We've seen the teasers, the video, and the rumors, but at this year's Sea Otter Yeti finally pulled back the curtain on their prototype downhill bike. Made specifically for their long-time athlete Richie Rude, this one-off frame falls under their Special Projects designation, which is reserved for unique experiments carried out by their R&D team. The story goes that Rude floated the idea for the bike in the Fall of 2022, giving the team a 6-week turnaround to get a frame made in time to start testing for preseason.
They were able to repurpose the linkage design formulated for their e-bike, which was their first departure from their Switch Infinity system since unveiling it. By adding a higher pivot and an idler, they were able to tweak the wheel path to be more rearward, while retaining a balanced and predictable feel.
All of the metal components were made in-house, allowing them to tweak the kinematics within the constraints of the carbon frame, tuning the ride to better suit Richie's preferences. There's a good amount of adjustment baked into the frame, with a dropout flipchip to change the chainstay length, a shock chip to change progression, and a Chris King Buzzworks headset to change reach and/or headtube angle.
The frame was developed as a mixed-wheel setup from the get-go, as per feedback from Richie and some other team members like Mick Hannah. Geometry was loosely based on some other benchmark bikes, as well as their own SB160, with enough adjustment to adapt to just about any course on the calendar. With 205mm of rear wheel travel, this is the biggest Yeti we've seen in a long time, and given their recent success on the world stage, I have high hopes for the performance of this new venture.