YT Decoy Review: Big on travel, big on value, huge on fun!

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This wasn’t my first YT Decoy rodeo, I had been on the launch of this impressive e-MTB, but now it was time to tackle my local terrain on this stealthy carbon e-Bike.

When YT announced that it had created an e-MTB, it took many of us by surprise. YT are a gravity oriented mountain bike brand with enduro, trail and downhill bikes making up their range, why on Earth would they want an e-MTB? It turns out that the reasoning is pretty simple. If you want to ride down more you have to get to the top first, and what better way to do that than on an e-MTB.

To simply release a Jeffsy or Capra with battery and motor bolted on would have been relatively easy for YT, and with the brands, aggressive pricing, an e-Bike of this ilk would have probably sold like hotcakes, but YT wanted something a little more special.

yt decoy cf pro first look
The Decoy brought the sun today.

From the very start, the YT Decoy was designed to disguise the fact that it has a battery, motor and related gubbins. A slick carbon frame carefully hiding a custom battery, a power button beneath the downtube and even clever component choices such as the smaller E7000 display, all handpicked to make the Decoy look more like a downhill bike rather than an assisted e-MTB.

The Decoy was launched earlier in 2019 and at the time the bike was probably the best thought out e-MTB on the market, now with the year drawing to an end will we still feel the same about the YT or has technology moved on and left the Decoy behind?

The Bike

yt decoy cf pro first look
Stealthy carbon.

At the launch, all the journalists got to ride the top of the range YT Decoy Pro Race in a yellow finish with Kashima coated suspension and Di2 XT gearing. For my home test, I was sent the YT Decoy Pro.

The Pro version of the Decoy doesn’t get flashy Kashima coated suspension, nor does it have Di2, but actually that suits me just fine. At £1000 less than the Pro Race bike you still get the same carbon frame, same custom battery and the same Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, but to save a little money you get black sanctioned Fox suspension and a cable operated rear mech.

yt decoy cf pro first look
Featuring the on-trend reverse mullet.

After seeing a Di2 rear mech being smashed to smithereens during the Decoy launch I didn’t much fancy the idea of a possibly very expensive repair in the near future. As for the suspension well the CF Pro still uses impressive, e-Bike specific, Fox 36 Performance forks with 160mm of travel, and a Fox Float DPX2 Performance Elite rear shock with ample tuning options.

yt decoy cf pro first look
e-Bike specific cassette.

Gear shifting might be cable operated but it will still work even if your main battery is dead, and cable-operated XT is nothing to be sniffed at even if it does only have 11 speeds. That said the cassette on the Decoy is a special e-Bike specific E*Thirteen model, designed to handle the torque from the motor better and last longer.

yt decoy cf pro first look
E7000 display is smaller and less obvious.

Another cable operated components is the SDG Tellis dropper post with an underbar dropper post control. YT have been smart with this, instead of opting for the E8000 paddle-shift mode control for the motor, they’ve used an E7000 push-button control. This is a more ergonomic item and allows manufacturers to use underbar dropper controls. More brands should do this when building e-Bikes.

The motor, in this case, is the Shimano Steps E8000 model. This is still one of the most user-friendly, compact and quiet motors on the market, and still a great choice even now the mighty gen 4 Bosch motor has launched. The E8000 has 70NM of torque and has 3 modes to choose from.

yt decoy cf pro first look
YT and SMP developed their own battery for the Decoy.

Powering the motor is a custom SMP/YT battery that mounts to into the downtube of the frame. At the time of development, Shimano didn’t have an internal battery of its own that YT were happy to use, so with the help of SMP, they made their own. It’s removable and offers 540Wh of capacity.

Fastened to the motor is another e-MTB specific components from E*Thirteen, a small chain guide. During testing, YT did contact me to say that some of these chain device had worked loose on earlier bikes, and customers were being contacted one by one to inform them to double-check the bolts were torqued correctly. If those bolts were to work loose then it prevents the chainset from turning, so it’s well worth checking.

yt decoy cf pro first look
E-Bike specific Fox 36 up-front with a 29er wheel.

Wheels are also another E*Thirteen e-Bike model and YT have followed the mullet trend fitting the Decoy with a 27.5in plus tyre on the rear and 29er on the front. It’s good to see that they’ve chosen quality rubber too with a 29×2.5 front Maxxis DHF, and rear 27.5×2.8 Maxxis DHR rear.

Keeping those wagon wheels from getting carried away are a set of powerful SRAM Code RS 4 piston brakes with 200mm rotors front and rear.

yt decoy cf pro first look
Big stoppers for a fast e-Bike.

The rest of the build comes from SDG, saddle, ODI for grips, and Renthal, for the bar and stem. Because YT sell it’s biked directly to the customer each Decoy ships in a sturdy reusable cardboard box, and with an included Ice Toolz toolkit with shock pump and torque wrench included.

All of these components bolt to a complete carbon frame which looks like a Capra but is much burlier. Obviously the downtube is larger to accommodate the battery, but the top tube has been increased in size so that the proportions look correct.

yt decoy cf pro first look
Flip chip offers either super slack or slack.

The rear suspension system uses a familiar linkage for a progressive kinematic and leaves enough room for a small YT Bottle cage. The shock is fitted via a flip-chip that changes the seat tube angle from 76°-76.5° and head tube from 65°-65.5°.

