Although their lineup contains a wide variety of bikes for just about every off-road discipline, Yeti is a brand most people strongly associate with racing. They've put an immense amount of work and time into their racing programs over the years, and have the wins and speedy rigs to back it up. But fast times aren't the only thing going on there, and no bike embodies that better than their newest: the SB135, "the dopamine machine."
The most eye-catching feature on the 135 won't be its sporty travel and clean lines, but the fact that it has 27.5" wheels in the back and the front. Rejoice, all you folks bemoaning the dominance of the big wheels, as this is one of the few full-27.5 bikes still available from a major manufacturer.
• 27.5" front and rear
• 135mm frame travel, 150mm fork
(160mm on Lunch Ride)
• 65.4° head angle (65° Lunch Ride)
• 400-504mm reach
• 429-437mm chainstays
• Size-specific seat tube angle
• XS-XL, MD-XL Lunch Ride
• Weight: 32 lb / 14.5 kg
• Frameset: $4,300 USD
• MSRP: $6,400-$10,300 USD
Like some of the other high-end brands on the market, Yeti's design language is starting to look more and more similar between all of the models in the lineup. The SB135 follows this trend, with the shock orientation and frame shapes slotting handily into the trend set by the SB160 and SB140 released late last year. The frame also went through the same slimming and stiffness optimization that the other updated models have seen, resulting in a very svelte form factor. There's quite a bit hiding under the hood though, as the 135mm of travel sports very similar curves to its longer-travel siblings. With 14% progression, it's bang-on the same as the SB140 29er, with similar geometry to match.
On the geo front, things are firmly trail-focused, with pretty modern lengths and angles. We're pretty conditioned to full 29 and mullet geometry charts these days, so it's important to remember that 27.5" frames don't quite compare exactly on all fronts. Reach and angles translate, but otherwise you have to account for the different wheel sizes.
With that in mind, the size range on the SB135 is carefully scaled to suit each point in the fit spectrum. One point that the folks at Yeti were keen to highlight was just how well-sorted the Small and Extra Small sizes are. They gave those smaller frames a completely unique rear end, shock link, and shock mount, with a slightly different kinematic tuned to match the larger models.
As with all of their frames, this new little Yeti comes in both Turq and C-series construction, with the two differing only in weight and price. The Turq is a few hundred grams lighter on average, with stiffness remaining the same. All frames feature fully-guided internal routing, with nicely molded cable clamps to keep things quiet. The UDH standard allows you to either run SRAM's new Transmission system, or simply get an easy-to-find hanger from pretty much any bike shop.
Frame protection is similarly upgraded to the longer-travel models, with a dual-density plate underneath the downtube to keep your fancy carbon frame safe from any hard hits. Dropper post length has been maximized across the lineup, allowing for 150mm on Small frames, 175mm on Mediums, and 200mm+ on Large and up. Lastly, we can celebrate the inclusion of a co-molded threaded bottom bracket, with integrated ISCG-05 tabs, allowing folks to run bash guards and guides if they so please.Build Options
Spec is well chosen, albeit expensive, with a decent array of options to suit your desires. Prices range from $6,400 to $10,300 USD, with a decent range of build options in there for different preferences and budgets.
In classic Yeti tradition there's a Lunch Ride version, which gives the bike a slightly slacker profile in addition to the more capable specs. These spec changes reflect what Yeti employees opt to run on their personal bikes, with better brakes, wheels, and tires, as well as a longer-travel fork. This parts selection makes the most sense to me, as the lighter-duty spec holds the bike back a bit from its full capability.
The build kit naming scheme is nothing if not complicated, but the parts specs and prices are as follows:TLR Transmission T3
Lunch Ride, 160mm fork, Fox Factory suspension, SRAM XO Transmission, Code RSC brakes, DT EX1700 wheelsCLR C2
Lunch Ride, 160mm fork, Fox Performance suspension, SRAM GX, Code RSC brakes, DT E1900 wheelsTXT
Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT drivetrain, XT brakes, DT XM1700 wheelsT2
Fox Factory suspension, SRAM XO1 drivetrain, SRAM G2 RSC brakes, DT XM1700 wheelsT4 Transmission
Fox Factory suspension, SRAM XX Transmission, SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes, DT XM1700 wheelsC1
Fox Performance suspension, Shimano SLX drivetrain, SLX brakes, DT M1900 wheelsC2
Fox Performance suspension, SRAM GX drivetrain, SRAM G2 R brakes, DT M1900 wheels
The SB135 is also available as a Turq-level frame retailing for $4300 USD, should you want to build it up with parts of your own. Riding the SB135
I've been riding a Large TLR Transmission T3 build SB135 for the past few weeks, and boy has it surprised me.
The last full-27.5" bike I rode was a 2019 Ibis Mojo HD4
, so it's safe to say I've been away from the platform for a minute. That said, I've ridden plenty of small wheels, but only in the form of the recently popular mixed-wheel setups. Needless to say, the industry has pushed pretty decisively towards the 29" wheel, despite some holdouts in the smaller-diameter camp. It's hard to say what the primary driver has been on this trend, but an industry-wide drive towards making all bikes more capable might be the broadest reason I can come up with right now. Regardless, I expected to enjoy the novelty of the SB135, but didn't think it was going to impress me as much as it did.
The beginning of my test period on the 135 fell right as our weather in Bellingham was turning to spring perfection, so the Yeti was treated with some pretty heroic conditions. That helped the cause, but realistically the bike didn't need a ton of help to shine. The wheels may be small, but that wasn't really the first thing I noticed in the broader equation. One of the main standout features was of course the Switch Infinity rear suspension, which continues to impress with just how predictable it is throughout the the travel. I really enjoy the ride on the SB160, and the 135's back wheel just feels like a scaled-down version.
Now for the elephant in the room: little front wheel (insert spooky music). It still works! It's definitely not quite as capable on steep or chunky terrain, but this bike handled delightfully well on a solid variety of trails. On my typical home trails, the combination of the smaller wheels and shorter wheelbase made the tightest turns just a bit quicker, and allowed me to pump backsides to sections of trail that I usually just speed over. This made the SB135 a little faster in the right areas, though that equation flipped when then trails got rough.
The small front wheel does get gobbled up a bit by holes and roots, which can slow the chassis down where I'm more used to maintaining speed. Luckily, this didn't make for an uncomfortable ride, as both the fork and shock provide a really nicely controlled damping that moves when it has to and gives plenty of support to avoid harsh hits.
The Lunch Ride spec really suits this bike, especially for my purposes, and I don't think I'd want to ride it in any less capable a package. The expensive drivetrain and factory suspension can easily be downgraded without much in the way of performance loss, but the Code RSC brakes and enduro-ready wheels feel critical to the equation. The only parts I swapped out were the cockpit and tires, and that was just to better suit the bike to my home terrain. DH-casing Continentals and a higher-rise bar with a 40mm stem made the whole package feel a lot better in the steeps and g-heavy turns.
The SB135 has been one of my more frequently chosen bikes for the past few weeks of riding, and I think that speaks volumes to how fun this bike is. It's definitely not the most capable in my garage, but on trails where playing around and feeling
fast are key, I've had nothing but good times on this little whip. I'm looking forward to more time on the fun-forward Yeti, and can't wait to see how it works in the long term.