By Brice Minnigh
Yeti SB-66 Pro
$6,150 / yeticycles.com
We at Bike were among the first few journalists in the world to get some shred time on Yeti's brand new all-mountain bike, the SB-66 Pro—which features a completely redesigned suspension platform intended to make it the company's best-pedaling bike to date. In what felt like a series of covert operations, we managed to squeeze in over a dozen stealth rides under a cloak of secrecy before the alloy version of the bike was made available for sale in late June, and we were overwhelmed by the versatility and efficiency of this six-inch machine.
The SB-66 Pro retains many of Yeti's signature characteristics—most notably the burly, stiff construction and low-slung toptube—but the bike features a remarkable new suspension design that Yeti is calling its ‘Switch Technology.’ Though at first glance it looks like a single-pivot, it is actually a dual-link design that switches direction as it moves through its travel. This is achieved through a cylindrical, eccentric micro-link that continually repositions the lower pivot of the swingarm throughout the range of travel.
In the early stage of travel, this micro-link guides the lower pivot of the swingarm rearward, which helps counteract chain forces and gives the bike excellent anti-squat characteristics. As the SB-66 Pro moves past sag, the micro-link rotates in the opposite direction, controlling the rate of chainstay growth and helping to reduce pedal feedback.
The net result of this patent-pending Switch Technology (to which Yeti has exclusive three year rights), is the company's best-pedaling bike to date. I religiously ran the shock at the recommended 25-percent sag, and it pedaled impeccably on a variety of terrain—from abrupt, rolling climbs that demanded sudden bursts of out-of-the-saddle pedal stomping to grinds through tight, rock-littered switchbacks that really put the suspension through its paces.
While the bike’s improved climbing abilities are instantly noticeable, let’s not forget that the SB-66 Pro (the name is an initialism for ‘Super Bike,’ which is what it was called during the lengthy development phase) is a capable all-mountain machine with six inches of front- and rear-wheel travel—and, as such, it also rails when pointed downhill. I took the SB-66 Pro down punishing descents with big drops straight into minefields of baby heads, and the ride was easily as plush as Yeti's 575 was on previous plummets down the same trails.
The SB-66 Pro comes equipped with a Fox 32 Float fork and RP23 shock—both with Kashima coat—which adds to the overall plushness of the ride. Our SB-66 Pro test bike also came with the new XTR dyna-Sys drivetrain, featuring the Rd-M985 Shadow Plus rear derailleur, with a selectable lever that can be switched to increase friction and dampen the pulley cage, greatly diminishing the racket that typically takes place when charging through chunky terrain. And the icing on this gourmet cake? A carbon version of the SB-66, weighing a pound less than the alloy frame, is expected to be available in December.
Final Take: Yeti's brand-new SB-66 is an astoundingly capable all-mountain machine with a remarkably efficient pedaling platform.
Check out Yeti’s SB-66 overview video: