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First Ride: Yeti’s New SB150

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There are five different build kits available, along with a frame only option, but even the GX Eagle base model will still leave a sizeable dent in your bank account – it's priced at $5,199 USD. The frame alone is priced at $3,800. For recent lottery winners, the top of the line XX1 Eagle option can be upgraded with DT Swiss XMC carbon wheels, putting the final price at $10,399. Frame DetailsThe SB150's carbon frame still has that distinctive Yeti look, thanks to its clean lines and the Switch Infinity suspension layout, but the downtube now straightens out a few inches before the bottom bracket, creating enough room to fit a water bottle, which is a welcome sight. The shock is no longer attached directly to the swingarm, as it was in past models. Instead, there's a short aluminum link that sits just in front of the seat tube, with two curved links sandwiched inside it that are attached to the shock.
The shock is driven by a short link mounted just in front of the seat tube.
Yeti debuted their Switch Infinity system four years ago, so the basics should be familiar to many riders, but if you need a refresher, here it is: The system uses two short Kashima-coated rails (courtesy of Fox Shox, who collaborated with Yeti on the design) located just above the bottom bracket to manipulate the bike's axle path. Initially, as the bike goes through its travel the carrier moves upwards on the rails, giving the bike a rearward axle path for improved pedaling performance. As the rear wheel goes deeper into its travel, the mechanism moves downwards, reducing the amount of chain tension for better big hit absorption.
GeometryThe SB150's geometry is what truly sets it apart from any of Yeti's previous offerings. It's slacker, with a 64.5-degree head angle, and longer, with a reach of 480mm for a size large. Tall riders haven't been overlooked either – the 505mm reach of the XL should fit riders up to 6'6” without any issues. In order to help keep the bike manageable while climbing, the seat angle sits at an appropriately steep 77-degrees. Yeti also chose to spec the SB150 with a reduced offset fork (44mm instead of 51mm), which is becoming a common choice when it comes to this category of bike. How much handling difference the reduced offset truly makes is up for debate, but it does reduce the wheelbase slightly, and can add a little more stability at higher speeds.
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I've spent the better part of the last week riding the SB150 around the trails in Whistler to get a feel for how it handles. While it by no means constitutes the time we'll put in on it for a full review, I've logged quite a few hours and feet (meters) of elevation both up and down on a smorgasbord of trails in the valley.I'm 5'10", and the size medium, with its 460mm reach, felt longer than what I'm used to, but not in a way that made me consider sizing down. The bike feels well balanced, and put me in a good position to pedal up both steep, soul-crushing fire road climbs along with technical singletrack. When climbing, the bike doesn't need to have the pedaling platform on the shock engaged to minimize bob, as there's not much to be found. It may seem like a little detail, but having the ability to carry a water bottle in the right spot really is a key feature of the SB150. I enjoyed the way several of Yeti's previous creations rode, most notably the SB5.5, but was I never able to consider a long-term commitment with any of them because there was nowhere appropriate to put a bottle.

Descending, the SB150 feels ready to go to battle. While it pedals uphill as if it has less than 150mm/170mm of travel, it has plenty of brawn for the descents, with a very neutral and centered feel. The suspension stayed active, soaking up small roots and rocks along with larger hits. I rarely reached the end of that 150mm of travel, and the couple times that I did blow thru all those millimeters, it was well deserved. The one nag I have on the spec is the rear tire. The 2.3" Maxxis Aggressor works well, and I'm sure it's well matched to the drier, hardpacked trails around the Yeti headquarters, but I'd personally prefer something with a more aggressive tread pattern, like a DHR II. That's a minor quibble, because otherwise the SB150 is fully ready to get after it right out of the box. We're going to keep on putting the miles in on this blue machine - look for a long term review once we've really put it to the test.

Daniel Sapp

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