Yeti SB6c – First Impressions

Words Pete Roggeman and Cam McRae
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Oct 14, 2014

I’m going to put this statement here, and check back in a few years to see how it holds up:

These are the golden days.

If, that is, you’re into the kind of riding we are. If that kind of riding favours 150-165mm travel bikes that are built for speed but also inspire confidence in the steeps. And if you also want a bike that pedals well and lets you get to the top under your own power.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura

Sometimes the golden days are disguised by a greenish-blue tint.

This type of bike is nothing new, and I’m not saying that AM bikes weren’t good a few years ago, because there were plenty of good bikes then. It’s just that the confluence of technology, design, and knowledge about geometry has never been better, and the peer-pressure-packed bike biz is full of manufacturers falling over themselves to satisfy the Enduro-hungry masses.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura-17

From the right angles you can see that something unusual is going on above the bottom bracket of the SB6c – but unless you are spending a lot of time on your knees you are unlikely to notice it. And in person it does nothing to spoil the smooth lines of the bike.

I rode and previewed the SB5c a few months ago, and that article is a good one to refer to for details on Yeti’s Switch Infinity Link, which is also the centerpiece of the SB6c.  I came away extremely impressed with the SB5’s capabilities, both on the way up and down. In fact it was as good a first impression as a 5 inch bike has ever made on me.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura-2

Even when you get close with the lens it’s tough to decipher how things work but it’s actually quite simple. There is no valving here; simply a shuttle between two very short stanchions that allows the main pivot to travel vertically. In the first half of the travel the shuttle moves up and then it moves down until full travel is reached.

Did we want a tester? Hell yes. But we were also told the SB6c was imminent, and I even had a chance to goof around on one around in the parking lot, which was like the anticipation leading up to Steak & BJ Day, only to be served a steak that is overcooked. So we waited. It is within this context that we received the Yeti SB6c.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura-12

A carbon linkage fine tunes the suspension movement and adds stiffness to the system.

It only just arrived, so it’s early to give detailed ride impressions but Cam has put some time on the bike so I’ll tap him in.

Ride Impressions – Cam McRae
I’ve had a only a few rides on the SB6c and thus only a few things to say. I immediately noticed the rear wheel’s responsiveness to impacts. Bumps large and small get the damper moving with uncommon ease. I’ve pushed the rubber indicator off the barrel of the shock several times without noticing that I’ve hit bottom, so it’s likely to do even better once I nail the spring rate for the Fox Float X CTD shock. The bike is also incredibly quiet. In fact I found myself noticing a slight tick coming from cable and line contact up front that I wouldn’t have heard on most other bikes.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura

So good I can ride it with my eyes closed. The SB6c felt comfortable instantly but, after only four rides, I haven’t got to the point where I can get rowdy (in my modest way).

Compared to some other bikes I’ve ridden recently, the SB6c encourages aggression. If you sit in the back seat the bike isn’t likely to cooperate, but if you push your nose toward the front wheel it begins to sing. Ride it like a crotch rocket not a Harley. I need more time climbing technical singletrack to talk about that aspect but so far it has provided a nice platform for power transfer. While I’m impressed so far, more vertical, both up and down, is going to be required before I unravel the SB6c’s mysteries.

YetiSB6c_NSMB_KazYamamura-3

Cable routing is tidy and the finish and attention to detail are world class.

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I wonder how many head badge tattoos you’ll find at the Yeti Tribe Gathering?

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Our SB6c came as a 1 by 11 but a front derailleur can also be fitted for those who still want a granny.

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Syrupy-smooth lines and protection for the stays that doesn’t spoil the aesthetic.

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So far so good with the Float X CTD – but more dialling in needs to be done.

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Understated protection where most rock contact is likely to occur.

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She’s not as clean now but she may be even prettier with some dusty makeup.

The Yeti SB6 Carbon X01 $7,399 USD / $7,699 CAD


Is this the carbon and tweener bike you’ve been waiting for? Stay tuned for a full review in a few weeks.

