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Yeti SB165 long-term review

Alex tries to prove why 27.5in wheels still have a place on the mountains

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £3,799.00 RRP | USD $4,000.00
Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike

Our review

One of the best riding bikes out there, just make sure you stick to a rigorous maintenance schedule to avoid irreversible damage
Pros: A genuinely fast, forgiving and fun bike to ride
Cons: Internal cable routing, even with cable guides, is a hassle; I experienced linkage and bearing wear much sooner than I was expecting
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After spending nearly two years with my last long-term test bike, the Orange Stage 6, I was struggling to find a replacement. I wasn’t sure if I wanted more or less travel, whether I wanted 27.5in or 29in wheels, or if I even wanted a trail, enduro or all-mountain bike.

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Although I wouldn’t exactly call my situation a total bind – and there are much worse problems to have in life – it did leave a bit of a question mark over the sort of bike I needed, and wanted, for 2020 and 2021 to fulfil my love of gravity-fuelled riding while still being able to pedal about.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The SB165 looks like a fast bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

So ending up with a 165mm travel, coil shock, 27.5in-wheeled rig took me a little by surprise to be totally honest, but I was hoping that reverting back to the smaller wheel size and bigger travel wouldn’t be a hindrance out in the woods.

The Yeti SB165 is currently the Colorado brand’s most radical bike on offer, with the most travel and slackest head-tube angle, it’s even compatible with dual crown forks. That means it’s a gravity-focused rig and, because of that, has been tested to Yeti’s downhill strength standards.

Along with plenty of travel and modern geometry – it’s got a 77-degree seat-tube angle and a 480.1mm reach – bottle cage mounts, internal cable routing and a full carbon fibre frame, it looks like it ticks plenty of my ‘must-have’ boxes.

Obviously, going for an uber-expensive bike wasn’t a conscious choice, and I’d have been just as happy on a frame costing half or even a quarter of the price, but once I’d secured the frameset, it seemed fitting to build it up with a host of high-spec parts befitting of Yeti’s boutique reputation.

The spec definitely fulfils a need, too, and isn’t just lavishly luxurious without reason, but more on that below.

Yeti SB165 long-term review conclusions

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the SB165.
Alex Evans

It has been a total privilege riding the SB165 over the last 12 months, and it has proven to be one of the best-performing and most versatile long-travel enduro-come-freeride bikes I’ve ever had the pleasure of swinging a leg over.

Because of the Yeti’s bump-munching performance, every time I’ve taken the Yeti down rough and chundery, steep and fast trails it has been a standout moment, so singling out one ride is pretty tricky.

Has the SB165 managed to convince me 27.5in wheels still have a place on our trails? In short, yes it has.

While many would argue – me included – smaller wheels aren’t as smooth over rough terrain and probably don’t have as much outright pace as 29in hoops on any given trail, that doesn’t seem to hinder the Yeti’s ability to make swift progress on the chunkiest terrain.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
Yeti Cycles is an iconic brand.
Alex Evans

I’d go as far as to say that I’ve ridden some of my favourite trails the quickest I ever have done on the Yeti, even compared to some of the best performing 29ers on the market today.

Its ride feels undoubtedly premium, too. There’s a robustness and solidity to its feel that goes some way to meriting the rather ludicrous price tag.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
These M8100 XT cranks have been seriously polished by foot rub. I wonder how much material has been rubbed away?
Alex Evans

The spec’s only changed marginally since I first built it up, the most notable upgrades included swapping out the TRP TR12 shifter and derailleur and TRP DH-R EVO brakes for a Shimano M8100 12-speed drivetrain and Shimano XTR M9120 four-piston disc brakes.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The XTR four-piston brakes are phenomenally powerful.
Alex Evans

This proves that, for the most part, my component wish list was virtually spot on. The Fox dampers, both front and rear, have proven to offer impeccable performance and the 38 Float Factory GRIP2 fork has also been impressively reliable.

The frame has shown signs of wear, though. The lacquer covered carbon fibre has become chipped and the non-driveside chainstay has suffered significant wear from heel rub.

To mitigate the damage, I ended up sticking on Marshguard’s Slapper Tape to protect the carbon fibre.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The mastic tape has helped protect the chainstay from wear caused by heel rub.
Alex Evans

Staying on top of the level of maintenance required to keep the SB165’s frame running sweet has been tricky. I’d go as far to say that Yeti’s own maintenance schedule isn’t sufficient to prevent damage to the Switch Infiniti Link’s stanchions, even when they’ve been cared for meticulously.

Maybe Scotland’s harsh weather conditions and trail types have accelerated wear, and riders in drier climes might have fewer problems.

Even though the first worn link was covered under the frame’s lifetime warranty, if I had to shell out for another one outside of the warranty scheme, it would cost a tasty £319.95 to replace with a like-for-like Kashima coated version.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The fabled Switch Infiniti Link.
Alex Evans

The replacement link has also started to show signs of wear, suggesting it isn’t very suitable for use in UK conditions.

