The Up Side
With the SB100, Yeti married its Switch Infinity suspension to a stiff carbon frame and a steep 74-degree seat tube angle to create a bike that doesn't just climb uphill, but attacks ascents like it should come stock with a cape and an oxygen mask.
When it comes to the world of short-travel bikes, the aggressive geometry and spec of the SB100 means you'd be hard pressed to find a better descending bike in this category. While it felt a little overwhelmed on long chattery downhills, we also had to remember that we weren't testing a 130-millimeter travel bike, because it sure as hell felt like one most of the time.
Dollar for Dollar
Every value summary of a Yeti seems to start with, "It's a Yeti, so …". And this one is no different. It's a Yeti, so with a model line that runs anywhere from $5,000-$9,000, it's not cheap. But it was never designed to be cheap. It was designed to be a high-end bike that you could ride all day, everyday, for years to come.
The Yeti Beti SB100 is one of those bikes that's not a bike. It's a mullet—a sexy, sexy mullet. At first glance, this bike is all business. Short-travel. Carbon all-the-things. A rawboned 5.5-pound frame. If you're looking at suspension numbers alone, this is a straight-XC rig. After all, bikes with 100 millimeters of rear travel usually come with a heart-rate monitor and training zones that don't involve riding until you taste the pizza you ate for breakfast.
But all it takes is a second glance to see that the Yeti Beti SB100 is built to party. The sinuous racer-girl body is dressed up with design and spec choices that are eager to please long-distance diehards who refuse to be housebroken. In lieu of super-light tires, the SB100 comes stock with a grippy Maxxis 2.3 Minion DHF front and Aggressor rear tire combo. Sure, Yeti could have saved precious rotating weight at the expense of traction with lighter race tires, but given the choice between grams and fun, Yeti repeatedly went for the latter. Or, as one tester put it, "The SB100 is an XC bike without the suppressed rage.”
The not-too-steep-not-too-slack 67.8- headtube angle and 760-millimeter handlebar driving the 120-millimeter Fox Factory 34 Step-Cast fork create a surgical feel, making for a bike that's just as easily maneuvered through tight rock gardens as it is lofted over them. The adventure is yours to choose.
So what sets the Beti version of the SB100 apart from its less-coral unisex counterpart? Not much spec-wise, which means that riders can choose the version fits their size better without sacrificing build options. Offered in small and medium sizes only, the Beti version uses 170-millimeter cranks in lieu of 175s and swaps in a WTB Deva saddle. Most importantly, its rear shock is tuned for lighter riders.
By rotating the 'linear bearing' (the heart of Switch Infinity) 90 degrees and positioning it behind the seat tube, Yeti made room in even the smallest size for a water bottle inside the main triangle, proving that this bike respects its XC heritage every bit as much as it yearns to go big. For riders who've been faced with the decision of either wiping horse manure off their water bottle or pretending that hydration is only for the weak of spirit, this design detail is a godsend.
While the 100 millimeters of travel pedals like a beast and can suck up quite a lot of bumps, at the end of the day, it's still 100 millimeters of travel. Sure, Yeti superheroes like Nate Hills and Sarah Rawley could probably float over rocky chunder at Mach 11 without flinching, but we mere mortals may find the suspension gets overwhelmed and a titch chattery descending rock-strewn trails at high speeds—which is just to say that 100 millimeters of rear travel isn't going to magically ride like 150.
Yes, Yetis are pricey. The entry point for the Beti SB100 is still $5,000, and a frame will run you $3,400, which is nothing to shake a stick at, assuming you're the sort of person who walks around shaking sticks at things. And yes, if you're a masochistic XC racer, you may want to opt for something that will make you hate life a bit more on the downhills in order to save those race-winning seconds on the ups.
But damn, if you can pony up, this steed will put a smile on your face whether you're on day four of the Breck Epic or digging deep racing sunset to get back home on your backyard trails.
Q&A With Chris Conroy, president, Yeti Cycles
For a lightweight XC-oriented 29er, this bike has a pretty aggressive build. Around what type of rider was this bike designed?
Anyone who's ridden near Golden, Colorado, knows the kind of terrain we ride and where we test our bikes—brutal climbs, big chunky rocks and minimal traction. That terrain requires a bike with an aggressive build, and the SB100 is built for riders who are chasing performance rather than grams. During testing anyone who was riding the SB100 was always the first one to the top, but remained in the mix on descents. That spoke volumes to us. Ultimately, this bike is for a rider looking for a bike that climbs aggressively and won't leave you wanting more on descents.
The SB100 seems to have filled the slot formerly taken by the SB4.5. Why was it time to retire the SB4.5 in favor of the SB100?
To be honest, when we started the SB100, we hadn't planned to phase out the SB4.5. One of our goals was to make an XC/trail bike that climbed great, but shredded the downhill. We changed the kinematics to make the bike more progressive, we steepened up the seat angle, slackened the head angle, ran a shorter-offset fork, and made sure you could run a water bottle inside the front triangle. This more-aggressive stance made it mandatory to run proper tires and wider handlebars. During our testing, we realized the SB100 was more capable than the SB4.5 on the descents, even though it had less travel. We knew we didn't need both, so we phased out the SB4.5. Tough to do, because it was a favorite staff bike.
The SB100 also seems to be a progression from the ASR-c, however the ASR-c used 27.5-inch wheels in its smaller sizes. Why was the choice made to maintain the 29-inch wheel size throughout the SB100 line and what changes were necessary to accommodate that?
The split platform was well-received on the ASRc, but the market was moving rapidly toward 29-inch wheels, so we made the SB100 with only 29-inch wheels.
By rotating the Switch Infinity linkage and tucking it behind the seat tube, you were able to make room for a full-sized water bottle inside the front triangle instead of sticking it on the muck-catching underside of the downtube. That’s a lot of engineering finagling for a water bottle. Was it worth it?
Yeah, it was worth it. What non-engineers see as challenges, our nerds see as "fun." They were stoked to sort out the new Switch Infinity and accommodate a water bottle. And, it provided the impetus to put in on all new models, which has been well received.