It’s not often we get seriously blingy bikes in for testing but when we were offered Yeti’s first ever e-bike to play with, we just couldn’t say no. It goes without saying, it’s a high-end bike with a price tag to match but it comes dripping with top shelf kit along with a suspension linkage that’s been designed especially for the e-bike. I’ve spent a week with the Yeti 160E and here are my thoughts.
Now, before we get on with this First Ride, I think it’s important to get the Yeti 160E’s price out of the way. Here, we’ve got the bike in its top of the range, T-Series T1 build and it’ll set you back, brace yourself… £11,900.
You get quite a bit for that cash though, including a Fox 38 Factory fork with a GRIP2 damper, an E-tune, and 170mm of squish. Then, there’s a Fox Float X2 Factory shock damping 160mm of chunder taming travel.
Along with that, we’ve got a Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain with SRAM Code RSC brakes. Those brakes come sorted with some pretty big rotors with a 220mm disc at the front, and a 200mm at the rear. It is an e-bike after all, so those brakes have quite some weight to slow down.
Onto the wheelset and it comes from DT Swiss in the form of the EX1700. Its rims get a 30mm internal width. Those wheels come shod with a Maxxis Assegai at the front and a DHR II at the rear, the former getting an EXO+ casing and the latter a tougher Double Down casing. In the interest of wheel preservation, this test bike comes kitted with CushCore, though it’s not something you’ll get as standard.
The 160E T1 is then built with a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, so that uses SRAM’s fancy wireless actuation and there’s Yeti’s own 800mm carbon handlebar. It’s not just any handlebar though, as it’s specially routed for the motor’s cables to help keep the bike’s cockpit as tidy and mess-free as possible.
That leads me nicely onto the motor and here we’ve got a Shimano EP8 with a 630Wh internal battery. It comes with three modes, Eco, Trail, and Boost, all of which are fairly self explanatory but Trail is a bit more sophisticated as it reacts to your input on the pedals to deal out what it reckons is the ideal level of assistance.
So the big question that comes with Yeti’s first entry into the world of e-bikes is why did it take so long? Well, the 160E has seen a full five years of development before its release and that’s due to Yeti’s quest to create a bike especially for racing.
It’s also down to the fact that the 160E has had to adopt a whole new suspension linkage as the motor takes up all of the space where you would usually find Yeti’s famed Switch Infinity unit. So in order to keep the chainstay nice and short, the brand ditched the tried and tested linkage, and has created Sixfinity, a new six-bar suspension platform.
Yeti has tuned Sixfinity specifically for the added weight and speed of an e-mountain bike, sorting it with 100% anti-squat at the sag point. Across the cassette, there’s only a 9% change in anti-squat so pedaling should remain lovely and efficient whichever gear you’re pushing.
It also gets a reduced anti-rise magnitude than the rest of Yeti’s bikes at 65%.
That’s not all, as the 160E gets an adjustable leverage rate thanks to a replaceable chip system found at the bottom of the shock. The standard, middle position is designed to offer a balanced ride with 30% progressivity, the most forward position reduces to progressivity to 25%, offering a more supported and efficient feel for covering loads of ground quickly, and then the rearwards position amps up the progressivity to 35%, ideal for big hits and if you’re looking for a livelier ride.
All of this happens while preserving the bike’s geometry, anti-squat, and anti-rise. However, there is a small change to the bike’s travel as it’s reduced by 2mm in the 25% position and handily increased by 2mm in the 35% position. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to play with this during testing.
Onto the frame. This bike is built around Yeti’s top end Turq series carbon frame that’s internally routed with cable tubes and secure closures where the cables emerge. There’s then a chain slap protector and the 160e’s cable management system can handle all kinds of brake lever and drivetrain setups, whether that’s wireless or traditional, moto or non-moto.
All of that leads to a package that’s claimed to weigh in at 22.5kg, which isn’t too shabby.
Geometry-wise, the Yeti 160E is well and truly enduro. This large frame gets a 480mm reach, a 64.5° head tube angle, a 78° effective seat tube angle, and a 446mm chainstay. Of course, as a race bike, it rolls on 29” wheels at both ends purely in the pursuit of speed. An interesting touch is that the 160 gets a 350mm bottom bracket height, higher than the brand's acoustic bikes. That’s paired with 160mm cranks so riders can throw in a few extra pedal strokes over the rough stuff.
That kind of geometry is something that I’m generally very happy aboard. To be honest, it didn’t take long at all to feel at home on the 160E, the only real hang-up was the weight as e-bikes aren’t something that I’m often treated to.
As someone who measures in at around 5’10” in height with a 78cm inseam the 450mm seat tube is at the perfect height with the 170mm dropper post at full extension. If it were any taller, then there would be some sizing issues.
