Yamaha Wabash Gravel Ebike Review

Gravel adventure with an ebike boost.

Male rider on the Yamaha Wabash off road
The Wabash is capable for both road and off-road adventures.Kalani Cummins/@kalanicphotos

What Is a Wabash?

The Wabash is a gravel bike, a bicycle category that blends road and off-road elements to allow for the versatility to handle paved and unpaved roads. It’s something more capable in the dirt than a touring bike, without the racing emphasis of a cyclocross model.

Assist on the Wabash comes from Yamaha’s PW Series SE system—a 250W motor peaking to 500W with 70Nm of torque on tap fueled by a 500WH downtube-mounted battery. Shifting and braking duties are all handled by SRAM’s Apex 1, with gear ratios ideal for gravel use. The Apex hydraulic brake calipers clamp 160mm rotors front and rear to provide consistent braking with little effort. The whole package weighs in at a commendable 42 pounds for our size Large sample.

Front side profile view of the Yamaha Wabash Gravel Ebike
The Wabash is spec’d with a SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors.Jeff Allen

What Is It Like to Ride the Wabash?

We started our test ride with pedal assist off to get a feel for the bike’s other aspects without them being overshadowed by the power element. It was a pleasant surprise to find the bike easy to pedal around with little to no resistance from the motor, which makes it ideal for hyper-milers turning power off to maximize MPC (miles per charge). Speaking of this, Yamaha claims a max range of 84 miles. We managed 96 miles during one full-to-empty ride.

Yamaha Wabash Ebike Display placement
The ebike display’s placement directly ahead of the center of the handlebars made it easy to glance at while riding.Jeff Allen

Display buttons are intuitive and easy to use, especially the assist-level selectors. A quick thumb flick selects up/down by touch alone. In addition, color-coded lights atop the display indicate assist level at a glance. There are four levels, but only two light colors: green for Eco+ and Eco and blue for Standard and High. In a perfect world four colors would make the quick glance even more informative. The display’s central placement forward of the bars made these quick glances easier than on many other ebikes.

Yamaha Peddle Assist motor on left and Battery on right
Pedal assist comes courtesy of Yahama’s 250-watt PW Series SE motor, powered by a 500Wh battery mounted on the bike’s downtube.Jeff Allen

The Wabash rides very well with assist on. There’s a notable step between each level, and we found ourselves using Eco+ or Standard mode most of the time, with High reserved for extreme needs. Yamaha’s new speed sensor with zero cadence assist provided power from the first pedal stroke without lag. It’s also cleanly integrated, improving appearance and eliminating the all too common issue of lost function due to the wheel magnet getting knocked out of place. While the Wabash is a Class 1 bike that cuts assist beyond 20 mph, the system doesn’t feel like you’ve dropped anchor when pedaling beyond the assisted speed. It was slightly more noticeable off road, but this could be due to cadence being smoother and more consistent on paved roads. It’s also worth noting that during a particularly technical section where we got off and on the bike several times (and not always in the most graceful fashion), the bike never engaged power when not wanted.

The 48T front chainring is tall compared with the 40-42T rings on most gravel bikes, even with the 11-42T cassette, but the Yamaha has plenty of low-end grunt. Climbing steep sections presented no problems, even when caught out by a blind corner followed by a quick uptick in elevation and being in the wrong gear. Keen observers will notice a round purple sticker on the motor’s non-drive side; that is a one-way permeable membrane that vents heat while keeping the elements out. It’s visible proof that Yamaha did its homework, and part of the reason we were not able to get the motor to shut down due to overheating (and we tried—hard).

Male Adult riding Yamaha Wabash on open road
The Wabash’s pedal assist cuts off at 20 mph, but the bike still pedals well beyond that threshold.Jeff Allen

Ride quality was par for the course, given the aluminum frame and fork, with geometry that’s stable at speed on gravel. Yamaha claims the 700x33 tubeless-ready tires are a perfect fit for the Wabash. While they are a nice 120 threads per inch (higher counts usually yield better ride quality), the ride quality could benefit from bigger 38 or 40mm tubeless tires. Many manufacturers include the tubeless conversion tape and valves with their bikes, but Yamaha has left these out of the box for now. Hopefully the company will include them in the future. On the plus side, Yamaha did use a full complement of 32 standard J-bend spokes with brass nipples front and rear. While this is a mundane feature often overlooked, it makes for a strong wheel that is easy to maintain and repair.

Flared bars are always welcome on a gravel bike, with greater leverage from the wider drop section of the bar, and they bring some rider weight forward for improved handling. The integrated front light was a surprisingly nice addition to the bike, good for night rides or additional visibility. The absence of an integrated taillight on the Wabash was disappointing, although you can get one with the rear rack and fender kit offered by Yamaha.

Riding up dirt hill on the Yamaha Wabash
We managed to get 96 miles of range—and a few wheelies—out of the Wabash.Jeff Allen

How Much Does the Wabash Cost?

With an MSRP of $3,499, the Wabash is a good all-rounder straddling the fence between road and trail. An additional $300 turns the Wabash into a commuter with Yamaha’s rack and fender kits. While there are a few things that could be improved upon, overall the Wabash is a well-mannered all-rounder with more grunt on tap for rider assist than the numbers might suggest.