Yeti introduced two new models for 2019, and yes, they are both 29” shredding machines. However, with the two new models, we were instantly curious about how they compare to each other and where one might outshine the other, henceforth, the Yeti SB130 vs SB150 comparison. The first to be released was the new Yeti SB150, which as the name suggest, sports 150mm of rear travel and is spec’d with a 170mm fork. The second model released a few weeks later is the new Yeti SB130, with 130mm travel out back and a 150mm fork up front. Both models are fully redesigned from the ground up, having a much more extreme geometry along with a new suspension linkage from their predecessors. And most importantly, these new Yeti models do fit a water bottle inside the frame. In this review, we will break down the similarities as well as the differences between these models.
Looking at the two on paper, they are both very “modern” as far as the geometry numbers go, if not somewhat groundbreaking. The large bikes have a 480mm reach, 77-degree seat tube angle, and quite long wheelbase numbers. The SB150 has a 64.5-degree headtube angle with the 170mm fork, whereas the SB130 is one degree steeper at 65.5 degrees with the 150mm fork. With the change in headtube angle, the wheelbase is 18mm longer on the SB150 than the SB130. The other visual difference is the shock mount location. The SB150 has the shock mounted to the downtube and the SB130 has the shock mounted to the top tube. Without knowing the exact reason for this, I would assume it is for shock kinematics as the SB150 is a bit more progressive than the SB130. Utilizing the same linkage, pivots, and hardware, only shock size and mounting location are the differences as far as frame parts go. One last difference to note between the two, at least as far as tech goes, is the SB150 has been rated and tested to downhill frame standards. With as hard as these EWS pros are riding and even some of the most hardcore weekend warriors go, this is needed and a great feature. Now, you can't run a dual crown fork on it, but the strength and durability still achieve the Richie Rude seal of approval.
After looking at the numbers you have a slight idea of what the bike will feel like, but nothing compares to when you throw a leg over and start riding. First, I noticed how the steeper seat tube really makes the bike feel comfortable with the long reach. I've been on a few bikes lately with similar geo but I have to say it feels good to get on a Yeti with this style of geo. If you haven't ridden a Yeti, I suggest you try one as they have a very distinct feel (the hype is for a reason). Next, I noticed how easily this bike handles and corners at slow speed. This has a lot to do with the reduced fork offset as well as your body weight being more in the center of the bike. Longer reach with a steeper seat tube will naturally bring your body weight a little more forward, allowing you to push down more on the front to provide you with extra traction. Coming from an XC racing style, I prefer a more forward pedaling position, and now trail bikes are getting to this point, which makes long climbs so much more comfortable.
Going downhill, the stable nature of both bikes is instantly noticeable. As I said earlier, I have been on a few bikes with this longer reach slacker front end philosophy, but I will say I had to remind myself a few times to weight the front wheel more. With the front wheel being so far out in front of you, moving weight slightly more forward keeps the weight balanced on both tires. We all know how a longer wheelbase can create better stability, but the impressive part is how well these bikes rip and hold speed through corners. I feel it’s safe to say that cornering is my weakness and I was able to come into corners faster and hold more speed than I have before. That is a great advantage for myself!
Another feature I could instantly feel was the increased progressivity of the rear shock/kinematics. Yeti wanted to do this so the bikes could be run with an air or coil shock. While we have not yet tried a coil on either one of these bikes, you could feel the extra progression on the air shock (beyond what an air shock already naturally provides). Unlike my time on an SB5.5, it was a challenge to get these bikes to bottom out. In fact, I may not have ever bottomed out the SB150, even off some serious drops and jumps. And if I did, I didn't feel it...
Focusing on the SB150 now, this is a super impressive bike all around. Although it has 150mm travel in the rear and 170mm up front, it climbs extremely well. On my first ride out, I had about 2 miles of road to climb before getting to the trailhead. In and out of the saddle I didn't feel the need to flip the Float X2 into the firm mode. On the trail, every pedal stroke you give is efficient, having little or no pedal bob. Once pointed downhill this bike begs for more and more, certainly more than I am capable of giving. The bike has the very planted feeling you expect from Yeti, but with shorter chainstays, it’s not one to shy away from some back wheel love. It holds manuals and rear wheel maneuvers so well I was smiling like a kid while pulling some mid-trail manuals. I'm sure the two recent EWS wins from Richie Rude, the second of which was utter domination has helped give credibility to this bike’s descending capabilities. One thing to note is this bike really transfers that “Yeti” feel. From its pedaling efficiency to begging for more on the downs, Yeti really took a leap forward with the new SB150.
