's introduction, the SB100 is ''not your Euro sub-10kg bike.'' Yeti says that completes weigh between 24.5 and 25.5lb.
If you ask me, the most notable thing on that list is that every single SB100 will come from Yeti with a 120mm-travel Fox 34 (the new, lighter weight Step-Cast model
) rather than a puny 100mm fork, a decision that might put off some traditional racer types who place grams at the top of their priority list. Yes, you can install a shorter fork on the bike, but if that sounds like you, then you're probably going to be better served by looking at any number of off-road road bikes on the market. Race courses are getting much more rough and technical but, more importantly, the people who ride cross-country are wanting more and more from their bikes. The trick, however, is to provide them with that capability without taking away too much of the sporty, race-ready vibe that makes a cross-country bike what it is.
Housing is routed internally via molded-in tubes.
The bike's 100mm of rear wheel travel is controlled by a new, compact version of Yeti's Switch Infinity system.
The SB100 kinda looks like a single pivot bike, doesn't it? But it's not. While all of Yeti's other full-suspension bikes see their Switch Infinity system located above the bottom bracket and parallel to the frame since the system's debut back in 2014, making it easy to spot, they've rotated it 90-degrees and moved it back slightly on the SB100.
The view from the back shows the Switch Infinity carrier's position, as well as the need for a bolt-on guard.
The change was done for a few reasons, but the fact that any cross-country or trail bike worth considering needs to able to carry a bottle inside the front triangle was a driving factor. I'm not going to lie, I feel a wee bit vindicated of all my bitching and moaning over the years on this subject; not just about Yeti's bikes, but every model that couldn't fit a bottle inside the frame. That said, Conroy did stress that due to suspension designs, patents, and all sorts of variables, it's often not as easy as drilling a couple of holes to mount a cage.
Still, Yeti knew that this genre of bike absolutely had to make room for fluids, hence the new location for the Switch Infinity unit, but he did go on to say that they have no plans to make similar changes to any of their current SB platforms. We'll see about that.
A nearly hidden link drives the shock (left). And yes, that is a standard-sized bottle inside the front triangle of a Yeti (right) that you're seeing.
But it's not only the location of the SB100's Switch Infinity that's new, as Yeti has come up with a fresh carrier that's both smaller and lighter. Up until now, every SB platform, from the 114mm-travel SB4.5 to the 152mm SB6, has employed the same Switch Infinity components, but that's not so with the 100mm-travel SB100. The diameter of the Kashima-coated tubes has dropped from the 15mm used on the other SB machines, to 10mm on the SB100, thereby allowing the forged carrier to also be smaller.
They've also moved the sealed bearings from the carrier to the frame, and greasing the unit is now done via zerk fittings located under the main pivot's bearing cap.
Yeti uses the same Switch Infinity unit (left) on all of their existing bikes, but the new SB100 employs a smaller, lighter version (right) that's been rotated by 90-degrees on the front triangle.
Yeti's been quite confident about the Switch Infinity's ability to shrug off mud and grime, saying that it's excelled during million-plus cycle tests despite having all sorts of different gunk thrown at it, but there was also no way that they were going to let it sit at the back of the seat tube without some sort of protection. That explains the bolt-on guard.
We should probably touch on exactly what Switch Infinity is. For those unfamiliar with the system, it relies on two short Kashima-coated tubes to manipulate the bike's axle path. Initially, as the bike goes through its travel, the carrier moves upwards on the rails to provide a rearward axle path for pedaling efficiency. Then, as the rear wheel goes deeper into its travel, the carrier moves downwards to reduce the amount of chain tension so the design can better deal with hard impacts. Yeti has long been tight with Fox Racing Shox, and the two companies worked together to develop the Switch Infinity design.
Because the Switch Infinity unit sits at the back of the seat tube and is in the tire's line of fire, a bolt-on shield is required.
The SB100's suspension sees an altered leverage ratio intended to make the bike more capable than a pure race rig, with it said to be more supple at the top of its 100mm and sporting a stable mid-platform. The goal, Conroy explained, was not to be locked into having to tune for either just ''pedaling efficiency or bottom out, and it gives the bike an incredible flexibility.'' There's a relatively linear anti-squat figure that should allow for a wide range of sag settings, according to Yeti, and for more sag that most short-travel bikes can get away with.
They're not wrong, either, as I've been running 32% (12mm of stroke) during my time on the SB100, a number that's common in the all-mountain world but would usually feel excessive on a cross-country bike.
