As it turns out, a new bike, with components from 2022, will ride a whole lot better than a top of the line bike from 2015. Who would have guessed?! But it all seriousness, each year I’d see the new bikes get released with incremental improvements and I could never really justify spending all that money on a new bike. Well after waiting and saving for 3 years, I finally pulled the trigger and bought my dream mountain bike, a Yeti SB 130 Lunch Ride.
Overall, I was looking for a do-it-all trail bike to handle the long days on the trails around here in Park City, lift-access terrain, and in the technical features in the desert landscape of Moab. The trails I normally ride are either the long, smooth cross country style rides, all the way to steep, rocky, rooty, technical downhill. Normally, asking any one bike to do everything would be a silly task, but I really do believe I found a great trail bike in the Yeti SB130 which falls towards the Enduro end of the Trail Bike category, but still pedals a really well. So far, I’ve had the bike for three months, and even though it’s early in the 2022 riding season, I’ve thrown everything at this bike and it ate it up with ease!
First up, the technical desert trails found at Lunch Loops area in Grand Junction Colorado. Admittedly, I love the difficult climbing sections just as much as I love the downhill, and the Yeti made the climb up Tabeguache a piece of cake. The 1×12 SRAM Eagle gearing allowed me to keep high cadence as I navigated each of the step-ups and step sections that never seem to let-up. But turning around to rip down the gnarly Lemon Squeeze and Moto trail, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. The suspension, even though it’s only 140mm of travel, absorbed every drop from the small chunky 1 footers to the longer deeper hits. And even though the bike was longer, and slacker than my previous Giant Trance, this felt so comfortable and handled tight as my smaller bike. Needless to say, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the day.
Next up, while I waited for the snow to melt on the Wasatch Back here in Park City, it was the early season riding with laps on Bobsled in Salt Lake City, Glenwild in Park City, and Round Valley in Park City. What I really got to test on these rides was the pedaling efficiency. Everyone has concerns with pedaling efficiency on a full suspension mountain bike, especially as they get longer and slacker. I’ll tell you right now, I had PRs on every single climb that I went out on in the spring… before I was in shape to ride. These are long, not incredibly steep, climbs, but with the gear ratio on the Yeti, as well as the switch-infinity linkage that prevents pedal-bob. Of course there is a lock-out switch, but over the few months I’ve used it maybe once or twice, but only to test it out. I’ve never felt like I needed a lockout to make any climb easier no matter how smooth or steep it was.
Lastly, my favorite part of the new bike has been the brakes. If you asked me last year, I would’ve said expensive brakes are a waste of money. Because I was ignorant, I thought brakes were either on or off, little did I know. Ripping down steep trails here in Park City like Moose House and Insurgent, I felt so much more in control of my speed, with these new brakes, which directly translates to going faster. I knocked off 8 and 9 seconds on both of those trails from my best times. The SRAM CODE Rs that come with this Yeti build have modulation. I can pull on the brake levers and find a wide spot where a smaller percentage of brake pressure is being applied so that I do not end up locking out the front/rear brakes to not skid the tires. But then when I need the hard braking, these brakes provide the necessary force to stop the bike faster than I ever thought was capable. Admittedly, this description just sounds like, “Hey, you pull the lever slightly on any brakes to get less brake pressure, why do I need fancy brakes?” Well, the modulation allows a large percentage of the brake lever’s angle of rotation to be in the sweet spot, but provide enough back-pressure on your fingers to be able to rip down the trail while applying hard pressure in your fingers without locking out the brakes so you don’t have to be so gentle as your ripping downhill.
It is a bit embarrassing to say, but I couldn’t not believe how much better this bike was from my previous bike. Granted, there is about 7 years of R&D between the release dates of the two bikes, but it’s still amazing. By the definition of taking less time to climb and descend, this bike is definitively faster. The components are shift smoother, pedal more efficiently, and eat up chunky terrain like no big deal. I couldn’t be happier with my (much procrastinated) decision to finally buy a Yeti SB 130 and couldn’t be more stoked for this riding season.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.