Ready for the hunt? YT, one of the world’s hottest mountain bike brands, is entering the eMTB segment, and they’ve brought out the big guns in the hunt for the top spot: with potent numbers and clever detailed solutions, the brand new YT DECOY promises a whole new level of electronically-assisted endorphin binges. We were in the south of France to test ride the new YT DECOY.

South of France, March 2019. Rumours about YT’s first eMTB have been going around for some time. Accordingly, we were very curious to see what one of the most popular mountain bike brands currently around would conjure up for the eMTB sector. We already knew before the official presentation in southern France that YT would rely on a Shimano STEPS motor: so a bike like any other Shimano eMTB? Far from it – as we quickly realised in the presentation given by CEO Markus Flossmann and CTO Stefan Willared.

YT DECOY CF Pro Race | Shimano STEPS E8000 | 540 Wh custom battery | 160/165 mm (f/r) | 29”/27,5” (f/r) | 22.3 kg (in size L) | € 6,599

In contrast to brands such as Haibike, Husqvarna or Greyp Bikes, with the new DECOY, YT deliberately aimed to create an eMTB that looks and rides like a regular mountain bike. Meaning: maximum integration and minimal evidence that it’s an ebike. The YT DECOY, according to chief developer Stefan Willared, is meant to “be a true YT”: fast, with extremely potent, downhill orientated handling. And of course, the look and feel of the design should also speak for itself: look, I’m hot, I’m a YT. To achieve that, the German brand reached deep into their bag of tricks and went at it very professionally, coming up with a lot of clever solutions in developing the YT DECOY: the electrified version of the YT CAPRA.

The YT DECOY’s namesake: A duck as a decoy…let the hunt begin!

Even before the official release, the brand new YT DECOY eMTB has been through a lot: chasing through Scottish woodland with the movie star Vinnie Jones, the first eMTB double backflip, and a name that might be a little confusing at first: what’s the YT DECOY got to do with an actual decoy? Watch the video to find out:

The YT DECOY in detail: custom YT battery and other highlights

The YT DECOY features a carbon frame, fitted with a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, and an E7000 display and remote on the handlebar. The motor is fed by a removable 540 Wh battery, specifically developed for YT by SIMPLO, one of the biggest battery manufacturers that also produce for Apple. With 160 mm travel at the front and 165 mm at the rear and mixed wheel sizes – 29″ front, 27.5″ rear – the key data of the YT DECOY sounds like it promises to be a monster on the trails. Before we get to the first ride review, let us take a look at the technical details and features of the DECOY.

Balanced proportions: YT has designed the proportions of the carbon frame in such a way that the oversized downtube doesn’t immediately stand out.

Everything in the design that could point to this being an eMTB is deliberately dialled down and hidden, the entire frame is oversized to help the large downtube, which contains the battery, inconspicuously blend in with the rest of the bike.

YT’s custom 540 Wh battery is kept in place with two Allan bolts, while an elastomer on the lower mount helps isolate the battery from shocks and vibrations. One of the recurring problems we’ve encountered on many eMTBs is the battery coming loose and rattling, which YT has tried to solve with the elastomer. Besides being beautifully and neatly integrated into the downtube, YT tried to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. Although the battery is 460 mm long, about 140 mm longer than current Shimano or Bosch external batteries (albeit with 40 Wh more capacity) it has a height of only 65 mm (including the cover) keeping it 25 mm lower than said external batteries. According to Stefan Willared, every centimetre drop in the height of the battery makes a noticeable difference in the bike’s handling. You’ll have to take the increased length into account if you’re considering carrying a spare in your backpack for long rides. The complete dimensions of the battery are as follows: 460 mm x 65 mm x 80 mm, and it weighs 3.17 kg. The 540 Wh battery is the same for all five frame sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL). Beyond that, YT is planning to release a 700 Wh battery, which will also fit into DECOY. As soon as it becomes available, the bigger battery is said to be offered to all existing DECOY owners at a discounted price.

Due to patent issues, YT couldn’t implement a quick-release system, but once you’ve gotten used to it, removing the two bolts to get to the battery is quick and easy. YT decided against the option of a lock for the battery.
The ON switch of the bike is hidden on the underside of the top tube, while still being easily accessible. The haptic is nice!
The charging port for the battery is covered by a rubber plug on the underside of the downtube
Typical ebike cockpit: all the cables need to be properly fastened and tidied up.

