2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 1

26er 27.5 29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Yeti SB 75

Yeti recently unveiled their all new 27.5″ bikes, the SB 75 and the 575. I got a chance to ride the switch link SB at the Dirt Demo which is designed to fill the 27.5 marketing niche that every bike manufacturer (except Specialized) has rushed to fill. With five inches of rear travel, low bottom bracket, and slack-ish head angle and long-ish top tube, I expected this to be a trail ripper. I promptly took it up the shuttle, strapped on a number plate and timing chip from Precision Timing tore off down a very techy Skyline trail. It wasn’t long before the bike was feeling out gunned. The tires were a bit skinny for this application, the suspension was a bit stiff and the HA a bit steep. It just felt out of sorts. As I pounded down through the rough sharp edges strung up high on a very steep, cliffy side hill, I kept thinking to myself that I should slow down before I went off the edge or pinch flatted.

Thankfully the latter happened before the former and after one more pinch flat and three total tube changes I had to give up and roll down the road on a flat (hanging head in shame as I always mentally berated the morons who came to interbike unprepared enough that they had to walk or limp back to the paddock on their rims).

Still wanting to give the SB 75 a fair shake I went to my car and found another new tube, replaced it and pumped it up to 35 lbs. (that’s a lot for me) and grabbed the next shuttle back up to the top. This time I took the more tame but still frolicking fun Boy Scout trail down which I assumed would be a better match for the bike’s capabilities and intended purpose. It did better on this one but there was still something that just didn’t feel right for me. The rear suspension was a bit dead feeling and the fork got overwhelmed easily in the chunk. Climbing up smoother sections while seated it pedaled without bobbing but almost felt like there was too much anti-squat and the bike was plowing or stink-bugging into the hill. The frame is over 7.5 lbs which is porky compared to its carbon competition so this may have added to this not so lively feeling.

On my first ride up the hill the bar and stack height felt too low and head angle seemed steep. Maybe it was because I’d just stepped off the two Niners which had quite tall stack heights but it just felt odd. The second time up I switched some spacers from above the stem to below, raising the bars another half inch or so and that improved some of the stink bug feeling and gave me a better, more balanced attitude. On the plus side, lateral stiffness was very good and overall, on more flowy, rocky terrain the suspension was reasonably plush though I’d still call it a firm plush and not as well controlled as some. I suspect that additional suspension set up and bigger tires would’ve helped this feeling although overall I liked the grip of this HR II front/Ardent rear combo. I just liked them better in the bigger size. Overall impression was a disappointing for me. I know it’s outgunned in travel by a couple of the contenders, but given the numbers, I expected it to be right up there with the Bronson, Solo, and Mach Six for best 5-6″ 27.5 do everything, fun, fast, enduro, trail slayer title but it landed at the bottom of that very impressive heap.

The seat tube was quite long on this size large and it made me wonder if I should’ve been on a medium. Even with the excellent Thomson adjustable seat post all the way down in the seat tube, the seat was too high with the post fully extended. I had to adjust it down with the remote to get the right pedaling height.

Beefy boxed rear triangle and short stout links added to lateral stiffness.

And a word about CTD. There’s been much talk about this and some people like it and some hate it, but I’m sort of ambivalent. To be honest I only rode the bikes in the Descend mode. None of them bobbed unacceptably while pedaling in that setting and none were too plush while descending (if there is such a thing) so I never bothered changing them. I like active suspension.

This Fox shock felt less good then some of the others I tested but it may just have needed some further tuning.

The heart of the Switch. Fully sealed eccentric “link” system with oversized pivot pins and Enduro Max bearings. A splined BB shell accepts a removable ISCG tabs.

This is part 1 of Krob’s bike tests from Interbike’s Outdoor Demo. Be sure to read Krob’s All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 2.

