Many of you are VERY familiar with the Ibis Ripmo, and you’ve likely seen a video or two of my own Ripmo riding. However, when looking at potential test bikes to get in for 2021, the list had plenty of great options to compare to the Ripmo. Nothing is wrong with either my Ripmo V2 or AF, but life is short, and it’s super fun to try some differing rides! My buddy Nate Hills was raving about his own SB130, so this was on the top of the “dream test bike” list.
Before we get into this, I want to give a BIG thanks to Jenson USA and Yeti Cycles for making this possible. Jenson USA sponsored quite a few of my videos featuring the SB130, and Jenson USA is a leading online retailer for Yeti Cycles here in the United States. Jenson arranged for a loaner SB130 from Yeti, and I have no affiliation with Yeti Cycles. I am proudly supported by my friends at PNW Components and Industry Nine, so big thanks to them!
First off, from the 10,000 foot level, what is the SB130LR? This bike has 29″ wheels front and rear, is designed for aggressive trail or light enduro riding, and features either 130 or 137mm rear travel. The fork is either 150 or 160mm of travel. The “LR” designation stands for “lunch ride”, as the LR variation of this bike pays homage to the set ups of many of the Yeti employees’ personal bikes. Turns out that the SB130 can fit a longer stroke rear shock, which bumps up the travel slightly, and the front triangle is stout enough for either the 150 or 160 (LR spec) forks. Most of what I am noting here is applicable to both models, but in my opinion, there is no reason not to go for the LR variant. When we were looking for our own SB130, we couldn’t find a Lunch Ride version, so we went with the normal, and it’s been fine. But an LR has no draw backs IMO.
Before ever riding this bike, I wasn’t entirely sure what other bikes to compare with it, as based on travel numbers, I initially wanted to compare it to the Ibis Ripley AF. But after talking to Yeti, they told me it actually rode much closer to the Ripmo. At first, I doubted that, but after spending some time on it, I’d actually have to agree. I think most of that comes from the use of a sout 36mm stanchion fork, especially at 160mm of travel. FWIW, I am 5’8″ and 170 lbs, and all the bikes I ride are a size medium- regardless if Yeti, Ibis, Norco, Evil, Orbea, Niner, Rocky Mountain, etc.
Let’s discuss something that many of you are excited about- the suspension! The kinetmatics of the SB130 are really good and the rear end feels great. But what I think is really special about this bike is the leverage ratio which creates a nice progression through the travel. On my stock SB130LR, the DPX2 shock feels as though it has a pretty good sized volume reducer in it- I am guilty of having not checked. However, I can say that this bike is by far the most supportive (at the end of the stroke) of all the bikes I rode in 2021.
The bike has a firmer feel, though never harsh, and the more I push into the back of the bike, the more supportive it gets. This is a really positive thing in my book, and it fits very well with the modern geometry. I don’t bottom the bike out on big landings, nor do I bottom on steep take offs, nor do I bottom when I’m slapping into corners. That extra progression has been one of my favorite things about the SB130.
I have not had any maintenance issues with the switch infinity system since the bike showed up, though I will admit, I have not been doing anything special to it in terms of maintenance. Yes, I’ve seen photos on the internet of worn out parts, but that has not been my personal experience. In fact, the bike instilled enough confidence that we actually bought one! Overall Yeti did an awesome job of designing this suspension.
My riding style is very active, and I most enjoy a more firm rear suspension design, something where you push into the bike, and it rockets you forward thanks to that pump, or you can push into any sort of take off and then boost really high. I often land well past established landing, and the firmer designs tent to deal with this sort of impact a lot better. The Cascade Link was not a massive change, but it removed some of the firmness that works so well with my style. Many other riders will enjoy a Cascade link, but for me it’s not a “must do” change. I’d spend money on new tires and replacement brake pads first!
To me, the geometry of a bike is far more important than the actual suspension performance. When I talk suspension performance, I want something that will help take care of mistakes, and give me more traction, both which the Yeti does very well. But all these bikes I’ve ridden the past few years the rear suspension has been pretty darn good. The main things I notice are when a bike bottoms out too easily, or when a bike is swinging around “like a swing set” and the geometry is changing a ton. If a bike is too active like that, it yields a less predicable feel, and that dampens my confidence.
The Yeti rides extremely balanced (yes, even with 160/137 travel numbers, a 23mm difference wasn’t a problem) and I am able to predict how the bike will respond in a given situation. This is also partly why I am such a terrible reviewer of mountain bikes. I have a very unique riding style that is very aggressive, and I’ve been riding for over 25 years, so I’m relatively smooth. So the things I look for in a bike might not be the things that are super important to you. But the geometry is what I mostly notice, and the Yeti is absolutely spot on.
I feel the Yeti corners extremely well, and I don’t think that boils down to just any one, single reason. The bike has a great balance, and that in turn means it’s very predictable. Also, part of why cornering feels so good, is the frame flex. I had heard this bike wasn’t the stiffest, and my carbon Ripmo is certainly stiffer. But the way flex feels on the Yeti is not like the Ripmo AF, where I do complain about the flex. The Yeti flexes in a predicable way, meaning when you push harder, it will then give a little bit more. It was never “wind up, wind up then whoosh” and experience the flex all at once. That type of flex creates a loss of out of control. The SB130 has got a more progressive “easing” into the flex. Corning is a great instance where this can be a little more forgiving. Whereas a stiffer bike it is easier to slide out, or get caught up in some chatter forcing you off line.
