Yeti 160E First Look | Flow weighs in on Yeti’s long awaited e-MTB

Fashionably late to the party, Yeti has launched its first e-MTB, the 160E. The brand tells us we haven’t seen a turquoise e-MTB sooner because it has been working on an entirely new suspension layout since 2016, specifically designed to cope with the added weight and speed achievable with pedal assist.

While this is probably part of the story, we can’t help but wonder if there was some other apprehension from Yeti to add a motor. Until recently, e-Bikes didn’t mesh with its ‘race bred’ tagline, though conveniently that all changed with the EWS-E and WES series. Or maybe it didn’t want to lose any of its street cred as a ‘core’ brand, but with outfits like Rocky Mountain, Pivot, Intense and even Santa Cruz jumping on the pedal assist train, the proverbial ice was already broken.

The Yeti 160E has been a loooong time coming.

Back in 2019, Yeti Owners Chris Conroy and Steve Hoogendoorn spoke to Italy’s MTB-Mag and basically said if they made an e-MTB it would be too expensive, but with the likes of Specialized and others now selling ~$20,000 e-MTBs, maybe they felt the market was ready.

There’s also the access issues mountain bikers face in the US, with e-Bikes not being allowed to ride in certain places, and it’s possible Yeti didn’t want to get pulled into that debate.

We can only speculate.

Regardless of why it took so long, what Yeti has delivered is a 160mm e-MTB, rolling on 29in wheels — at both ends — with a Shimano EP8 drive system and a rear-end designed for efficiency. The brand says the 160E is meant for racing, and you will see Jared Graves and Jubal Davis testing its mettle at EWS-E events this month. For the rest of us, this new ride, hailing from Golden Colorado, has quite a bit going on, let’s dive in.


Riders like Jared Graves have been hard at work testing the new 160E

Move over Switch Infinity, Sixfitnity is the latest tech in town

As you can probably guess from the name, the 160E is based around 160mm of travel, thanks to the new six-bar, Sixfinity rear end. At first glance, this linkage appears similar to a Horst link system; however, a strut coming down from the rocker has allowed Yeti to incorporate a ‘Switch link’ that is claimed to provide a stable pedalling platform.

Yeti tells us it has been prototyping the Sixfinity rear end since 2016. As you can see, it’s come a long way.

In the first part of the stroke, the Switch link rotates upwards, and as the suspension moves deeper into its travel, the link changes direction and rotates downward. This solution achieves a similar feat to the Switch Infinity system but (believe it or not) is vastly simpler, and we are interested to see if Sixfinity will make its way across to Yeti’s naturally aspirated bikes.

At sag, while the Switch link is still on its skyward trajectory, the anti-squat sits right at 100-per cent to create support in what Yeti calls the pedalling zone. This early part of the anti-squat curve is noticeably flatter than bikes like the SB150, SB165 and even the SB115 XC bike, to compensate for the acceleration and higher speeds you can achieve while sitting down and pedalling on an e-MTB.

With the directional change of the Switchlink, Yeti has been able to build support into the early part of the stroke.

Once the bike hits about ~90mm of travel, the Switch link changes direction, and the anti-squat figure drops like a pair of cement shoes thrown into the Sydney Harbour, and should allow the suspension to move free from chain forces.

The Anti-Squat stays right at 100-per cent until you dip deeper into the travel.

Yeti has also managed to keep the anti-squat consistent across the cassette, with only a 9-per cent difference between the 52t and 10t cog in the pedalling zone. When you’re climbing on an e-bike, you’re not limited to the top third of the cassette, and Yeti’s aim was to keep the pedalling support consistent regardless of the chain line.

On the other end of the spectrum, Yeti has tuned the anti-rise to 65-per cent at sag and 61-per cent at full travel, aiming to strike a balance between traction and preserving geometry when you grab a handful of brakes. To put that in perspective, the SB150 clocks in at about 90-per cent anti-rise at sag.

The Anti-rise delta is only 8-per cent across the entire range of rear travel.

Adjustable leverage rate

Millimetres make a ‘uge difference when we’re talking about suspension kinematics, which is why a tiny little flip-chip that moves the bottom shock bolt can affect the leverage rate by 10-per cent without altering the geometry, anti-rise or anti-squat — though there is a ~2mm variation in travel.

