YT Decoy Elite Review: A great value eMTB with a flashy £6299 price tag!

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The YT Decoy Elite takes Decoy pricing up above £6K but for this price, you get a carbon frame and components that other brands would charge £10k+ for!

YT bikes are known for their aggressive pricing and high-end builds, so what happens when the buy direct masters decide to spec a pimped out carbon Decoy? At a cost of £6299 the YT Decoy Elite isn’t a cheap bike, and it’s also one of the most expensive models in the YT range. The higher than normal cost means that the Elite build is also one of the few YT bikes that’s still in stock (at the time of writing), yet even with a £6k+ asking price, I still think that it’s fantastic value for money!

YT Decoy Elite

Over the past year I’ve tested all manner of eBikes from affordable to super expensive, but the one trend I have noticed is that eBike pricing is rising and it’s now more common to see a £10K bike being pulled from the back of a £5k estate car at the trailhead. There is definitely a market for high-priced eMTBs but the Decoy Elite matches those high price tag bikes on spec and performance while costing nearly £4k less.

YT Decoy Elite Frame

If you read my write up about the Decoy launch, and this review of a Decoy, then you’ll already be familiar with the frame of the Decoy Elite. Like the original Decoy, this Elite build is a mullet design, YT also offers a 29er model but I’ve come to really appreciate mullet set ups. You get the benefit of a larger front wheel for rolling over obstacles while the smaller rear wheel allows the bike to dip and lay over in corners effortlessly. On an eBike the smaller rear wheel also means a stronger wheel too, ideal for heavyweight freeride e-whips. You’ll also get more travel on the mullet build with 170mm on the front and 165mm at the rear whereas the 29er Decoy runs 150mm front and rear and slightly longer 462mm of reach for a large.

yt decoy elite

Like all YT bikes, the Decoy employs a flip-chip in the rear suspension system that knocks 0.5 degrees off the seat tube angle and the same from the head angle for a max front end angle of 64.5. In all of my tests with the Decoy I’ve tended to simply set the bike in the low position and enjoy the ride, but if you find your trails aren’t quite as steep and downhills not as long, then the high setting might work best.

There are no changes on the Elite frame from that original Decoy that launched a few years ago. All models of Decoy use the same carbon front and rear triangles, impressive when complete bikes start from just £3999, and they all use the Shimano E8000 motor along with YT/SMP’s own 540Wh integrated battery.

YT chose the Decoy name as they wanted their eMTB to look less like an eBike, they even went as far as hiding the power button under the downtube to disguise the fact that this is an eMTB. This all looked really sleek at launch, but since then eBike and battery tech has moved on and even the sleek carbon YT is starting to look a little bulky.

YT Decoy Elite Geometry

Sizes  S  M  L  XL  XXL  
Toptube length 569 mm591 mm612 mm635 mm658 mm
Reach 410 mm430 mm450 mm470 mm490 mm
Stack 623 mm628 mm633 mm642 mm651 mm
Seattube length 400 mm420 mm445 mm470 mm495 mm
Chainstay length 442 mm442 mm442 mm442 mm442 mm
Headtube angle 64,5 / 65 °64,5 / 65 °64,5 / 65 °64,5 / 65 °64,5 / 65 °
Seattube angle (eff.)  75,5 / 76 °75,5 / 76 °75,5 / 76 °75,5 / 76 °75,5 / 76 °
BB Drop  R17/F33 / R10/F26 mmR17/F33 / R10/F26 mmR17/F33 / R10/F26 mmR17/F33 / R10/F26 mmR17/F33 / R10/F26 mm
Wheelbase 1142 mm1204 mm1226 mm1251 mm1275 mm
Headtube length 95 mm100 mm105 mm115 mm125 mm
BB height 343 / 350 mm343 / 350 mm343 / 350 mm343 / 350 mm343 / 350 mm

YT Decoy Elite Build

YT decoy elite

This year I’ve tested eBikes which cost as much as £10,000 but YT manages to match, and in some areas surpass, those bikes in terms of build and spec.

