What we’re excited about this month: Yeti 160E T1, SRAM HS2 rotor, DT Swiss e-bike wheels, Etnies MTB shoes, Look X-Track pedals, Specialized winter gloves, Bosch Kiox 300 display, Evoc wheel bag, Race Face Ruxton trousers and SQ-Lab vest.
Yeti 160E T1, £11,899
“Why did it take us so long to make the 160E?” Exactly the question we were going to put to Yeti about its first-ever e-bike, until it got there first. Yeti is famous for its Switch Infinity suspension design, Richie Rude, and its turquoise-blue bikes, but most recently its e-bike holdout status has been causing it the most notoriety. Now it’s joined the party with the 160E, a 160mm-travel e-bike with a radical suspension design and a host of new features.
Why so late then, did Yeti think e-bikes were a passing fad? The brand says it wanted to address the particular demands of a powered e-bike, and to do so required a completely new suspension design called Sixfinity. So while the E160 doesn’t have Yeti’s best suspension feature until now, Switch Infinity, it does have a revolutionary new six-bar design called Sixfinity that provides the same characteristics, Yeti says.
Before we talk about this dizzying new tech though, it’s helpful to go back and think about how Switch Infinity works. It uses a vitrual pivot that switches direction as the bike moves through its travel, letting Yeti tune the anti-squat curve to its liking – firm when you’re pedalling, more compliant when you’re descending. It’s a great system, but it takes up space smack bang in the middle of the bike at the prime spot for an e-bike motor. In short, Yeti waited so long to deliver an e-bike because it wanted to keep the advantages it reckons come from Switch Infinity.
Sixfinity targets the same suspension characteristics – that tuned anti-squat curve – but uses the small lower link that sits just above the motor as its ‘switch’. That little link rotates upwards in the first part of the travel, before completely reversing itself later in the stroke. Clever stuff.
In the real world, Yeti says there’s a pedalling zone in the first half of the travel where the bike will feel smooth and supportive. Tip beyond the link’s inflection point though, and the anti-squat quickly drops off. What’s more, Yeti says this is particularly important on an e-bike, where you use more of the spread of gears when climbing.
There’s more, though – the new bike will let riders change the leverage rate curve for the bike, without changing the geometry, anti- squat or anti-rise. There are three mounting points for the bottom of the shock, meaning you can choose how the bike feels underneath you – from very plush to balanced and on to more supportive and efficient.
So far we’ve not talked about wheel sizes, spec, geometry, or the stupendous prices that await, which has got to tell us something about how interesting this new suspension platform is. So here goes: the bike has 160mm travel, uses a 170mm fork, rolls on 29in wheels, boasts a 64.5° head angle, 78° effective seat angle and can take 2.6in tyres. There’s a 630Wh stock Shimano battery in the down tube and the bike is powered by a Shimano EP8 motor.
There are two builds to choose from – the top-end T1 bike costs a hefty £11,899 and uses Yeti’s Turq series full-carbon frame, Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT drivetrain and DT Swiss EX1700 alloy wheels. The C1 costs £9,499, it uses the same carbon frame but drops to Fox’s Performance-level suspension, SLX drivetrain and DT Swiss E1900 wheelset. Both bikes also come with Yeti’s own E-MTB specific thermoplastic handlebar with integrated wiring. We don’t yet know the weight of these new bikes, or how well they ride. Hopefully we’ll have the answers soon.
The real question then, is not why did it take Yeti so long to make the 160E, but why we did we care about its e-absence? Probably because we knew there was something special coming.
SRAM HS2 Rotor, from £49.00
Bigger rotors can generate more friction than smaller rotors, all other things being equal, and that means better braking performance and more control for you on the bike. That’s a win for the era of bigger bikes and rowdier descents, but all that friction can heat up your brakes and the fluid therein, leading to a loss of performance, without protective cooling.
SRAM reckons it has the answer to that problem, with the new HS2 Rotor. It’s now 2mm thick, up from 1.8mm, which might not sound like much but together with recessed spokes with “thermal dissipating paint”, dishes out superior heat management – 40°C less, SRAM says, based on its testing at Lake Garda, which is a reasonable reduction on a component that hits 500°C or more.
Honestly though, how many of us can say they’ve blown their brakes up in the last five years? Not many, we’d bet, and fewer still if we’re talking about UK riding. That doesn’t make the HS2 an expensive flop like its railway namesake though, because there’s also a decent boost in power on offer. HS2 uses a new track pattern that improves braking power by some 7% SRAM says, according to its own lab testing. That’s a decent improvement and not far off the step up in power that comes from upgrading to 200mm rotors from 180mm.
Thicker 2mm rotors are not only useful for heat dissipation, adding material means they are also more robust and better able to withstand impacts, and less likely to warp when you’re really cooking them. They should be quieter and less prone to squealing too, something brake powerhouse Magura has been boasting about for years with its 2mm rotors.
Downsides? It weighs more, by a couple of dozen grams. Upsides? Fewer bent rotors, quieter, more powerful and more reliable brakes. Not bad for £50 an end.
DT Swiss HXC 1501 SPLINE ONE, £689.99 front, £859.99
The DT Swiss Hybrid e-bike wheel range has been redesigned, with the top-spec HXC 1501 SPLINE ONE now using a carbon rim, new hub featuring a bigger shell and EXP OS ratchet system, and choice of inner widths. 27.5 or 29in.
Etnies Camber Crank MTB, £79.99
Swedish slopestyle rider Emil Johansson has a new colourway design for the Etnies Camber Crank MTB shoe… blue. The Camber Crank is for flat pedals, uses a Michelin sole that promises to be both grippy and durable, and has a stiff midsole for stability.
Look X-Track En-Rage Plus, £95.00
With a wide, forged aluminium platform, and a chromoly spindle, the Look X-Track En-Rage Plus is designed to be tough enough for enduro. SPD-compatible; 6° of float; 13° release angle; comes in black or gold; and there’s a Ti spindle version for XC riders.
Specialized Trail-Series Thermal Glove, £42.00
Keep riding through winter with the Specialized Trail-Series Thermal Glove. It features a wind-resistant three-layer softshell and minimal material on the hydrophobic palm to enhance feel. Touchscreen compatible; Velcro cuff; comes in red or black.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, £599.99
Garmin’s latest GPS computer, the Edge 1030 Plus, gives you turn-by- turn directions, comes preloaded with mtb-specific mapping, and there’s even a Trailforks app installed. The bundle option gives you more mounts, sensors and a HRM strap too.
Bosch Kiox 300 Display, £N/A
Bosch has a new and more powerful Powertube 750 battery for its Performance Line CX motor, running alongside its new and sleeker Kiox 300 display. Perhaps best of all, though, is a new LED control unit that lets you ditch the display altogether if you want.
Evoc Two Wheel Bag, £84.99
Evoc’s Two Wheel Bag is big enough to accept two 29in wheels with chunky tyres, and strong enough to protect them against baggage handlers. Reinforced axle padding with hard plastic bosses; divider; carry handles; 1,100g weight; measures 75x80x15g.
Race Face Ruxton Pant, £139.95
The Race Face’s latest Ruxton pant fastens with a ratchet closure, gets a stretchy nylon pre-curved cut, zippered thigh pockets, lazer venting and a DWR coating. Available in blue, black or red.
SQ-Lab ONE11 XS Vest, €129.95
The SQ-Lab ONE11 XS Vest is for both road riding and mountain biking and is windproof and breathable, making it ideal for layering on cold days. Packs down small; features a drop hem and zippered chest pocket; and reflective detailing.