Over the last two years, Yeti’s SB series has provided some of our favorite bikes on the market.
First came the SB66, a six-inch travel 26er that felt (even to stalwart 29er fans) like one of the most versatile mountain bikes we’d been on in years. Next up was the SB95, which we tested in both aluminum and carbon. The alloy version was a bit tubby, but in carbon we liked it even more than the 66. Though it had just five inches of travel, the bigger wheels made it feel plusher than that number suggests, yet it was still nimble and lacked the oversize, truck-like feel of many 29ers.
As 27.5s have gained traction (and 26ers have virtually ceased to exist), we figured a mid-size bike was inevitable. Indeed, Yeti is releasing two 27.5ers this season—the enduro-oriented 575 and the SB75. With five inches of travel, 650B wheels, and a sturdy alloy frame, the SB75 is a trail bike through and through.
All the SB models rely on Yeti’s proprietary Switch Technology platform. At the heart of the system is a neat little linkage with a low-sitting concentric pivot behind the bottom bracket. It works by rotating counterclockwise in the first half of the bike’s travel before reversing direction in the second half of travel. This way the drivetrain stays engaged in smaller bumps, but it frees the suspension from the chain in the bigger stuff so that you get a consistent feel throughout the stroke. It makes for both hyper-efficient pedaling as well as super soft cushioning in the rough stuff.
Like it’s siblings, the Yeti SB75 is a clean, sharp-looking bicycle. We love the simplicity of the design, and the combination of straightforward color scheme and simple graphics looks great, even in Yeti’s normally polarizing turquoise trim. Our tester was spec’d at the Race level, with Shimano XT components, Kashima-coated Fox CTD shock and 34mm-stanchion fork, and rugged DTSwiss M1700 wheels. As always with Yeti, it’s a high value for the $4,900 price tag, right down to the Maxxis tires (High Roller front, Ardent rear).
While much of the 27.5 market has focused on the bigger-hit enduro market, the SB75 is a decidedly easier-going machine. It has a comfortable, but not super-slack, 67.5-degree head tube angle, and the chain stays aren’t exceptionally short. On the trail, that’s translated to a well-mannered ride that’s balanced and mellow, though perhaps underpowered for what we were expecting.
The bike definitely climbs well, thanks to the efficiency of the Switch linkage. And the rear end keeps up on descents, too, though we found that the five inches can feel easily overwhelmed.
Mostly though, it reminds us of the aluminum SB95—it’s a fine (if unmemorable) ride that feels bogged down by its weight. Yeti puts the SB75 at a not insignificant 7.75 pounds for the frame and shock, and our tester tipped the scale at 30.2 pounds, which is much heftier than comparable 27.5ers that cost the same or less. That’s for the middle-ground Race spec, and with the addition of a dropper post (which we missed here) it would be even heavier. That means the less expensive Enduro and Comp builds are likely to be even more ponderous, though at $3,800 and $2,900 respectively for those lower-end models, we’d be more apt to overlook the bulk.
So far the SB75 strikes us as a solid, middle-of-the-road trail bike with good ride characteristics and a dependable parts spec. The less expensive models are definitely worth a look if you’re on a budget. But we’ll be saving our money and waiting for the carbon fiber version, which we think will be lighter, livelier, and closer to the high standards of the other SB models.