YT decoy elite

Starting with the suspension, the Elite comes with the type of bounce you would expect to see on a top of the range bike. The fork, shock and dropper post are all from the Fox catalogue and each item is coated in silky smooth Kashima coating. The 170mm fork is the new 38, this model is a Factory build with all the tweaks, bells and whistles you could ever want to fettle with. Speaking of fettling, the Fox Float X2 on the rear has enough tuning options to keep even the most shock-sensitive riders happy for weeks on end. A Fox Transfer dropper post finishes off the Fox package with matching Fox paddle remote.

Now if you were to purchase a Fox Factory 38, Float X2 and Transfer dropper post separately you would be looking at a dent in your bank balance to the tune of £2500+.

If you thought that the suspension was flashy then how about the wheelset. YT has fitted a pair of Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 wheels to the Decoy Elite. These carbon fibre hoops are designed to offer a stiffer rear wheel and more compliant front. The engineers at Crankbrothers have managed this using a combination of carbon weave, layup, resins, differing spoke counts front and rear and spoke tensions. Carbon wheels aren’t cheap at the best of times, but the E11 are the flagship wheelset from Crankbrothers and come laced to Industry Nine hubs and retail at a cool £2150 a pair!

If you’re adding this up as you read then you can see that we’re already nearing £5000 for the wheels and suspension alone, not to mention the carbon fibre frameset, Shimano E8000 motor and self-developed 540Wh internal battery. Can you see why I say this bike is good value?

What really surprises me about the build of the Decoy Elite is the fact that YT has fitted brand name parts even for items most riders might overlook. The chain guide, an E*13 item, could easily have been swapped for a no-name item, the same could be said for the ODI grips and SDG saddle.

In fact, I don’t see an area where corners have been cut at all. The drivetrain is an excellent Shimano 1 x 12 XT system, brakes are powerful Code RSC 4 piston items with 200mm discs and the tyres are quality Maxxis treads.

So yes, it’s not a cheap or affordable bike, but if you’re in the market for an eMTB fitted with the best of the best kit, the Elite can’t be beaten on price.

Climbing

yt decoy elite

Climbing on the Decoy is a breeze! While YT hasn’t made the move to the new Shimano EP8 motor, the E8000 system still provides plenty of torque for uphill motoring. The E8000 doesn’t offer the same customisation options as the new motor, and it produces a more audible ‘whirr’ but on the climbs, but it puts the power down in a natural and efficient manner.

As the Decoy is fitted with YT’s own 540Wh battery, the fact it doesn’t have that newer motor might actually be good news for riders wanting to tackle a lot of climbs in a day. In our tests, we find that an EP8 bike with 625Wh battery will only just outlast an E8000 powered bike with a smaller battery. Had YT updated to the EP8 we wonder how that battery life might have been affected.

yt decoy elite

The seat angle of the Decoy measures in at between 75.6 and 76 degrees depending on where you set the flip-chip, which isn’t as steep as some of the non-eBikes I’ve tested this year, and for the majority of riding this makes very little difference in how it climbs. The only thing that I found is that the slacker seat angle and slight rearward weight balance of the bike make technical climbing a little more involved. To compensate I run my saddle forward and I tend to angle it down anyway which helps to keep tracking in most situations, but watch boost mode when the trails get really sketchy.

Descending

yt decoy elite

The Decoy is a gravity based eMTB though, and for shuttling to the top of the hill for another run it excels, once pointed downhill, even for the umpteenth time in a day, the sorted suspension and stiff carbon frame give you a downhill bike-like presence on the trail.

Originally YT released the Decoy with a 160mm travel Fox 36 on the front because Fox wouldn’t supply a 170mm travel 29er, but now that the 38 has arrived on the scene that has changed. So compared to the previous bikes the new Elite has 10mm more front wheel travel and finally has more from travel than rear (165mm).

