Ni­cole For­mosa’s Yeti SB150

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These days my dreams have noth­ing to do with ma­te­rial things. As 40 ap­pears on the hori­zon, wish­ing for the health and hap­pi­ness of friends and fam­ily gen­er­ally takes prece­dence over pin­ing over the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal won­der. But then the Dream Builds pro­ject rolls around, and I find my­self lost in the pos­si­bil­i­ties of putting to­gether a bike that could truly take me any­where.

I spent most of last year on a long-travel 27.5 bike, and was con­tin­u­ally awestruck by just how far big bikes have come in terms of climb­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. I was truly blown away by how well the 170-mil­lime­ter-travel Ju­liana Strega shot up the steep, loose stretches of fire road that con­nect the sin­gle­track de­scents at my lo­cal trails. With that much travel, I’d as­sumed the bike would al­low me to revel in the de­scents at the ex­pense of suf­fer­ing through the up­hills, my head hang­ing as I suc­cumbed to the push of shame up ev­ery climb.

When that didn’t hap­pen, I be­came con­vinced that it was time to trust more travel on my fa­vored wheel size. But I knew I didn’t want a 29-inch-wheeled beast; it’s easy to rack up 2,000 feet or more in el­e­va­tion gain on an av­er­age ride around here, so it had to be some­thing that liked to go up­hill as much as down. I im­me­di­ately thought of Yeti’s Switch In­fin­ity sus­pen­sion plat­form, which ped­als more ef­fi­ciently than al­most any­thing else on the mar­ket, and specif­i­cally, the 5.5, Yeti’s 140-mil­lime­ter-travel 29er.

By sheer luck, it turned out that Yeti was on the cusp of re­leas­ing the suc­ces­sor to the 5.5, the SB150, when we were plan­ning this is­sue. With a slack­ened headtube an­gle (64.5 de­grees), steep­ened seat tube an­gle (77 de­grees), 10 more mil­lime­ters of travel in the rear and a 170-mil-travel fork, it was clear that the new ver­sion of the brawler was ready to throw even more punches. It was time to call in a fa­vor. Could I please get one of

the first SB150 me­dia frames? And could I pretty please ride it in the wild a few times be­fore the em­bargo is up?

The bike gods (i.e. Yeti’s mar­ket­ing folks) were on my side and the foun­da­tion of my build was set. Af­ter that, I went about pick­ing out parts with weight on the mind, de­ter­mined to build a long-travel 29er that de­scended like a heavy­weight but climbed like a feath­er­weight.

I started with wheels, as the weight-con­scious would, opt­ing for Enve’s new M630 rims, laced with DT spokes, spin­ning on DT 240 hubs and wrapped in 2.5 WT Maxxis Ag­gres­sor tires. Enve touts a mmore com­pli­ant ride on its re­designed rims, which had been my hang-up with pre­vi­ous Enve rims—I al­ways felt like I was ping­ing down the trail. Al­ready the change is no­tice­able, with vastly im­proved ride qual­ity. The 30-mil­lime­ter in­ter­nal-width rim pairs nicely with the WT Ag­gres­sor, as­suag­ing my con­cern that I should’ve gone 5 mil­lime­ters wider for bet­ter tire/rim com­pat­i­bil­ity. I stuck with Enve for the cock­pit, choos­ing the car­bon M6 31.8-mil­lime­ter-clamp bar with a 25-mil­lime­ter rise and cut 10 mil­lime­ters off the stock 780-mil width, and match­ing 40-mil M6 stem. At 200 grams for the bar, my in­ner weight-wee­nie squealed in de­light.

One place I didn’t look to shave grams was with sus­pen­sion—an uber-ca­pa­ble chas­sis like the SB150 de­serves a shock and fork that can match its po­ten­tial. Though go­ing with the ex­cel­lent DPX2 would’ve saved 100 grams or so, the added tun­abil­ity and burli­ness of the X2 bet­ter fit the bruiser per­son­al­ity of the SB150. I paired that with the 170-mil­lime­ter-travel Kashima-coated Fox 36 Grip2 fork. With all that party po­ten­tial, I knew I needed a drop­per post that would put me in the right po­si­tion to keep up with the bike on rowdy de­scents. I’ve never had a post with more than 150 mil­lime­ters of drop, but the SB150 com­manded more. The an­swer came in OneUp’s new drop­per, which boasts the short­est stack height of any drop­per on the mar­ket. This meant that I could fit a 170-mil­lime­ter drop­per in a size-medium SB150 frame. And if it hadn’t fit, the OneUp’s travel-ad­just shims would have al­lowed for a tool-free, cus­tom fit to the ex­act mil­lime­ter of the size that would fit.

For brakes, I’ve been im­pressed with the re­li­able, con­sis­tent power from SRAM’s Codes all year, but I wanted to see how Shi­mano’s four-pis­ton XTs stacked up. Ac­tu­ally, I re­ally wanted to see how the XTR 9100 four-pis­ton brakes stacked up, but those are still va­por. And I briefly con­sid­ered a Saint caliper/ XTR 9000 lever combo, but fig­ured the new XTs ac­com­plish pretty much the same thing with­out the mix­ing and match­ing.

Re­turn­ing to my weight-sav­ing ways, I chose the lighteweight Praxis Girder Car­bon 170 cranks with a 30-tooth di­rect-mount ring. Fin­ish­ing touches in­clude Bike’s 25th an­niver­sary WTB Volt sad­dle, Santa Cruz Palm­dale grips and a Spe­cial­ized Car­bon Zee wa­ter-bot­tle cage. The lat­ter is only worth men­tion­ing be­cause with past Yeti ‘SB’ frames, you’d never bother with a cage be­cause it was con­demned to the un­der­side of the down-tube. The new SB150 de­sign, how­ever, fits a full-size bot­tle in the front tri­an­gle, no doubt to the col­lec­tive re­joice of Yeti freaks ev­ery­where.

So where did all this trim­ming and slim­ming get me? 29.1 pounds of pure, dream-wor­thy joy (with XTR ped­als).

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