I’ve had to change the frame’s bearings once during the year-long test period. Admittedly it’s not a big deal, nor hugely costly at £66.95 for a full bearing kit, but they did wear out quicker than I was expecting.

For context, my Marin Alpine Trail XR has done an almost identical amount of riding in the same types of conditions as the Yeti and hasn’t required any bearing or frame maintenance to date.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
Nothing survives without getting damaged. Here the XT M8100 rear derailleur’s clutch on/off switch has snapped off.
Alex Evans

Maybe I’ve been unlucky with my SB165, and it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions from a test sample of one.

With all that, it’s easy to forgive its highly-strung maintenance needs once you’re zooming to the bottom of a trail at breakneck speeds and remaining in total control. There’s no feeling quite like it!

Yeti SB165 highs

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
Conditions have been all-time lately!
Alex Evans

Along with its ability to tackle the gnarliest trails with total unflustered composure, it’s the way the SB165 climbs that impressed me most.

No 165mm travel enduro-come-freeride bike should ascend as proficiently as the Yeti does, while managing to maintain and not compromise its bump-munching downhill prowess.

In its final iteration, the SB165 is light, tipping the scales at 14.98kg (14.67kg initially with thinner casing tyres). That’s truly remarkable for a frame that’s compatible with dual-crown forks and a build that hasn’t been specced with parts to prioritise weight-saving over performance.

Yeti SB165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The SB165’s climbing ability is impressive.
Alex Evans

I’ve also loved the intrigue and admiring looks directed towards the Yeti from fellow riders.

It’s true there’s something captivating about its looks, and although the Switch Infiniti Link is actually quite simple once studied carefully, it creates plenty of bewilderment and puzzlement trail-side.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The top tube sports patina, where the lacquer has been chipped away.
Alex Evans

Although I’m not personally into pre-ride peacocking or bike top trumps in the trail centre car park, the Yeti is a great conversation starter and, undeniably, is a boutique bike.

Yeti SB165 lows

Realising the Switch Infiniti Link’s stanchions had worn was a real kick in the teeth and marked a real low point with the SB165.

I went out there to prove that not only do 27.5in wheels still have a place on the trails, but that Yetis can also be reliable despite their patchy reputation.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The chain slap protector has had a hard life.
Alex Evans

That idea came tumbling down around me once I’d spotted the wear and realised how expensive the links are to replace. Luckily the warranty had me covered, but I had higher hopes.

The second blow was needing to do a full bearing change. I’d hoped the new link would cure the play the rear end had developed but it only reduced it.

Not wanting to damage the new link, I set about replacing all the frame’s bearings to try and get the bike feeling taut again. Although inexpensive compared to the frame’s cost, compared to other bikes I’ve owned I feel they wore out quicker than they should have done.

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
One of the many slash marks in the rear tyre.
Alex Evans

Finally, it’s the unreasonable number of punctures and damaged tyres that have tainted my experiences a tad.

Although not exclusive to the Yeti, I still wonder how and why a 1,396g tyre like Schwalbe’s Big Betty EVO Super Gravity Addix Soft (that was eventually fitted to the Yeti after puncturing everything else I used) still isn’t able to totally resist burping and air loss. Answers on a postcard, please!

Yeti SB165 long-term review verdict

Yeti SB 165 enduro full suspension mountain bike
The SB165 is a monster truck speed demon on the downs.
Alex Evans

The Yeti SB165 is a phenomenal performer, as I’ve said all along. Considering how it rides alone, there’s very little that can come close, let alone beat it. Its suspension is truly supple, yet enormously supportive deeper into the travel. Its geometry is bang up to date and overall weight is impressively low.

But, and this is a big but, you need deep pockets to buy one in the first place and a meticulous, borderline obsessive attitude to maintenance to not only keep it functioning but also stop it from wearing out.

I couldn’t personally afford to buy or own an SB165 myself but – as I have done over the past 12 months – would bite anyone’s hand off if they were offering me the chance to ride one again.

Previous updates continue below.

Yeti SB165 long-term review update four

Yeti SB165 mountain bike Switch Infiniti Link
Yeti’s lifetime warranty covers the link as well as the frame.
Alex Evans

In my last update, I went into considerable detail about how the SB165 climbs and decends, and it turns out it’s an impressive bit of kit. However, in this update, it’s not all been good news.

The Switch Infiniti link’s Kashima coating suffered at the hands of the adverse winter weather we experienced, and this was despite following Yeti’s service schedule and using the Yeti-branded grease I spoke about in a previous update.

So, what happened exactly? It appears the Kashima coating on the link’s stanchions was worn away by the bushings they slide inside.

Crucially, to avoid premature damage to the Switch Infiniti link, Yeti states it needs to be cleaned and lubricated every 40 hours of riding or roughly once a month – although the service intervals hinge heavily on the conditions the bike is ridden in.

