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Yeti SB100 Review: A Speedy Climber That Dominates on Technical Downhills

The SB100 could just be your new favorite trail bike.

Colorado-based Yeti Cycles has updated nearly every bike in its line in the past several years with a new suspension platform called Switch Infinity. It provides Yeti’s bikes with an extremely stable pedaling platform, which means you don’t bob around wasting energy on the climbs — the suspension supports you. On the downhills, the suspension feels bottomless, like you’ll never use it all. The Switch Infinity platform looks a lot like a secondary shock, but works more like an extra pivot point that adjusts the rear wheel’s path of travel as you use the bike’s suspension.

The only bike Yeti hadn’t updated with this new platform was its short-travel, cross-country oriented ASR. So when they announced the new Yeti SB100 this spring, a 100mm travel bike with a new version of Switch Infinity (and a likely replacement for the ASR), I couldn’t wait to get one out on the trail. I received the bike in April, and have since ridden it daily, in a variety of conditions including kitty litter desert in Baja, Mexico, rooty, rocky and often wet Vermont trails, and epic gravel climbs and technical descents of Pisgah, North Carolina.

Buy Now: $5,999+

The Good: If you love riding, and think that five hours in the saddle is a good start, this is the bike for you. It’s designed to make the miles fly by while giving you everything you need to tackle gnarly descents anywhere on the planet. The SB100 climbs like a hardtail and descends like a trail bike. Like all Yeti bikes, the SB100 is built for people who love to ride uphill and downhill. According to Yeti President Chris Conroy, the design challenge Yeti posed when it set out to develop a new short travel bike was, “How capable can we make it?” The answer? Very. The SB100, affectionately dubbed the “Hundo,” comes with 2.3-inch Maxxis tires (a beefy Minion DHF up front and an Aggressor in back) that grip in all conditions. It’s a welcome departure from the ultralight tires that come standard on many other bikes (some companies put on ultralight tires to keep the bike’s catalog weight down). Yeti specs the bike with a 760mm wide handlebar and a 180mm front brake rotor, because Yeti expects riders to push this bike to its limits. And, for the first time on a Switch Infinity bike, there is space for a water bottle inside the front triangle instead of underneath it.

The frame geometry, which uses an uninterrupted seat tube, lets riders run a longer seat post than on other Yeti bikes. This helps make the Hundo more adept than you’d expect in technical descents. So, while I’d run a 125mm dropper post on other size medium Yetis, on the SB100 I could run a 150mm dropper. Even with only 100mm of travel in the rear, the suspension has a relatively bottomless feel. That’s thanks to the Switch Infinity platform, which Yeti redesigned in the SB100, making it smaller and lighter and moving it from an exposed position at the bottom of the seat tube to under a cover behind the seat tube.

Who It’s For: If your top priority is riding the lightest bike available, take a hard pass on the Hundo. If you want a bike that rockets up climbs, and that rides downhill with cohones not belied by its specs, this one is for you.

Watch Out For: This bike has the angles to handle technical downhills (a 67.8° headtube, and 74.2° seat tube on a size medium frame), but at the end of the day, it only has 100mm suspension. So when you hit a steep slope littered with chunky rocks and slithering roots, prepare for the ride to be a bit more jarring than on a 150mm, 160mm or bigger travel bike. And if you’re riding buttery smooth trails and speed is your objective, a true XC race bike might be your best choice.

Alternatives: The Rocky Mountain Element is a decent comparison, though you’ll need to use the handlebar-mounted lockout switch to open and close the suspension as you climb and descend. I prefer Yeti’s clean handlebar and extremely stable and supportive pedaling platform, which almost never requires switching the shock from open to trail or closed modes. Weight weenies should consider the Scott Spark RC, a bike closer to a purebred XC steed with 100mm of suspension in the front and rear. The Spark RC weighs under four pounds for the frame, compared to Yeti’s five and a half pound frame. The Scott also has a steeper head tube angle, so it’s insanely fast, but not as fun on technical descents.

Review: On the very first ride with this bike, the day before Yeti’s media launch in Los Barilles, Mexico, it blew my mind that a 100mm-travel mountain bike could be so fun and trail capable. After climbing steep, tight switchbacks, where I expected it to excel (and it did), I bombed down a cactus-lined technical singletrack through large, square-edge rocks and ball-bearing sand. On descents, speed is often your friend. So against instinct, and perhaps better judgment, I let go of the brakes and the bike sailed down the trail with the same stable, confidence-inspiring steering and wheels-on-the-ground suspension as every other current Yeti.

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Yeti took its time replacing its most cross-country oriented bike, the ASR, with the SB100 because it had both philosophical and design challenges to overcome. Yeti is a company that’s race-bred and ride-driven. Its website proclaims, “We build bikes we want to ride.”

The design challenge was to make a short suspension bike fun to ride while climbing and descending, not a cross-country race bike. Yeti also knew it had to have a water bottle inside the main triangle, where riders expect it to be. In order to do that, Yeti had to revisit its signature Switch Infinity platform, which looks like a secondary shock but is, in fact, a kind of additional pivot co-designed with Fox Racing Shocks that adjusts the bike’s axle path. As the bike moves through its travel, the carrier slides upwards on rails, creating an axle path for the rear wheel allowing maximum pedaling efficiency. Then, as the rear wheel goes deeper into its travel, the carrier direction switches directions to reduce the amount of chain tension, which helps the suspension best deal with hard impacts. For this bike, Yeti made the Switch Infinity lighter and moved it from the front of the seat tube to the back without any perceptible change in performance.

While Yeti wanted to keep the weight low, it also wanted to make sure that the bike rode with the rowdy-makes-you-want-to-hoot-and-holler descending power of its other bikes. Yeti opted for a Fox Stepcast 34 fork, which is just as stiff as a standard 34 but sheds some weight. It has 120mm travel, which gave me enough cushion to feel like I could ride almost anything on this bike. Four months into testing it, I find that it’s the bike I reach for nearly every ride. It makes me stronger where I am weak — the climbs. On this bike, I started passing my riding partners on climbs, and getting questions like, “Wow, how’d you get so fast?” In fact, I’ve been accused of “Hundo doping.” But I’m not winning on climbs to give up the thrill of the downhill — my face splitting grin is just as big on the technical descents. Would I ride lift-served trails on it? Not if I had another option, but I have ridden it on blue trails at Killington and Burke Mountain and had fun.

Verdict: Where would I grab this bike over any other? Stage races and epic rides where I wanted to balance going fast, conserving energy and flying down mountains. If your riding ranges between XC and trail, dipping into enduro and spanning many miles and hours, get your hands on a Hund — you won’t regret it.

What Others Are Saying:

• “It may be a race-influenced bike, but it’s much more playful, and too damn good on the descents, to be pigeonholed as a cross-country bike. It’s a fast bike up hills and down, capable enough for fun times on rowdy trails. It’s as raceable as it is shreddable.” — Matt Phillips, Bicycling

• “With the seat out of the way, the SB100 wants to be tossed around like it’s done something wrong, and it was a ton of fun anytime the trail presented a unique line or opportunity to manual or get a bit sideways.” — Mike Levy, Pinkbike

Key Specs

Price: Starting at $5,999 for a complete bike
Wheel size: 29 inches
Suspension travel: 100mm rear/120mm front
Frame material: Carbon
Frame weight: 5.5 pounds a size medium

Buy Now: $5,999+

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