Trending on NSMB

Comments

stephan
0
Stephan  - Oct. 29, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

I really think Yeti needs to put out a base carbon build like a lot of manufactures are doing for under 5k. Look at the base Spartan, Reign, etc. Many of them have cheaply spec'd carbon bikes for under 5k.

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craig-brough
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Craig Brough  - Oct. 16, 2014, 2:07 p.m.

So here is my dilemma. Nomad, SB6c, or Spec Enduro. All fairly similar in most respects (no trolling on Speci' please). I really need a head-to-head-to-head critical analytical review (or opinions at least).

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 6, 2014, 6 p.m.

We're working on getting a 650 Enduro here, Craig. Stay tuned. We'll let it be known when we get one.

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craw
0
Cr4w  - Oct. 15, 2014, 9:04 a.m.

Very nice. Can't wait to see the SB9c.

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andy-w
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Andy W  - Oct. 15, 2014, 8 a.m.

Anyone else curious as to why the price jumped up so much on the SB6C?

If I remember correctly, a similarly spec'ed SB66C XO1 was $5,800 the last time it was sold.

I know that the SB6C comes with a Fox 36 and a Float X while the SB66C had a Fox 34 and a a Float CTD and there's always macroeconomic inflation and R&D costs to recoup.

But a 26% increase in price from $5,800 to $7,300 for the XO1 spec'ed model seems a bit steep. Especially when you compared the SB6C to a SC Nomad or Intense Tracer 275C.

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drewm
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DrewM  - Oct. 15, 2014, 8:46 a.m.

Assuming NSMB is posting a price in CAD a good chunk of that difference is currency.

Depending on how you are buying dollars (wire transfer, VISA, PayPal) it is currently ~12% to ~15% as of last week.

Last year was ~par.

D

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ontopofworld
0
ontopofworld  - Oct. 14, 2014, 8:18 p.m.

sorry fourth shot

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ontopofworld
0
ontopofworld  - Oct. 14, 2014, 8:16 p.m.

is the cable pinched in the second shot

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jesse-oneill
0
Jesse O'Neill  - Oct. 15, 2014, 8:22 p.m.

I think i know what you are refering too. When you zoom in it looks like its just the cable goes thicker as it goes in. not pinched.

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awesterner
0
awesterner  - Oct. 14, 2014, 8:14 p.m.

What size is the frame, medium? Will be interesting to see the different viewpoints of two riders of different heights riding the same frame as they are meant to be sized big. Yeti is even steering people to the sb5 for even aggressive trail riding, almost calling the sb6 a full on race bike. Mind you the large sb66c and the sb6 share the same reach, just have slightly different geo. I also hope they nail the float x tune ( at that is at least a portion of the upcharge compared to the sb5. The OEM tune on my sb66c with that shock was pretty difficult to nail down.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 16, 2014, 8:31 a.m.

The frame is a Large. Cam and I are both 6′ 1″, though he has longer legs and I have a longer torso.

Interesting that you say "almost calling the sb6 a full on race bike". In my mind Enduro is the race format where the differences between race setup and non-race setup are closer together than any other. Having ridden the SB5 as well, I can tell you it would be very capable on the trails I ride, but not quite up to the performance of other 160mm travel AM bikes like Reign, Nomad, Slash, Enduro…and SB6. There is one inch of difference in travel between them, however one is a Trail bike and one is an All Mountain bike.

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awesterner
0
awesterner  - Oct. 16, 2014, 8:01 p.m.

I can't remember the context of the comment regarding it being a more of a race only sort of bike. It was on mtbr by the international marketing guy. Perhaps people were moaning about how long it was or how slack it was, and perhaps with a good portion of the demographic that will drop their money first not really needing such an aggressive situation-he was trying to differentiate the two. However, the SB6 is very close geometry wise, size for size, to the SB66c. Mine is slacker than 66 degrees, with a 1190 wheelbase for a large with a fox 36. Pretty long already, however with similar reach (actually exactly the same), but with a quite a bit slacker seat tube. There is more to the new geo than just reach and seat tube angle, but you get my drift.