The Yeti climbs exceptionally well the geometry is very comfortable for me, my body type, and my climbing style. Which is generally going slow and sitting down… The seat tube angle is nicely steep, though it’s not so steep that when I get to a technical section of trail I feel super high up in the air. In fact, when it came time to decide which bike to bring on my BC backcountry trip, the Yeti was an obvious choice. I was going to have some 5000-6000 ft days with around 20-30 miles of riding. The Yeti is one of the best climbing bikes, and when it comes to the descent, having the full 160mm fork and modern, slack geometry makes it just as good both ways. Now if I were focusing on bike park riding, I’d probably go Evil Offering or Ibis Ripmo. But the Yeti is just a little easier to manage on a wider variety of terrain than those bikes.
The SB130 uses a Shimano press fit 92 bottom bracket, and it’s been over 10 months now, and I have had zero issues with it. In this day and age, the 92mm Shimano press fit bottom brackets hold up fine. However, I can’t speak on behalf any other press fit designs, as I’ve never ridden the other versions. But PF92 is what Shimano supports, and I am indeed a huge Shimano fan.
The last thing I wanted to touch on are wheels, when I first got the bike I threw on some 24 spoke Industry Nine Enduro 305 carbon wheels. 24 spokes is not a lot, but carbon rims are still very stiff, I really liked these wheels on the SB130. I tried some 32 spoke hubs but with the already stiff carbon rims it was little too much and took away from the balance of the bike. The 24 spoke wheels didn’t feel overly flexy, but the balance felt very natural, and the wheels earned my seal of approval.
Onto some of my issues, problems, and complaints. One thing frustrated me with this bike quite a bit and that was the lack of tire clearance. According to the literature, you can fit a 2.6 tire in the back, however, according to my experience, this is false. When I first got the bike, I tried a 2.6 WTB tire, and it rubbed the chainstay quite a bit (on a 30mm rim). I ended up running a 2.4 WTB Trailboss in back, then a Maxxis Aggressor 2.5WT. I like the 2.5WT, but I do wish I could fit a 2.6 in there because on more rough and off the grid trails, it is nice to have extra volume. This is a minor nit pick, the 2.6 tires aren’t as popular as the 2.5. Next complaint, this bike is EXPENSIVE, it’s a few hundred dollars more than the comparable Ibis’s and other brands bikes. Right now we’re at an interesting time where some brands had to raise their prices, and others have been delaying it for as long as possible.
Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride vs Ibis Ripmo (either AF or V2)
Comparing the SB130 to the Ripmo v2, the Ripmo definitely feels like more of a monster truck. It feels longer legged, even though it’s the same fork as the Lunch Ride you can tell it’s a touch bigger bike. The Ripmo rides like it’s a little bit longer, it feels like it’s a touch slacker and it feels like you can straight-line through stuff more easily. With the extra stiffness it feels a bit more bomber, so on more gnarly terrain, the Ripmo has an edge. However, the SB130 is more well rounded, and it will work better on the easier trails, and keep them still quite fun. The Yeti is little easier to turn/ change direction with than the Ripmo, as the harder you push the Yeti, the more it will give you.
Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride vs Ibis Ripley AF
Compared to the Ripley AF, the SB130 LR feels bigger. The Ripley feels like a smaller bike, and you end up over its limits more often. Coming down to Sedona, I would rather ride the SB130, as the Ripley has a 130 34mm fork compared to the SB130’s 160mm unit. The Ripley AF is a great bike but the SB130 is a little bit more capable and it’s going to work in a wider variety of situations than the Ripley. The Ripley AF is still an awesome option, if you can’t afford a SB130, then the Ripley AF is a great way to go. I will say I prefer the Ripley AF over the Ripley V4, mostly due to the slacker head tube and better (more progressive suspension)
Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride vs Orbea Occam
I do really like the Orbea Occam but it feels much smaller than the SB130 even though it has more travel (at least in back). For me the Occam is a softer, plusher suspension feel and it’s a shorter bike. It feels like there is more weight on the front wheel, to me the Occam is a better backwood gnarly trail bike and not super steep but more really chunky and raw terrain. The SB130 is again more well rounded than the Occam but on tighter more technical trails the Occam is really good and has the edge in those scenarios. If your average trail speed is 20 mph or faster than the Yeti is the better fit and if your average trail speed is 15 or under then the Occam will probably be just a little bit more fun and easier to handle on that terrain.
Yeti SB130 Lunch Ride vs Evil Offering
The Evil offering is so different than the Yeti! The Evil is much softer in terms of suspension, it feels much more plush and it feels like you have more traction on the Evil. At the same time the Evil is not going to feel as fast, you start pushing into the Evil and it’s going to articulate the backend and be cycling the suspension a lot more. Th Evil also feels like it a lower bike, it might be that it is sitting deeper in the suspension but I caught a lot more pedals on the Evil than the Yeti. The Evil feels torsionally stiffer then the Yeti, I also have an angle set and have over forked the Evil. So if I had to do a shuttle or bike park day this is the bike I would bring over the Yeti. The Evil feels like it needs gnarlier more “mountain bikey” trails where as the Yeti can handle that it is also suited for chill flow trails. The Evil is much more forgiving and is more of a trail center orientated bike and the Yeti is more of a race bike that’s less forgiving but takes off like a rocket ship. I’d rather do a long climb on the Yeti than the Evil.
Final thoughts: I came into this guilty of some preconceived notions… Not positive ones. However, I was TOTALLY wrong, this is a really good bike! Proven by the fact that we actually bought on ourselves, and after a year, I continue to ask Yeti if I can hold onto it for longer! For a LOT of the general riding population, the SB130 is an excellent choice. Is it the only choice? Nah. But it’s definitely a good one.
Learn more about the Yeti SB130 via my link to Jenson USA here: https://bit.ly/YetiSB130CLR2022JKW