The three-position flip-chip just above the BB allows for a 35-per cent, 30-per cent and 25-per cent leverage rate. The lowest 25-per cent position will create the plushest feeling ride of the three with an air shock, while Yeti says the 35-per cent setting is ideal for a coil.

We can’t think of another bike where the leverage rate is so easily adjustable.

With a few turns of an allen key, you can tune the feel and performance of the rear end to suit riding conditions, say if you’re are riding rough and rooty trails one day, or smoother flowy trails the next. Having said that, we’d bet most folks will either whack it in the plush position and never touch it again, or go the opposite direction, install a coil and be done with it.

160E geometry

Based around 160mm of rear travel and a 170mm fork, the 160E is the longest travel 29er in Yeti’s range. Looking over the geometry chart, the turquoise e-MTB borrows DNA from the SB150, with the same head angle, and reach figures across the size range. However, the effective seat angle is one-degree steeper than its naturally aspirated cousin, and the estimated BB height and stack are a handful of millimetres higher. The rear centre and wheelbase are also longer due to having the squeeze in the motor.

When we look at e-MTBs, chainstays are always a central talking point because the motor takes up some of the real estate where the rear tyre and shock should fit in the frame, and many brands have had to get creative or resort to mullet rear wheels to avoid mile-long rear centre lengths.

For the 160E, Yeti has managed 446mm chainstays and has room for a 160mm Fox Float X2 and 29in wheel with a 2.6in tyre without any tomfoolery. Yeti is not the only brand to achieve this feat, with the Trek Rail coming in at 448mm — though it only has 150mm of travel — while the Polygon Mt Bromo manages a 435mm rear centre but has employed non-traditional chainstays. Bikes like the Specialized Levo and Canyon Spectral:ON are both shorter at the back, but utilise a 27.5in rear wheel.

Yeti has managed to fit a lot, into not a lot of space

160E frame features

The frame is made from Yeti’s Turq series carbon fibre and rated to the brand’s DH standards. Even though the rear end is less complex than the Switch Infinity, there are still quite a few moving parts back there, so to maximise bearing life and keep things running smoothly, Yeti has employed floating collet axles and pinch bolts.

The 160E has been a long time coming, and Yeti seems to have thrown everything they have into this new e-MTB.

If you’re a thirsty rider who is small in stature, you’d better bring a backpack with you because there is only room for a ‘hot lap’ (read: small) bottle inside the front triangle, while the MD – XL frames will accommodate a full-size bottle.

Yeti has combined the trifecta of a straight, uninterrupted, 31.6mm diameter seat tube for maximum dropper post compatibility, though it is on the long side on the Large and XL frame sizes, which may limit the ability to fit an uber-long drop post.

The cables run through a tube in tube system and are moto style brake compatible. The ports can also be customised to work with wired or wireless drivetrains and droppers, or a combination of the two — though all the complete bikes are shod with mechanical drivetrains.

Shimano EP8

Yeti has chosen to spec Shimano’s EP8 e-Bike suite on the 160E, utilising a 630-Wh battery semi-integrated into the downtube. Yeti could probably have made a lighter frame with cleaner lines had they integrated the battery into the downtube like Specialized, Norco and Orbea, integration like this makes changing the batteries slower which in an EWS-e where riders are likely to use three batteries.

This is your standard Shimano battery, so coming up with a replacement should be a breeze if you have an issue, and the bike has a remote charging port on the non-driveside.

The view from Graves’ cockpit.

Through the Shimano E-Tube app, riders can custom-tune their support levels and further optimise the bike. If you want to know what it’s like to ride like Jared Graves, Yeti will make his and other race-tuned profiles created by its pro riders available to 160E owners — no word on whether these profiles will make you descend like Graves.

Something Yeti hasn’t spoken about is the range — especially on these race-tuned assist profiles. Most brands make a bit deal about how far or how much elevation you can achieve on a single charge, however Yeti has not even devoted one sentence to the topic. The EP8 motor and 630Wh battery are both known quantities and we can probably work out how far it will go based on other bikes, but it’s an interesting omission nonetheless.

At the front, Yeti has decided against a custom integrated display and the bike features a standard E-800 remote and full-colour display, but an interesting tidbit on the spec sheet is a new Yeti Thermoplastic handlebar. These bars route the e-Bike wiring internally to clean up the front end, which is a nice touch, but it’s the Thermoplastic part that has caught our attention.