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 17, 2014, 2:19 p.m.

A MTBR person or Yeti mktg person? B/c at Yeti, marketing is more or less handled by owner Chris Conroy…if you find it, please link to it. In any event, any company billing their 6″ bike as race-specific is seriously limiting their market since there are lots of people out there who ride aggressively on trails that host Enduro races 1x per year, and are ridden by locals and tourists the rest of the time.

The Yeti looks long on paper, but rides shorter than a Reign or Nomad - go figure. It'll come out in the longer review, but this bike is making it clear that numbers on paper are never a substitute for a test ride.

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awesterner
0
awesterner  - Oct. 18, 2014, 7:29 p.m.

The comment is in the attachment. A little arrogance, a little BS comparing an sb5 with a sb66 (well at least a properly built one). In terms of riding around the shore, my sb66c is properly built for our situation, and it's really very nimble, and stable. People probably think that these traits are mutually exclusive, but they really aren't on the yeti SB bikes.

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mikeg
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MikeG  - Feb. 1, 2015, 11:17 a.m.

So…is the SB6 a race specific bike or will it do as an all around all mountain bike?

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steves
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SteveS  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:25 p.m.

A whole initial impressions article and all you can muster is three ambiguous and confusing sentences that basically say "aggressive but I can't ride it fast, need more time." Give us the goods!

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:29 p.m.

Steve, if you have a look at other first impression articles we publish about bikes, you'll see that the point is to show off the features and details of the bike. An in-depth review will follow once we've had more time on it. This is our process. Writing too much about how a bike rides before you get it set up properly and get acquainted is not only irresponsible journalism, in our opinion, it also doesn't leave enough time for us to figure things out about the bike that potential buyers will be interested to know.

And, Cam was being modest. He shredded the shit out of that SB6c this past weekend.

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thomas-freeman
0
Thomas Freeman  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:21 p.m.

Starting at $7,400 before tax means that if me and 4 friends trade off and split the bill, i still couldn't afford it. Carbon is nice and all, but i'm a life guard who only makes 17 dollars an hour and going to college, help a brother out and build some aluminum.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:26 p.m.

Sorry to say, lads, but aluminum doesn't look imminent. Yeti have stated that while they won't stop making their current aluminum bikes like the SB95, all new model development will be carbon only. Makes it tough for people on a budget for sure, but their aim is to remain a high-end boutique manufacturer.

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gage
0
Gage  - Oct. 14, 2014, 5:14 p.m.

VERY high-end now.. I remember when they were a $4k-6k bike maker which was still pretty damn high but now in $7k+ that just kind of sucks -- then again maybe a used sb66c would be plenty good. 🙂

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norbert
0
Norbert  - Oct. 15, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

First they stop supporting their dh team (which I understand), now they go carbon only. They really want to narrow their target audience as narrow as possible. I don't understand it. Did their alu bikes not sell well? I'm pretty sure the alu version of their top frames would work in a similar matter the boxxter and cayman work for Porsche. They are a cheaper equivalent for people who can't afford the real deal but still adore the brand.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 15, 2014, 8:53 a.m.

Maybe they'll release their simpler platforms in alloy a la Santa Cruz?

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 16, 2014, 8:32 a.m.

What I was told when I was there is: "no new development in alloy. Moving forward, Yeti is a carbon company."

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dan
0
Dan  - Dec. 6, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Now's a great time to get on an alloy Yeti. I just picked up a new 2014 SB66 frame for $1200. Carbon rear, alloy front, and a 2014 CTD damper in the middle. No, it's not an SB6, but it's a heck of a deal.

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james
0
James  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:04 p.m.

make a non-carbon model so I can afford it

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 14, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

Yeti can't compete with huge companies like Giant, Trek, Specialized, Scott, and Kona even mid-sized outfits like Rocky or Devinci when it comes to maximizing your experience-to-cost ratio.