Yeti SB165 mountain bike Switch Infiniti Link
The link’s body, stanchions and bushings don’t seem to be available to buy separately – a whole new link needs purchasing, instead.
Alex Evans

Assuming an average bike ride is roughly three hours, you’d need to carry out Yeti’s prescribed Switch Infiniti link maintenance every 13.3 rides.

I certainly erred on the side of caution with my approach to maintenance and cleaned and lubricated the link more frequently than that, given the wet and grimy conditions I ride in most often. I was cleaning and greasing the link roughly every four rides, but that could extend to five or six if it had been nice weather.

Unfortunately, despite my stringent upkeep routine, it appears the link was unable to withstand the conditions I regularly ride in.

Yeti SB165 mountain bike Switch Infiniti Link
The rear stanchion wore the most.
Alex Evans

Thankfully, Yeti replaced the worn-out Switch Infiniti link under the frame’s lifetime warranty because the link is also covered. To get the link replaced under warranty (in the UK) I needed to supply a picture of the bike, a picture of the frame number, proof of purchase and a picture of the wear on the link.

Yeti then decided whether or not the link fell within its warranty criteria. If it doesn’t, Yeti offers a scheme where the part can be repaired “with a reasonable replacement price”.

Yeti SB165 mountain bike Switch Infiniti Link
Here you can see the bushings the Kashima stanchions slide inside.
Alex Evans

If you do need to pay out in full for a replacement, a new link costs £319.95 and because its component parts aren’t available to purchase separately, a whole replacement unit is required.

Since replacing the damaged link, the Yeti’s once again proven itself to be an absolute monster on the trails and each time I get back from a ride I have a smile on my face. And that’s impossible to put a price on.

Yeti SB165 mountain bike Switch Infiniti Link
The link is tucked away when installed on the bike.
Alex Evans

Older updates continue below.

Yeti SB165 long-term review update three

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Yeti SB165 is a seriously capable bike.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

How does the Yeti SB165 ride, then? I’ve now put in enough time on the trails to explore the things that make this bike one of the best I’ve ridden in a long time.

Yeti SB165 descending performance

The Yeti’s suspension and geometry combine to make it a true monster truck, which is especially handy when the trails get rough, fast or technical (or all three at once!).

This feeling of invincibility – where the rear-end absorbs bumps quickly, smoothly and competently – means that line choice is easy and grip is monumental, even on rough, square-edge, bump-laden cambers that would normally catch lesser bikes out.

Thanks to the rear end’s progressivity, the initial stroke is soft enough to be forgiving and track the ground with impressive precision, while ramping up enough towards the mid- and end-stroke to give loads of support up take-offs, through large, high-speed berms and harsh jumps and drops to flat. The suspension’s kinematics suit the coil-sprung Fox DHX2 shock well.

Even if my riding gets messy with poor line choice – towards the rock-strewn edges of trails – I know the Yeti is capable of munching up pretty much everything in its path. And that’s a great feeling because it lets me concentrate on either getting my riding back in shape or just going faster.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
There’s little that can get in the way of the SB165’s geometry and suspension.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

And even the 27.5in wheels don’t seem to hold it back. I’ve not had any issues with feeling like I’m getting sucked into holes or bucked around, suggesting the SB165’s chassis is ever-so capable.

And then there’s the geometry, with its slack 63.5-degree head-tube angle enhancing the suspension’s confidence-inspiring competence. Couple that with a lengthy 480mm reach figure, and it takes large weight shifts to upset its composure, which makes it perfect for hammering down the trails with near impunity.

Arguably, the chainstays could be longer – at just 433mm they’re fairly short. This does make the rear end of the bike happy to be flicked about, but a longer figure here wouldn’t necessarily make it harder to manoeuvre and should further improve its stability.

Yeti SB165 climbing performance

A coil-sprung, 165mm travel enduro-come-park bike shouldn’t be as capable as the SB165 is when ascending. Okay, so it’s not XC-bike fast, but it is comfortable to winch to the top of the descents.

Although Yeti claims its Switch Infiniti link increases anti-squat around the sag point – which should reduce pedal bob – my experiences differ.

It would be fair to say the rear suspension is more inclined to bob, whether seated and spinning the legs at higher cadences or grinding a harder gear while standing. The rear shock does have a climb lever, and that stiffens it up enough to all-but eliminate unwanted rear end movement, but this is at the sacrifice of comfort and grip.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
There’s no denying it’s better suited to descending than outright climbing speed, but it is still comfortable on the climbs.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

And that’s the thing with this bike – I was never expecting to set any PRs when heading uphill, but have been impressed with how comfortable it is to gently spin to the top of my favourite descents, helped massively by the 77-degree effective seat-tube angle putting my hips more central over the bike and the comfort-focused rear suspension that’s helped to keep my tush happy.

