Recently, Yeti revamped and updated most of the bikes in their lineup and in doing so they re-shuffled the deck, so to speak. The 29″ SB130 was replaced with the 29″ SB140 that is currently on test in this article. The 27.5″ SB140 of old became the new SB135 and kept its smaller wheels. The SB115 became the SB120 and the SB150 became the SB160. With this shake up, every bike received some very nice updates both from a design standpoint as well as to their respective geometry. Overall I think Yeti improved how the lineup is stratified, with each model doing a better job of meeting the current demands of whichever category it inhabits. Perhaps that was all just a long winded way of saying that Yeti updated their bikes and they’re all better. Sitting smack dab in the middle of the range in terms of duty is the SB140. It’s their “one bike to rule them all” model. I’ve spent the last few months putting some big days in on the mid-travel rig in the LR T3 Turq model (LR stands for Lunch Ride in Yeti’s world), which receives a front travel bump from 150mm to 160mm compared to non-LR models. Anyhow, read on to see how this bike has been working out for me…
- 29″ front and rear
- 160mm front travel / 140mm rear travel
- S, M, L (tested), XL, XXL
- Size specific chain stay lengths and seat tube angles
- Switch Infinity rear suspension system
- Threaded bottom bracket
- Universal Derailleur Hanger
- Lifetime warranty
- $8,800 USD as tested
Up front we find Yeti’s in-house Turq 35 carbon fiber handlebar at 780mm width. I found the upsweep/backsweep combo to be quite comfortable and it exhibited a great ride quality. That said, there is just a single 20mm rise model and I’d love to see higher rise options spec’d on the bigger bikes as I ran my stem all the way up on the steerer tube, but still could have used more height. The 50mm length Burgtec stem was stout and had plenty of bite on the steerer, preventing slippage on minor get offs and slide outs.
The suspension is a combination of a Fox 36 and a Float X at flagship “Factory” levels front and rear. The fork features a Grip2 damper and externally adjustable high and low speed compression while the rear shock offers a lockout as well as a single rebound and low speed compression adjuster. These are both premium bits and their performance bore out beautifully on trail.
Going over a few of the details, Yeti’s iconic headbadge graces the front end of the SB140. Throughout the bike, and the entire 2023 lineup for that matter, Yeti made some really nice improvements to the cable and hose management. Each piece runs internally and at many points of entry and exit the ports are fixed with actual metal hardware to keep things in place. Needless to say the bike was very quiet in this regard.
The spec level on this model features a mix of SRAM’s X01 and GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain parts with GX carbon fiber cranks rolling on a threaded bottom bracket. Unsurprisingly the performance from this group was excellent. A 30T cassette paired with a 10-52T cassette provided tons of range for big rides and the shift quality was excellent, as we’ve come to expect from Eagle drivetrains over the years.
This SB140 rolls on DT Swiss’ excellent XM1700 wheelset, tgat features a 36T star ratchet system in the rear hub, which has tool free serviceability and has been a proven winner over the years. The hubs are laced via straight pull spokes to 30mm inner diameter rims. They offer a pleasant, neutral ride quality and are simply the kind of wheels that you just don’t even notice on trail, which in my opinion is a good thing. They’re strong, light and stiff enough, plus the hubs are built for the long haul.
As far as the tires go, we’ve got a combination of Maxxis’s Minion DHF up front and DHR2 out back. The tread patterns on this tire combination makes them a great all around pairing that will hold its own in most conditions. That said, if you ride in super rocky areas you may want to consider bumping up from the stock EXO casings to thicker EXO+ casings – at the very least on the rear tire.
SRAM’s tried and true Code RSC brakes…Having the lever reach and contact point adjustable externally and tool free is always nice and I found the 200mm front and 180mm rotor combination suitable given the SB140’s duty level.
Regarding some of the contact points in the cockpit, I think Yeti did a commendable job of spec’ing solid, proven bits. Fox’s Transfer seatpost has a great lever feel which allows you to modulate the return speed better than anything else on the market and having 175mm of travel was warmly welcome as I’m long in the limbs and love steeper terrain. The ODI Elite Pro grips offer a nice balance of grabbiness and cush while coming in at a widely agreeable thickness. Lastly, the Yeti branded Silverado is tough but comfortable. All told, in the cockpit – an area many brands tend to cut costs and corners – I had no major complaints!
Lastly, a quick spotlight on a couple of bits that keep things protected and quiet. Yeti’s new downtubes gained quite a bit of ground clearance on their 2023 lineup, but also picked up a very nicely designed guard that is a combination of harder plastic as well as softer rubber. It is removable via allen screws and offers broad coverage of the area most at risk from errant rocks. I also really liked the approach to the chainstay protection. A common sight these days, there are a series of raised nubs which quiet chain slap, but I also think the extra coverage going up the bottom of the seatstay and underneath the front of the chainstay add to the SB140’s silent demeanor.
Yeti SB140 Geometry
While each of Yeti’s 2023 bikes got a bit more aggressive in terms of geometry, a quick glance at the chart above let’s you know that the SB140 is still slightly conservative and clearly the intention is to have a bike that climbs as well as it descends. It’s no one trick pony, that is certain…
On the trail
Starting with setup, Yeti’s guide was absolutely spot on for my desired outcome and I’d imagine it’s likely quite accurate for most other folks as well. Refreshingly, the SB140 arrived with the perfect amount of volume reducers in the fork and the correct sized volume reducer in the rear shock. I simply followed the setup guide and never once felt the need to change a single aspect of the suspension. That’s mighty impressive.