Being one of the first ‘gravity orientated’ eMTB’s on the market, the Decoy feels right at home when picking up speed and aimed at the gnarlier side of the trail. I’ve mentioned how much I rate the Fox 38 in previous reviews, but I’ll mention it again. The 38 is my personal pick of big forks for the year I prefer the feel of the damping and find Fox’s setup suggestions to be pretty much spot on. What’s impressive about the 38 is that it looks like a bruiser aimed squarely at eating up hucks to flat, rocks, logs and jumps, but the small bump sensitivity is second to none. In root-infested off-camber tracks, the 38 tracks amazingly thanks to the separate air spring design that isolates chassis flex and movement front the air spring, not something I would think about usually, but on a heavier bike and at faster speeds these improvements are much appreciated.

During my time with the Decoy Elite I swapped from other bikes and between different riders, giving everyone I ride with a blast on the YT eeb. The one comment that every rider made was how well the Decoy rails around corners. Even riders who would admit that their cornering skills need a little work raved over how well the Decoy carves around the bends. The short back end and overall shorter wheelbase of the Elite makes it a great machine for fast loose corners, especially on tracks where one corner dips in to another and another and another.

Let off the brakes and let her free on exposed rock tracks and the Decoy accelerates at the blink of an eye. The large front wheel and ample rubber front and rear find never-ending levels of grip (unless in very sloppy conditions where I would swap the rear tyre for something narrower) while the powerful brakes are always on call to bring the fun down to sensible levels of speed.

3 Things that could be better

  • I managed to rub my heel on the drive-side seat stay wearing the protective film off, but then again I manage to do this on most bikes.
  • Personally, I’m not a fan of Renthal bars. I’m not knocking their strength or reliability I just struggle to get comfy on them.
  • The 2.8in rear tyre is way too wide. In muddy conditions, the tyre floats rather than digs which causes lack of traction. I don’t really feel the wider rear tyre helps in the dry either, just adding drag and weight to the bike. Swap to a 2.4in.

3 Things I loved

  • Crankbrothers carbon Synthesis wheels on an eMTB of less than £7K is amazing. I’ve ridden on Synthesis since they were originally launched and I love them.
  • Fox suspension, some people find Fox ‘over-damped’ but I love the feel of the current crop of Fox products. And again, at under £7K it’s amazing to see top of the range Kashima kit on this eMTB.
  • It fits a bottle. Sure it looks like a tiny bottle but its 475ml and has been large enough for me on rides.

Conclusion

yt decoy elite

There isn’t a better value eMTB on the market, and customers know it making the YT Decoy a sell-out and very difficult to pick up. This Elite model does take pricing up, but if you value top of the range suspension, incredible carbon wheels and a host of wishlist parts there aren’t any other ebikes that come close to the YT Decoy on value, never mind the out of the box ready fun and speed that’s to be had.

YT Decoy Elite Specifications

  • Frame: Carbon frame with 165mm rear travel, and internal battery, Mullet design.
  • Shock: Fox Float X2, Kashima
  • Fork: Fox 38 Factory, Kashima, 170mm travel, 29er, eBike
  • Battery: YT/SMP 540Wh
  • Motor: Shimano E8000, 70Nm
  • Display: Shimano E7000
  • Switch: Shimano E7000
  • Rear Mech: Shimano XT 1 x 12
  • Shifter: Shimano XT 1 x 12
  • Cassette: Shimano XT 1 x 12
  • Brakes: SRAM Code RSC 200mm discs front and rear
  • Chainguide: E*13 TRS Plus E8000
  • Wheelset: Crankbrothers Synthesis E11, I9 hubs
  • Tyres: Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5in front, Maxxis Minion DHR II 27.5 x 2.8 rear.
  • Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar 35
  • Stem: Renthal Apex 35
  • Headset: SDG Radar MNT
  • Dropper post: Fox Transfer Factory
  • Grips: ODI Elite Motion V2.1
  • Price: £6299
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Comments (17)

