The iconic MTB brand has finally joined the party with the Yeti 160E, a 160mm travel e-bike with a radical suspension design and a host of new features.
“Why did it take us so long to make the Yeti 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.
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 to compete in the cutting-edge cut-throat world of the best electric mountain bikes.
While the E160 doesn’t have Yeti’s best suspension feature until now, Switch Infinity, it does have a revolutionary new 6-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 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 pedaling, more compliant when you’re descending. It’s a great system, but it takes up space smack bang in the middle of the bike and 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 comes 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 pedaling 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, freeing the bike from the pull of the chain. What’s more, Yeti says this is particularly important on an e-bike, where you use more of the spread of gears when climbing, not just the easy dinner plates at the top.
There’s more though, the new bike will let riders change the leverage rate compression to 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 balance 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 Yeti 160E 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 Yeti 160E 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. What we don’t know yet is the weight of these new bikes, although our guess would be around 21.5kg based on similar EP8-powered bikes.
Yeti 160E geometry:
The real question
The real question then, is not why did it take them so long to make the Yeti 160E, but why did the world care about its e-absence? Probably because we knew there was something special coming.