Yeti 160E T1 eBike Review

YETI 160E T1 E-bike LONG-TERM REVIEW

Review by Nic Hall & Drew Rohde

We’ve had the Yeti 160E for nearly half a year now, and in that time it’s been thrashed in the TransCascadia stage race; chased Jared Graves down the steeps of Crested Butte, Colorado; and ridden plenty of high desert trail in Central Oregon. In typical fashion for a race brand, Yeti claims to have built the world’s first race-specific eMTB in the 160E. A bike built for charging up climbs yet equally capable of charging the world’s roughest tracks on the EWS-E circuit. Without a doubt Yeti was late to the electronic dance party, but let’s see if this eBike was worth the wait or too little too late.

THE LAB
Since we first started racing mountain bikes back in the 90’s those lust-worthy teal and yellow Yeti bikes have made an impact. Since then, Yeti Cycles has evolved into a lifestyle and culture brand, but they make no apologies about their bikes being built to perform. That said, the eMTB market is a whole different animal and many competitors are already on their third or fourth iteration, learning much in the process.

QUICK HITS

• 160mm Sixfinity Suspension
• HTA 64.5°
• STA 78°
• REACH 480mm (Large)

Price: $10,100 – $12,700
Website: Yeticycles.com

Playing it safe and going with a reliable, yet readily serviceable powerplant, Yeti chose to go with a Shimano STEPS EP8 motor powered by a 630Wh battery. This puts the 160E right in line with some of the most capable motor systems on the market and packs the battery life to match.

To handle the extra weight and design limitations of a battery and motor, Yeti designed a totally new linkage called Sixfinity. It is a Stephenson 1 type, true six-bar linkage, which means the wheel and brake are mounted to the seat stay. That’s important because that is the frame member that dictates anti-squat and anti-rise. To learn a lot more about this platform and see our interview with Yeti’s head of enginerdery, click here.

Yeti 160E T1 Sixfinity Suspension Linkage

In short, the Yeti 160E’s 160mm of tunable rear travel is controlled by an eccentric pivot that changes direction midway through the travel. It has similarities to Switch Infinity in how it changes directions, but instead uses a six-bar platform. This linkage allows for moderate levels of anti-squat in the pedaling zone of travel while allowing for a large amount of progressive travel after the link pivots. This lower level of anti-squat, compared to their traditional bikes, gives better traction and comfort while pedaling an eMTB while retaining full suspension control throughout the travel.

All that technology can be tuned on the fly with an adjustable leverage rate flip chip giving 35% (plush and poppy), 30% (balanced), or 25% (supportive and efficient) progression. The chip is one of the smallest pieces of the bike, but one of the most important parts as it offered the tunability to take the bike from being pretty good to exactly how we like it.

As with all Yeti bikes, the frame’s fit and finish is superb. The paint is a perfect balance of semi-gloss finish that hides scratches and chips while all the high damage areas like the chainstay, downtube, and bottom bracket have built-in protection. Cable routing is all internal with secure closures to eliminate rattle. The factory Yeti handlebars even have internal cable management designed into them to reduce cockpit clutter.

Yeti 160E T1 Motor shot

We all love geometry numbers and the 160E doesn’t stray far from tried and true Yeti. On our size large: Headtube angle is 64.5 degrees, seat tube angle 78 degrees, reach is 480mm, and the wheelbase is 1,262mm. This translates into a middle-of-the-road ride that blends seated pedaling efficiency on the ups and total stability on the way down. Interestingly, Yeti came to some of the same conclusions we have after riding almost every eMTB on the market and raised the BB slightly to 350mm. They coupled that with 160mm cranks so you can keep putting the power down through rough and off-camber pedal sections. Props for that move Yeti.

Build spec on the T1 build consists of a Fox Factory 38 with 170mm of travel coupled with a Fox Factory Float X2 rear shock. Drivetrain is all Shimano XT. Braking duties are handled by SRAM Code RSC with a 220mm front rotor and 200mm rear rotor. Wheels are DT Swiss EX1700 with 30mm internal width but can be upgraded to DT Swiss 1510 carbon for an extra $900. The seatpost is a RockShox Reverb 170mm, in the wireless AXS guise which allows for one less cable on the cockpit. The bar is a Yeti 35mmx800mm unit that is eMTB rated and features the aforementioned internal cable routing.

Yeti seals the deal with a no strings attached lifetime warranty on their frames, links, and pivots. If they fail due to a manufacturer defect, they will replace it at no cost. If you do happen to damage the frame from riding, they offer a crash replacement for a deeply discounted price.

Yeti 160E T1 eBike Review

THE DIRT
After riding in Crested Butte with the Yeti crew and taking the 160E to all our local tracks, one of our 165lb testers took the bike up to the Washington backcountry for several days of racing in the TransCascadia event. Here’s his story.

