The YT Izzo Core 3 is reviewed in Issue 142 Bike Test – The Big Short.
The YT Izzo came out a couple of years ago and made waves principally because it was a bike from YT that wasn’t overtly aimed at the enduro or gravity crowd. It was a mountain bike with ‘just’ 130mm of travel, front and rear. This was something new from the direct sales brand more known for its longer travel Tues, Capra and Jeffsy.
The initial Izzo was a rather gaudy looking affair. Shiny black with metallic bits and Kashima this and that. Those first YT Izzo bikes looked a bit in thrall to the Eurotrashy cross-country mob. This new Core version is far more subtle, far prettier and far more YT. We mention aesthetics because although they shouldn’t be important, they are. Especially for YT. When you’re buying a bike remotely, you need to be sold on its looks first. And this Izzo looks seriously sharp. It looks like it should ride really sharp too. ‘Job done’, YT’s design team.
Since 2020, when the YT Izzo was launched with a typically OTT media campaign, things have changed. Down-country is actually a thing now, rather than a bike journo in-joke. We have specific down-country bikes these days.
Principally we have the Transition Spur, the Specialized Epic Evo and the Scott Spark. The Izzo doesn’t really fit in with this crowd. It has 130mm of travel. Its geometry is not hugely progressive. It isn’t niche enough. Direct sales brands still don’t seem to appeal to the sort of dyed in the wool/long in the tooth riders that bike shop brands do. Where does this leave the Izzo? Well, it leaves it with a whole segment of the market known as ‘normal people’ who ride ‘normal stuff’. Done well, 130mm trail bikes are amazing all-rounders. And the Izzo is done very well indeed.
On to the details then. The frame is virtually entirely carbon. The linkage and assorted hardware are aluminium. The Izzo is impeccably modern. As well as being none-more-carbon, it has fully internal cable routing, a PressFit 92 bottom bracket, room for water bottle, accessory mounts under the top tube, bespoke frame protection and a flip chip (albeit a flip chip that is typically redundant because it doesn’t alter the geometry very much and no one will ever run in it ‘high’ setting anyway).
The Izzo is also something of a departure for YT in terms of the suspension design. It uses a vertically mounted shock in a trad 4-bar rocker layout. All other YT bikes have horizontally mounted shocks further up the downtube or on to the top tube. The decision was made to prioritise water bottle compatibility over leverage curves, etc. And it’s a decision I agree with. A modest 130mm of travel arguably doesn’t need complex kinematics. I certainly value water bottles over mid-stroke support, or whatever. Sorry suspension nerds! This is the real world. There are plenty of experienced riders who won’t buy a bike if they can’t run a bottle on it. Priorities have changed.
Where was I? Oh yes. The Izzo looks better than ever. YT may get a bit of flak frequently for its rather OTT marketing campaigns. It’s safe to say that it is a very image conscious bike brand. Sometimes the marketing stuff may not suit some people, but there’s no denying that YT knows how to use its carbon crayons. The aesthetic of the Izzo does also give a very good indication of how the bike ends up behaving on the trails. It’s a taut and slice ’n’ dice sort of bike.
How is YT’s other USP? Namely, value for money. It’s still impressive. Roughly speaking, we’d say you’re saving about a grand compared to a bike from a real bike shop. You can read the spec for yourself below. While it’s not exactly what I’d spec, it’s all perfectly fine-for-now. It must be said that there’s an impressive lack of own-brand parts on this bike. It’s a brand name fest. I’d probably swap to a shorter stem (and higher rise bar) after a while and swap the tyres out after… a ride. Not a fan of Forekasters here. Not even in the dry. Too much tendency to wash-out when leaned.
Spec highlights? The Grip2 dampered Fox 34, the SDG saddle and the 200mm brake rotor. Spec lowlights? Well, Forekaster tyres, the low-rise-for-a-Large handlebar and the 150mm dropper (I installed a 170mm dropper for most of the test period).
On to the geometry. The head angle is relatively steep at 66°. The seat angle is decently steep at 77°. The BB is a pleasingly ground-scraping 332mm. The reach is a modest 472mm. The standover is excellent and goes a long way to offsetting any nerviness that the reach and head angle can exhibit. The head tube is quite short at 115mm, and the lowness is exacerbated by the internal cup headset and low rise bar.
The YT Izzo is fast. Its speed has little to do with its low weight (it’s the lightest bike in this test). Its response is due to… well, it’s to do with a lot of things. Its suspension kinematic, its frame stiffness, its geometry and its spec.
The Izzo is fast. This is both good and bad. It’s fast under pedal power and it’s fast to respond to rider input – both intentional and accidental. It is not the most planted and stable feeling of bikes. Again, this is both good and bad. It’s great if you want to pop and hop about like Bambi on PCP, but it can be a bit of a handful when things get rough.
