We just returned from the Yeti Cycles headquarters in Golden, Colorado where we got a sneak peek and a test ride of the new SB-66 all mountain bike, which is hitting stores in the coming weeks.
The SB-66 is a brand new beast from Yeti, featuring as it does an entirely new (patent pending) suspension system dubbed Switch Technology. We’re not going to graph it out for your Intro to Physics class just yet, but here’s the gist of how it works: An eccentric pivot assembly essentially creates an extra “link” (virtual) in the suspension. At slow speeds over moderate bumps that link counters chain forces producing an anti-squat effect common on a lot of bikes these days. Check out the video (crude helmet cam stuff from our test ride) to see that in action.
Anti-squat is valuable for pedaling efficiency, but it’s nothing new in bike tech. Link suspension designs that counteract chain forces have been around for years. The knock against anti-squat link bikes, though, is that they tend to get progressively more rigid through their travel, making for a harsh ride on rough and fast terrain.
That’s where the Switch Technology comes in. When the travel hits the 100-millimeter point, that eccentric pivot and virtual link switches and rotates in the opposite direction, opening up the suspension for plush downhilling over big hits. All this is done without any remote levers on the bike or additional synapses firing in your head.
We’ll be calling in the SB-66 for long term testing this fall, but on our initial hour-long ride it sure delivered as advertised. Steady and predictable on the climbs with no mid-stroke bog down. Plush and DH-fast on the descents. Which is an important distinction: The SB-66 feels “faster” both up and down than Yeti’s much beloved 575, a bike that feels far more plush and forgiving all around than this performance-minded machine.
The aluminum frame and shock comes in at seven pounds. A six-pound carbon version is scheduled to debut in December. And Yeti confirms that a five-inch travel 29er version is in the works.
See the detail shots courtesy of Yeti below, or check it out at yeticycles.com. —Marc Peruzzi