Dentists, shredders and racers alike, listen up! After a long wait, Yeti have finally released the new 2023 SB160 T3. The proven enduro racer of the Colorado-based bike manufacturer drifts into the new season with a new name, more travel, cool detail solutions and exciting upgrades. We had the chance to put Yeti’s brand-new enduro bruiser through the wringer on the rocky trails of Colorado.
It’s time to give your old bike a deep clean! Once you’re done, roll it out of your clinic and sell it as quickly as you can! After over four years since the release of the SB150, the American cult brand has finally unveiled the new SB160, sending the SB150 into a well deserved retirement. However, the latest iteration of Yeti’s enduro racer is an evolution of the current SB150 model rather than an entirely new bike, and as such it has retained the distinctive look of its predecessor. On Yeti’s website, they divide their bikes into two categories – Race for the serious, performance-oriented bikes, and Rip for the playful, fun bikes. The SB160 falls into the Race category, combining 170/160 mm travel (f/r) and 29” wheels. Like all of Yeti’s full-sussers from MY 2014 onwards, the new SB160 employs their proprietary Switch Infinity system, which has been thoroughly revised for the 2023 season. Moreover, Yeti’s development team stiffened up the frame and overhauled both the geometry and rear suspension kinematics of the bike, while also freshening up the frame silhouette – this is particularly evident in the raised bottom bracket area.
The new 2023 Yeti SB160 T3 in detail
Given that the SB160 is a logical evolution of its popular predecessor, it can afford to forgo a flashy logo on the frame. With its unmistakable silhouette and striking turquoise finish, it’s distinctly recognisable as a Yeti. As usual, the build quality is top notch and does full justice to Yeti’s elegant Ice Axe head badge. An exciting addition are the new cable port clamps, which finally keep the cables securely in place, ensuring a quiet ride while at the same time making it easier to route and service the cables. A small bracket at the transition from the main frame triangle to the swingarm holds the rear brake line firmly in place to prevent scuffs and rattling.
Yeti also updated the seat and chainstay protector, which now extends all the way along the top of the chainstay and up the seat stay, preventing chain slap and paint chips. The TPU plate that protects the downtube and bottom bracket area is now bigger too, and so is the service port that allows you to access the cables. While there’s still enough room for a water bottle in the main frame triangle, the new SB160 doesn’t feature a tool mount or storage compartment, which are both becoming increasingly popular amongst modern enduro bikes.
Spec variants of the new 2023 Yeti SB160
Like other manufacturers, Yeti offer their frames in two different grades of carbon fibre, which the Colorado-based manufacturer call Turq (T) and Carbon (C). The premium T model uses a higher modulus carbon, which allows engineers to achieve the same degree of stiffness at a lower weight, saving around 225 g per frame.
There’s a total of three spec variants for the T-series and two for the C-series, with prices ranging between € 6,700 and € 12.000. If you pick the premium T models, you’ll be able to upgrade the wheels to a DT Swiss EXC 1501 carbon wheelset. With the more affordable C models, on the other hand, you can upgrade the stock FOX Performance suspension to a high-end FOX Factory model. Needless to say, the new SB160 is available in Yeti’s legendary Turquoise finish, along with two more colours called Cobalt and Radium.
For the European and UK market, Yeti have only released the C2 and T1 models as complete bikes while the T3 version in this test won’t be available for purchase for the time being.
Yeti’s Switch Infinity System
Since 2014, Yeti have been using their proprietary Switch Infinity system on all their full-suspension bikes. What looks at first like a double-shaft FOX shock is actually a translating pivot, which slides up and down on a set of rails as it goes through its travel, thereby creating a virtual pivot point. This provides different suspension characteristics at different points in the travel. For all T-series models, Yeti also developed new high-quality bearings, seals and shock hardware to ensure smooth operation and a longer service life. C-series models, on the other hand, still rely on the same hardware as the SB150.
The spec of our Yeti SB160 T3 2023 test bike
Yeti SB160 T3 2023
Fork FOX 38 Factory GRIP2 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX X2 Factory 160 mm
Seatpost FOX Transfer 200 mm
Brakes SRAM CODE RSC 220/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1/X01/GX AXS 1x12
Stem Burgtec Enduro MK3 50 mm
Handlebar Yeti Carbon 800 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss EX1700 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, EXO+, 3C MaxxTerra/MAXXIS DHR II, EXO+, 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4
Size S M L XL XXL
Weight 15.6 kg
The extra travel of the new SB160 is provided by a 170 mm FOX 38 Factory fork, with the superior GRIP2 damper featuring independent high and low speed damping adjustment. At the rear, Yeti’s proprietary, two-piece wishbone shock extender drives a FOX X2 Factory air shock, which allows you to adjust the low-speed and high-speed compression as well as the rebound. The FOX Transfer Performance dropper post offers 200 mm travel (size L) and can be fully inserted into the frame, ensuring plenty of freedom of movement on the trail.
