YETI 160E EMTB

YETI’S LONGEST PROJECT YET

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Robin O’Neil & Dusten Ryen
Video by Dusten Ryen

Website: Yeticycles.com

Back in 2017, nearly five years before riding the new Yeti 160E eMTB here in Crested Butte, the boys (and girls) in turquoise were experimenting with rudimentary test mules that retrofitted a battery and motor to a bike resembling Yeti’s SB platform. Finally, after lots of revisions and work, Yeti’s160E eBike is ready to race, and if you’re not a racer you can just take it for some epic rips knowing the team in Golden, CO designed this bike to be capable of charging the gnarliest courses at the highest speeds possible. We got to witness Yeti racer and racing legend Jared Graves hit those mach speeds all over Crested Butte as a small group of journalists got to ride with key members of the Yeti crew that were involved with bringing this new eMTB to market.

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THE DEVELOPMENT INTERVIEW

During our trip to Colorado, we spent a ton of time picking the brains of the people responsible for this bike and doing our best to ride it as hard as we could. One of the big brains behind the Yeti 160E is Peter Zawistowski, better known as Stretch. Zawistowski has been at Yeti for 15 years and is as nerdy as he is passionate about bikes, engineering and technology. I greatly appreciate him taking so much time to answer my non-stop and sometimes hypothetical questions, but we’ll just keep the relevant ones here.

TLW: SO, WHAT IS SIXFINITY?
Peter Zawistowski (PZ): Technically it’s a Stephenson 1 type, true six-bar linkage. The wheel and brake are mounted to the seat stay, and the reason that’s important is because that’s the member that dictates anti-squat and anti-rise.

TLW: WHY SIX-BAR?
PZ: Packaging for eBikes is challenging. We didn’t want to give up geometry goals, have long chainstays, be forced to run a 27.5” rear wheel or sacrifice the suspension curves we wanted to achieve, and it wasn’t possible with how we viewed the four-bar design. We are a brand focused on racing and 29” wheels are undeniably faster, but that doesn’t mean we’re anti-mullet. If you like to party with mixed wheels, go ahead and throw a 27.5” wheel out back with a 2.6” tire and shred away.

TLW: WHAT DID YOU DO DIFFERENTLY WITH ANTI-SQUAT AND ANTI-RISE NUMBERS ON THE 160E COMPARED YETI’S NON-E BIKES?
PZ: Anti-squat goals are much different because of the acceleration capabilities of an eMTB. We only want to use anti-squat and chain force where it’s needed and not when it isn’t. On an eBike you’re pedaling more and moving faster, so you’re often in different gears than an analog bike. Whereas some bikes are optimized to work in the easiest two or three gears, an eMTB needs to be efficient and tuned across a much wider range of the cassette. We want to bias pedal bikes towards efficiency whereas on an eMTB we can put the focus on traction and comfort.

2022 Yeti 160E eMTB

 

TLW: OK, SO TO BREAK IT DOWN A LITTLE MORE SIMPLY – BECAUSE OF THE MOTOR DOING SOME WORK, YOU CAN FORGO TRADEOFFS IN EFFICIENCY TO HAVE A MORE SUPPLE AND TRACTION-ENHANCING SUSPENSION PLATFORM THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BOB OR BE TOO INEFFICIENT FOR A COMPETITIVE ANALOG BIKE.

SO, HOW DOES THE ANTI-RISE DIFFER?
PZ: Anti-rise is the tuning you give a vehicle to control pitch under braking. When you have a heavier bike and are braking at higher speeds, there’s more mass moving. Something we wanted to do was modify the curve to about 65-70%. It’s a very linear curve and consistent with about an 8% delta across the entire range. Switch Infinity bikes have about 100% anti-rise because we want to preserve the geometry as much possible for super gnarly and aggressive EWS type tracks. With the added weight of eMTBs, we wanted braking traction to be maximized so the trade off is a little bit of geo change, which can be dealt with by adding volume reducers and low speed compression to the fork. Being able to stop and keeping the tire on the ground is really important and something riders will notice aboard the 160E.

