2023 Yeti SB160 Review 37

The new big brawler in the Yeti line-up delivers...but for a price.

Yeti brings refinement to a proven platform while extending capability with the new SB160. An increase in travel comes with an update to kinematics, Switch Infinity components, along with changes to geometry and frame construction to create an all-new bike. Comfortable fit and feel are at the core of the redesign, with speed being the catalyst that brings it all together. We threw a leg over the updated SB160 for the last two months to see how the subtle changes add up.

 

Vital Tester, Jonny Simonetti, and gordo take you through the new 160mm-travel Yeti SB160 with updated Switch Infinity suspension.

2023 Yeti SB160 Turq T3 Highlights

  • Turq Carbon Frame material/construction
  • (29)-inch wheels
  • 160mm of rear wheel travel // 170mm fork travel
  • Updated Switch Infinity suspension design
  • 64-degree head angle
  • 77.5-degree effective seat tube angle
  • Size-specific chainstay lengths
  • Fully guided internal cable routing
  • Boost 148mm rear hub spacing
  • Threaded bottom bracket
  • UDH Compatibility
  • Dual-density downtube protection
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Measured weight (size XL, no pedals): 33.15 pounds (15.04 kg)
  • MSRP: $10,500 USD
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Strengths

  • A blast to ride
  • Geometry and suspension tune provide a balanced ride
  • Handles any and all types of terrain well
  • Performs well both cruising or pushed to its limit
  • Very quiet

Weaknesses

  • Price
  • For some riders, lack of onboard geometry adjustments might be a miss
  • Lack of internal frame storage or accessory mounts
  • Switch Infinity adds another piece to the maintenance list
  • Higher rise bars would be nice
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Four years after launching the wildly successful SB150, Yeti relied heavily on the feedback from its enduro race team to develop the new SB160 and build on the success of its predecessor. As the brand’s flagship enduro race bike, the SB160 is targeted at riders looking for a long-travel competition machine or those just wanting a widely capable bike that is comfortable to ride all day. Yeti has achieved both of those goals.

Frame Details

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Cable routing is handled by ports taken from Yeti's 160e e-bike and cables are fully guided with internal tubing. Molded frame protection is also borrowed from the 160e with the addition of a dual-density downtube protector composed of a hard plastic outer shell and pliable rubber inner layer. There is no frame storage or tool mounts anywhere on the frame, but Yeti offers Occam frame straps with BOA and Dynaplug kits which are just as handy. An impressive detail of the new SB160 compared to the SB150 is the sleek design of the downtube and bottom bracket which boasts 35mm more ground clearance. All pivot bearings (standard sized, Enduro bearings) are now pressed into links rather than carbon to increase durability, operate more smoothly and ensure perfect alignment.

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Updated Switch Infinity Suspension Design

Yeti’s Switch Infinity system works by changing the direction of the axle path throughout the rear wheel travel. Instead of a lower linkage, the mechanism changes the path via Kashima-coated sliders which have been optimized for the new bike. Yeti says they have decreased friction and maintenance requirements within the Switch Infinity system by using updated bearings, seals, and hardware. The updated Switch Infinity components are retro-fittable to old frames. Kinematics of the SB160 run a 17% progression rate at the end of the stroke to simplify shock tuning and setup.

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Geometry

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The turquoise brand’s venture into the world of modern geo is subtle but significant. The SB160 head tube angles are half a degree slacker across all sizes to 64 degrees and reach numbers have grown 5mm. As reach numbers grow between frame sizes, so do chainstay lengths which are now size-specific. The SB150 had short, 433mm chainstays across all sizes. Seat tube angles steepen to 77.5-degrees effective. The SB160 also adds a XXL frame size 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 64-degree head tube angle, roomy-but-not-insane 510mm reach, 443mm chainstay length and 1302mm wheelbase providing a stable yet maneuverable foundation.

