At the Interbike Outdoor Demo there was no shortage of full suspension 29ers to test, though the Yeti SB95 definitely stood out. With 5 inches of front and rear travel and the legendary Yeti brand, this was one 29er I had to ride. After waiting more than an hour for a size XL bike I saddled up to see what the SB95 had to offer.
The SB95 follows quickly on the heels of the SB66, a 6-inch travel 26er Yeti introduced recently. Like the SB66, the SB95 features Switch suspension technology:
Switch technology is an optimized dual-link design that utilizes an eccentric mechanism that switches direction as the bike moves through its travel. Built into a compact assembly, the eccentric creates a microlink that continuously repositions the lower pivot of the swing arm, allowing us to create a suspension system with no compromises.
Basically the idea is that Switch allows the bike to climb well, offers good small bump sensitivity, and reduces chain growth in the last third of the bike’s travel. Based on my short test run I can say the suspension delivers: climbing felt about as efficient as the 4-inch 29er bikes I tested while offering better small bump compliance than some of the more race-oriented FS 29ers.
And on full throttle descents the SB95 was super plush. Halfway through one run I stopped and noticed the O-ring on my shock was hanging precariously at the end of its barrel. Figuring the ring had somehow worked its way loose (I couldn’t have possibly used that much travel!) I reset it, only to find the ring showed full rear shock compression after the second half of the run. I never got to the point of bottoming the shock out, nor did I notice anything other than smooth damping through the full range.
The Yeti SB95 is offered in an aluminum frame at the moment but word is that a carbon version is in the works. With a short stem and wide bars, this is clearly meant to ride like a big-wheel trail bike – one of the few available at the moment. With that in mind, I found the SB95 didn’t handle quite as well as the other FS 29ers I tested, including the 120mm Specialized Camber Pro (
4.7 ~4.5 inches of travel). Although specs aren’t available online yet, I suspect the effective top tube length on the SB 95 is longer than the Camber Pro while the wheel bases are roughly the same.
As 29ers move into Trail and even (shock!) AM territory, it will be interesting to see how companies like Yeti handle the geometry challenges posed by bigger wheels. The SB95 is a solid effort and proves that FS 29ers are more than just a fad.
Animated comparison of the geometry of the Yeti SB95 and the Specialized Camber Pro. The Yeti SB95 offers the most travel of any 29er I tested at Outdoor Demo.