Today we’ve got some back-to-back testing for some of the hottest enduro bikes on the market — we’ve got the Yeti SB160 vs Santa Cruz Megatower — two of the hottest enduro bikes on the market. We’re in Grafton, UT riding one of my favorite trails in the entire state. We’re going to do a bit of a race between the two on one of the roughest sections of the trail. So which bike is the top dog of the big dogs? Stick around to find out.
There’s really not a lot we need to cover before we dive into the meat and potatoes here. We’ve done a standalone review for each bike, so go check those out if you need more info. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy the showdown.
yeti sb160 vs santa cruz megatower: Ride Impressions
Before we reveal the race winner, let’s talk a bit about the strengths and weaknesses of each bike. Doing back-to-back testing in some challenging terrain was a great way to split the hairs here—which is exactly what we are doing. On paper and out on the trail, the two bikes are largely similar. They have similar travel lengths, wheel sizes, intended uses, component selection, and geometries. Where they differ quite a bit is in the suspension feel. Rest assured, we will dive into all of that.
Both bikes are on what I’d categorize as the good side of the pedaling spectrum for an enduro bike. They are each efficient enough while providing plenty of traction for steep, loose, rocky, and rooty climbs. When I first reviewed the Megatower, I was blown away at some of the steep climbs I could clean because it finds that oh-so-small sweet spot between traction and efficiency. In terms of flat-out efficiency, though, it’s not the fastest bike I’ve pedaled. It’s not the slowest either — by a long shot. It has enough get-up-and-go to hang with the best climbing enduro bikes — although, it can’t quite hang with bikes like the Orbea Rallon. The Yeti SB160 shifts that balanced just a little more toward the efficient side of the spectrum. It has a bit more zip to it than the Megatower. If you were to race them both on flat ground, the Yeti would win. And, It doesn’t give up all that much in terms of traction, either. It sticks to the ground even in the really steep stuff.
The front end of the SB160 is significantly lower than the Megatower’s. That brings your weight further forward over the front wheel. Even when you consider that the head tube angles are within 0.2° of each other, the Yeti has quite a bit more forward body position. This is especially helpful on the climbs. It makes it easier to keep the front wheel down and tracking nicely. I’d argue this contributes to the easier, more responsive handling of the SB160.
While I didn’t do a timed climb for the day for various reasons, most of which include me not having the superhuman fitness required to climb “crybaby hill” multiple times in one afternoon, I do have enough time on both of these bikes to make a good assessment as to which bike climbs better. If you’re looking for the fastest, most energetic climber in most situations, it will be the SB160. The Megatower has a slight advantage on the rougher and steeper climbs, but otherwise, it’s a bit slower. It does get bonus points for having a more comfortable upright position, something which my poor, crunched spine can appreciate.
Knowing that these two bikes have a generous amount of rear wheel travel and slack angles, I’m assuming this is the part of the video you actually wanted to see. While both the Megatower and the SB160 are very capable and fast descenders, they do have different ride qualities and approaches to tackling rough terrain.
Starting with the suspension feel, the Megatower’s Lower-Link VPP is far more plush and forgiving than the yeti’s Switch Infinity. Now don’t take that to mean it’s “better.” Better is subject to opinion. What’s better for you and me isn’t necessarily better for the likes of Richie Rude. The Megatower has a deeper, softer, more comfortable ride quality to it. It smooths out the rough stuff better and makes bumps disappear with ease. The bike stayed a little calmer underneath me on the roughest bits of trail. Without spilling all the beans, though, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s faster on rough trails. Oops, beans probably spilled. The Yeti SB160 wasn’t quite as calm and composed in the rough. The bike skipped around just a little more and required me to ride it a little stronger. That said, the supportive suspension platform lends itself to generating quite a bit of speed by pumping the terrain. It also gives you a better platform for getting back on the pedals after a corner.
The Megatower’s suspension gave it not only a more comfortable ride quality, it felt quite a bit happier to leave the ground. It felt easier to bunnyhop and unweight, giving the bike a poppier feel. This could also come down to the stack height as well. I’ve always felt that bikes with lower front ends require a bit more effort to bunnyhop. Either way, the Megatower was a bit more playful out on the trail.
The Yeti’s geometry and the firmer suspension feel provided excellent handling characteristics. It was quite apparent how much easier the Yeti is to maneuver not only on high-speed sections but the slow, awkward tech as well. It’s easier to initiate a corner and carve a clean arc through it. Again, I’d imagine a lot of this comes down to stack height, as most of the other geometry is very similar. The steering on the SB160 felt more precise. That lower front end and subsequent forward body position put me in the “attack zone” by default, whether I liked it or not. Now, I’d argue that’s where you should always be when riding aggressive terrain, but some folks aren’t going to like being up close and personal with the scary terrain in front of them. There is something to be said about the comfort of being a little further off the back of the bike, even if that’s not where you should be.
Other pros and cons:
The Megatower has internal frame storage. The SB160 requires a bike purse.
So which one is best for you?
If you want burly and confident, the Megatower will be your best bet. With its tall front end and soft, comfortable suspension feel, you’ll be mowing over rocks like they don’t even exist. It’s also the more playful, jibby bike of the two. If you want a more well-rounded ride that happens to be faster than a bat out of hell, the SB160 is the right choice for you. Its suspension generates speed all day, and its geometry gives it excellent handling characteristics.
yeti sb160 vs santa cruz megatower: Race Results
We’ve got some timed results for you. And if you’ve been following along, you can probably already guess what happened here. So here’s the pseudoscience. The Yeti was the faster of the two bikes on my test section. Over the roughly 1:15 section of trail, the Yeti was 3.21 seconds faster—which is roughly 4% faster. Given the two brand’s pedigrees, I can’t say I’m all that surprised.
While the Megatower felt more plush and comfortable the Yeti’s suspension worked to generate and maintain speed. Just because it’s not as plush doesn’t mean it’s not working — apparently it works really well. So the Megatower is inherently a bit more fun, but going really fast where you shouldn’t be going really fast is fun in it’s own right. Different
Well, that’s going to wrap it up for the Yeti SB160 vs Santa Cruz Megatower. Thanks for sticking around. Drop a comment with the next showdown you want to see happen. We’ll see you next time.
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