SRAM Code RSC four-piston brakes with tool free bite point and reach adjustment bring the 15.6 kg Yeti to a halt. The brakes are paired with a huge 220 mm rotor at the front and 200 mm disc at the rear. Shifting is taken care of by a SRAM drivetrain, which looks blinger than it is in reality. Unfortunately, Yeti combine a top-tier, electronic XX1 AXS rear derailleur with a slightly heavier X01 cassette and GX chain. While the cheaper components don’t compromise shifting performance, you can’t help but feel cheated.
The cockpit consists of a 50 mm Burgtec Enduro MK3 stem and Yeti’s own-brand 800 mm carbon handlebars. Meanwhile, a robust DT Swiss EX1700 alloy wheelset, which we have already praised on several occasions, ensures peace of mind on the trail. Unfortunately, the tires don’t do justice to the rest of the spec and the potential of the bike. Both the 2.5″ Maxxis ASSEGAI front tire and 2.4″ Maxxis Minion DHR II at the rear come in the hard MaxxTerra compound and puncture-prone EXO+ casing. Such a potent enduro bike calls for a robust DoubleDown casing and soft MaxxGrip rubber compound, at least at the front.
The geometry of the new Yeti SB160 2023
Unlike its predecessor, which was available in 4 sizes, the new Yeti SB160 comes in a total of five sizes, S to XXL, offering a suitable option for all riders between 155 and 210 cm tall. At 485 mm in size L, the reach is rather moderate, which is currently a popular choice among bike manufacturers. At 440 mm, the seat tube is reasonably short, allowing decent freedom of movement on the trail. The big news for 2023 is that Yeti have adapted the chainstay length to the respective frame size, which is meant to provide consistent handling across all sizes.
|Seat tube||365 mm||400 mm||440 mm||470 mm||485 mm|
|Top tube||571 mm||602 mm||624 mm||651 mm||670 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||101 mm||107 mm||118 mm||140 mm|
|Chainstay||437 mm||439 mm||441 mm||443 mm||445 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.211 mm||1.246 mm||1.270 mm||1.302 mm||1.329 mm|
|Reach||435 mm||465 mm||485 mm||510 mm||525 mm|
|Stack||615 mm||620 mm||625 mm||635 mm||655 mm|
The new Yeti SB160 T3 2023 on the trail
Yeti invited us to their headquarters in Colorado to test the new SB160 T3 2023 on their dry and rocky home trails. On top of that, we had the opportunity to ride the bike both in size L and XL for over a month, both on our home trails around Stuttgart and in several bike parks in Austria.
Whether you’re cruising from the carpark to the lift or negotiating steep singletrack climbs and gravel ramps, the new SB160 cuts a fine figure, delivering solid climbing performance with its comfortable pedalling position. The rear suspension works efficiently and generates good traction, but we would still recommend reaching for the climb switch on long monotonous climbs.
When you turn its nose down into the valley, it’s worth cranking both the high and the low-speed compression wide open, because the suspension of the Yeti bursts with pop, allowing you to pump through rollers and berms to generate speed. However, despite providing tons of support, the suspension still offers enough reserves to handle big drops and gnarly jumps. When you slam on the brakes, the rear end generates decent traction, allowing you to keep your fingers off the brakes for a few more seconds and carve through open corners and high-lines at Mach 100. However, in some situations you’ll have to actively shift your weight forward to be able to maintain the speed. That being said, a simple upgrade to tires with a softer rubber compound and a more robust casing that allows you to run lower air pressures will solve this problem. Overall, the SB160 impresses with intuitive and precise handling.
Given the well-integrated riding position and composed character of the bike, our 190 cm test rider would pick a size L over the bigger XL. Moreover, the long reach of the XL frame requires a more active riding style and more physical effort in tight trail sections, without offering significant advantages in high speed sections.
Our conclusion about the new Yeti SB160 T3 2023
The 2023 Yeti SB160 T3 drifts into the new season following the “evolution, not revolution” motto. Because that’s exactly what Yeti’s engineers did, further developing existing frame details like the internal cable routing and frame protection. The spec is thoroughly consistent too, but we still recommend upgrading to tires that allow you to unlock the full potential of the bike. All in all, the SB160 shines with excellent suspension, fun handling and massive racing potential.
- Suspension combines tons of traction, support and reserves
- Frame details successfully developed from the previous model
- Great fun on the trail
- Tires don't live up to the potential of the bike
For more information, visit Yeti-Cycles webpage.
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Words: Peter Walker Photos: Mike Hunger, Peter Walker, Calum McGee/Yeti-Cycles