I’ve genuinely come to love how the Yeti rides and it would be fair to say it’s exceeded my expectations of what a 165mm travel bike can do. But that also means it’s raised the bar for what I know is possible, raising my baseline of potential performance.

Older updates continue below.

Yeti SB165 long-term review update two

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Yeti is proving to be a total bruiser on the trails!
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

After my exuberance and optimism about the Yeti’s performance and reliability in my last update, a comedown was inevitable.

Unfortunately, the rear shock’s seals must have blown the last time I used the bike, so the next time I came to ride it the rear suspension’s rebound and compression damping were non-existent, and there was a small puddle of shock oil on the floor beneath the bike.

Although frustrating, this sort of thing can happen to any shock on any make of bike and, considering the amount and sort of riding I do on the Yeti, it didn’t come as a huge surprise.

Every cloud has a silver lining, though. Because the Yeti is less than a year old, the shock is covered under the warranty period and was repaired free of charge by Fox’s Suspension service centre in South Wales.

Fox DHX2 Factory rear mountain bike shock
The shock was repaired under warranty by the UK Fox service centre.
Alex Evans

This also gave me the chance to move up to a stiffer spring from the stock 425lb to a 500lb. I’ve only managed to ride the bike once with the stiffer setup, and while sag is understandably reduced, I much prefer the bike’s stance now it’s not sitting quite as deep into its travel.

And while I didn’t feel like it was bottoming out too often or harshly with the 425lb spring, the 500lb spring has made the ride feel more poppy and aggressive – something I’m very much a fan of.

Elsewhere, I’ve removed the ripped Tioga Glide_G3 rear tyre and replaced it with Schwalbe’s new Big Betty with Super Gravity casing, to provide more protection against punctures. Stay tuned for a full review of that tyre, plus a host of others soon.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I’ve increased the rear shock’s spring rate from 425lb up to 500lb and much prefer the way the bike rides.
Ian Linton / Immediate Media

Where does this update leave me and the Yeti at the end of 2020? Well, I’ve ridden the bike less than I’d originally hoped but am optimistic and motivated to put more miles on it going into 2021. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to get those in-depth ride impressions written up once I’ve got some uninterrupted testing time under my belt…

Oh, and Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all!

Older updates continue below.

Yeti SB165 long-term review update one

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I’m really enjoying my time on the SB165 and it’s impressively capable.
Ian Linton

Oh my, how time flies! It only feels like yesterday I was wheeling the SB165 out of the garage on its maiden voyage. But here we are nearly two months later and the nights have drawn in, the weather’s transitioned from summer rain to winter rain, and temperatures have dropped.

What does that mean for the SB165? Well not a huge amount to be honest. It’s still getting used and abused as it is designed to be, operating as the test bed – along with my Marin Alpine Trail – for a host of parts.

So how’s the spec shaping up in the real world?

The wonder fork

The Fox 38 Factory fork bolted to the front of the bike continues to impress me ride after ride. Its damping feels spot on and offers impressive levels of traction and comfort while being able to tackle big hits.

Its chassis and stiffness feels well-matched to the Yeti’s frame and complements just how capable the 165 is on the rough stuff.

The only downside I’ve noticed so far is that it’s very expensive and if you do have the budget to buy a pair, availability is limited in all travel options, offsets and wheel sizes, thanks to their popularity.

Rule breaker

I’ve continued to use TRP’s TR12 drivetrain to test its longevity, but have now fitted a 51-tooth Shimano XT cassette – despite TRP’s official line stating that compatibility of the TR12 mech stops at 50-tooth sprockets.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Shimano’s 51-tooth cassette sprocket worked well with TRP’s TR12 mech.
Alex Evans

Initial testing indicates that the mech has absolutely no problems shifting into the largest 51-tooth gear, its movement feeling just as smooth as it did when shifting into the 45-tooth sprocket I had on there previously. B-tension adjustment wasn’t problematic, either.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
51 teeth is the largest cog size.
Alex Evans

The smoothness of operation and setup hints TRP was conservative with its compatibility recommendations for the TR12 mech.

Fresh treads

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Are these edgy enough for you…
Alex Evans

Although I enjoyed the Vittoria Mazza tyres during the dry summer period, I did say that they’re less suited to wetter conditions. Luckily, I’ve been testing tyres recently so have been able to swap between different models to find my preferred combination of rubber.

Alongside the test tyres – available in both 27.5in and 29in sizes – I’ve been testing Tioga’s interesting-looking Edge-22 front tyre and Glide_G3 rear tyre, which currently aren’t available as a pair in all rim diameters.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Unfortunately the Glide_G3 rear tyre suffered a tear on the first (trail centre, red graded) descent.
Alex Evans

I’ve only managed one ride on them so far, but unfortunately the rear casing suffered a tear on the first trail centre descent. Tyre plugs did repair the hole enough for me to limp home, but they no longer hold air for any meaningful period of time.