Yeti’s Thermoplastic handlebar runs the e-Bike wiring on the inside, but that’s not the only reason why these bars are interesting.

Yeti experimented with Thermoplastic handlebars back in the 80s and 90s, and there is a reason they were discontinued. However, this composite technology has improved 10-fold, and may even mean these bars will be recyclable in a similar fashion to Revel’s Fusion Fiber thermoplastic wheels.

Regardless of why it took Yeti so long to launch an e-MTB, on paper, the 160E looks pretty rad.

Flow’s Take

We’d like to take a moment to say, holy bananas, Yeti has finally launched an e-Bike! Regardless of how it performs on the trail, it is a big deal for a brand with the cult status, and devoted following of Yeti to enter this area. It further legitimises this segment of riding and makes it a bit harder to make the argument that e-MTBs aren’t mountain bikes. Because if they weren’t, Yeti wouldn’t have made one.

As we mentioned at the top, a few other core brands have beaten Yeti to the punch, but there are still notable holdouts like Ibis, Evil, Salsa and Transition. Will the 160E be the catalyst that sets off a chain reaction of boutique e-MTBs? Only time will tell.

The launch of the 160E is a big deal and says a lot about where mountain biking is headed.

It’s clear looking over the press material, Yeti wants to stress the reason this bike took so long was the development of the Sixfinity rear end and integrating it into the e-Bike suite.

To give Yeti the benefit of the doubt, motor and battery technology has gone through the roof in the past two years, with smaller, more powerful motors and longer-lasting batteries. These components are defining characteristics of an e-MTB and greatly impact the way a bike rides, so there is a case for waiting for a few generations for Bosch, Shimano, Brose and the like, to work out the kinks before attaching your brand name to one.

It’s very rare that we get so many high gloss images of a test mule in a press kit, but they are there for a reason.

However, the wait has also allowed Yeti to see where other brands have stumbled and to learn from their mistakes, and also means vitriol surrounding such a launch will be less, as the mob has had time to settle down and put away the pitchforks.

Take the Santa Cruz Heckler. Santa Cruz absolutely copped it when that bike was launched, but it wasn’t totally unfounded. Rolling on unfashionably small wheels with a four-year-old motor and a small capacity battery — it was the equivalent of a belly flop off the high dive, and Santa Cruz was playing catchup from day one.

In the past couple of years, the market has shifted too. E-Bikes are selling like hotcakes and people are less offended by their price tags. To Yeti (and Rowney Sports) credit, the pricing attached to the 160E is more reasonable than we expected. Within Team Flow, we predicted the top-spec model to would cost north of $20,000 AUD. Technically, it’s only a dollar less (not including GST) but if you convert the USD price over to AUD, it’s just about at parity — something that cannot be said for a bike like the Specialized Levo.

Yeti knows its audience and has produced an e-MTB that appeals to it.

What Yeti have done is create an e-MTB that brand loyalists and Yeti customers will appreciate. It’s fantastic looking, well-finished, and features a clever suspension platform. Is the 160E a groundbreaking e-MTB that is innovating on the pointy end of the e-MTB market? Probably not. Will we see more innovation at the forefront of e-Bike technology because of it? Absolutely!

Yeti 160E Pricing and availability

The million-dollar question everyone is asking is how many kidneys will you have to sell to make one of these turquoise beauties your own, and when will you be able to get one.

Our local Australian Yeti hunters at Rowney Sports have confirmed that they are expecting very limited inventory to hit our shores in October, and are hoping more supply will land close to the new year. If you’re keen to get your hands on a Yeti 160E it is going to cost you at least $15,990 AUD for the C1 model, jumping up to $19,999 dollary-doos for the top-spec T1 model. Both price points run the exact same cockpit and Maxxis Assegai/DHR II combo, with the more expensive model seeing an upgrade to higher tier Shimano drivetrain components and DT Swiss wheels, Kashima coated suspension and a Reverb AXS dropper post.

160E T1 Turq Series Kit

The top-spec T1 160e sees full Fox Factory suspension, a Shimano XT drivetrain, and a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper.

160E C1 Series

Both builds of the 160E will be available in the classic Yeti turquoise and this Rino Grey paint job.

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