My first few pedals strokes were done with the Shimano EP8 turned off and right away I was impressed with how efficient the bike was, so much so that I kept it off while cycling the flat section towards Windhill Bikepark. Though, once the motor was booted up, the bike’s efficiency remained exactly that, efficient.
In fact, the Sixfinity platform is surprisingly independent of pedaling input, only giving up a little of its travel to pedal bob when you’re really putting the power down. I've never felt the need to reach for the Fox X2's lockout. However, when the bumps come along, it’s more than happy to get moving, keeping the rear wheel seriously glued to the ground, even as you charge up techy climbs.
This results in heaps of traction and it was only on loose rock or in proper slop where the rear wheel gave up. Though it was quick to regain grip and power you up the rest of the hill.
While the EP8 motor offers up three different power modes, I spent most of my time with the 160E with the motor set to Trail mode. I really enjoyed how naturally it delivered its power. If I felt like chilling out as I gently winched up a mellow climb, the motor would offer up just enough support to keep me from tiring out. If I wanted to get up a techy section as quickly as I could, the motor would sense that I’m putting more effort through the pedals and it’ll crank up the assistance to blast me up the hill.
I reckon that this mode is ideal for anyone looking to race aboard the 160E as it silently but naturally modulates its output. Once you’re faced with a mid-stage climb, it’ll give you full power to get up that climb without having to reach for the mode selector. It’ll also keep the bike from looping out as you negotiate tight switchbacks, as it can when in Boost mode.
I managed to eek out over three hours' worth of winch and plummet goodness before the battery ran dry. So bigger days on the bike will definitely need some battery management.
Of course, as an enduro race bike it needs to be as capable of going downhill as it is going up and that, it definitely is.
Once the hits start rolling in, the Sixfinity linkage opens up, allowing the shock to dampen all manners of trail chunk while remaining efficient through any pedally sections. I’ve never found the rear end to wallow or to blast through its travel too easily either. It’s very nicely supportive when you need it to be, reserving healthy levels of its travel for big hits.
The combination of a fairly agro geometry, its travel figures, and the suspension platform makes the bike absolutely at home in techy sections. All you need to do is look up, pick your line and hang on because the bike will take almost anything well within its stride.
Although the rear end soaks up bumps incredibly well, it still offers a very useful level of feedback, so it’s rare that a trail is completely dulled down. But if you’re one for flow trails and you like to maximize the fun factor, the Yeti 160E’s long travel is a little too ‘enduro’ for that kind of riding.
Even if Yeti's move to the Sixfinity platform means that the brand could shorten the chainstay to make the 160E more agile, it still suffers from some sluggishness as you lean the bike from corner to corner. This is down solely to the weight of the bike and the centrifugal force of those big 29” wheels.
It takes some getting used to and unfortunately, as my time with the Yeti 160E was so short, I wasn’t able to master it. But once the bike is leaned into a corner, the stability on offer is mighty impressive. Get those shoulder knobs engaged with the trail and the 160E’s ability to hold a line is a force to be reckoned with. That’s thanks to the 1262mm wheelbase and low-slung weight.
Steep sections were met with heaps of confidence courtesy of that 64.5° head angle, however again, the bike’s weight came as a bit of a hurdle when things got tight and twisty. It’s definitely something more time with the bike would fix but there was something about the bike’s weight and leaning it into steep switchbacks that I couldn’t get my head around. This is by no means a downside to the Yeti 160E but more of a thing that I need to get used to when riding e-bikes.
Nonetheless, the sheer amount of travel on offer and the fact the front wheel is nicely out at the front of the bike summons up tonnes of confidence when the steep trail straightens.
It goes without saying that the bike's sky-high price tag will need a lot of justification. At just south of £12k, it finds competition in the form of the Specialized Kenevo SL S-Works, costing £600 more. Of course, it's pricier but it's lighter thanks to Spesh's SL drive system and it rolls on carbon rims.
Then there's the Santa Cruz Heckler in the range topping X01 RSV build which will set you back £11,000. It's clearly cheaper and it also gets carbon rims but it doesn't get the travel of the Yeti and it doesn't have as agro a geometry.
But both of those bikes, don't get the e-bike specific Sixfinity suspension platform, rather linkages that have been adapted from their non-motored counterparts.
After just a week with the Yeti 160E, one thing is glaringly clear and that’s that this bike is made to race. Not only does the well thought out geometry, blingy kit, and big travel make it a hugely capable bike but Yeti has done great things with the new Sixfinity linkage, creating a bike that’s also a monster up a hill. While it is an eye-wateringly pricy machine, that new suspension platform might just make it worthwhile.
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