2023 Yeti SB140 LR Review 7

Jack of all trades, master of nothing? Not even close.

The 2023 SB140 is the mountain bike most people will turn to when shopping for a luxury-priced, carbon trail bike from Yeti Cycles. Not a new 27.5-inch-wheeled SB140 that we've come to know, this new SB with the same name is a 29-inch-wheeled variant replacing the SB130 and SB130 LR that aims to increase the fun factor while simultaneously improving pedaling performance. Our focus is on the 140 LR, and as the LR (Lunch Ride) name implies, the bike is suitable for everyday riding in varying terrain using slightly more aggressive geometry and builds over the regular SB140. Is it a jack of all trades and master of nothing? We wanted to find out, and were most excited to ride the SB140 out of the three new 2023 SB Yetis released this week, as it is most similar to what our test rider throws a leg over on a regular basis at home.

Highlights

  • Carbon fiber frame construction
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 140mm (5.5-inches) of rear wheel travel // 160mm (6.3-inches) fork travel
  • Switch Infinity suspension design
  • 65-degree head angle
  • 77-degree effective seat tube angle
  • Internally guided cable routing with downtube access
  • Boost 148mm rear hub spacing
  • Dual density downtube protection
  • UDH Compatibility
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 31.13 pounds (14.12kg)
  • MSRP: $10,200 USD
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Strengths

  • Comfortable on virtually any trail
  • Fun to ride
  • Rear suspension supple but supportive

Weaknesses

  • It might be a bit expensive?? Let us know in the comments!
    (That's a joke, it's extremely expensive)
  • Low stack height paired with low rise bar
  • Light front end while climbing seated
  • No geometry adjustments
  • Lacks in-frame storage or accessory mounts
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Overview

      The final bike of three from our visit to Breckenridge, Colorado for Yeti's camp is bred from the same philosophy as the other two recently launched SB models; modernized, size-specific geometry with an increase in travel and the appropriate changes to suspension kinematics. Yeti focused on making the SB140 the go-to bike for when trails become less refined and the comfort zone gets put to the test. Changes to frame components include revised links to increase durability and ensure perfect alignment, Switch Infinity components said to reduce friction, and a shock tune developed in-house at their Colorado facility.

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      Yeti’s Switch Infinity link works by changing the direction of the axle path throughout the rear wheel travel. It does so via Kashima-coated sliders built into the frame, which have been optimized for the new bike. Yeti is said to have decreased friction within the Switch Infinity system through use of updated bearings, seals, and hardware. The updated components will be retrofittable to old frames, too. Kinematics show a 14% progression towards the end of the stroke.

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      Geometry

      The modernized geo of the SB140 is subtle in comparison to its predecessor and comes with the changes we’ve all come to expect. Head tube angles are half a degree slacker across all sizes while reach numbers remain the same with the exception of the newly added XXL size. While reach numbers remain the same between frame sizes (yes, the same, no increase), chainstay lengths are now size-specific as are seat tube angles which steepen very slightly to maintain a 77-degree effective seat tube angle across the range. BB height is slightly higher than the previous model to account for the additional 10mm of travel and maintain a less drastic change in terminal BB height (full bottom-out). The new XXL frame size is said to fit riders from 6’ 5” up to 6' 11' with the size XL we tested fitting our 6’ 4” test rider just about perfectly. Our size XL test bike has a comfortable 65-degree head tube angle, roomy 505mm reach, 72.8-degree actual seat tube angle, 442mm chainstay length, and 1277mm wheelbase providing a playful and maneuverable foundation.

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      Build Kits

      The SB140 LR models are offered in 6 different build kits with upgrade options that include FOX Factory suspension for CLR C1, CLR C2, and CLR C3 builds. A DT Swiss EXC1511 carbon wheelset upgrade is offered on TLR T2, TLR T3, and TLR T4 level builds. The same upgrades are available on all non Lunch Ride builds, too. Carbon is the only frame material choice with two different layup options, C Series being a simpler layup while Turq frames are the top-of-the-line construction. There are standard and Lunch Ride options for every level of build kit which include the following changes:

      • Standard 140: FOX DPS shock, 150mm travel FOX 36 Fit 4 , Minion DHF/Aggressor
      • Lunch Ride 140: Minion DHF/DHR II, FOX Float X shock, 160mm travel FOX 36 with Grip 2 damper on Turq models

      Are you ready for it? The discussion about pricing on these 2023 Yeti SB140s? Are you sure? Ok, here we go. Yeti SB1480 LR C Series build kits start at $6,600 for the CLR C1 with a Shimano SLX groupset, $6,900 for the CLR C2 with SRAM GX, and $7,800 for the CLR C3 which adds a GX AXS shifter and derailleur. All CLR Series bikes feature FOX Performance suspension and Crank Brothers Synthesis Enduro wheelsets.