2013 All Mountain Bike Tests at Interbike – Part 1 Gallery
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Krob's Outdoor Demo tests - Santa Cruz booth

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Santa Cruz Solo/5010 C

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Santa Cruz Solo/5010 C

Trademark issues may have forced a name change but I’m still going to call it the Solo.
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Santa Cruz Solo/5010 C

1×11, It’s the real deal
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Santa Cruz Solo/5010 C

Beefy tires….
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Santa Cruz Solo/5010 C

And wide bars go a long way in making a shorter travel bike feel All-Mountain capable, but there’s more to this bike than that. It’s the whole package.
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Giant Anthem 27.5

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Giant Anthem 27.5

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Giant Anthem 27.5 - Maestro

Maestro works.
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Giant Anthem 27.5 - Avid brakes

These Avid brakes had more engagement and hissed and squeaked when applied. The XT’s on the 5010 were much better.
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Giant Anthem 27.5 - 1x11

This 1×11 drivetrain had some adjustment/set up issues and didn’t shift as cleanly as the 5010 either.
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Giant Anthem 27.5

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Niner RIP 9

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Niner RIP 9

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Niner RIP 9

Wide bars and dropper posts are becoming requirements for me. Points were deducted from any bike lacking either. The big Rip scores points here.
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Niner RIP 9

This Revelation fork was a bit of a weak link in this set up which is surprising because I’ve had good experiences with Revs in the past.
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Niner RIP 9

WTB AM 29er rims and Nobby Nics are a good solid wheel/tire combo. More 1×11 = more points won.
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Niner RIP 9

Beautifully crafted pivots, rockers, and curvaceous stays. This demo bike’s name was Jordan. The ghost of JMH still at Niner?
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Niner JET 9 RDO

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Niner JET 9 RDO

Points off for sporting a front derailleur. That is so last year. Arched stays and top tube…. ummm, the jury is still out for me on the aesthetics.
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Niner JET 9 RDO

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Niner JET 9 RDO

“Pedal Dammit”….. then go “Drink Beer”? I know it’s very unhip of me to say, but I can’t get behind either one of those directives.
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Yeti SB 75

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Yeti SB 75

Beefy boxed rear triangle and short stout links added to lateral stiffness.
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Yeti SB 75

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Yeti SB 75

This Fox shock felt less good then some of the others I tested but it may just have needed some further tuning.
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Yeti SB 75

The heart of the Switch. Fully sealed eccentric “link” system with oversized pivot pins and Enduro Max bearings. A splined BB shell accepts a removable ISCG tabs.
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  • Craig Manning says:

    Great job Kent! It was great to hook up with you again this year. Sorry I couldnt make it out there on tuesday. The 5010 was a great all around bike. I could see that as being a great all rounder. I really enjoyed the Anthem 27.5 clearly as an XC race bike though. One thing I want to mention. XX1 and XO1 are incredible drivetrains but for some riders there may not be enough range in the ratios to satisfy everyone’s needs. I know SRAM has gone on record to say that 1×11 isnt going to replace 2×10 and it wasnt meant to. The Anthem had a 34 tooth front ring, Bootleg doesnt have any really steep climbs and I found myself wanting an easier gear but on the other hand, I would spin out a 34/10 on a fast XC course.

    • KRob says:

      Thanks Craig and thanks for riding with me Monday. It was good seeing you again and I enjoyed your input. After getting back on some of my normal trails this week I got wondering if I overstated the 1×11′s range…. although with bikes that light I don’t think there’s much I couldn’t climb in a 32×42 and I rarely ever spin out in 36 x 11 on my chilli so 32 x 10 should be close. Although this view may only apply to me. I’ll have to get the gear inch calculator out and do some figuring before I commit to the upgrade.

  • Evan says:

    Pivot Mach 6 wins!!!!

  • Liberty555 says:

    Great review. It’s refreshing to get the sort of review you’d get from a mate rather than the superlative laden stuff you get elsewhere. Honest and to the point. More like this please.

  • Ben says:

    Cheers for reviews, where is the mach 6 did you demo?

  • Mark says:

    ‘All Mountain Bike Tests’ is the title, but I just saw reviews on XC/trail bikes in the 100-125 mm category. Will part II include at least a token AM bike?

