Words by: Liam Woods
Jeff went out to Colorado last month to get some time on this new Yeti 160E e bike, Yeti’s first foray into the e-bike world. It’s a bike they held off making until they felt they could offer something that is truly a “Yeti” in the way it rides and performs. Spec’d with a Shimano EP8 motor and a 630 watt battery, the Yeti 160E will be a reliable e-bike with lots of serviceability parts from Shimano no matter where you are in the world. To make this new e-bike ride like a Yeti, a new suspension design called the Sixfinity was designed. Sixfinity helps fit the e-bike motor on the bike but still provides the suspension kinematics and ride feel that we all know and love from Yeti.
The Yeti 160E looks to be a very competitive e mountain bike with the spec Yeti has chosen for it. It has 29” wheels front and rear (sorry, mullet lovers), 160mm of rear travel (hence the 160E name), and the Shimano EP8 motor. Yeti puts this bike into their “Race” category and says that some of their sponsored athletes will look to put this 160E between the race tape and give it a go. The 160E also has a 64.5 headtube angle and 446mm chainstays across all sizes with a SRAM UDH rear derailleur hanger. There will be two colors, Turquoise of course, and a new color called Rhino Grey that looks very good in person. There will also only be two built kits available, a C1 and a T1 option, both with an upgrade for carbon wheels. More on the build kits and geometry below.
As mentioned before, this is the first e-bike produced by Yeti, coming in a few years later than some of the big brands. They may have missed out on the first hype craze, but that’s not to say that Yeti has missed the ball. Waiting to release a bike that truly screams Yeti in the way it looks, rides, and performs I think will make this bike stand out from some of the other e-bikes that just slapped a motor on a bike and called it good. There is no hiding that Yeti has a huge cult following and I think this e-bike will slot right into that, and very quickly become a popular bike. Yeti seems to have learned from the industry’s mistakes and made a new suspension design around these bikes, proving their investment in e-bikes.
Speaking of that, this is the first solid e-bike for Worldwide Cyclery, meaning that from our core brands that we sell and love, the Yeti 160E is the first that we have gotten behind. That isn't from any hate on e-bikes. Instead, it’s similar to Yeti’s philosophy. We wanted to wait to offer a bike that fits the Worldwide Cyclery style. Unique, rides amazingly and works without kinks. The popularity of e-bikes is growing incredibly fast. If you have an idea of the number of e-bikes that are sold in Europe and that have been sold in the past year for the USA, it's a massive growing segment of the mountain bike world, so we are stoked to offer a bike like the Yeti 160E. eMTB is here to stay, and personally, I think they are super rad when it comes to covering more ground, exploring new terrain, or still shredding some trails no matter how tired you are. It also helps get some riders out on the trails that are either a bit older or might find it hard to ride a normal bike up some big climbs.
Yeti made a completely new suspension design, taking a departure from their current Switch Infinity design that has been on all of their full-suspension bikes for the past six plus years. The new design, Sixfinity, looks totally different and that's because it is. With the new design, they move away from a unified rear triangle of the Switch Infinity and go to something a little more like a 6-bar design. At first glance, it doesn't make you think of Yeti, but the result of it does. Yeti managed to design a linkage suspension system that performs very similarly to the old Switch Infinity design while making room to fit an e-bike motor.
The lower linkage above the bottom bracket area is a bit covered but there is some magic going on in there. The new Sixfinity moves similarly to the Switch Infinity. As the suspension starts in its travel, the rear Switch Link initially rotates up until it reaches the inflection point. It then “switches” directions and continues to rotate down. This helps tune the anti-squat and anti-rise values to Yeti’s desire.
As the Switch link rotates upwards, the 160E has a wide and flat band of high anti-squat in the pedaling zone providing a smooth, supported pedaling platform. The Switch link then reaches its inflection point and begins to rotate downwards causing the anti-squat to quickly drop off nonlinearly. This allows the suspension to move more freely from chain forces later in the travel when pedaling is not a priority.
The anti-squat values at sag are optimized at 100%, a lower magnitude than our traditional bikes. This is ideal for the greater acceleration and higher speeds experienced while seated on an E-MTB, finding the ideal balance between stability and traction.
Compared to a traditional bike, a greater range of gears are used when climbing with an E-MTB. Across the entire cassette range, there is a very small change in anti-squat (9%) in the pedaling zone. This is ideal as the suspension performs consistently and predictably regardless of gear choice.
Due to the greater mass of an E-MTB we tuned the anti-rise to 65% at sag, a lower magnitude than our traditional bikes. Targeting this anti-rise percent strikes a balance between traction and preservation of geometry while braking.
The anti-rise is also very consistent across the entire travel range (8% delta), resulting in predictable geometry and handling in all instances.