I hope to get my hands on a tougher casing version or a like-for-like replacement to give the pairing another go. Stay tuned for reviews soon.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Edge 22 tyre has large spacing between the centre blocks. Tioga says this makes cornering edges closer to the centre of the tyre.
Alex Evans

The heart of the ride

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Switch Infinity link is proving to be impressively reliable.
Ian Linton

This update wouldn’t be complete without at least a mention of the SB165’s reliability.

Although I had my doubts in the initial report the Switch Infinity link was going to stand the test of time, so far I’m eating my words because it’s been problem-free.

Yeti Infiniti Link grease
Yeti makes its own Infiniti Link specific grease.
Alex Evans

I’ve had to grease it a few times – using Yeti’s specific grease and grease gun – but beyond that there haven’t been any issues with bolts coming loose, stanchions becoming sticky or anything else.

What’s next?

In my first story I mentioned I’ve got an e*thirteen Vario dropper that I’m hoping to test. However, I’ve still not had time to fit it to the bike, but hopefully by the next update I will have some ride impressions for you.

Otherwise, I’m going to keep on riding the SB165 on different terrain and should have more in-depth ride impressions soon, so stay tuned.

Older updates continue below.

Yeti SB165 specifications and details

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The SB165 custom build in all its glory.
Alex Evans

How has the SB165 ended up looking, then? And why did I choose those parts?

Yeti SB165 Turq Series frameset

As I said, the SB165 is Yeti’s burliest bike.

It’s got 165mm of rear-wheel travel that’s been meticulously tuned by Yeti’s engineers to provide what it deems to be the best performing suspension out there.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Switch Infinity link tunes the anti-squat to improve pedalling performance.
Alex Evans

This is done with its Switch Infinity system, which modifies the bike’s anti-squat by shifting the main pivot’s location vertically upwards as the suspension compresses through the first part of its travel, then vertically downwards as it gets deeper into its stroke.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The SB165 is Yeti’s longest travel bike at the moment.
Alex Evans

This is claimed to give low levels of pedal bob at the start of its travel – with an increase in anti-squat – and more suspension compliance deeper into its travel as the anti-squat drops off.

The system uses a set of stanchions side-by-side with the main pivot in the centre of a ‘shuttle’ that moves up and down the stanchions.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Yeti name is iconic.
Alex Evans

The SB165 frameset is only available in Yeti’s top-of-the-range Turq carbon fibre, which is claimed to offer the “perfect balance of stiffness and compliance” and to reduce weight over standard carbon.

My SB165 frameset with Fox Factory DHX2 shock and coil spring weighs 3,690g.

  • Frameset: £3,799

Fox 38 Float Factory GRIP2 fork

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Fox’s biggest single crown fork, the 38, is a real bruiser.
Alex Evans

With a price tag worthy of the SB165’s, the Fox 38 is the American brand’s latest hardest-hitting enduro single crown fork.

Bolted to the front of my long-termer is the 27.5in-wheeled version with 180mm of travel and a short 37mm offset to increase trail, which should further calm the bike’s steering on steeper and faster tracks.

Coupled with the GRIP2 damper – that has external high- and low-speed rebound and compression damping – and float EVOL air spring, it makes for a rather luxurious and highly controlled ride.

As the largest diameter stanchion single crown fork I’ve ridden since the Totem, I am excited to see how it performs.

  • Fox 38 Float Factory GRIP2 fork: £1,299

TRP TR12 rear derailleur and shifter

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The TRP TR12 mech looks sturdy and has an adjustable clutch.
Alex Evans

Touted as a genuine alternative to Shimano’s and SRAM’s mech and shifter, TRP’s TR12 mech and shifter was launched back in May 2020.

I pounced at the chance to bolt it to my brand-new long-term test bike and see how the kit designed by world cup downhill racer Aaron Gwin’s mechanic performs.

Standout features include an adjustable clutch, chain length and b-tension set up guides and the Hall Lock, which helps to limit the mech’s body from rotating forwards over bumps.

The derailleur’s cage and upper link is made from carbon fibre. The rear mech weighs 292g.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
It’s a shame TRP hasn’t designed an integrated bar clamp for its brakes and shifter.
Alex Evans

The shifter’s ergonomics have been designed with input from Aaron Gwin, too.

The cable release lever has a linear movement, instead of a pivoting motion used on most other shifters, that’s claimed to mimic a rider’s thumb’s action.

The cable pull paddle’s position can be rotated to suit rider preferences, too.

  • TRP TR12 mech: £220
  • TRP TR12 shifter: £110

Shimano XT M8100 cranks, cassette and chain

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
170mm XT cranks with a 30-tooth chainring finish off the build nicely.
Alex Evans

Because the TRP TR12 mech and shifter don’t form part of their own groupset, I’ve fitted Shimano’s M8100 12-speed 170mm long XT cranks with a 30-tooth chainring and 10-45t cassette, along with matching XT chain.