TLW: SPEAKING OF TUNING SUSPENSION, ONE OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THIS BIKE IS THE ADJUSTABLE LEVERAGE RATE. YOU AND I MADE A SWITCH AND RE-RODE AN ENTIRE TRAIL AND IT DID EXACTLY WHAT I WAS HOPING IT WOULD.
PZ: That’s awesome to hear and yes, we absolutely wanted to give racers and hobbyists the ability to tune the bike quickly for their terrain or riding style. You settled on the “Plush and poppy” setting, which is 35%. We’ll ship the 160E in the 30% middle setting and some riders may prefer the stiffer platform and racer feel of the 25% setting.

 TLW: OK, SO TO BREAK IT DOWN A LITTLE MORE SIMPLY – BECAUSE OF THE MOTOR DOING SOME WORK, YOU CAN FORGO TRADEOFFS IN EFFICIENCY TO HAVE A MORE SUPPLE AND TRACTION-ENHANCING SUSPENSION PLATFORM THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BOB OR BE TOO INEFFICIENT FOR A COMPETITIVE ANALOG BIKE.

SO, HOW DOES THE ANTI-RISE DIFFER?
PZ: Anti-rise is the tuning you give a vehicle to control pitch under braking. When you have a heavier bike and are braking at higher speeds, there’s more mass moving. Something we wanted to do was modify the curve to about 65-70%. It’s a very linear curve and consistent with about an 8% delta across the entire range. Switch Infinity bikes have about 100% anti-rise because we want to preserve the geometry as much possible for super gnarly and aggressive EWS type tracks. With the added weight of eMTBs, we wanted braking traction to be maximized so the trade off is a little bit of geo change, which can be dealt with by adding volume reducers and low speed compression to the fork. Being able to stop and keeping the tire on the ground is really important and something riders will notice aboard the 160E.

TLW: SPEAKING OF TUNING SUSPENSION, ONE OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THIS BIKE IS THE ADJUSTABLE LEVERAGE RATE. YOU AND I MADE A SWITCH AND RE-RODE AN ENTIRE TRAIL AND IT DID EXACTLY WHAT I WAS HOPING IT WOULD.
PZ: That’s awesome to hear and yes, we absolutely wanted to give racers and hobbyists the ability to tune the bike quickly for their terrain or riding style. You settled on the “Plush and poppy” setting, which is 35%. We’ll ship the 160E in the 30% middle setting and some riders may prefer the stiffer platform and racer feel of the 25% setting.

2022 Yeti 160E eMTB
2022 Yeti 160E eMTB

THE FEATURES

Now it wasn’t all suspension curves and engineering in Crested Butte. We did do a fair amount of riding and learning about the bike firsthand. Yeti gives the 160E Boost spacing, a SRAM UDH hanger, an uninterrupted 31.6mm seat tube and is rated to Yeti’s DH standard. Keeping in tune with Yeti’s quest for reliability, they’ve used floating collet axles and pinch bolts on the linkage to extend bearing life and ensure alignment.

Other features include a shock drain hole, rear mud fender protector, which we tested thoroughly, tube in tube routing in the swingarm and custom cable ports. Captured hoses and housing along with configurable frame ports help keep the bike clean and customizable depending on routing preferences or if you go wireless.

During our test rides we put in serious miles and elevation aboard the Yeti 160E, even hitting the red on the 630Wh battery one day. On day one we clocked over 32 miles and more than 5,500 feet of elevation, with a battery swap, high in the Rockies above Crested Butte. The Shimano STEPS EP8 drivetrain worked great, and we did some toggling between the two preset profiles when we needed more power or range depending on the day. This bike feels zesty and since getting it on our home test loops with other bikes in our fleet, it’s regularly at the front of the pack while climbing.