Just like on the launch I opted for a size large Decoy with has a reach of 455mm and a seat tube length of 445mm. I would have been happy with the reach on an XL of 475mm too, but I never felt cramped or wished for the bigger bike.

The Ride

yt decoy review
Steeps.

During the launch of the YT Decoy, I only had the chance to ride the bike in it’s lowest and slacker position and did find I had a few pedal strikes. My first Peak District ride on the Decoy resulted in the same, so for my next day out in the saddle I switched to the higher and steeper position.

The flip-chip only changes the angles by 0.5° so it’s still steep at the seat and slack up front, but with slightly more BB height I was able to clear more obstacles and keep pedalling. I still suffered the odd strike here and there, but it’s something you adapt and soon you’re powering up climbs faster than you would expect. In fact, considering that the Decoy is such a gravity biased e-Bike it climbs very very well.

yt decoy review
Climbs fast.

With a 76° seat tube angle, the seated position is very comfortable offering a great position to keep traction down and giving you room to keep on the front on steep climbs to prevent any frontend float.

Pointed down the low weight gives the Decoy a planted, almost downhill bike like feel, and even the roughest rockiest, drop strewn trails are cleared with ease. The extra weight ensures the Fox Suspension is always super supple and active over soaking up even the biggest of obstacles with immense ease.

yt decoy review
You always feel in control on the Decoy.

With the chip in the steeper setting, the YT becomes more playful and eager both up and downhill, and I would only really consider riding in the super low setting if the only climbing I was doing was up a fire road at a bike park.

The low standover and relatively tall front sets you up in a very confident stance for tackling any trails, dropping into new tracks blindly and doing your best to style up jumps.

YT Decoy emtb review
What the hell is Andi looking at?

Suspension, motor and braking performance were all as good as expected after all these are proven components. The steel E*Thirteen cassette designed to handle the extra torque from the 70NM motor offers precise shifting with a reassuring clunk from cog to cog.

The grin factor is high with the Decoy, no matter which way you’re travelling along the trail, this e-powered YT offers stack of grip, stability and speed.

Durability Notes

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep hold of the Decoy for as long as we wanted. The issue being that the bike came from YT in Germany and they were worried that with Brexit looming they wanted it back before the 31st October so they wouldn’t be taxed. Well, looks like we could have kept it longer…

We only had the bike for a short time and only had an issue with the rear tyre. We’ve found that these OEM Maxxis tyres with white logos aren’t as hard-wearing as aftermarket models, that said I’m sure any tyre would have given out with the force I cased the rear of that jump.

3 things that could be better

  1. I found the DT Swiss rear axle would become loose from time to time. We also found this during the launch and I’ve had similar issues with DT Swiss rear axles on other bikes too.
  2. I would probably switch the Renthal bars. I find them a little uncomfortable.
  3. In the low setting, I found I had a lot of pedal strikes. Switching to the high/steep setting improved this and I personally feel the Decoy rides much better in this setting.

3 things I loved

  1. Clean stealthy looks.
  2. Incredible planted feel and tons of grip thanks to the low centre of gravity.
  3. Impressive value for money

Overall

YT Decoy emtb review
Everyone loves a drift.

There isn’t much not to like about the Decoy it has the right motor, a great clean design and great all-round performance when set in it’s steeper setting.

The impressive frame design is one of the few that even people not interested in bikes gravitate towards and ask questions about. The Decoy might have launched earlier in the year, but it still looks as cleverly designed and well thought out as the day I first set eyes on it.

People have asked me if I would buy a YT Decoy with my own money, and I think I probably would. It delivers fast fun, dispatches climbs with ease and is as capable as a DH bike at bike parks.

Specification

  • Frame // YT Decoy Carbon frame with intergrated battery 29in Front and 27.5+ rear
  • Front Suspension // FOX 36 FLOAT Performance Elite E 15QRx110 BOOST, 44mm Offset
  • Rear Suspension //FOX FLOAT DPX2 Performance Elite230x65mm
  • Wheels // Front: 29in e*thirteeen e*spec Plus alloy 31mm internal widtch 110x15mm Rear: 27.5in e*thirteeen e*spec 35mm Inner width, 148x12MM
  • Tyres // Front: 29X2.50, MINION DHF II EXO Rear: 27.5X2.8, MINION DHR II EXO
  • Shifter // Shimano XT
  • Rear Derailleur // Shimano XT Shadow Plus 11-speed
  • Crank // Shimano XT 165mm
  • Cassette // e*thirteeen TRS e*spec Plus 11-speed all steel 9-46t.
  • Saddle // SDG RADAR MNT YT Custom White | Silver
  • Seatpost // SDG Tellis 31.6mm | 125mm/150mm/170mm Drop
  • Handlebar // Renthal Fatbar 35 black, 30mm rise, 800mm width
  • Stem // Renthal Apex 35, 40mm
  • Headset // Acros AZX-260 high cap
  • Brakeset // SRAM Code RS 4pot, 200mm rotors front and rear
  • Grips // ODI Elite Motion Lock-on
  • Motor System // Shimano Steps E8000 25KM/H 250W
  • Battery // YT Custom battery 540wh
  • Mode Switch // SW-E7000 On-bar
  • Display // Shimano E7000 monochrome
  • Sizes// S,M,L,XL,XXL
  • Claimed Weight// 22.2kg size small, tubeless, no pedals.
  • Price // £4,999

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