I had to use Shimano’s smaller 45-tooth cassette because TRP’s TR12 mech is only officially compatible with up to 50-tooth cassette sprockets. This means Shimano’s larger 51-tooth and now SRAM’s new 52-tooth cassettes aren’t supported.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Because the mech is only compatible with up to a 50-tooth sprocket, I’ve fitted Shimano’s XT 45-tooth cassette.
Alex Evans

I do have a 51-tooth XT cassette to try with the mech to investigate what limits compatibility and will report back once I’ve managed to have a look.

  • M8100 cranks: £199.99
  • M8100 cassette: £144.99
  • M8100 chain: £41.99

Race Face Turbine R 30 27.5in wheelset

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Turbine R 30 rims are 30mm wide.
Alex Evans

I’ve always liked the feel aluminium wheels have on the trail and have had good experiences with Race Face’s ARC wheels in the past on my previous long term test bike.

Unfortunately, the ARC rims weren’t available as complete wheelsets when I was building the bike up so had to opt for Race Face’s  Turbine R 30 wheels instead.

The Turbine R 30s have a 30mm internal width which, for me, feels like a good compromise for reducing the tyre carcass roll sometimes felt with narrower profile rims, while maintaining a more rounded tyre profile to improve lean angles in turns before the tyres lose traction.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Race Face Vault hubs are laced to Turbine R 30 rims.
Alex Evans

The Turbine R 30 rims are built onto Race Face’s Vault hub that boasts 120 points of engagement using straight-pull spokes.

Although Race Face claims the wheels are best suited to trail and all-mountain uses, I suspect they’re going to be plenty robust enough for a year’s worth of abuse on the SB165.

The pair, with Boost 12 x 148 rear spacing and MicroSpline freehub and front 110 x 15mm Boost spacing, weigh 1,710g.

  • Front: £399
  • Rear: £499

TRP DH-R EVO brakes

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The DH-R EVO brakes are burly!
Alex Evans

Complementing the TRP TR12 drivetrain are these DH-R EVO brakes, designed for world cup level DH racing.

The lever bodies are CNC machined and polished to a shiny finish. The lever blades have small depressions to improve grip and their reach has tool-less adjustment.

Along with four-piston calipers, power is provided by the 2.3mm thick rotors.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
TRP’s DH-R EVO brakes have large four-piston calipers.
Alex Evans

The brakes use mineral oil, like Shimano systems, and I found them quite tricky to bleed correctly compared to SRAM’s DOT fluid brakes with its Bleeding Edge bleed system.

I opted for 203mm rotors front and back on the Yeti.

The DH-R EVO brake levers weigh 133g each, a caliper with 190cm hose weighs 199g and a 203mm TRP rotor tipped the scales at 244g.

  • Front and rear brakes with 203mm rotors: £490

OneUp Components V2 Dropper Post, Carbon Handlebar and EDC Stem

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I’ve managed to fit a 210mm travel dropper post to the Yeti which means I can get my seat lower for the descents.
Alex Evans

OneUp’s natty EDC steerer-tube-stashed tool propelled the Canadian brand into the limelight by providing an elegant solution for an annoying problem; how to carry tools on your bike.

Since its tool was released, it’s worked on a host of other parts including dropper posts, handlebars, stems, pedals cassettes and chainrings.

After being seriously impressed with its V2 Dropper Post, awarding it 5 stars, it seemed logical to fit a 210mm travel version to my new long-term test bike.

Managing to squeeze a 210mm-drop post onto the Yeti means my saddle can be totally out of the way on the descents while still rising to the correct height for climbing.

With the OneUp post’s performance impressing me when I reviewed it, I’m hopeful its reliability will continue on the new bike.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The OneUp bar’s profile is clear.
Alex Evans

I’ve stuck on a set of OneUp’s Carbon Handlebars, which it claims have been tuned to provide great levels of comfort by minimising the width of its 35mm clamping diameter and having a profile that flattens into an oval shape the closer it is to the bar’s bend.

The 35mm rise bars I’m using weigh 226g.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The short 35mm OnUp stem feels spot on.
Alex Evans

As someone who prefers not to mix and match brands too much, I’ve stuck OneUp’s 35mm EDC Stem on the bike, too, with the idea of fitting its EDC tool without needing to tap threads into the steerer tube at a later date.

  • OneUp Components V2 Dropper Post (with remote): £221
  • OneUp Components Carbon Handlebar: £119.50
  • OneUp Components EDC Stem: £69

Fabric Funguy 31mm diameter grips

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Fabric’s Funguy grips are seriously comfortable.
Alex Evans

Fabric’s Funguy grips have quickly become my next favourite set of grips to use after fitting them to another bike.

