Yeti took their sweet time making the Yeti 160E, their first eMTB. They claim that it was so they could get it right. Today we’re going to put it through its paces and see if that checks out.
If you want all the juicy details about the bike, visit our Yeti 160E launch article from last month. In this article, we are talking about ride impressions and who will be best served by Yeti’s first eMTB.
For this review, I rode the T1 build kit with the upgraded carbon wheels from DT Swiss. It goes without saying, this is an expensive bike. Every component on it is top-of-the-line. Ready to ride, the 160E weighs 51.5lb in a size XL. Now let’s get to the good part.
Yeti 160E Ride Impressions
The more eMTBs I ride, the more subtleties I find between them on the climbs. Yes, they all climb faster than a traditional mountain bike, but some climb better than others. The 160E is one of those eMTBs.
Using Shimano’s EP8 motor, the 160E has a whopping 85Nm of peak torque. It also has a full-size battery. Those two things combined mean you get to climb fast and for a long time. I wanted to see how long the battery would last in boost mode. During filming, I rode exclusively in the highest power setting. After 8 laps at the local trail network, I had only drained one bar of battery. I wish I could have run the bike empty, but I would have been there all night. I don’t have any empirical data on battery life just yet, but initially, it seems to be the longest-lasting bike I’ve ridden so far.
The geometry on the 160E is very natural and comfortable. Right out of the gate, I felt at home on the bike. At 6’2”, the XL fits like a glove. The seated position is very upright and relaxed. I did notice that my weight seemed to be pretty far over the front of the bike — not in a bad way. I think the slightly steeper head tube angle keeps the 160E more nimble and quick. That’s an excellent trait for an eMTB that can otherwise tend to feel bulky and cumbersome. The steeper angle combined with a more forward rider weight keeps the handling quick and tidy. I was able to navigate tighter corners, rocky climbs, and ledgy sections of the trail with ease. It quickly became my favorite trait about the bike.
The same trait that impressed so mun on the climbs was present in spades on the descents. The 160E’s handling can’t be beaten. It’s so quick and nimble, you almost forget you’re riding a 51 lb. bike — almost.
Two things really stood out to me on the descents. The first was the quick handling. I think the head tube angle is to credit for this. At 64.5°, it’s a little steeper than we’ve come to expect on a bike with 160mm of rear-wheel travel. I’m not saying it’s steep, just steeper than other bikes in the category. I never felt like my weight was too far forward, or that the bike was squirrely. Instead, I felt like I was forced into the proper weight-centered-on-the-bike position that can be tough to find on ultra slack bikes these days. That body position combined with the head tube angle made this thing corner like a dream. I’ve never found an eMTB that I could lean over and carve into a corner as well at the 160E. Tight corners, wide sweeping corners, switchbacks, berms, flat turns, it didn’t matter. The 160E was game for anything.
The second standout feature was the Sixfinity suspension platform. Because of the higher sprung vs unsprung weight, most eMTBs tend to feel very plush and grounded — sometimes to their own detriment. I want an eMTB that most closely resembles my normal MTB on the descents. Big, heavy pedal-assist bikes don’t do themselves too many favors by being overly plush. That tends to make exaggerate the cumbersome feeling. The 160E’s suspension works to overcome that cumbersome feeling by being supportive and controlled — not plush and gooey. It makes sense too. Yeti makes race bikes and the 160E is no exception. The suspension platform feels firm and supportive throughout the entire stroke. It allows you to generate speed on the trail by pumping every compression and roller. Instead of just sagging into a bunch of gooey suspension, you’re rewarded with speed for your efforts. The firm suspension feel makes jumping a breeze. If the trail gives you a lip or roller, it’s easy enough to get the bike off the ground. Without a lip or jump, it can be quite tough to get the bike airborne. You really start to feel the weight when you try to bunnyhop the thing. That’s to be expected, however.
One other feature I really appreciate about the bike is the flip-chip. Rather than adjusting geometry, it adjusts suspension progressivity. You’re given three different positions, 25%, 30%, and 35%. I feel that this style of flip-chip lets you tune the bike to meet your preferred riding style better than a geo-adjust chip would. I found the 30% position to be the best for my testing, however, If I was on more rough and rugged terrain, I’d probably flip to the 35% position and remove a few PSI from the shock. That would allow for a softer off-the-top feel for better traction and control, while still providing ample bottom-out control.
Who is The Yeti 160E for?
Enough nerding out. Who is this bike for? I think6 the rider who likes to have a lot of input over how their bikes rides, will get the most out of the 160E. The bike is capable enough for you to simply hang on for dear life in passenger mode, but I’m afraid you’d miss the best of what this bike has to offer. The quick handling and supportive suspension allow you to take control of the bike and most the most of your ride.
I’m glad Yeti took their time to get it right. The 160E is well worth the wait.
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