Curiosity. It’s a great trait to have as a cycling journalist. An inquisitive nature is what first prompted me to throw a leg around subculture-spawned bikes, like steel full-suspension 29ers and titanium hardtails, years ago. Sometimes, you have to pedal something for an extended period to whet that appetite for the occasional oddity that arises. If you’re lucky, those experiences challenge your preconceptions, too.
Working in bike media, it’s pretty easy to get cynical about all the marketing hype and the constant push for model years by the bigger brands, particularly regarding ever-changing drivetrain technologies, incremental gains, and complex suspension designs. I still value riding a rigid 29er as much as riding a vintage 26″ wheeled steel chariot through compromising terrain: the almighty underbiking ride keeps you honest, allows for honing your skillset, and can be damn fun.
Yet, on the flip side, I am attracted to high-tech, modern carbon bikes in small doses. Hence the allure of this Yeti SB135.
Before testing out the SB135, it had been a while since I’d ridden a carbon full suspension as, in the intervening years, I’ve been enjoying sampling the steel offerings out there from smaller, bespoke builders. Yet, the appeal of the high-tech is palpable—lighter, faster, smoother-shifting sounds fun, right? Mix in Yeti’s 27.5″ platform for the SB135, and my curiosity was piqued. The last 27.5″ wheeled bike I reviewed was the Santa Cruz 5010 and the previous 27.5″ wheeled bike I’d ridden was the Transition Scout that was loaned to me for a Moab trip. It was on that very trip I realized that while I admired the 27.5″ wheel platform, it wasn’t necessarily for me nor for the terrain I enjoy riding.
Yet, the SB135 was just strange enough, foreign enough, new-and-techy enough to have me put my steel sled with cable-actuated shifting aside for a few weeks and spend some time riding Yeti Turq and SRAM T-Type shifting…