    Great value! Really! OK it may have components found on a £10k bike, but the price of e-mtb’s is getting ridiculous. Until I got a company car none of my previous cars cost as much as this bike! Who are the target customers for bikes like this? Middle class “weekend warriors”, probably living somewhere around the M25 corridor, with a small apartment in the Alps and a big BMW or Audi on the driveway. Ok a bit of extreme stereotyping, but you get the point. I have nothing against e-bikes they now have their place in cycling and many people wouldn’t cycle without one (including my wife). However the prices are getting outrageous as are the levels of power and motors, many are now just one upgrade away from an electric motorbike. Having encountered an electric motorbike recently on a woodland bridleway doing well in excess of 30mph its not something I want to see in the future. At a time when many folk in the UK are scrambling to make ends meet financially bringing out bikes like this just emphasises the gap between the “have’s and the have nots” even further. As 21st century humans we always want more and even if we don’t need it we want it, so I don’t see anything changing. On that last point see David Turner’s interview in the STW archive – https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=David+Turner+interview+on+Singletrack+World&docid=608052260155951199&mid=880A10AD301C52E8DC61880A10AD301C52E8DC61&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

    Does this one also not like being turned upside down when wet? Water gets in the electrics.

    At this price I would hope for a bike that is light. What’s the weight?

    I’m sorry, I normally bite my tongue when I see hideously expensive products described as affordable, but are you actually trying to wind people up by saying that a £6.3k bike, albeit an electric one, is great value?
    “Great value” would be the one costing half this much that comes without the kashima, an alloy frame, probably a deore groupset, but – you know what? – rides almost as well.
    I guess we all have different measures of value and varying perspectives what is financially attainable, but I’m with Mr Scott Biles on this one. It’s a bit distasteful talking in these terms right now when so many people are struggling to make ends meet.

    I had a demo of this last week..
    For once in my life I got the suspension set up perfectly right and the bike was super plush. I’m a complete noob to e-bikes – the grip on offer was unbelievable and it rode like a downhill bike. The motor was awfully noisy though.
    Moreover every 2nd bike on the trails seemed to be an e-bike, not sure if this was cos I was riding an e-bike and that’s what I kept noticing. It does change the ride perspective and offers a different experience. Can’t say it changed my experience or fun factor on the descents but the climbs were I must admit amusing.
    Still not sure I can justify the price tag. As others have mentioned some of the price tags are silly money. Also been thinking about the effect these bikes have on trail conditions given how heavy they are?

    I have less of an issue with the price however;
    Are the motors rebuildable? Can the batteries be recycled? Can I drop it into my local bike shop have have an error code read? How fixable are they? Do the motors run on bushes and can they be repaired. How many recharges can the batteries take? etc
    Maybe time to reassess how you review these things, not as a traditional bike but as white goods / electronics?

    £6.5 K cheap, clearly many of us are living in parallel universe.
    ebikes clearly have a place, however the costs are ridiculous.

    @montylikesbeer try reading the review again. I don’t say it’s cheap in fact I say “it’s not a cheap or affordable bike” but I do say it’s good value for money for riders wanting the best of the best.

    @andyspaceman jumped straight to the comments I see : D Please read the review and you’ll see that I say “it’s not a cheap or affordable bike”.
    I then go on to explain given the components on this bike it is very good value for money. Even if you look at the most affordable Decoy at £3999 I still say the Decoy Elite is better value for money. For £2200 more you get around £6k in upgrades!
    There are much more affordable eBikes on the market but you won’t get Fox Factory suspension, you won’t get a carbon frame and you won’t get carbon wheels. If that’s not important then save yourself a ton of money and buy something cheaper.

