Ride Impression: Yeti SB95C- by Grannygear
[Note: This is a ride impression, not a full review and as such we will need to take into consideration that the set-up of suspension and bike fit may not have been optimized as it would have been during a longer review period. Just for perspective’s sake, etc. Editors.]
The second bike I grabbed out of the Yeti Demo van was a lovely looking Yeti SB95C, the carbon version of the aluminum SB95 120mm full suspension trail bike 29″er that Yeti rolled out a couple of years ago. I rode that aluminum version at Interbike Demo Days and liked it very much. So it was with a great deal of anticipation that I grabbed onto the LG sized SB95C and went through the set-up process.
With a claimed weight of 27lbs (no pedals) in the LG/XT equipped bike I rode, the SB95C is in the weight range to be competitive in the 120mm/130mm 29″er trail bike market. I was told that the typical setting on the Fox Float CTD rear shock was the D or most open position as the Yeti was designed to be very stable when pedaling it. Out on the long, smooth dirt road to the trail head I found that to be true. Pedaling did not seem to make the Switch Technology activate at all, although later on I did get some anti-squat to show up when in the small ring/big gear combo and standing pedaling. It was minimal, about like the Ripley showed and it was not an issue…but I am getting ahead of myself.
What I did notice was a very supple rear end that moved though its initial travel very easily. And, it continued to move through the range of travel having what felt like a very flat spring curve. It settled down into the travel too easily for my desires so I set the rear shock into the ‘T’ position and two clicks in toward the firmer setting. That felt much better to me, but I like a firmer feeling suspension. For instance, I have never gotten along with something like VPP that is uber supple. I ended up leaving it there…in ‘T’ for the rear shock and most of the time in ‘D’ or open on the front Fox 34 120mm fork. That felt balanced to me, and I still was getting full travel on the rear shock, if I can believe the o-ring.
The SB95C pedals along very well in the saddle but I like to climb out of the saddle quite a bit…singlespeed disease… and the recent Ibis Ripley felt very good under that condition. The Yeti was a bit less excited about this and so I tended to sit and spin away more than stand. It is possible that a bit less sag in the rear shock could have tipped this to my favor a bit, but that is speculation. I bet that this will not be an issue for most buyers of this bike.
Now, I noticed the slacker front end right away but it did not feel like I should have a 50mm stem and 780mm bars on it. It was not an issue climbing either and after a bit of time, it just felt natural to me. No need for a Talas fork application in my opinion. Yeti also specs the bike with a 140mm fork and that would have been very interesting to try the bike that way. But that would have been way overkill for the trails I was on this day though. Dropping into the same trail I had covered on the ARC Carbon, I was already digging the handling of the SB95C. It took a bit of planning and some handlebar action to get the bike to turn fast, but it was so solid and quite agile, most likely the short 17.5″ back end was the saving grace here. You could come into a turn fast, hit the excellent Shimano brakes, then drive out of the turn letting that short back end pivot right around underneath you. As chain stays on 29″ers have been getting shorter, they have been feeling better and better. Even in ‘T’ setting, the rear end was absorbing all the medium and bigger hits and only showing some chatter in the smaller stuff. Going to ‘D’ mode erased those too.
At the end of the trails, I was very happy with the overall vibe of the SB95C. I could not help comparing it to the recent ride on the Ibis Ripley. The Ripley felt more like an XC bike with long legs and the SB95C more like a heavier duty trail bike with less travel. Just my impression anyway. Both bikes are awfully good, but they have a different vibe. The XC/Endurance guy in me likes the Ibis a bit more as it was better for out of the saddle pedaling and quick, hard efforts and yet still had the same amount of travel. It also felt shorter between the wheels and more agile, but not a lot more. The Yeti was more like someone coming from a longer travel 26″ bike might expect…slacker/longer feeling in front and maybe even plusher overall. The Fox 34 is also a beefier fork than what is on the Ibis I rode and could be contributing to the more significant feel on trail.
For any Yeti fan that already knows they like the Yeti approach to things and was looking for a capable 29″er full suspension trail bike, but in a lighter chassis than the slightly portly aluminum SB95, the carbon version is sure to make them very happy.