By Brice Minnigh
Wheel size is probably the most popular subject among mountain bikers these days, with trailheads and pubs the world over awash in heated debates over which wheel size is supreme: 26, 27.5 or 29-inch.
And with most major bike companies introducing new 650B models into their line-ups, there seems to be much more to talk about this year, as we head into a 2014 model year with so many wheel-size choices.
For us at Bike magazine, the biggest boon of all this is that it gives us a chance to try out even more new bikes, so how could we possibly argue with that?
When we learned that Yeti is adding a 27.5-inch-wheeled bike to their "SB" (Super Bike) line, we jumped at the chance to ride one, quickly ordering up a size medium of the badass-looking beast to take for a long rip around the dry-and-dusty trails of Bootleg Canyon, on the desert fringes of Boulder City, Nevada.
I was certainly glad we did. Over the past couple of years, I've spent plenty of time on Yeti's SB66—the company's 26-inch bike—as well as on their 29-inch offering, the SB95. Riding the SB75 not only allowed me to compare the merits and pitfalls of each bike, but it marked the completion of my introduction to the Yeti wheel-size triumvirate.
Oh, and did I mention that I had an absolute blast on it? I immediately felt at home on the SB75, its well-balanced geometry, ample standover clearance and low bottom bracket combining to make the bike feel snappy and maneuverable in the fast-and-flowy turns built by late trail builder Brent Thomson.
In this sense, the SB75 seemed to bear much more in common with its 26-inch brother, and several times during my ride I forgot I was aboard a 650B model. I treated the SB75 just like the SB66 I first rode more than two years ago, and was rewarded in spades. The SB75 was eminently playful in the well-built whoops of Bootleg Canyon's lower trails, and it accelerated impressively through some of the steep sections higher up in the hills. And though it has five inches of front- and rear-wheel travel, it felt eerily close to the SB66's six inches of front-and-rear travel.
The SB75 shares the same 'Switch Technology' linkage that Yeti employs on its SB66 and SB95 models. This, the company's most recent suspension platform, is a short, dual-link design which revolves around an eccentric that rotates rearward early in its travel and effectively helps to neutralize suspension bobbing. For a more detailed description of how the Switch Technology is designed to work, check out our review of the carbon SB66 here.
Adding to the appeal of the SB75 I rode was its sensible parts spec, with a SRAM X01 1-by-11 drivetrain and the new Thomson Elite Dropper post. Thomson’s svelte handlebar remote lever is low-profile and easy to activate, and the action of the post was smooth and reliable for the duration of my initial ride. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one of the new Thomson droppers, installing it on my bike and seeing how it stacks up against the KS Lev and RockShox Reverb over an extended duration.
Aluminum versions of the SB75 will be available in mid October. In the past, Yeti has typically followed the introduction of a new aluminum model with a carbon version several months later, so a carbon SB75 is expected to follow sometime in the spring of 2014.