As a woodland ripper and a trail centre jet it is amazing. Smoother, less steep terrain that is twisty AF is where the Izzo wants to be. It is addictively punchy. It loves to jump. It loves to drift. It loves to have fun.
What it doesn’t really love is steep stuff. Or rocky stuff. I don’t necessarily mean this as a criticism either. YT makes other bikes more suited to North Wales or the Lakes. The Izzo is what it is. Coincidentally, ‘it is what it is’ is pretty much where the name Izzo originates (it’s derived from a German phrase meaning exactly that).
With the Izzo, YT set out to make a trail bike for trails that aren’t rough. Flow trails. Twisty woodland. Trails where it can be useful – or just plain fun – to have short chainstays and short reach. Manualling missions. Boost-athons. Terrain where all too often modern mountain bike sleds can feel bored and… slow.
And do you know what? If you were to size-up, swap some bits (bar, stem, even an angle-adjust headset) you could have your gradient cake and eat it. A longer, slacker Izzo is achievable. The Izzo would still be one of the firmer feeling bikes out there, so would never be truly at home in the proper mountains, but it would be a freaking blast everywhere else. Which, in the UK, is pretty much everywhere.
Back to the Izzo I tested. All in all it was a thrilling bike that was at its best on the more groomed and broomed tracks. It’s not a bike you can relax on. Nor is it a bike that you particularly want to relax on. I didn’t seem to sit down very much on it. Even though the saddle is one of my favourites.
Due to the progressive nature of its suspension kinematic, it is possible to run it with a healthy amount of sag which induces a calming/inspiring slacker head angle. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the lowering of the BB, again because of this bike’s smooth-trail preferences where pedal strikes aren’t so much of an issue. Indeed, I ended up running closer to 33% sag on the rear with the Izzo to effectively make the head angle slacker, this also had the benefit of eking a bit more traction out of the back of the bike which could otherwise feel overly skittish when on less predictable trails.
Spec-wise, the fork and shock felt great. The brakes were excellent – they really help with the stop/go quick-responding nature of the bike in general. The tyres were terrifying. The 60mm stem felt long, even when seated and/or contouring. The bars were too low. For 2022 AD, the 150mm droppers doesn’t drop far enough. The gears and the wheels weren’t thought about once (A Good Sign).
Sometimes a bike really does ride like how you expect it to. The Izzo looks sharp and rides sharper. Whether your trails reward or punish sharp handling bikes is the $64,000 question (or the £3,899 inc. VAT, exc. custom duties, shipping and import costs question).
Don’t order the Izzo if you genuinely want an all-round trail bike. Yes, despite what I just said above about 130mm bikes being great all-rounders. It depends on the 130mm bike in question. The Izzo is not designed for rocks or roots or roughness. It has a modest amount of travel for a reason: because the trails it works best on don’t require more than 130mm. As a trail centre thrasher or woodland slice ’n’ dicer, the Izzo is pretty much in a league of its own.
If you’ve been lugging a long-travel enduro-bro machine around your local trail network for the past few years and been questioning why you bother, get an Izzo. You’ll not look back. You’ll be too busy looking for the next bit of trail to boost off.
YT Izzo Core 3 Specification
- Frame // Carbon, 130mm
- Shock // Fox Float DPS Performance Elite, 210x55mm
- Fork // Fox 34 Float Performance Elite Grip2, 130mm, 44mm offset
- Wheels // DT Swiss M 1900 Spline
- Front Tyre // Maxxis Forekaster 29×2.35 EXO
- Rear Tyre // Maxxis Forekaster 29×2.35 EXO
- Chainset // SRAM GX Eagle, 175mm, 32T
- Drivetrain // SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed
- Brakes // SRAM G2 R, 200/180mm rotors
- Stem // RaceFace Turbine R 35, 60mm
- Bars // RaceFace Turbine R 35, 780x20mm
- Grips // ODI Elite Motion V2.1
- Seatpost // YT Postman dropper 150mm
- Saddle // SDG Bel Air 3.0
- BB // SRAM DUB PF92
- Size Tested // L
- Sizes Available // S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Weight // 13.3kg
Geometry for our size L test bike:
- Head angle // 66°
- Effective seat angle // 77°
- Seat tube length // 450mm
- Head tube length // 115mm
- Chainstay // 432mm
- Wheelbase // 1,209mm
- Effective top tube // 616mm
- BB height // 332mm
- Reach // 472mm
|Product:||Izzo Core 3|
|Price:||£3,899 inc. VAT, exc. custom duties, shipping and import cost|
|Tested:||by Benji for 3 months|