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Yeti SB160 Complete Build Kits and Prices

Two frame options of the SB160 are offered in five build kids; three high-end Turq T models and two C Series trims. The C series kits start at $6,700 for the C1 with a Shimano SLX groupset and $7,000 for the C2 with SRAM GX. Both C Series bikes feature FOX Performance suspension and DT Swiss E1900 wheelsets. The C series bikes do not use the updated Switch Infinity components, however.

Turq T kits use the enhanced Turq carbon layup, new Switch Infinity pieces, and all feature FOX Factory suspension (38 Fork and Float X2), and SRAM Code RSC brakes. Wheels across the three Turq builds are handled by alloy DT Swiss EX1700s. Prices start at $9,100 for the T1 utilizing a mostly SRAM GX groupset with X01 derailleur, $10,500 for the T3 (our test bike) built with a combination of SRAM X01 and XX1 AXS components, rocketing up to $12,000 for the T3 featuring a full XX1 AXS groupset, Cane Creek 110 headset, FOX Factory Transfer dropper post and Ergon saddle. If you want to build an SB160 from the ground-up, the Turq frame will set you back a whopping $5,000 with a Fox Factory Float X2 shock.

On The Trail

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We first laid our eyes on the SB160 in Breckenridge, Colorado back in September at the press camp Yeti put together. Our first ride on the bike was just outside of Keystone with 3,000 feet of descending after a shuttle. Then we hit a quick 1,500ft climb which punched us in the face considering lack of life at altitude and the ride topping out near 12,500 ft. After catching our breath, we were in for a technical top bit through a boulder field followed by some choppy, high-speed traverses through the trees. The second trail consisted of a much mellower climbing portion and a significantly steeper descent, littered with roots, narrow traverses and relatively high trail speed. The remainder of our test period was spent at South Mountain in Phoenix, AZ and other regional trails that are littered with rocks and harsh edges.

Descending Performance

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The SB160 is a very comfortable bike to ride fast. The posture while descending favors a more forward attack position, and we felt a heightened sense of confidence leaning forward into just about any section. Attacking trails we’d never ridden before proved to be a rewarding experience and the SB160 took very little time to feel comfortable aboard. While this was great for most trails, our arms were a bit stretched out on steeper sections. We switched to a higher rise bar (38mm compared to the stock 20mm rise) which allowed for a more upright position when centered and ability to get more reward on extreme steeps. This further inspired our confidence and we never looked back.

Cornering is best described as easy to pitch and initiate turns with a high level of traction on both wheels. There is a safe feeling that can be broken loose for fun or remain planted for speed on demand. This feeling is translated through any situation on the bike. We could float through square-edged hits or jib off of side booters effortlessly aboard the SB160. To top it all off, our test bike was incredibly quiet.

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Rear Suspension Performance

The rear suspension of the SB160 makes it hard to imagine finding the limit of the bike. The Yeti-developed shock tune inside the FOX Factory Float X2 creates an incredibly balanced feeling front-to-rear with no hiccups across a multitude of terrain. It feels great attacking into the rough, provides a comfortable feeling when leaning into turns, and generates speed quite well on trails that aren't as steep.

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Climbing

While most enduro riders may not enjoy the climb, they know it's part of the equation and the SB160 embraces the ascent. Comfortable in the saddle for all-day outings paired with an ability to billy-goat up steep, technical terrain, the new Yeti excels when gaining elevation. Our home trails near South Mountain are often most fun on a trail bike, but the SB160 has us re-thinking what a daily driver could be with its efficiency and ability to keep momentum in rolling terrain.

Geometry

The only adverse part of the geometry we found was the lower stack height accentuated by a longer reach number. As noted, the addition of higher rise bars put us into the sweet spot. Yeti's approach to simplicity in the geometry department may not be every rider's favorite decision. There is no ability to tweak geometry or suspension performance via flip chips or other built-in features.

