Yeti SB95 Carbon - first ride £2599

A well-balanced, capable and versatile trail bike

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Yeti's mid-travel 29er trail bike, the SB95, inherits the Switch Technology suspension of its 'super bike' siblings but its more predictable, tuning-friendly behaviour makes this big-wheeler a more consistently controlled and chaos-capable machine.

Frame and equipment: light and stiff with potential to build up a tough, technical trail machine

While some companies turn out carbon frames that are barely lighter than their alloy models, digging £600 deeper to get the composite SB95 saves just over 1lb of weight. Thanks to the 142x12mm rear axle, stout tapered head tube and chunky main tubes it does this without sacrificing stiffness too.

Yeti's intriguing Switch Technology design carries the main pivot in a free moving, food can sized eccentric cam. A shock-driver link sandwiched between the two halves of the swingarm connects to the top-spec Factory-series Fox Float CTD Trail Adjust shock that comes as standard.

Lots of riders are going to buy the bare frame and shock, and then swap bits from a previous machine or custom build their own super bike from scratch. But Yeti (and Silverfish if you live in the UK) do provide sizable savings if you buy a complete bike, in either a race-orientated style or the more trail-targeted guise we tested.

We'd definitely be tempted to add a dropper seatpost (external cable/hose only, as the Switch system removes 'stealth' compatibility) to fully exploit the SB95's technical trail flow potential.

Ride and handling: enjoyable to ride on a wide range of trails

While there are longer-travel and slacker 29er bikes, there's no doubt that the SB95 fits squarely into the 'tough trail' segment. There's a real solidity to the ride that echoes right through the big frame sections to the screw-through axles at either end. The compression damping is pretty firm and the suspension stiffens under power like a single-pivot to help push you forward as soon as you press the pedals.

The DT Swiss wheels are suitably stiff, and precise enough to translate the chassis character to the trail, and the whole bike obviously wants to hustle. Easing off the effort and leaning back opens up an eager rock, root and drop eating suspension set-up with a fast-stroking linear feel.

Slam it through to full travel and the Switch cam will move a tiny amount but this movement is nowhere near as noticeable or hard to tune the shock around as the same system on the smaller-wheeled Yeti SB66.

The SB95 is definitely more 'squish and suck it up' than 'firm for berms' when the CTD shock is in descend mode, but a flick to the trail setting adds carving edge if you don't mind a bit of chatter over the small stuff. That's not unusual though, and the SB95 is very enjoyable to ride hard on a wide range of trails while still getting the extra speed-sustain advantages of the big wheel format.

Spec as tested:

  • Frame: High-modulus carbon fibre, 127mm (5in) travel
  • Fork: Fox 34 Float CTD Factory, 140mm (5.5in) travel
  • Shock: Fox Float CTD Factory
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR, 2x10
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss M 1700 TRICON 29 wheels, Maxxis Ardent 29x2.25in (f) and Ikon 29x2.3in (r) tyres
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Bar: Easton Haven Carbon, 710mm
  • Stem: Thomson Elite X4, 70mm
  • Seatpost: Thomson Elite
  • Saddle: WTB Yeti 
  • Weight: 27.08lb (12.28kg) without pedals

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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