106 Degrees of Papago - A New Mountain Bike Story

It was the hottest day in Phoenix so far, but it was new bike day and the Yeti was calling my name. Work was slow, so I took the afternoon off to head to Papago Park and do some riding. Not a bad day for it, considering the park was empty, nevermind the fact that it was 106 degrees.

I had been searching for a new bike with longer travel that could also climb well. While I wasn't planning to go full enduro, the SB6 fell into my lap at a good price, so I went for it. Before I landed on the SB6, I was interested in the Pivot Switchblade. Unfortunately, it never worked out. So after a little back and forth with my friend Nate at Rage Cycles, I started to look at Yeti's. I initially eyeballed their longer travel 29er, the SB5.5. From what I've read, longer travel 29ers were never really a hit due to the popularity of the 27.5" wheel size, however, it seems more people are looking at the 29er these days due to the larger wheel's ability to roll over anything. This means more and more companies are making very capable 29ers these days, to the point that we're even seeing downhill 29ers in the pros this year. Personally, I've already owned two 29ers and have enjoyed them both but have always been interested in the 27.5" wheel size - mostly because I feel I could whip the smaller wheels around on switchbacks easier. Sure they might not roll as fast as a 29" wheel, but my days of Strava KOMs are over (to be honest, I don't think I really ever had any days of Strava KOMs to begin with).

After a few days of researching the SB5.5, I talked to Nate again and asked what he could do for me. That's when he told me about the recently marked down SB6 they had in stock. Hmm, this required more research - I was ready for a trail bike, but not sure if I was ready for a dedicated enduro sled. Still, the deal looked good on paper, just needed to see how the bike would ride. Off to Rage for a quick spin on the SB6. Now there's not much you can do on a 20-minute test ride, but I mostly was just checking to see how the bike felt underneath me and do a quick climb to make sure it was capable of going up hills and not just blasting down them. For the most part, I was pleased after the parking lot test, pleased enough to lay down the credit card and give it a shot.

Unfortunately, it was too late in the day to do any proper riding when I got home, so the New Bike Day would have to be postponed until Friday. So as Friday waned and work became slow, I ditched the laptop for the bike and headed to Papago Park. I wanted to get a better feel for the new bike's suspension and climbing abilities, just a quick 45-minute session to dial things in. Which turned out to be the right amount of time. Even after guzzling water during that entire time, I still managed to get a dehydration headache towards the end, so I cut things off with a quick jaunt around the car and called it a day. Totally worth it. 

It's now been just over a week with the new bike and it continues to please. While I didn't get the fancy Kashima Fox Factory suspension, the Fox Performance does an excellent job and is very plush on the descents, allowing you to float over the chunder. The Yeti Switch Infinity linkage system is top notch, making the bike a very capable pedaller and climber. In fact, I never fuss with the suspension and just leave everything wide open at all times. For the most part, I'm quite pleased with the stock build of the bike, however, I can never buy a new bike and not buy upgrades, so on the way already is a new carbon cockpit to lighten the front end of the bike. I'm sure new wheels will happen at some point, and possibly new brakes. All in time, I guess.