Thanks to the efficient Shimano EP8 motor and 630wh battery, I completed several 20–25-mile days with 5,000ft of vertical in Eco mode and finished with more than two battery bars left at the end of the ride. Switching between Boost and Trail, you can get around 4,000 ft of vertical, no matter the distance. Like all EP8-equipped bikes, the Yeti 160E comes with two tunes, one for maximum efficiency and one for maximum power when racing. I switched between the two tunes several times on long climbs and noticed a significant difference in battery life at the detriment to my climbing speed in the efficient mode. Of course, you can always log in to the Shimano E-Tube app and customize the two profiles even further if you’d like to reduce the difference.

Climbing on the 160E is about as good as it gets for a Shimano system. The short chainstay length, seat and head tube angles allow for maximum power and tight handling of the bike in steep corners. The motor lacks the all-out torque of the Bosch or Specialized systems, but strikes a good middle-ground of natural feel, torque, and battery life. The reduced anti-squat does seem to translate to better climbing traction and it’s something we wish more brands would do on their eBikes. On rough and rooty climbs, the 160E rarely loses traction, so spin-outs are nearly eliminated. Coupled with the higher bottom bracket and short cranks, you can keep the power down in almost every condition.

Yeti 160E T1 Review

When first heading downhill on the 160E, we thought it felt a bit dead and uninspired. But as we got comfortable with the bike and speeds increased, we were rewarded. In true Yeti fashion, the faster we rode, the better the bike felt. We settled on the Plush and Poppy setting with 35% progression as we felt it matched our riding style the best and offered the best support in mixed conditions, without any harshness on square-edge hits. After hitting the inflection point in the suspension, we noticed the bike settle into the mid stroke and have plenty in reserve for big hits or chunky rock gardens. While we often found the shock travel ring bottomed out, we didn’t feel any harshness at the bottom of the travel.

At $12,700, you are getting a very good component set up, save for the Code brakes. Even with a 220mm front rotor, the Code was under gunned and just not up to the task of bringing this shred sled back down from the high speeds this bike thrives on. Total braking force faded on long descents and the lever ended up coming all the way to the bar eventually, even after we re-bled the entire system multiple times. Other than that, the Fox suspension was top-tier, and the carbon wheel upgrade both durable and light, if not essential. The Yeti handlebar had a comfortable rise, sweep and the clean cockpit was a nice bonus.

Yeti 160E eMTB Action

The Wolf’s Last Word

If you are willing to keep the 160E at race pace, it will reward you with limitless grip, stability and fun. Yeti has obviously been listening to the market and designed a very capable eBike, and it may just be one of the best Shimano-equipped eMTBs we have tested yet. With smart design considerations like a higher bottom bracket, short cranks, and a fun suspension tune, the 160E is very close to perfection if you have the terrain and gumption to let it eat. At slower speeds it can feel somewhat sluggish on the trail, but if anything it’ll just push you to ride harder. Then of course we get into the value equation. Does this bike ride twice as good as other bikes on the market, like the Canyon Spectral:ON for example? No it doesn’t, but if you want a Yeti, then you want a Yeti and you’re willing to pay for it. Our advice to those who do end up throwing down 13K on this bike, spend a few more bucks to get a different set of brakes. While you don’t have to race the 160E as intended, be prepared to ride it like you are, ‘cuz this thing is fast and fun!

Simply put, this is one of the best eBikes currently on the market, but we’re not sure it rides twice as good as other options that cost half as much. Yeti may have been late to the eBike party, but the 160E was worth the wait.

Price: $12,700
Weight: 52.4-lbs
Website:
Yeticycles.com

VISIT YETI CYCLES TO GET YOURS!

SPECIFICATIONS

CHASSIS
Frame: TURQ series carbon | 160mm Sixfinity Suspension

Fork: Fox Factory 38 GRIP 2/170mm E-Tune
Shock: FOX FACTORY FLOAT X2

ELECTRONICS
Drive Unit:
Shimano EP8
Battery:
Shimano 630Wh Internal
Display/Switch:
Shimano EM800

COCKPIT
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC 220/200

Shifter: Shimano XT
Handlebar: Yeti Carbon 35x800mm eBike
Stem: Race Face Turbine | 50mm
Saddle: WTB Silverado Custom
Seatpost: SRAM Reverb AXS | S: 125mm, M: 150mm, L/XL: 170mm

WHEELS
Wheels: DT SWISS EX1700 30MM

Front Tire: Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5 EXo+
Rear Tire: Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.4 DD

DRIVETRAIN
Cassette: Shimano XT, 10-51T
Cranks: Shimano EM900 34T 160mm
Derailleur: Shimano XT

Yeti 160E T1 Downtube

We Dig

Plush and Poppy Setting!
Pedaling and climbing traction
Stability at speed
Yeti specific EP8 tune
Fast
Looks good

We Don’t

Can feel a bit heavy at slower speeds
Can feel harsh in other suspension settings on square edge bumps
Code brakes aren’t up to the task
$$$

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