First Ride: Yeti's New SB75 27.5 Mountain Bike
'Tween wheels get Yeti's SB treatment and help create a fast, fun, descent-oriented ride
"We've been testing 27.5 on and off for a year. Last winter we retrofitted our existing bikes with 27.5 wheels to test the wheel size, and we saw a lot of opportunity," Yeti president Chris Conroy told Bicycling. "We started testing the SB75 in its current configuration about four months ago, and it was instantly one of those bikes you felt right on. We were able to flip the switch on production pretty quickly."
As far as lineage, the SB75 is more heavily influenced by the 95 than the 66. It has the same amount of travel, and the 75's geometry is closer to the 95 than the 66. The 66 is very stable, bombs hills like a downhill bike (Yeti pro Jared Graves took a 66 to third in this year’s downhill world championships), but requires the rider to ride it hard and drive the front end aggressively to get the most out of the bike.
Perhaps counterintuitively, the 75, like the 95, has shorter top tubes and shorter wheelbases than the 66 throughout the size range. This, and steeper head-tube angles (67.5 on the 75), make the larger-wheeled SB's—on paper anyway—a bit more snappy and playful than the 66.
Though it strikes the same profile as its SB brothers, the 75's 7.5-pound (with Fox Float CTD damper) all-aluminum frame (no carbon is offered or in the immediate future) has unique tube-butting profiles and suspension mechanics. Four sizes will be offered, ranging from extra small to large, when the bike goes on sale in October. A frame will cost $2,000, and complete bikes start with the $2,900 Comp model and run up to the $6,900 Pro XTR model.
I had an opportunity to steal an hour-long ride on the SB75 on Bootleg Canyon's trails at Interbike’s Outdoor Demo in Las Vegas. The 75's suspension impresses. It’s quiet on climbs and doesn't need the Fox's CTD lever to prevent mushy-feeling movement, though on a long, smooth fire-road climb, I did engage trail mode to calm the suspension even more. Traction and sensitivity are excellent. The 75 tractors over loose and ledgy climbs, and didn't bog when I punched it up and over obstacles.
SB75 means: Super bike, 27.5-inch wheels, and 5-inches of travel. (Matt Phillips)
On descents, the 75 is smooth and uses its full travel, providing a five-star feeling without—and this is the important part—wallowing in the middle of the travel or sitting down too easily and upsetting the bike's balance midcorner. I did note, however, that when I was heavily over the front end in an effort find traction on the very loose trails, the rear end would begin to skip a bit. Likely, a little less pressure in the shock would cure this, but I was not able to test that theory on my brief test ride.
Like other Yeti's, the SB75's feel is more about good times and fast descents than about setting course-record marks. The frame is robustly confidence-inspiring: Launch into a rock garden blind and the 75 tracks straight and pulls you though. Though the handling is biased toward stability, the 75 remains a playful bike, encouraging hooliganism on the trail.
I'm familiar with both the SB66 and the SB95 and like both very much, but I feel the 75 is the best of the three. Quicker and more playful than the 95, and easier to ride and less descent-oriented than the 66, it strikes a middle ground that I personally love.
Yeti proves it’s ready to play on the trails with its new 5-inch travel (125mm) SB75. Yeti's 26-inch-wheeled SB66 and 29-inch SB95 bikes are popular around our office, earning high praise from testers and scoring a handful of Editors' Choice awards. But these days, offering just two wheels sizes isn’t enough for many mountain bike brands. And 27.5 is the it wheel size. If you make mountain bikes, you gotta have a tweener.