You want stand-over clearance? You got stand-over clearance.
Enough suspension talk; let's get to the rest of the bike. The carbon frame sports the same lines as the rest of Yeti's SB range, but the SB100's top tube drops down lower and the forward shock mount is on the underside of the top tube rather than being on the down tube. There's a ton of stand-over clearance, too, and the seat tube is quite short to let the little SB100 possibly (depending on rider inseam) be able to run a longer stoke dropper post than any of Yeti's other bikes.
The theme is low, and it gives the bike a very un-cross-country, BMX-ish feel when you're coasting around with the seat fully lowered.
Housing that disappears into the front of the bike exits at the bottom of the downtube.
You're never going to be able to use a front derailleur on the SB100, and the lack of a direct-mount plate means that riders wouldn't be able to bolt on any type of chain retention if it weren't for the 2-bolt ISCG-05 tabs around the BB92 shell. I doubt many riders will, but you can use a lightweight upper-only guide if you think you need it. The routing is internal, but molded-in housing guides are out of sight inside the frame so you can just feed the new line through without it disappearing into the dark nether regions of the universe.
There's Boost hub spacing, of course, enough clearance to fit a 2.4'' rear tire out back (which is notable for this type of bike), and room for a standard-sized bottle inside the front triangle. A normal large bottle clears the shock no problem, while a massive Podium bottle from CamelBak just brushes it. A two-liter of Faygo will not fit.
Yeti says that they've spec'd the SB100 how they like to ride them, which apparently includes big rubber.
In terms of cross-country bikes, the SB100's numbers are out there. There's the 67.8-degree head angle with a 120mm fork (the same as the new Blur with a 120mm fork), while the existing SB4.5 sports a close 67.4-degree head angle with a 140mm-travel fork. The new bike's reach is also longer than the SB4.5 - 452mm versus 444mm - and the SB's seat tube angle is also a notch steeper at 74-degrees. So cross-country travel and trail bike angles.
Yeti is another company that's been tinkering with longer, slacker bikes combined with forks that have less offset, and the SB100 is the first production model that embraces this new-school approach. Why? It's said to allow for the stability of a slack bike, but the 44mm offset (it's usually 51mm on a 29er) helps to keep the wheelbase in check and the dreaded floppy front end syndrome to a relative minimum. Yeti says that they've done their own testing with CSU's of different offsets and angle-adjusting headsets, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the same tactic applied to other models down the road.
I spent two days aboard the SB100 covering a load of desert singletrack, and while that's not anywhere near enough time to properly review a bike, Yeti's new machine has some pronounced traits that are easy to point out. The first thing you'd likely notice is how low and small the bike feels beneath you, which isn't exactly something that cross-country bikes are well-known for. With the seat out of the way, the SB100 wants to be tossed around like it's done something wrong, and it was a ton of fun anytime the trail presented a unique line or opportunity to manual or get a bit sideways.
It's very much like the new Blur in this way, although the low-slung and meaty-tired Yeti has an even more untraditional way about it.
I was too busy riding the SB100 in the desert to get any action photos, but this guy looks like he's having fun on the opposite sort of terrain.
The other notable quality is that SB100's rear end is, as claimed, surprisingly versatile. I'll tell you right now that running 30-percent or more sag on a cross-country bike, or most any short-travel bike, often means that you end up feeling like you're sitting in a flat, dead spot in the travel. That's because you are; you don't have much left because you didn't start with much, and it can seem like you're just bashing up against a piece of wood. But my black Yeti didn't do that, even at the prescribed 32-percent number. The rest of the stroke was forgiving, and the bike pedals like a champ - I didn't want to use the cheater lever once.
That pure cross-country efficiency - the jump - is there for you, but slow-speed handling up technical steeps is very un-cross-country-like. Just don't expect razor-sharp steering in such moments, especially when you're gassed, as I'd say the SB100's climbing manners are more 'trail bike' than anything. I'm not faulting Yeti here, though, as the SB100 is essentially an incredibly sporty, nimble trail bike that, with a simple tire swap, could pull double-duty as a pro-level cross-country rig. Hell, you can even put a bottle on it, too.
That was probably a bit extensive for a 'First Ride' kind of article, but the SB100 is an interesting bike. I've got my hands on the very same rig for a few months of testing, so expect a proper review to show up down the road.