The Yeti SB140 fills a niche as a well-rounded 27.5-inch bike that can do it all with a penchant for downhill. The SB140 impressed our tester with its versatility and great manners in this review.
On Monday, Yeti Cycles announced its second brand-new bike for 2019, the SB140, with 140mm rear suspension and 160mm front travel. It’s got the modern geometry of the rest of Yeti’s line. Some might call it the little brother to the recently released SB165. But nothing about this bike feels little.
It’s a serious piece of machinery for fun on trails that left us smiling on climbs and elated on descents. If you’re a trail rider who errs on the side of enduro and you want a one-bike quiver that won’t make you feel like you’ve compromised (at all), let us introduce you to your new ride.
In short: We tested the Yeti SB140 on two continents through a variety of trails and environments. We took it up sustained climbs; down steep, technical descents; and on singletrack, rocks, roots, mud, and everything else hills and mountains throw at a biker. The SB140 was so easy-riding, we slayed our home trails faster, and with more confidence and finesse than ever before.
The bike steered precisely, and the suspension absorbed chattery root mats, rubbly rock corners, hips, hops, and berms exceptionally well.
Testing the SB140
We tested the SB140 in Bovec, Slovenia, on an hour-plus climb up jeep track into a steep, tight, leaf-covered forest trail. We opened up the brakes and trusted the bike to sail through.
In Vermont, we rode sweaty rock lines and fast, switchbacking corners with all the East Coast features like mud; surprisingly slick, mossy cobbles; and downed trees protruding into the trail but hidden by ferns for the month.
We climbed up and over mountain passes and explored barely visible, old-school handbuilt lines with punchy ups and downs dotted and crisscrossed by wheel-grabbing forest detritus. And, on one trail, there was a surprise 3-mile climb at the end of a big day.
Yeti SB140 MTB Review
I’ve been mostly riding long-travel 29er bikes for the past year and loving them. But before that, I owned Yeti’s SB5. I loved that bike so much I owned three different iterations over the years, but I’d moved on to 29ers. And I had developed a bit of an attitude about 27.5-inch-wheel bikes, feeling like once you go big you never go back.
It was pretty clear to me that nothing could achieve the speed and smoothness of the SB130 and SB150.
And that’s true. But the SB140 might be the most fun and truly versatile bike I’ve ever ridden.
Hopping on this bike was like reconnecting with an old friend who, a decade later, isn’t fat, boring, and sedentary, but has six-pack abs, a cooler of beer, and wants to party. Other bikes in Yeti’s line — the SB100, 150, and 165 — didn’t replace previous Yeti models (except for the SB130, which Yeti said replaced the SB5.5). They were new models for a new ride experience.
Throw a leg over the SB140, however, and the bike is unmistakably familiar. There’s no learning curve; it has the snappy feel of the SB5. It’s easy to pedal, quick to accelerate, and immediately responsive to your pedal or steering input. It feels like coming home.
On tight switchbacks when other riders dismounted, I rolled through the corners thanks to this bike’s exceptionally precise steering and total balanced feel courtesy of the kinematics it shares with the rest of the Yeti line.
On descents, I never fretted over line choice because the Fox 36 fork, which is a step more aggressive and stiff than the Fox 34 specced on the SB5, and the DPX2 shock tuned with Yeti’s recommended settings. The bike gave me superpowers on any trail I pointed it up or down, including a backyard trail with a gap jump and steep up gap into a slimy, steep, rocky punch followed by a series of skinnies and a poop-your-pants roll.
For those not familiar with Yeti Cycles, the brand uses a mechanism that looks like a secondary shock built into the frame called the Switch Infinity. It makes Yeti suspension feel bottomless and also keeps the suspension from bobbing when you climb, even when the suspension is in the fully open position.
The only thing I really didn’t love about this bike was the Maxxis Rekon rear tire, and that’s personal preference. It’s a step up from the Maxxis Ardents Yeti previously specced on its fleet. And it’s a solid choice if you’re riding in the Rockies, Yeti’s home, where it’s loose, sandy, and dry.
In East Coast conditions, meaning somewhere between moist and slimy, I occasionally spun out on rooty climbs when I tried to pedal with my rear wheel on a slick root.
And, not to be shallow, but Yeti’s SB140 colors are the best they’ve ever released: a sultry matte gray, a deep tomato orange, and, of course, Turq.
Yeti SB140 Dissected
Yeti president Chris Conroy said the company isn’t thinking about its line by wheel size but by what the bike is designed to do. “There is so much discussion about 27.5- versus 29-inch wheel size, but that isn’t the correct way to identify a bike,” said Conroy. “We’re dividing our line by bikes to rip and bikes to race.”
Bikes to rip include Yeti’s SB130, SB140, and SB165, and bikes to race include Yeti’s SB 100 and SB150. Conroy continued, “We’re really careful about minimizing models in our line. Don’t want to slice the high-end bike thinner and thinner.”
The SB140 sits firmly in the rip category. Sure, you could race your local Wednesday night enduro series, but this bike is for the rider who’s more likely to race their friends for a round of beers, on the climb or the descent.
Yeti SB140 Compared
If you’re a rider who really wanted a Fox 36 fork on your SB5, you probably over-shocked it or upgraded to the lunch ride. You’ll find this bike more playful and balanced. It hits the trail sweet spot with slack geometry, reduced fork offset, and descending chops more akin to the now-retired SB6.
But it has a steeper seat tube angle than the SB5 or SB6 that’s in line with Yeti’s SB130 and SB150, and a modern feel to the geometry that makes the bike handle better than you can imagine a bike could. The wheelbase is longer than the SB5 or the SB6, but this bike isn’t sluggish in any way.
Yeti has dramatically reduced the standover of the SB140, which means it’s easier to move around underneath you, it fits more riders, and it can take a longer dropper. The Fox Transfer post the bike is specced with is sized to match the bike size, from 125 mm in the smallest sizes to 170 mm in the largest.
This bike comes in sizes from XS to XL, fitting riders from 4’11” to 6’7″. It holds a water bottle in the rear triangle, and Yeti upgraded the downtube guard to resist use and abuse.
With the launch of the SB165 and SB140, Yeti also announced it’s getting rid of its Beti line. “The women in our office and on our team told us Beti needed to go away,” said Conroy. “We want to get people on great bikes, and we don’t feel there’s a need to tell women they need a bike that’s a different color.”
There is now so much adjustability in suspension, there’s no longer need for a lighter rider shock tune.
Yeti SB140 Builds
Yeti offers five builds: three Turq, its premium carbon construction; two Carbon, its lower-cost carbon construction; and a frame-only Turq option. Droppers, now with a Race Face lever, and cranks have been standardized across Yeti models to 170 mm — except on the largest-size SB100s.
The rear triangle on all SB140s will be the same, whether it’s a Turq or Carbon build. Yeti’s new universal rear triangle is lighter than Carbon builds of the past but beefier than previous Turq builds.
With the launch of the SB165 and SB140, Yeti upgraded its shock calculator. Select your kit and your bike’s specs, punch in your weight, and the calculator will give you settings specific to your setup.
Best of all, every 2019 model year and later Yeti bikes now come with a lifetime warranty for the original owner. If you crash your bike and break it, Yeti has a crash replacement program to help you get back out on the trail. Register your bike, and you’ll get a sweet package in the mail — Yeti’s brand book, a Yeti Tribe flag, and an invite to all Yeti Tribe Gatherings, both in the U.S. and abroad.