An easily accessible channel for the cables on the inside of the downtube is supposed to keep everything quiet and facilitate easy servicing, which is particularly important for a direct-to-consumer brand! Thanks to the cable duct, fitting a Lupine SL F e-bike lamp should be very easy. The StVZO-compliant (German road traffic regulations) headlight will be directly available from YT in the near future. With a sensor regulated daytime light, a glare-free 900 Lumen night light, and 1100 Lumen high-beam, it’s definitely an option we can recommend!

The cable inlets are fitted with rubber lugs. Unfortunately, they came loose on our test bike and didn’t stay put. According to YT, the production model won’t have this issue.
The special aluminium derailleur hanger covers a large portion of the dropout to protect the carbon frame in case of chainsuck
To further quieten the bike on the trail, the chainstay protector on the drive side features special knobs to reduce the noise of the chain slapping
Safe and hidden: the sensor of the motor is hidden in the rear linkage and the magnet is integrated into the brake rotor. Losing spoke magnets is a thing of the past.

The kinematics of the rear end have been adapted to the unique aspects of the electric motor in the YT DECOY. Compared to the pure muscle power driving a non-motorised mountain bike, the electric motor provides a much more constant flow of power. Pedal kickback has been reduced by about 30% compared to the CAPRA 29, as it is an unwanted counterforce to the motor.

The ACROS AZX-260 headset has an integral stopper to prevent the fork crown from contacting the down tube, especially on the smaller frame sizes. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available, but YT has plans for a 500 ml bottle that will fit into the front triangle.

YT DECOY: geometry and sizes

The YT DECOY is available in five frame sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL. In terms of geometry, the YT DECOY is based on the YT CAPRA 29. Overall, however, the DECOY is a bit more upright and more compact than the CAPRA 29, meaning the reach in size L is 10 mm shorter (455mm) than the CAPRA. Noteworthy is the almost 10 mm lower bottom bracket of the YT DECOY compared to the CAPRA 29: on the one hand, this is because the DECOY has 5 mm less travel at the rear, and on the other hand, because the short 165 mm cranks offer more ground clearance!

Seat tube 400 mm 420 mm 445 mm 470 mm 495 mm
Top tube 568 mm 589 mm 611 mm 634 mm 657 mm
Head tube 95 mm 100 mm 105 mm 115 mm 125 mm
Head angle 65°/65.5° 65°/65.5° 65°/65.5° 65°/65.5° 65°/65.5°
Seat angle 76°/76.5° 76°/76.5° 76°/76.5° 76°/76.5° 76°/76.5°
Chainstay 442 mm 442 mm 442 mm 442 mm 442 mm
BB height 36/20 mm 36/20 mm 36/20 mm 36/20 mm 36/20 mm
Wheelbase 1,178 mm 1,200 mm 1,222 mm 1,247 mm 1,271 mm
Reach 415 mm 435 mm 455 mm 475 mm 495 mm
Stack 620 mm 625 mm 629 mm 638 mm 647 mm

The geometry of the YT DECOY can be adjusted via a flip chip in the shock mount: the seat tube and head angles vary by 0.5° (76°/76.5° seat tube angle, 65°/65.5° head angle), the bottom bracket height by 7 mm (340 mm/347 mm). At 442 mm, the chainstays are not particularly short, and it’s meant to be that way! According to chief developer Stefan Willared, the goal is not to make the shortest possible chainstays, but to achieve a good balance between agility, composure and climbing prowess.

A unique aspect with YT is that most riders can choose between at least two frame sizes due to the low standover height. If you like your bike to be agile and prefer a much more upright sitting position, you’re better off reaching for the smaller size, for maximum composure, go for the larger frame size. For our 178 cm tall test rider we went for the size L YT DECOY. We also tried the bike in size medium for a short while, which had a significantly more compact and upright sitting position and was more agile on the trail, but at the cost of composure and high-speed stability on the fast and technical singletrack around Nice.

About the author

Robin Schmitt

Robin is one of the two founders of 41 Publishing, a visionary and go-getter. While he now enjoys every second on the bike – whenever his busy schedule allows – he used to race against the clock at enduro events and a few Downhill World Cups. Besides that, Robin practises kung fu and Zen meditation, plays the cello or with his dog (which actually belongs to his girlfriend), travels abroad and still reviews numerous bikes himself. Progressive ideas, new projects and major challenges – Robin loves exploring undiscovered potential and getting to the bottom of new trends.