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      SB140 LR Turq models use the higher-end Turq carbon layup, all featuring FOX Factory suspension and SRAM Code RSC brakes. Prices start at $8,800 for the TLR T2 with mostly SRAM GX groupset, to $10,200 for TLR T3 (tested) built with a combination of SRAM X01 and XX1 AXS components, up to $11,700 for the TLR T4 level build kit which brings out all the stops with a Factory Kashima dropper post and XX1 AXS groupset head to toe. The Turq frame-only option goes for $4,600 with a FOX Factory Float X shock. For comparison, at the time of writing, a Santa Cruz Hightower frame or Pivot Switchblade frame retails for $4,099. An S-Works Stumpy EVO frame (150mm travel) is $3,400 and a regular S-Works Stumpy (130mm) is $3,000 for a frame. 

       

      On The Trail

      We got our first look at the SB140 LR while in Breckenridge, CO at the press camp Yeti organized. Our initial ride was meant to be up around 13,000 ft with 20 of distance miles, but a change in weather meant we would sit that ride out and opt for a much shorter ride nearby. The Galena Gulch trails made for a great backup plan despite the "less-epic" outing, but were still epic in terms of fun and traction after the rain. The trail featured lots of berms, jumps, rollers, and natural undulations mixed with rough and narrow moto-style trails that tapped into the characteristics of the bike very well. We wanted to go back for seconds on every section we rode. After the press camp, the rest of our time on the bike was spent in Phoenix, Arizona at our local trails of South Mountain which are trails are littered with jagged rocks and many natural undulations which require generating speed to maintain momentum.

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      Photos by Calum McGee
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      Setup

      Setting up the SB140 was very straightforward with our test rider having the same fork and shock on their personal bike. We left the shock tuning to the Yeti while the fork setup was familiar and straightforward. While geometry didn't feel stretched out or too compact, the low stack height of the frame was a recurring theme among the new SB models and the 140 also felt quite low up front. The additional fork travel of the LR did slightly help alleviate the feeling on trail. After our initial ride in Colorado we swapped to a 38mm rise bar for the remainder of our test period which improved position on the bike and felt much more comfortable. No other changes were made to the setup for the rest of the test period.

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      Descending Performance

      From the very first descent on our SB140 LR we felt a sense of confidence pointing the bike into every obstacle we came across. The trail bike mannerisms mean the bike rolls fast and is easy to get off the ground while the use of travel enables riders to get away with pointing the bike into enduro-territory terrain. With its playful nature, the SB140 was a blast to make shapes on and throw into turns as hard as possible. We found ourselves pedaling back up to re-ride sections out of sheer enjoyment on our first ride at home. Rider input yields an immediate bike response as the geometry is not too extreme one way or the other. Our size XL at under 32 pounds felt svelte and acceptable on the trail. Chainslap was kept to a minimum thanks to ample chainstay protection and if any rocks were bouncing off of the downtube, we did not hear them. Overall the bike is nearly silent while descending.

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      Rear Suspension Performance

      The SB140 is not overly supple off the top and retains composure through high-speed G-outs and heavy impacts. While the SB140 may not be as comfortable as its longer travel sibling (SB160), when charging rough sections, it makes for a lively experience and still maintains traction in a wide variety of situations on trail. We felt the rear suspension did an excellent job of tracking in small chatter and square edge hits with a feeling of acceleration through the rough bits, thanks to a comfortable amount of mid-stroke support. Simultaneously having the support to pump, jump, and manual without worrying about the rear wheel skipping around when straightening back out is reassuring and provides a bit of a “safety net” feeling.

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      Geometry

      The geometry of the SB140 is in a category with overlap on both ends in terms of geometry. On one end, the bike is geared towards being efficient while pedaling and having a great platform to push into when sprinting. On the other end, the bike is more similar to an enduro bike where there is a longer travel fork up front with a solid position for attacking descents and not feeling too over the front (after swapping to a higher rise bar). Because of this overlap, it is hard to determine which aspect about the bike is most notable. While the geometry was very comfortable it was a touch steeper and shorter than preferred by our tester. We did appreciate the BB height not being drastically low, as we were able to sprint over most rock out-croppings and obstacles without worrying about pedal strikes, which were very few. While there are no geometry adjustments on the SB140 we did wonder how it would ride with a half degree slacker headtube angle.