They’re soft, they’ve only got one lock-on ring so can twist slightly, and they feel like the perfect diameter for my hands.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The marble pattern might not be to everyone’s taste, though.
Alex Evans

This set of marble coloured grips might not everyone’s cup of tea but I think they’re awesome.

  • Fabric Funguy grips: £16.99

SDG Bel Air 3.0 Lux-Alloy saddle

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
SDG’s Bel Air 3.0 saddle looks good, but I’m still not convinced it’s going to be as comfortable as the SQlab perch I love.
Alex Evans

Although the Bel Air 3.0 wouldn’t be my first choice saddle – after I confessed my undivided love for SQlab’s 610 ERGOLUX Active 2.0 in 2019 – it’s ended up on the Yeti.

With a 140mm width and short 260mm length, I figured I’d give it a go. Also, it looks more conventional than SQlab’s offering and only weighs 236g.

  • SDG Bel Air 3.0 Lux-Alloy saddle: £79.95

Cane Creek 70 Series Hellbender bearing upgrade

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Cane Creek – another iconic brand.
Alex Evans

Officially the Yeti SB165 is only compatible with Cane Creek’s 40 Series IS41/28.6 IS52/40 headset that retails for £49.99. However, because some of Cane Creek’s bearings are interchangeable it was possible to upgrade the 40 Series headset with 70 Series Hellbender bearings.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I swapped out the standard bearings for Hellbender ones to reduce service intervals.
Alex Evans

Although it’s a small upgrade, it’s one that’s worth it given the grotty UK conditions this bike is going to have to endure.

Hellbender headsets start at £74.99.

Vittoria Mazza tyres

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Vittoria’s Mazza tyre has proven to work well in dry conditions.
Alex Evans

Rounding off the Yeti is a pair of Vittoria Mazza 2.4in wide tyres that use Graphene 2.0 in their four compound rubber to improve grip while maintaining good rolling resistance.

Up front I’ve fitted the 2.4in wide Trail casing Tubeless Ready (TNT) tyre that weighs 930g. On the rear, I’ve gone for the tougher 2.4in wide Enduro casing TLR tyre which tips the scales at 1,140g.

As a new tyre to the market at the start of 2020, I was keen to give them a go on my bespoke Yeti build.

  • Vittoria Mazza Trail casing Tubeless Ready (TNT): £59.99
  • Vittoria Mazza Enduro casing TLR: £59.99

Yeti SB165 custom build price and weight

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Designed in Colorado, USA.
Alex Evans

Had I gone to the shops and bought this exquisite custom build Yeti SB165, I would have had to part with £7,904.38 – making it less expensive than Yeti’s top-spec SB165 T3 TURQ full bike, especially if I wanted to fit DT Swiss carbon wheels and SRAM’s AXS drivetrain.

It’s still impressively expensive, though.

For the money, I’ve managed to land myself a pretty lightweight and seriously capable 180mm travel fork, 165mm rear travel enduro bike.

Without pedals the full build weighs 14.67kg / 32.34lb.

Yeti SB165 geometry

As the burliest bike Yeti currently sells, it’s not a surprise to see the SB165’s geometry sitting at the more progressive end of modern.

The size large I’m riding has a 63.5-degree head tube angle, a 77-degree effective seat tube angle and a 480mm reach figure.

It’s got 433mm chainstays (the same length across all sizes) and a 1,255.2mm wheelbase.

According to Yeti’s site, my 178cm height is at the very bottom of the size large’s fit range, but I think that someone with a height of 173cm would fit a large frame comfortably.

  • Head angle: 63.5 degrees
  • Seat angle: 77 degrees
  • Chainstay length: 433mm
  • Seat tube length: 450mm
  • Top tube length: 621.5mm
  • Head tube length: 121.6mm
  • Wheelbase: 1,255mm
  • Stack height: 609.9mm
  • Reach: 480.1mm

Why did I choose this bike?

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
Fox’s DHX2 is a worthy counterpart for the Fox 38 fork.
Alex Evans

After spending nearly two years on my 29er Orange Stage 6 I was unsure which wheel size of enduro bike I wanted to ride into 2020 and 2021.

After discounting shorter travel rigs thanks to the terrain I’m going to be most frequently riding, the long travel, small-wheel sender Yeti SB165 became a forerunner pretty early on thanks to its progressive geometry, relative light weight and massive curiosity factor ignited by its cost and Switch Infinity link, plus Yeti’s long-standing reputation for making high-end bikes.

With all of those elements coming together, and my love for riding steep and fast tracks – fuelled by my recent move to the Tweed Valley – the SB165 looked like the perfect choice.

Yeti SB165 custom build initial setup

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Yeti’s cockpit looks good.
Alex Evans

Building a bike up from scratch can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re missing key tools like a headset press or have ordered slightly incorrect components like a chainring that’s designed for a different chainline than the one your bike specifies.