YETI 160E
C1 TURQ SERIES KIT

Price: $10,100 / 11,000 with Carbon Wheels

2022 Yeti 160E C1 eMTB

Fork: Fox Performance 38/170mm E-Tune
Shock: Fox Performance Float X

Battery: Shimano 630wh Internal
Drive Unit: Shimano Ep8
Display: Shimano Em800
Switch: Shimano Em800l

Headset: Cane Creek 40 Integrated
Handlebar: Yeti Carbon 35x800mm Ebike
Stem: Burgtec Enduro Mk3 35x50mm**
Grips: Odi Elite Pro
Saddle: Silverado Custom
Seatpost: Oneup Dropper Post – V2 31.6mm

Wheelset: Dt Swiss E1900 30mm
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 2.5 Exo+
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion Dhr Ii 2.4 Dd

Derailleur: Shimano Slx
Shifter: Shimano Slx
Crankset: Shimano Em600 34t 160mm
Cassette: Shimano Slx 10-51
Chain: Shimano Slx
Chain Guide: Oneup Top Guide
Brakes: Sram Code R
Rotor: Sram Centerline 220/200

YETI 160E
T1 TURQ SERIES KIT

Price: $12,700 / 13,600 with Carbon Wheels

2022 Yeti 160E T1 eMTB

Fork: Fox Factory 38 Grip 2/170mm E-Tune
Shock: Fox Factory Float X2

Battery: Shimano 630wh Internal
Drive Unit: Shimano Ep8
Display: Shimano Em800
Switch: Shimano Em800l

Headset: Cane Creek 110 Integrated
Handlebar: Yeti Carbon 35x800mm Ebike
Stem: Burgtec Enduro Mk3 35x50mm**
Grips: Odi Elite Pro
Saddle: Silverado Custom
Seatpost: Sram Reverb Axs 31.6mm

Wheelset: Dt Swiss Ex1700 30mm
Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 2.5 Exo+
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion Dhr Ii 2.4 Dd

Derailleur: Shimano Xt
Shifter: Shimano Xt
Crankset: Shimano Em900 34t 160mm
Cassette: Shimano Xt 10-51
Chain: Shimano Xt
Chain Guide: Oneup Top Guide
Brakes: Sram Code Rsc
Rotor: Sram Centerline 220/200

2022 Yeti 160E eMTB

THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION

Our test rig is a size large T1 Turq series build, which retails from $12,700 to $13,600 if you want the carbon wheel upgrade. For my 5’11 height and preference, I found the 480mm reach to be a nice balance. While many are asking for reach numbers closer to 500mm, my preferred reach is right at the 475-480mm length as I favor a nimble and fun bike opposed to a stable limo that takes a lot more effort to move around.

It was my first-time riding in Crested Butte, and as one could imagine, climbs there are no joke. The 78-degree seat tube angle combined with the 480mm reach put me in a comfortable position and let our all-day long test rides proceed without much discomfort. The head tube angle sits at 64.5 degrees, which for me is a nice balance as well. We’ve taken the bike down some incredibly steep trails here in Oregon and have never felt it couldn’t hang.

Conditions for the media camp were dry and loose, so scrambling up rocky, rutted-out moto trail hill climbs presented quite a challenge and was a great way to test the climbing capabilities of this enduro eMTB. I actually made it up sections of trail I fully expected to dismount. The bike also weaves through obstacles rather well. Other bikes that are much longer in this category would have trouble zipping through tighter trails while hard on the pedals, not the 160E.

Specialized Levo Gen 3 Dissected

When it came time to chase Yeti racer Jared Graves on the downhills, it was only my own lack of skill and fear that held me back. Many of the trails we rode were moto trails so long, high speed sections with natural gaps and doubles were plentiful and I was able to focus on Jared’s fading silhouette and let the chunder and chunk beneath me fade.

One of the things we look for when testing a bike is how long it takes for us to learn the bike or feel confident on it. The Yeti 160E has almost zero learning curve. A few suspension tweaks, namely rear rebound and some fork dive were the only things that caused us concern when really hanging it on at full speed on Big Mountain Enduro race tracks. Some minor suspension tunes are to be expected after hopping on a new bike and once we put the bike in the Plush and Poppy 35% leverage rate position, added some volume reducers and more low speed compression, our concerns were as gone as Jared Graves on a downhill.

Overall, I’d say Yeti’s patience has paid off. Sure they’ve missed out on a few years of sales by not releasing Gen 1, and Gen 2 before this current beast, but the good news is, their first release is a hit. We’d likely say this is the best first release eMTB from a brand we’ve ridden and it’s shaping up to be one of the better bikes we’ve ridden this year. We look forward to more time aboard the Yeti 160E as we work on racking up miles for our long-term review.

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2022 Yeti 160E Team Paint Job