Build Kit

The build kit on our SB160 Turq T3 was solid, there are no standout pieces that concern us. The hardest pill to swallow is the price of $10,500 on a bike that comes with an alloy wheelset (the T4 at $12,000 comes with them too!). The DT Swiss EX1700s are tried, true and there is nothing to fault with them on the trail. Compared to other bike brands with builds in this category, however, a $10,000 bike will come with carbon wheels. Alloy-wheeled options will generally be a good $1,000 cheaper or more. Price-griping aside, the bike and its parts performed flawlessly.

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Fork / Shock Performance

The FOX 38 made for an easy setup with the settings we normally run, and was as reliable as ever for the duration of our test period. We left the shock tuning up to Yeti staff at the press camp. Their in-house-developed tune inside the FOX Factory Float X2 provided nearly identical characteristics to the front and was one of our favorite things about the SB160.

Settings (from closed) for our 225lb test rider

FOX 38

  • 120 psi with one volume spacer
  • HSC -4
  • LSC -4
  • HSR -5
  • LSR -4

FOX Float X2

  • 235 psi
  • HSC -4
  • LSC -Closed
  • LSR -11
  • HSR -4

 

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Tire Performance

The combination of Maxxis Assegai front and Minion DHR II rear tires is one of our favorite combos and caters to the capability of the SB160 perfectly. Running 27 psi front and 29 psi rear, we had ample braking traction at the rear with the predictability of Minion side knobs, while the front provides the consistent and sure-footed feeling the Assegai is known for. The EXO+ casing has handled the sharp rocks and big smashes without flinching.

Wheel Performance

As stated, the DT Swiss EX1700 performed flawlessly for the duration of our test period even with a few cringe-worthy square edge hits and pings. The 30mm inner width gives a solid base to lean into with enough tire volume to find traction over loose terrain. We were happy to see both wheels are still straight after a little over a month of abuse from the trails in Colorado and Arizona.

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Brake Performance

The SRAM Code RSC brakes paired with 220/200mm rotors performed great on all trails ridden. The larger 220mm front rotor paired well with the bike's intentions providing that extra stopping power when going a little faster than anticipated. We had no issues with fade on descents and only required a slight pad contact adjustment after about a month of use.

Drivetrain Performance

The SRAM AXS drivetrain required some slight micro trim adjustments to get shifts right, but was then trouble-free for the remainder of the test period.

Long-Term Durability

We don’t foresee any long-term durability concerns with the frame of the SB160 nor any of the build kit components. The Switch Infinity components do pique our maintenance curiosity, however. We've seen some of the discussion on our forum about maintenance times on the current generation of SB bikes and hope the updates reduce those. The ring of grease on the Switch Infinity stanchions had fine sand stuck to it regularly, but never malfunctioned in any way. The Switch being more similar to an actual suspension component than a link and pivot bearing, we would be curious to see how long-term use affects the system.

We had zero issue with paint chipping because our test bike came fitted with a clear frame protection kit that is available to Yeti dealers when purchasing a bike. Should customers have an issue, Yeti backs up the frame with a 1-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?

Responsive to rider input and rewarding to ride, the SB160 is a lightweight heavy hitter that provides the best of both worlds. The bike handles predictably and is sure to inspire confidence. While most of our time being spent on jagged rock and square edge hits, on every trail ridden we found the more speed, the better. Of all the trails ridden during our test period, we had the most fun riding trails with lots of momentum on tap. The rear suspension performance was a standout feature of the bike for us as it positively impacted the ride by tracking very well through chatter and providing traction everywhere. In combination with the performance of the suspension, the build kit on our T3 test bike gave us all of the performance we could ask for.

The biggest problem with the SB160? The price. While the EX1700s are one of the best aluminum wheelset options on the market, we would like to see carbon rims on any bike over $10,000 despite the aluminum wheels being what the team runs. If cost was no option, we would absolutely buy one for ourselves and suggest anyone looking for a true do-it-all enduro bike to consider the SB160...if you have money to burn.

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

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Vital MTB Rating

  • Climbing: 5 stars
  • Descending: 5 stars
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars
  • Value: 3.5 stars
  • Overall Impression: 5 stars

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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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