    @Ritchieroo it’s a gravity focussed eMTB, with motor battery and 2.8in tyre, of course, it’s not light. If you want a ‘light’ eMTB then you’re looking at a bike double the price at least. Mondraker do one for £12k

    @Scott Bikes quick question. What’s the cheapest ‘normal’ mountain bike you can find with carbon frame, crankbrothers Synthesis carbon wheels, and Fox Factory suspension front and rear? I would say the closest is a Vitus Sommet CRX (stunning bike) for £3599.99 (amazing price) now add the Synthesis wheels and that brings the price to £5800. So yeah the Decoy Elite IS good value for money IF you want the best of the best and if you want an eMTB.
    David Turner should make eBikes. The riders who remember Turner bikes with Rose-tinted glasses are just the demographic who would love a Turner eMTB. I remember a time Steve Peat said he would never ride an eBike, now he’s always razzing about Greno on his Heckler. But if eBike’s aren’t your thing then that’s fine, there’s plenty of room in the world for different people with different interests.

    @Mr Dog Bone very good points. As it’s a Shimano system (apart from the battery) any Shimano service centre is set up to look after the motor and electronics. The battery would need to be disposed of at an approved site, but I would imagine by the time it’s time to get shot of it the world will have moved on to a point when recycling batteries (for ebikes and cars) will be much easier and more common.
    I’ll have to dig out how many times the battery can be recharged, but it’s not something that we could ever prove with testing unless we reviewed bikes over years rather than months, which doesn’t make sense for us or the reader who generally wants to know about the latest innovations.

    Hi @Andi Sykes,
    it’s actually @scott biles, @scott bikes is a whole other business 🙂
    I guess my point isn’t really about this particular bike, but rather where the MTB prices are going in terms of price especially in the e-mtb market where motors and batteries are (in some cases) pushing the price beyond mere mortals.
    For info I ride a 2016 carbon Stumpjumper, which I luv, it was priced at £3250, but I picked mine up in a sale at just over £2k in 2017.
    Lastly, the David Turner interview bit I was referring to wasn’t directly about e-bikes, but rather his point about humans (especially in the last 30-40 years) always wanting more than they actually need. It’s probably at the root cause of why we are consuming the planet at an ever increasing rate. I don’t know what the answer is and I am certainly not suggesting we go back to the Stone Age or Year Zero, but unless we dial it back a bit now and give ourselves some time to sort things out our grandkid’s are going to have a real shit storm to deal with.

    @Andi Sykes, no I read the review, and in fairness the majority of it is objective and well written. It’s not lost on me that there are non-motorised MTBs with a lower spec costing even more than this (the Santa Cruz Nomad v5 launched earlier this week for example – that is a ludicrously priced bike).
    But if you do the research, as I have, and shop around online to price-up a Shimano Steps motor + battery + controller + other bits needed to make it work, you can pick the entire lot up (albeit from non UK websites) for about £850-900. If I can do that as a consumer, then I know that the manufacturers are probably paying somewhere south of £500 or so for the electronics.
    Granted, I can’t do anything with all those bits unless I’ve got a frame with all the right housing and mounting points, but even with a 120% mark-up between ‘cost’ and retail, which I think is roughly what a lot of the industry works on, an e-bike shouldn’t really cost much over £1k more than a non-motorised equivalent.
    In YT’s case they’re not doing a bad job in that respect – this sits about £1k more than a similarly specc’ed Capra. But then you look at something like a Vitus Sommet, coming in £1.8k less than the Capra, with only really some carbon rims and a 400g weight saving (and granted, a gap in cool-factor) dividing the two, it’s hard to call any of YT’s bikes good value. They are *better* value than a Santa Cruz, or a Yeti.
    But my real point is about leading with a headline that has £6299 and great value in the same sentence. I’m lucky enough to have a shed full of carbon, titanium and nice steel, and I know how much I’ve spent on some of those bikes. But even coming from that background the headline really felt incongruous, and the rest of the article didn’t really convince me otherwise.

    Bizarre to be offering the discontinued motor on a top end bike. Would make more sense to use them in place of E7000s on entry bikes and use the EP8 (which anyone spending this much will want) on the upper end models. Their route to market should give them sufficient fat in their margin to go that way.

    It would be great to see your review and hear your thoughts on the Elite – thanks!

    My account is new so I wasn’t getting to see the review – I can see it now

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