Now let’s take a look at the SB130. With 130mm travel out back and 150mm up front, you would assume this bike would pedal better than its bigger brother...and it does. As a mid-travel bike, it gives you what you expect as a great all arounder. I would say it climbs slightly better than the SB4.5. Thanks to the more forward body position, you have less weight over the rear end, meaning better power output from your legs and less pedal bob. The Switch Infinity also has a lot to do with that as well.
As a mid-travel bike that also has a bigger brother with more travel, you might not ever ask yourself if it’s worth getting a bigger bike. Everything from chunky rocks to drops and jumps, the SB130 handles it all without a hiccup. In spite of having 10mm less travel front and rear than an SB5.5, the new geometry has made the SB130 extremely capable. I was full speed first ride and hitting all my lines with sniper precision. While I never felt like I needed more travel up front, I couldn’t help but think how the SB130 would ride with a 160mm fork. Giving the front of the bike a slightly slacker headtube angle and 10mm more travel could really be the sweet spot.
Not once did I ever have to think about a section of trail on this bike. The SB130 really checks all the boxes on my list for a great trail bike. It has enough travel to handle all trails, it can be jumped around and it doesn't make you try too hard on the steep climbs.
Comparing the SB130 vs the SB150 isn't the easiest thing to do. They really are very similar, but I would say the SB150 has the point and plow feature on point. It’s very capable of just smashing through everything without any feedback. I would say the SB130 gets the win for the more playful trail bike attitude. It gives you a bit more feedback so you can jump it better and throw it around from one side of the trail to the other. Also, the SB130 wins in climbing efficiency but that should be a given with less travel and 18mm less wheelbase. Although I still wouldn’t bash on the SB150’s climbing goods because that big guy can certainly climb.
Jumping between both bikes is easy to do as you feel right at home on either one. It's almost hard to tell right away that you have changed bikes. It makes sense that sitting in the cockpit of either bike is almost the same feeling since a lot of the numbers are the same. I do have to say, I really like the feel of the Fox Float X2 on the rear of the SB150. Not only does that shock feel amazing but the adjustability offers up nearly limitless possibilities. I’m a rider who loves to nerd out on settings; I write them all down and also note the changes I feel. You can take a bike from rock garden smashing to jump line sending with just a few adjustments. That’s not something you are able to fine tune as much on the Fox DPX2 spec’d on the SB130. While you have your 3 modes of compression, they give you a preset amount of HSC and LSC when going into mid and firm modes. You can adjust LSC when the shock is in the Open mode which is a great adjustment, but it simply cannot match the tunability of the Float X2.
I think Yeti did a great job with both stock build specs as well. The SB130 gets a narrower handlebar by 20mm, trail level brakes, and more trail oriented suspension, meaning slightly less adjustability. The SB150 has a Fox 36 Grip2 with most of the adjustments you might need, but if a rider is looking for a firm position, they will not find it on this fork. So besides the different handlebars and brakes, most things will be the same. I do think the SB150 could come with some heftier tires. With a bike that begs to be pushed, the stock Maxxis EXO casing stands a good chance to be ripped quickly. A Maxxis DoubleDown would be a more fitting tire, but it’s not a huge deal as tires are relatively cheap in comparison to high-end bikes.
The combination of all the geometry changes makes for a great riding bike. I am a huge fan of the longer and slacker geometry. It helps every rider shine where they might have some difficulties. Yetis have been known to climb extremely well and both of these bikes keep that characteristic. Along with the climbing, Yetis tend to have a very distinct feel and I am glad that was transferred into the SB130 & SB150.
I had a hard time deciding which bike I prefer. Each one has their pros and cons, and both have more pros than cons. I would say if you looking for one bike to be that “quiver killer”, then the SB130 is right there. It handles all terrain and the option to add a 10mm longer travel fork is a plus. If you are someone that only rides gnarly DH trails, bike parks, or already has a short or mid-travel bike, the SB150 would be the right fit for you. While it might not be the best on an XC ride, everything else about the SB150 will blow your mind. While I don’t think there’s a true winner here, I think the SB130 would be my pick. The fact that it can handle some 20-foot jumps and also climb is perfect for me.