These companies offer very good complete 6″ bikes with alloy frames, decent suspension/brakes/drivetrain and sometimes even dropper posts for ~$3k.

By the time you factor development etc an aluminum Yeti frame is ~$2 with a shock.

Once you get to the higher end (Carbon frames, XT or higher end builds) the price difference between an awesome -small- company like Yeti

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casey-fry
0
Casey Fry  - Oct. 14, 2014, 6:31 p.m.

Mmm, not really. Yeti has made aluminum versions of their bikes that were VERY competitive with the bigger brands; I own one, and that's why I bought it. In fact, I noticed that their frames were on the middle-lower end of the price spectrum (just about every brand's aluminum frame is in the $2000 price range). Their complete aluminum bikes are also historically a very good value.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 14, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

Historically most brands could sell aluminum frame sets -- now with exceptions for DH frames (sometimes) and a few niche companies demand for alloy frames has disappeared… Ask any shop/online store specializing in custom rides.

To be competitive with the big guys in the mid level price point (call it 3k- to-4k) you have to buy a ton of volume in build kits and there is no way for companies like Yeti to be competitive at the X7/Deore/X9/SLX price points.

I guess at the end of the day you would have to ask Yeti for a definitive answer, but it will definitely be a combo of low demand at the price point they currently hit in alloy, and nowhere near the production numbers to be competitive in mid-priced completes.

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norbert
0
Norbert  - Oct. 15, 2014, 7:43 a.m.

Not sure if you are serious. At least in europe the large majority of frames are still alu.

Also no you don't have to compete with components on the mid level. Many people are willing to pay premium for an alu yeti but it's a premium to the mid range alu bike cost.

Not to mention you argument would mean that Banshee in Canada, Orange in UK and Nicolai in Germany are doing something seriously wrong to sell their bikes.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 15, 2014, 8:40 a.m.

I don't think you can compare what Nicolai is doing to anyone else.

I would put Orange in a category with Banshee and Knolly (see original comment).

I would be shocked if Banshee and Knolly didn't have carbon frames in the next 1-2 seasons (don't know anything about Orange). On the boutique end selling aluminum frames is becoming like selling 26″ frames.

D

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norbert
0
Norbert  - Oct. 16, 2014, 1:16 a.m.

Do you really believe the market for alloy frames in the sub 2500$ range will be smaller than the carbon 3k+ one? Sorry mate. That's not true. Remember A TON of people can't afford carbon (I can't since I own 4 bikes) but don't want to support the big 3. Do you really think that will somehow magically change? It won't. Until carbon gets priced around the same level alu is it won't get a majority market share.

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drewm
0
DrewM  - Oct. 16, 2014, 2:54 a.m.

Definitely not claiming carbon will overtake aluminum as the majority material for bike manufacturing.

With the exception of truly niche companies (like Nicolai making everything in house) it is my experience that custom metal is decreasingly made of metal.

It will be easy enough to check back in a few seasons and see what small companies (aside from niche manufacturers like Nicolai who make everything in house) do in terms of materials.

My prediction is that you will be equally disappointed with the Knolly's, Banshee's, Intense's, Niner's, and SantaCruz's of the world as their new, high performance, frame designs follow the same path as Yeti.

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kevin
0
Kevin  - Oct. 16, 2014, 1:54 p.m.

Guerrilla Gravity is selling X7 build aluminum framed bikes for $3500 and X9 for $5000 and they have no where near the production quantities of Yeti. And that's with Cane Creek shocks, not a cheap Fox.

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Oct. 14, 2014, 2:04 p.m.

Damn, Yeti knows how to make nice looking bikes. That thing is sleek.

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bigburd
0
bigburd  - Oct. 14, 2014, 11:59 a.m.

Whats the mark on the downtube in the last pic from ?

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thomas-freeman
0
Thomas Freeman  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:22 p.m.

glare?

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Oct. 14, 2014, 3:25 p.m.

It might be a serial number sticker that wasn't removed.

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