    • KRob says:

      I guess because the bulk of my test rides have been AM bike in years past, mtbr titled the feature the same as previous years. You’re right, mostly XC/trail bikes this year with a few stretching into the AM category (Enduro 29, Bronson, Mach 6) in part two.

  • RJ says:

    How did these bikes compare to the Turner Burner??
    Get a chance to ride one for direct comparisons?
    or maybe you can remember from before to give us an idea?

    thanks for all the effor

    • KRob says:

      Here’s my response to a similar question in the Turner forum about comparing the Mach 6, Bronson, and Burner.

      “krob – always enjoy your impressions from Interbike. now the question: can you give us your thoughts on the Burner vs Mach6, Bronson, etc.? thanks!”

      Tough call there. I’d say they are all pretty close. It would come down to your preference (or lack thereof) for carbon, suspension type, and subtle geometry differences. I will say that dw-link on both the Mach 6 and Burner and the VPP on the Bronson offer nice controlled, plush action in the rough and efficient bob-free climbing on smoother stuff. I’d give the nod to the dw-link though.

      The Bronson is very close in suspension feel as well. It might not be quite as active while climbing square ledges but like I said in the review, I do not detect any pedal kickback.

      Geometry is a bit lower and slacker on the mach 6 compared to the Bronson and you notice that some. The mach just seems like it loves to run and is set up for the descent, although there was nothing really wrong with the climbing from the little I did either.

      The Burner seems to fall in between the two of them geometry wise (I haven’t actually looked at the numbers recently to compare) with low bb and 67 HA IIRC and feels like it falls nicely between the two.

      If I were buying a bike in this category I’d have a really tough time deciding. ….. and you know I’d have to throw the Warden in the mix as well when it came time to purchase. Good bikes all.

  • jgray says:

    If you look at the picture of the 5010′s top tube from above, you visually see why 5010 replaced S0l0…

    • KRob says:

      Yeah, I didn’t even catch that it *didn’t* say SOLO when I first looked at it due to the similarity in the font. It wasn’t until I overheard the techs calling it a 5010 that I took a touble take and noticed the change. Very clever of them. Still don’t like the new name.

  • Ron says:

    I am 65 years an started biking 9 years ago. I read everything from your sight to educate myself. All that I have seen is that the bikes keep getting better and the prices keep going way up. How does a average person young or old buy any of the bikes that you keep reviewing. I ride the western frontier at Snow Shoe Mountain and I have to rent them because I can’t afford $4000.00 and up for a good average bike. What can I do

  • Ben Permuy says:

    Very good review I just picked up my Solo from the bike shop about a week ago and have put in about 50 miles on it since, it’s a blast to ride very fast and responsive excellent components and looks sharp could not ask for anything more for the price. I have been looking and tested several bikes in this category and finally decided on the Solo this was the right choice for me. I have a 29er in a small frame and have never felt one with the bike the 29 in tires and small frame did not work for me. I am 5’6 and just could not find anything that fit me right. I was able to fit perfect on a medium frame size thanks to the awesome geometry of this bike.

    • Epacheco says:

      Ben, was the Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 one of your choices? I’m debating between the 5010 and the Anthem. I’ve ridden the Anthem and was very impressed on it’s swift climbing and the way it responds when pedaling. Can you give me some insight which way to go?

  • johnny D says:

    Seriously Matt, you must be a nob. The guy has clearly explained his background and his credentials and by the look of it they are are a shitload more impressive than yours. Thanks for the feedback Krob. You were telling me the things I was looking for. Lookout bank account…im diving in

  • Dan says:

    Really enjoying these (presumably) unpaid, unbiased, and honest reviews from Krob. My God, how refreshing, real criticism, where have you been the last 10 years! None of this, forget last years bikes, these new models are all awesome, endlessly repeated, year in and year out. What a load of absolute BS. Let’s call a spade a spade, they can’t all be equally good, and some are downright average. To always suggest all these new bikes are as good as each other devalues your currency as a review site and confusers your readers. You read Pitchfork because you know they’ll bag the latest Beck album, whether you agree with it or not, it’s always interesting to read an alternate, but not necessarily contrarian opinion. Keep the honesty coming, much appreciated!

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