I was therefore very careful to research the exact parts I needed to make sure the build and subsequent set up process went without a hitch.

I probably should have been a little more realistic with my expectations though, because it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

While getting the majority of the parts to fit was a doddle, including the forks, cranks, wheels, bar and stem and even the dropper post – with a notable mention going to the Yeti’s internal cable routing guides that made feeding the dropper, gear and brake cables simple – a few bits were less ideal.

I mentioned the brakes were particularly tricky to bleed before. I spent around five to seven hours actively purging the hydraulic system of air after trimming the brake hoses to fit the frame and forks.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
It’s got a down tube protector.
Alex Evans

Even when following TRP’s brake bleed guide to the letter using TRP oil and syringes, I still struggled to get the brakes to feel good.

I tried bleeding them in a multitude of different ways, eventually getting some success with the old-school system of bleeding them by pressurising the lever, opening the caliper bleed port, squeezing the lever then closing the bleed port and finally releasing the lever and topping up the lever reservoir before repeating the process at least 50 times. On each brake.

Now, even though I don’t profess to being the best mechanic in the world, and much prefer hammers over torque wrenches, I’m not totally inept and have been working on my own bikes for 20 years.

With that in mind, I was a little disappointed with how difficult it was to bleed the TRP DH-R EVO brakes, especially considering how easy it is to bleed SRAM’s Code or Guide G2 brakes.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I install MudHugger’s FRX mudguards to all my bikes.
Alex Evans

The forks and rear shock have plenty of adjustment – both with external low- and high-speed rebound and compression adjusters – and were pretty easy to get to a point where I was happy. More tweaking is required, but setting a bike up is always going to be an on-going process.

Yeti SB165 custom build ride impressions

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
The Yeti’s at home on steep trails.
Ian Linton

It’s safe to say the SB165 revealed itself to be a total bruiser on its first ride.

The 180mm travel Fox 38 fork felt plush and compliant, impressively absorbing rough chattery bumps while providing a solid platform to push against in corners, larger compressions and up takeoffs.

The fork’s composure and confidence is mirrored by the rear end’s Fox DHX2 coil shock, although my initial thoughts are that the stock 425lb spring is a little too soft for my preferences, despite it giving me the correct amount of sag.

The 480mm reach figure gave me plenty of space on the descents and combined with the slack head tube angle and long wheelbase makes the bike feel impressively composed when making progress on steep, technical and fast tracks.

The SB165 certainly comes alive when it’s being fed by gravity and it gobbles up roots, rocks and bumps like they’re non-existent, and swift direction changes and precise line choices are well within the bike’s bounds.

Yeti SB165 enduro mountain bike
I’m is keen to see how much abuse the Yeti can take.
Ian Linton

Its suspension makes it feel a little lethargic on flatter sections of trail, but the low weight helps to mitigate this to some extent.

The 77-degree seat tube angle is brilliant on the climbs and it’s easy to forget how much travel it has once the climb lever has been activated and you’re ascending.

Once the TRP DH-R EVO brakes were working, they proved to have enormous amounts of bite and power, feeling considerably more punchy than SRAM’s Code brakes.

The TR12 drivetrain has so far shifted accurately, but chainslap is quite bad. I’m going to address this by tightening up the mech’s clutch and investigate further.

Yeti SB165 custom build upgrades

I’ve got no immediate plans to change the Yeti’s spec, but will be on the hunt for some more winter-specific tyres once the weather closes in.

I’m also going to be testing e*thirteen’s new Vario dropper, so expect to see the OneUp post take a small holiday.

I’d like to investigate different spring rates for the rear shock in the not too distant future, too.

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Stay tuned for more updates soon.

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £3799.00USD $4000.00
Weight 3,690g (Large) – Size large frame with shock and seat collar
What we tested Yeti SB165 custom build
Year 2020
Brand Yeti

Features

Features Switch Infinity link, internal cable routing, ISCG-05 chain guide mounts, internal cable routing
Headset Cane Creek 40 Series with Hellbender bearings
Tyres Vittoria Mazza
Stem OneUp Components EDC Stem 35mm
Shifter TRP TR-12
Seatpost OneUp Components Dropper Post V2 210mm travel
Saddle SDG Bel Air 3.0 Lux-Alloy
Rear shock Fox Factory DHX2 2 position lever
Rear derailleur TRP TR-12
Handlebar OneUp Components Carbon Handlebar, 35mm rise, 800mm wide
Available sizes Small, medium, large, extra-large
Grips/Tape Fabric Funguy
Frame Yeti SB165 Turq Series
Fork Fox 38 Float Factory GRIP2, 37mm offset
Cranks Shimano XT FC-M8120 170mm, 30t chain ring
Chain Shimano XT CN-M8100 12 speed
Cassette Shimano XT CS-M81000-12 10-45t
Brakes TRP DH-R Evo
Bottom bracket PF92
Wheels Race Face Turbine R 30