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      Climbing Performance

      Climbing performance did not require any additional effort than what is necessary, and we like that about the SB models. Slightly slower than the SB120 but a little faster than the SB160 is exactly what one would expect out of the middle child, and that is exactly what we got. While simply spinning did not require any additional effort, technical climbing warranted a higher cadence to clean tough sections. Despite the chainstay length being a mere millimeter shorter than its longer travel variant, the shorter front end of the SB140 did make for a light front wheel when seated up steeper pitches, making technical obstacles a little more work. This did allow easy navigation from the responsive handling, however. Overall the rider sits in a very comfortable position that doesn't sacrifice power and allows for a higher cadence. We felt climbing at a higher speed was enjoyable and that the bike accelerated quickly.

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      Build Kit

      The TLR T3 level build kit we tested has about everything one could wish for without being over-the-top-component wise. The price is the problem (as noted with all of the new 2023 Yetis). The price reflects that of a bike with carbon wheels, but delivers alloy. We're not saying carbon is better than alloy, but there's a punch to the pocketbook for the SB140. The DT Swiss XM1700 wheelset makes a great foundation with a 30mm inner width to create a wide contact patch and supple tire volume. We are happy to see both wheels are still straight after a little over a month of abuse from the trails in Colorado and Arizona.

      Tire selection is great tread wise, EXO casing tires were not an issue for us and keeps the bike a touch lighter. Throwing on some EXO+ casings for the Lunch Ride edition might be more appropriate considering the capability of the bike, however. FOX suspension front and rear is no surprise, and the Yeti-developed shock tune paired very well with the FOX 36 up front. As with the other SB models we did opt for our preferred 38mm rise bar that has the same 9/5-degree bend/sweep as the stock 20mm-rise bars Yeti provides.

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      The SRAM Code RSC brakes paired with 200mm rotors front and rear performed great on all trails ridden. The available stopping power mates well with the bike's intentions. We had no issues with fade on descents and only required a slight pad contact adjustment after about a month of use. The SRAM AXS drivetrain on our test bike shifted as well as we’ve come to expect, and there were no hiccups during the duration of our test period. The drivetrain was free of resistance and had very little chain slap that we noticed with zero dropped chains.

      Long Term Durability

      We don’t foresee any long-term durability concerns with the frame of the SB140 LR nor any of the build kit components. The Switch Infinity links pique our curiousity though. The ring of grease on the stanchions had fine sand stuck to it regularly although it did not malfunction in any way. Being more similar to a suspension component than a pivot bearing, we wonder about long-term use on the system. We had zero issue with paint chipping because our test bike came fitted with a clear frame protection kit that is available from Yeti dealers when purchasing a bike. Should customers have an issue, Yeti backs up the frame with a one-year warranty on paint and finish. Frame defects are covered under a lifetime warranty and crash replacement options are available.

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      What's The Bottom Line?

      The SB140 LR will cover all of the bases for just about any trail network and allow riders to venture out of their comfort zone. Our test bike felt incredibly playful but with enough of that safety-net feeling to keep us on the trail after doubling up something questionable. Cornering feels very comfortable at all speeds with stability that can be broken loose with ease. Trails with a lot of options to gap and get creative best serve the traits of the SB140 and allow riders to be as aggressive as they like without feeling bored or stuck to the ground when riding leisurely. The geometry is dialed, suspension tracks well but remains poppy, and the component spec matches the capability of the bike. Would we buy one? If we had money to burn. For those who prefer trail bikes on the aggressive side, the SB140 would work very well for not only our local trails, but for just about any trail we might encounter. Our bank account may not be quiet as excited.

      For more information, please visit yeticycles.com for more details.

      Vital MTB Rating

      • Climbing: 4.5 stars - Outstanding
      • Descending: 5 stars - Spectacular
      • Fun Factor: 5 stars - Spectacular
      • Value: Does it matter at $10,200?
      • Overall Impression: 4.5 stars - Outstanding

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      About The Reviewer

      Jonny started mountain biking in 2003 after taking a trip to Northstar and discovering how much more could be ridden than on a BMX bike. He began racing at age 12 and raced for 12 years until ultimately deciding having fun on a bike was more important. After working in the industry for a few years and developing a deeper understanding of bikes inside and out, he has an aptitude for pairing his riding ability with the analysis of bikes and breaking down what makes them work well. He rides for fun and finds the most enjoyment out of going fast with friends.

       

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