At 6′ tall I found the size Large fit perfectly, as it should. The 480mm reach made for the right amount of room to spread out and offered up the perfect stability:maneuverability ratio. The 77º seat angle provided a very upright body position on the climbs, which made the long grinds and nasty punches both comfortable and efficient. As far as climbing was concerned from a kinematics standpoint, the SB140 is difficult to beat. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s the best mid-travel rig I’ve tested in that aspect. There is a kinetic energy about it that is difficult to put into words. It has loads of pep and pop with a firm platform to push off of, but almost paradoxically, the traction was somehow endless as well. I’m personally not really the type of rider who really enjoys pointing my bike uphill but the SB140 had me seeking out funky, challenging climbs because I found them quite enjoyable to conquer on this rig.
On the descents I found the SB140 to be a treat as well, but I would caveat that by saying that this isn’t really the downhiller’s mid-travel bike. Surgical precision is baked into its DNA and it’s more of a scalpel than it is a meat cleaver. To a certain degree I think the SB140 is a product of its (local) environment where it was developed in the alpine terrain of Colorado. With a fairly steep 65º head angle it’s not really a plow and thus it shines more in terrain that’s a bit more technical or even awkward – trails that are difficult to navigate and require more finesse and rider input. Naturally that means that it shines less in the steeps or at ultra high speeds, although I do think that a taller handlebar could actually go a long ways in those arenas at a relatively low cost. Don’t get me wrong, none of that means the bike exhibited a harsh ride whatsoever. Rather, the suspension is flawlessly tuned and I think the SB140’s general disposition has more to do with its geometry more than anything else.
On the topic of suspension, the bike has a relatively linear 14% progression so while it’s not really a candidate for a coil shock, Yeti and Fox have worked out an excellent tune with the Float X that hits all the right marks in terms of being supple off the top, supportive in the middle and resistant to harsh bottom outs at the end of the stroke. Something else that’s worth noting is that quite often bikes that are firm, poppy, supportive etc. (choose your adjective) have the trade off of transmitting more feedback through the pedals or even exhibiting excessive brake jack or squat. This was not the case with the SB140 and on the suspension front it was all upsides.
Getting into some of the frame’s features, if you’re looking for a bike with a great deal of adjustments or neat little features like in-frame storage, unfortunately this isn’t the bike. The SB140 cashes in most of its engineering currency on its suspension layout and its carefully chosen layup (more on that shortly). With that said, there is a room for a very good sized water bottle and there is a nice tidy location on the frame to strap spares bits on in front of the rear shock. I also can’t overstate enough how dialed the cable/hose routings and frame protection is. Both of these aspects made for a freakishly quiet bike, leading to a distraction-free ride.
As far as on-trail frame attributes are concerned, I think that the Switch Infinity layout lends itself to a very sturdy feel in terms of side-to-side stiffness. The oversized boxy area that houses the main pivot and Kashima sliders likely deserves some credit for that. Additionally, I’m no engineer but bikes with closed off front and rear triangles seem to have improved rigidity due to the lack of structural interruptions for pivot points. I also think that sturdy linkage parts that are kept intentionally short also help in this realm.
There is also the fact that Yeti’s bell crank linkage is designed specifically to alleviate side load on the rear shock, thus improving traction and reducing wear and tear on the shock. With all of that in mind, there was also something special about the frame’s carbon fiber layup. Carbon frames are a peculiar thing and being a premium material in and of itself is not enough. With the wrong type of construction or too much material here and not enough there carbon frames certainly can feel a bit dead and uninspiring. On the contrary, the SB140 felt more resilient, inspiring and intuitively connected to the trail than 90% of the bikes I throw a leg over. In short, it had a very high end feel – as it should given its price point.
If there is one thing that is a little difficult to contend with it’s that this bike doesn’t exactly scream value. As a boutique brand, that is standard fare with Yeti, and given the kinds of options available with consumer direct brands that have entered the fray, this model doesn’t boast a bang for the buck that will blow you away. It does have flagship suspension and brakes, plus there is the added bonus that Yeti didn’t cut any corners with the cockpit, or anything else for that matter, but the real standout is in the frame itself. For the discerning rider, that is where the value is to be found.
With the above in mind, from an objective standpoint the SB140 is an incredibly good bike. While it lacks any adjustability, it is flawlessly thought out in its suspension, frame design and features. It’s quiet, freakishly efficient and depending on their local terrain and what they want in a bike, lots of riders could consider its geometry flawless as well. That said, other riders may be looking for a bike with a bigger appetite for speed, steeps and nasty terrain.
Personally, I think those riders might be looking in the wrong category altogether and should lean away from a mid-travel bike and look into enduro bikes that lean on the more nimble side, thus bridging the gap between All Mountain and Enduro. In any case, it’s not the bike that you grind up a long fire road climb then bomb down haggard terrain with reckless abandon. Rather, the SB140 is the perfect bike for people who ride on varied, undulating terrain – it’s tailor made for places like Sedona or the Whistler trails outside of the bike park. All in all the SB140 is a nice evolutionary step forward from the SB130, and I’ve really enjoyed my time on it.