“EMTBs are for old farts.” At the very latest since YT and COMMENCAL have started offering more aggressive, trail-oriented eMTBs in their portfolios did our junior testers start putting their prejudices to one side. In an exciting head to head comparison, they put the COMMENCAL META POWER 29 Essential and YT DECOY Comp through their paces.

Both the 2020 COMMENCAL META POWER 29 Essential and the current YT DECOY Comp model would have fitted perfectly into our Best budget eMTB group test. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get hold of either bike at the time so we decided to let our junior testers, Simon and Linus, to review them for us when we got them instead. They were able to take the bikes to their home trails around Stuttgart, where they spent a fair amount of time riding both flowy trails with big jumps and steep, technical ones with lots of slippery roots. And of course, we didn’t miss the opportunity to test the bikes ourselves. As passionate trail builders, the two lads were immediately hooked on the two eMTBs, even with the older Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, which can no longer match the performance of current state of the art motors like its successor, the EP8, fitted to both of them.

True to the motto, “No dig, no ride,” the two boys regularly strap a pick and shovel to their backpack and head to the forest, where they spend hours on end manicuring their beloved home trails. Getting to the trails and testing new sections is much easier and a lot more fun with an eMTB. The heavy-duty loader has no place in a forest and they only use it to build jump lines on their land behind daddy’s barn.

We also rely on motor power for trail building – just like riding, it’s more fun with a motor!


COMMENCAL META POWER 29 Essential | Shimano STEPS E8000 / 504Wh | 170/ 160mm (f/r)
23.8kg (size L) | €4,999 | Manufacturer’s website

Like all bikes from the Andorran direct mail-order brand, the € 4,999 META POWER 29 Essential sports an alloy frame. While COMMENCAL have already released a new version of the bike with the new Shimano EP8 motor, the 2020 META POWER 29 Essential is still a very exciting option, not just because of the brand’s Second-Hand Program. In our extensive Best eMTB of 2020 group test, the META POWER 29 Team, which only costs a couple of hundred euros more, secured our coveted Best Buy award. The STEPS E8000 motor of the Essential model draws its power from an internal 504 Wh Shimano battery. The spec of COMMENCAL’s electric 29er and the generous 170/160 mm travel suggests the bike's preferred terrain – demanding trails. Like YT, the Andorrans rely on a FOX DPX2 shock and FOX 36 fork, where the latter comes in the slightly lighter Performance version. The rear wheel is shod with a robust 29” MAXXIS AGGRESSOR Double Down tire while the front is fitted with an ASSEGAI in the lighter (and weaker) EXO+ casing – a very sensible way to save weight. Alongside the motor, Shimano also provide an SLX drivetrain and brakes with 200 mm rotors front and rear.

A closer look of the Meta Power 29 Essential

The power switch of the Shimano motor sits on the side of the down tube. While this solution works fine, it looks a bit odd.
Tuning tip
For aggressive trail riding, we recommend setting the compression dial a third to halfway from fully open.

The FOX 36 Performance fork works sensitively and is easy to set up.
Clean solution
The magnet and sensor are neatly and safely integrated into the brake rotor and dropout respectively.
Robust and fun
With its low profile, the Maxxis Aggressor with DoubleDown casing is the ideal tire for fast, flowy trails. In wet conditions, things get a bit slippery… err, fun!

Commencal Meta Power 29 Essential

€ 4,999


Motor Shimano E8000 70 Nm
Battery Shimano STEPS E8035 integrated 504Wh
Display Shimano STEPS E8000
Fork FOX 36 Float Performance 170 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Float Performance160 mm
Seatpost KS Rage i-dropper 100 - 150 mm
Brakes Shimano SLX 4-Kolben 203/203 mm
Drivetrain Shimano SLX 1x12
Stem Ride Alpha Freeride 50 mm
Handlebar Ride Alpha 780 mm
Wheelset Shimano SLX Hubs / e13 LG1 DH rims 29"
Tires MAXXIS Assegai/ Aggressor2.5"/2.5"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 23.80 kg
Perm. total weight n/a
Max. payload (rider/equipment) n/a
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