Sixfinity™ allows for a change to the leverage rate progression, while geometry, anti-squat, and anti-rise remain constant. Three leverage rate settings are available on the 160E frame. The stock position is 30% providing a balanced ride. For a more supported and efficient feel just flip to the 25% position. For a plusher feel with more pop, flip to the 35% position (this setting is also ideal for a coil shock. A very small (2mm) travel change occurs between rate change settings.
Yeti stayed consistent with their geometry on the 160E. In fact, it’s almost identical to the SB150 with the exception of the chainstay length and seat tube angle. The chainstay grows to a 446mm chainstay, which is on the shorter side for a full 29” e-bike, so that should help the 160E corner and handle similar to a normal bike without a motor. The seat tube angle got steeper compared to the SB150 as well. It now sits at 78 degrees for the effective seat tube angle.
As mentioned above, there are two build kits to choose from. Yeti keeps it simple, which helps with minimizing parts in the current supply chain, thus working to keep more Yetis in stock, or rather, available to sell as I don’t think many will sit in stock right now.
You have the higher-end built kit, the T1 Turq Series starting at $12,700 with an option to get a carbon wheel upgrade for $900 more at $13,600. This build comes with all the top options: Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT/XTR drivetrain, Reverb AXS dropper post, Code RSC brakes with 220F/200R rotors, and proper Maxxis tires with a Double Down casing rear and EXO+ casing front.
The C1 is going to be the entry-level option. While it’s fully kitted out with some of the best parts, calling it the entry-level almost doesn’t sound right. The C1 is basically the more affordable version, with Fox Performance suspension, Shimano SLX drivetrain, OneUp dropper, Code R brakes with the same rotor spec and tire spec as the T1 above.
Words by Reamonn Ryan:
"First hopping on the Yeti 160E, I didn't know what to expect. Yeti has a reputation for having some of the best feeling bikes on the market. I knew the new e-bike was going to be something special, although I did have my doubts after seeing the new Sixfinity suspension platform. There is a lot going on down there but the guys at Yeti assured me the bike rides just like all the SB bikes in their lineup. I decided to ride a medium for a little more playful setup since I am right in between that and a large bike.
We hit the trails, or what the guys at Yeti consider riding trails. To me, they seemed like rugged mountain goat paths... The bike has a bunch of power so riding some of the most technical and steep climbs was nothing. However, in the few tricky spots when I did have to dismount the bike, the incredibly useful walking mode helped pull me up some tricky sections as opposed to me trying to pull a 50+ pound bike up a hill. It is hard for me to review the climbing capabilities of an e-bike considering there is a motor attached to the bike but in retrospect, the 160E felt just like their beloved SB150. That is to say that it is more than capable of tackling the gnarliest trails in the world, just with the little extra umph you wish for on those long, treacherous climbs. It may come as a surprise, but I think its downhill capabilities out-perform the rest of the line up.
No, it's not because it has more travel than the rest of the bikes (minus the SB165). The geometry, suspension platform, and weight all factor into an extremely confidence-inspiring ride. It does feel like the SB150 when it comes to the technical ability of the bike, however, the added weight from the motor and battery in the center of the bike really add stability to the bike. You can ride over just about everything and you feel incredibly grounded. But, with the 446mm chainstays, the 160E is still capable of jibbing. It is not hard to get this thing off the ground, even with the extra weight, and it is so easy to control downhill. I don't think many people would find it hard to maintain your lines even with an excessive amount of debris on the trail.
Overall, I am blown away by what Yeti has managed to pack into a bike like this. Although, perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise considering they spent the last five years developing it. You can see they have put in the work to make something unmatched in today's saturated market. I would consider this to be a quiver-killer as some people like to refer to bikes. It can handle those long rides, technical climbs, rowdy downhills and it’s still playful enough for those Instagram influencers to have fun on. I do not own an E-MTB right now but the Yeti 160E has me strongly considering making the jump to a pedal-assisted bike in the near future." - Reamonn Ryan
Who is this bike for? Well, personally I think it’s for everyone. E-bikes make great tools to add to your bike stable if you can do so. For exploring new terrain, you can try new trails with a shorter amount of time versus a regular bike. There is also the added benefit of getting in more laps on a certain local trail. You can really nail down lines and have more descending time with an e-bike. E-bikes also help get more butts on bikes, and at the end of the day that only helps this industry. From people who might be older and want to still ride long rides, it helps lower the fitness level to start riding for everyone.
We are stoked to see Yeti finally get into the e-bike game with the Yeti 160E, Sixfinity suspension design, Shimano EP8 motor with 630w battery, and 29” wheels front and rear. The Yeti 160E checks all the boxes all while keeping true to Yeti’s core: Race Bred since 1985. Yeti set out to make the fastest, best riding e-bike possible and we think they nailed it.
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.