I fully admit to referring to 29ers as “fun haters”. Every 29er that I have test ridden, from singlespeed cross country racers to 5.5″ travel all-mountain bikes, has felt like there was a major compromise in downhill agility and playfulness when compared to a 26″ bike of similar pedigree. I recently had the opportunity to test ride the Yeti SB95, so I took it to Syncline and put it through its paces.
Right off the bat I noticed a significant increase in traction when climbing through steep, wet, leaf-covered rocks. The SB’s suspension characteristics coupled with 29″ tires’ larger contact patch created an impressive amount of mechanical grip. The bike was able to crawl up everything I pointed it at with zero drama. The front end stayed planted, the back tire tracked the terrain and put the power to the ground, and the suspension stayed completely neutral. In fact, I kept the Fox 34 CTD fork and Float CTD rear shock in “descend” mode for the entire ride, even while climbing. I didn’t touch the CTD levers because the bike’s suspension felt extremely efficient, with hardly a hint of excessive movement while pedaling. So far, Yeti’s Switch Technology suspension platform was living up to the hype.
We have all heard about how a 29er’s wheels roll through rocky terrain with a notable amount of momentum-preserving smoothness. It always seemed like that increase in agility came with a decrease in fun when it came to riding flowier, more technical trails. The biggest surprise came when the SB95 was pointed down hill. The bike had an amazing ability to carve through high-speed corners and also feel nimble when charging through rocky, technical descents. The SB lacked the slow edge-to-edge, lumbering feel that I have experienced on all other 29er bikes I’ve tried. The bike wanted to jump and play and the confidence inspiring geometry and suspension feel rewarded higher-speed riding.
The SB was built with Yeti’s Enduro parts kit but I added my Rockshox Reverb seatpost for the demo – a key component that should be included in every all-mountain build kit. Yeti is known to have very well thought out parts kits and even though the Enduro Build was just about the cheapest option, it performed flawlessly. All in all, the demo gave me a new- found respect for Yeti and their ability to make 29ers fun. Side note: this bike has recently gained accolades in the press. Check out the raving review on Pinkbike and the Bicycling Mag Editors Choice writeup.