The geometry of the Commencal e-bike

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 415mm 440mm 465mm 495mm
Top tube 573mm 595mm 622mm 648mm
Head tube 120mm 125mm 130mm 135mm
Head angle 65° 65° 65° 65°
Seat angle 77° 77° 77° 77°
Chainstays 453mm 453mm 453mm 453mm
BB Drop 20mm 20mm 20mm 20mm
Wheelbase 1223mm 1245mm 1273mm 1300mm
Reach 430mm 450mm 475mm 500mm

The YT Decoy Comp

YT Decoy Comp | Shimano STEPS E8000 / 540Wh | 170/ 165mm (v/h)
23.6kg (size L) | €4,999 | Manufacturer’s website

Unlike the Meta, the € 4,999 Decoy Comp in our test is the current model in YT’s portfolio. However, the Germans don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to switch to the new-generation Shimano EP8 motor. The STEPS E8000 motor draws its power from a custom 540 Wh battery, which is integrated into the down tube of the carbon frame. There’s no option for a larger battery, as was originally planned for the launch of the Decoy. However, the updated version has more travel than the first-generation model, with a 170 mm FOX 36 Rhythm fork up front and a FOX DPX2 shock that controls 165 mm of rear travel. However, the suspension layout leaves little room in the main triangle, so YT have had to come up with their own bottle cage and design a smaller 475 ml bidon. The Decoy relies on mixed wheel sizes, with a 29 x 2.5″ MAXXIS Minion DHF tire up front and a 27.5 x 2.8” Minion DHRII at the back. Unfortunately, both come in the flimsy and puncture-prone EXO casing. E*thirteen provide the alloy wheelset and 800 mm wide cockpit. The cockpit is nice and tidy and, thanks to the Shimano STEPS E7000 remote and display, also very functional.

The Decoy Comp in detail

Entry-level model
While the FOX 36 Rhythm fork is a little heavier than the Performance model, most riders wouldn’t be able to tell the difference on the trail.
The compact STEPS E7000 components make for a super-clean and ergonomic cockpit.
Control or rattle
The clamping system on the cable ports must be checked regularly. However, once set up, the DECOY runs as quiet as a whisper.
The compact bottle cage and small bidon were specially designed for the DECOY. Unfortunately, there’s only space for less than half a litre.
For big hits
The super progressive rear-end of the DECOY generates tons of grip and still provides sufficient reserves on very harsh landings.
Spongy and weak
The 2.8” Minion DHRII rear tire with its weak EXO casing is prone to punctures and tends to collapse in fast corners and berms

YT Industries Decoy Comp

€ 4,999


Motor Shimano E8000 70 Nm
Battery SMP YT Custom 540Wh
Display Shimano E7000
Fork FOX 36 Float Rythm E-Bike170 mm
Rear Shock FOX DPX2 Float Performance165 mm
Seatpost YT Postman 125 - 170 mm
Brakes Sram Code R 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano SLX 1x12
Stem e13 Base 50 mm
Handlebar e13 Base 800 mm
Wheelset e13 E*Spec Plus 29"/27.5" (f/r)
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHF/ DHR II 2.5"/ 2.8"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 23.60 kg
Perm. total weight n/a
Max. payload (rider/equipment) n/a
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no

The geometry of the YT e-bike

Seat tube 400mm 420mm 445mm 470mm 495mm
Top tube 569mm 591mm 612mm 635mm 658mm
Head tube 95mm 100mm 105mm 115mm 125mm
Head angle 64.5°/ 65° 64.5°/ 65° 64.5°/ 65° 64.5°/ 65° 64.5°/ 65°
Seat angle 75.5°/ 76° 75.5°/ 76° 75.5°/ 76° 75.5°/ 76° 75.5°/ 76°
Chainstays 442mm 442mm 442mm 442mm 442mm
BB Drop 10/17mm 10/17mm 10/17mm 10/17mm 10/17mm
Wheelbase 1182mm 1204mm 1226mm 1251mm 1275mm
Reach 410mm 430mm 450mm 470mm 490mm
Stack 623mm 628mm 633mm 642mm 652mm

