YT Industries are a German brand who pack a serious punch in mainland Europe. Only selling direct to the customer makes their prices super-low, so although the Romp dirt jump/four-cross bike looks expensive, it isn't. It punches well above its price, with a stiff, light and well made frame, and decent finishing kit.
Ride & handling: BMX track demon that's light enough to use for the odd trail jaunt too
There’s no disputing that the designers of this bike never intended for it to be used for ambling round cross-country trails, but take it somewhere with descents that you can really attack and climbs you can stand up and stomp your way up, and the Romp does the job very well.
That’s mainly thanks to its relatively light weight (less than 2.5kg for the frame), because the gearing, with a close-ratio 11-26 cassette and 36-tooth chainring, really isn’t suited to uphill duty. The 10-speed setup worked perfectly once tweaked – it needed a bit of a fiddle when the bike arrived.
It was the BMX track that really brought out the best in the Romp, and no wonder – it’s the same frame that YT's four-cross team roll out on. Boy is the frame stiff. There’s no sign of flex whatsoever, which did lead to the occasional harsh cased landing, but when it came to putting the power down the Romp just… romped! Even down to details like the freehub’s engagement being positive and fast, the YT just wants to get going – fast.
As well as the 135x12mm bolt-through rear end, the Marzocchi DJ fork has a 20mm axle and tapered steerer to match the head tube, which further increases the stiffness of the frame. The fork’s air preload valve came in useful when different riders hopped on – we never felt the need to do any more than just grab a shock pump.
The fork remained composed, no matter what we threw at it – including some pretty heavy landings over some big jumps at Birmingham’s European-standard BMX track – and remained plush and predictable whatever was going on underneath the wheels.
With the chainstay length set about halfway along its adjustable dropout, some of our shorter test riders had issues with pushing the back wheel of the bike down into a manual over sharp transitions, but with a quick adjustment to the shortest setting, the bike was back to comfortably sitting with the front wheel aloft.
The low weight of the bike and the lightweight wheelset combine to make the YT more air-friendly than EasyJet, with the only emissions being the ones you’re hollering after jumping higher than before.
It’s almost too light at times, and we did have to tone it down at the local jump spot after going in at the usual speed but overjumping everything. Once we were used to it, it could really be pushed high and was confidence inspiring even when we were confusing our own ability level with that of the bike.
Frame & equipment: Pro four-cross developed chassis; excellent kit for the price
The YT oozes quality. The graphics on the frame might not be to everyone’s tastes but the finish is top notch. The Romp is constructed from 7005 T-6 aluminium, and its smooth frame profile is largely thanks to the hydroformed down tube and low-slung top tube, which also keeps standover height to a minimum. The wheelbase adjusters add versatility and are easy to use.
The spec for the money on the Romp could almost be described as bonkers. SRAM’s 10-speed X9 shifter and mech aren’t usually seen until bikes get considerably more expensive. The 20mm axle Marzocchi DJ fork has a useful air preload as well as rebound adjustment and isn’t as heavy as you’d expect. Truvativ Descendant cranks provide a stiff power transfer to match the frame, and the bar and stem come from Truvativ’s Holzfeller range.
The wheels are built with reputable Alex FR30 rims and Division (YT’s own brand) hubs, which are all sealed-bearing units. They keep grip with the ever-popular Kenda Small Block Eight tyres. Avid’s Elixir 3 brakes are proven reliable, powerful stoppers too. The value of the YT is highlighted by the fact that it even comes with some really nice quality, sealed-bearing, magnesium bodied pedals.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.