It shouldn't come as any surprise that Yeti have been working on a new eMTB. After all, at this point every large brand has one in their lineup, and the small to medium size companies are quickly joining the fray. In Yeti's case, they decided to create a bike designed for e-bike racing, and to create a new suspension layout to go with it.
The result is the 160E, which recently had its debut between the tape at the EWS-E race in Switzerland, albeit with results that probably weren't exactly what Yeti was hoping for. As the name implies, it has 160mm of rear travel that's paired with a 170mm fork. 29” wheels front and rear were the obvious choice in the search for speed, and there's a Shimano EP8 motor to provide the electric boost.
There are two models of the 160E available, the $12,700 T1 and the $10,000 C1. Both models use the same carbon frame and Shimano motor with 630Wh battery; it's the other components that create the price difference. If those prices seem too low, they can be increased by $900 via the addition of carbon wheels. Sixfinity Suspension
It's the new suspension design, dubbed Sixfinity, that's the highlight of the 160E. The first prototypes emerged all the way back in 2016, and Yeti's in-house engineers have been tinkering with it ever since.
Sixfinity uses a six bar linkage, with two short links connecting the front triangle to the swing arm, and a link on each side that connects the upper and lower links.
That lower link switches directions part way through the travel, similar to what Yeti's Switch Infinity system does. The design makes it possible to have anti-squat values around 100% in the pedaling zone, and lower anti-squat numbers deeper in the bike's travel in order to improve the suspension performance.
In addition, the anti-squat in the pedaling zone only has a 9% change across the cassette, a trait that's especially well suited to an e-bike where riders will be using more of the cassette's range than they would without a motor.
The 160E has a flip chip at the lower shock mount, but it's not for adjusting the geometry. Instead, it's used to alter leverage rate progression in 5% increments from 25% up to 35%. The 25% progression give the bike the most supportive feel, the 35% setting gives it a plusher beginning stroke and more ramp up later on in the travel, and the middle, 30% setting is designed to be the most balanced option. I was able to experiment with all three settings and can confirm that there is a noticeable difference between the different positions.
Along with the ability to adjust the progression without affecting the geometry, anti-squat, or anti-rise, the Sixfinity design provided the room Yeti's designers needed to fit a motor without resorting to extra-long chaintays, even with a 29” rear wheel and 160mm of travel.
Will Sixfinity ever show up on a non-motorized bike? At the moment, the official answer from Yeti is “No,” but I'm curious to see if that'll still be the case a few years from now. Frame Details
Starting up at the front end, Yeti are debuting a new thermoplastic, US-made handlebar that tucks the wiring for the display and mode controller out of the way. As is typical with Shimano's EP8 system, the display is mounted to the handlebar, and the on/off switch is located on the top of the top tube. The wires run through the downtube, which makes them easy to access once the battery is removed. On the topic of batteries, the 160E uses a standard 630 Wh battery in order to improve the chances that a shop will have a spare or replacement if necessary.
There's room for a full size water bottle on medium through XL sizes, and a stubby 'hot lap' bottle that Yeti makes for the size small. Other details include SRAM's Universal Derailleur Hanger, cable ports that are compatible with regular and moto brake set ups, and an uninterrupted seat tube to provide room for longer travel dropper posts. Geometry
When Yeti rolled out the geometry for the SB150 back in 2018 it raised a lot of eyebrows. The reach seemed long, the head angle seemed slack, and the seat angle seemed steep. As it turns out, they were pretty much right on the money, and the numbers from the bikes Yeti released that year have held up impressively well.
I mentioned the SB160's moderate rather than monsterous chainstay length earlier, and that measurement is 446mm on all sizes. We're starting to see more size-specific chainstay lenghts in the non-motorized realm, but it hasn't really caught on as much in the e-bike world. Part of that can probably be chalked up to the extra weight and the fact that there's a motor – those two elements change the bike's handling enough that a few millimeters of chainstay length difference wouldn't be nearly as noticeable as they would on a 'regular' bike.
With the 160E, Yeti didn't push things much further – in fact, the 480mm reach on a size large and 64.5-degree head angle are the same as the SB150. Could they have gone slacker? I think so, although that might have reduced some of the bike's all-round capabilities. For more insight, be sure to check out the full Field Test review of this bike here
Builds 160E T1 / $12,700 USD ($13,600 w/ carbon wheels)
160E C1 / $10,100 USD ($11,000 w/ carbon wheels)