YT and COMMENCAL reviewed

When riding uphill on forest paths and flat trails, both the YT and COMMENCAL strike a great balance between propulsion and comfort. Both bikes rely on a relatively slack seat angle, which ensures a comfortable riding position, with the weight evenly distributed between the hands and saddle. While the STEPS E8000 motor is no longer the latest model of Shimano’s eMTB drives, it still provides plenty of power, churning out 70 Nm of torque. However, when the climb gets steep and technical, the bikes begin to struggle and the motor lacks smoothness and becomes abrupt, unruly and harder to control. That being said, the META POWER 29 manages to pull past the Decoy on steep climbs. On one hand, that’s because the longer chainstays prevent the front wheel from lifting as easily, on the other, because the higher bottom bracket provides better ground clearance and thus prevents the cranks from clipping obstacles. While the COMMENCAL quietly crawls its way up the hill, it only requires you to sufficiently weight the rear wheel – or in other words, to stay seated – to prevent the low-profile MAXXIS AGGRESSOR tire from spinning out on slippery sections. With its wide, knobbly 2.8″ rear tire, the DECOY offers better traction on technical climbs but also requires a more active riding style and a good sense of balance to prevent the front wheel from lifting.

Wow… I never thought that a 29er eMTB could be this much fun and this playful through tight corners!

Once you turn your nose downhill, the bikes have very different characters. While the DECOY is incredibly nimble and fun at all speeds, the COMMENCAL begs you to smash through rock gardens and root carpets at full pelt. What’s really special about the DECOY is the huge amount of pop it delivers, whether you’re jumping or staying rubber side down. Even our junior tester Linus spent more time hanging in the air than on the trail and even felt comfortable pulling a whip or two. When you overshoot a landing, the progressive rear end of the DECOY has sufficient reserves to handle harsh huck-to-flat landings. The chassis of the META POWER 29 is a different story altogether and literally sticks to the trail, providing almost infinite traction. It’s not only always predictable in corners, but also damn fast and always provides sufficient reserves for hard hits at high speed. Both bikes have one massive advantage over any of the eMTBs with the new Shimano EP8 motor: downhill they’re pleasantly quiet, without unsettling clunks coming from the chain slamming against the chainstay or from inside the motor.

Just push it a little and it’ll fly. With a physical little effort, the DECOY takes off easily

But which bike is better? That’s a hard one to answer. While both bikes rely on the same motor, have similar amounts of travel and even share some components, they’re two different animals. The COMMENCAL META POWER 29 Essential can easily take on the toughest and steepest trails and inspires huge amounts of confidence on technical sections. On the other hand, the YT DECOY rewards an active riding style and allows you to generate crazy amounts of speed by pumping and jumping your way through the forest, even on flat trails. Here the poppy chassis really comes to life and only the spongy, overly-wide rear tire spoils the party a little. After riding both bikes extensively, Simon would spend his pocket money on a COMMENCAL META POWER 29 Essential, because it’s a great match for his riding style both on his home trails and the occasional weekend stint in the Alps. The smaller Linus, on the other hand, picked the YT DECOY. He likes the nimble character of the bike and finds it extremely fun to ride, especially on technical terrain and through narrow corners.


Our junior testers taught us two things. First off, do something good for your community and spend a bit of time maintaining your local trails! Secondly, while the YT and COMMENCAL have two very different characters, both bikes are lots of fun on the trail and delivered an impressive performance, despite the older motor. The overall concept of the bike is more important than the individual components and every rider has to find the one that works for them.

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