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YT Industries rolls into gravel with the front-suspension Szepter (and it has integrated mudguards)

The mountain bike brand focuses on ‘gravity-oriented gravel’ with an upright position and two competitively priced models

The Szepter Core gravel bike

YT Industries, the direct-to-consumer German mountain bike brand, has entered the gravel bike market with the Szepter, a 40mm-travel front-suspension gravel bike.

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It features upright geometry – leaning towards the brand’s gravity DNA – and includes a dropper post on the more expensive of the two models.

“The Szepter is our interpretation of a gravity-oriented gravel bike,” says YT product development manager Frank Dörr.

“In our point of view, that’s where gravel should get; it’s about having fun on the trail, having fun on the downhill. At YT, we are very much a gravity-oriented brand, so the Szepter is in keeping with that.”

A RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR 40mm Solo Air fork smoothes out the ride.
YT Industries

The Szepter is priced competitively. The Szepter Core 4, with a SRAM Force groupset, RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR fork and a SRAM dropper post, costs £4,499 / $4,499 / €4,499.

The dropper-less Szepter Core 3 with SRAM Rival and a RockShox Rudy XPLR fork is priced at £3,199 / $3,299 / €3,299.

The Szepter Core 4 and 3 are available now.

Positioned for fun on the hills

The tall head tube contributes to the MTB-like position.
YT Industries

Although the gravel category has only existed for a few years, it has already splintered into ‘fast gravel’ race bikes and ‘adventure gravel’ machines, with the former being steeper and lighter, and the latter being slacker and built for carrying loads.

The Szepter skews more towards adventure gravel riding with its geometry, but the company is insistent the bike isn’t built for bikepacking.

“With the Szepter, we would like to inspire mountain bikers and existing YT Industries customers with a bike that’s designed for good times, for casual riding, for trail fun, and even for commuting,” Dörr says.

A SRAM Wide crank is plugged into a SRAM Dub PressFit bottom bracket.
YT Industries

“Some people may have expected a full-suspension gravel bike from us, but we weren’t trying to make a crazy ride. We are aiming for mountain bikers who are interested in trying gravel.”

So what does a “gravity-oriented gravel bike” look like? For starters, the head tube is quite slack at 69.4 degrees (most gravel bikes are well north of 70 degrees) for handling stability, while the stack is quite high, and the reach is quite short.

YT pairs a 38t ring to the 10-44 12-speed cassette.
YT Industries

The bike comes only with a single 70mm stem length – regardless of frame size – and the seat tube is a steep 74.4 degrees.

This all adds up to an upright body position and, for most riders, a handlebar that sits about level with the saddle.

When combined with a shallow handlebar, YT says the rider is well positioned for descending steep trails in the flared drops.

YT chose shallow drops to keep the rider upright.
YT Industries

The steep seat tube angle is notable because the tendency in gravel bikes is to have a slacker seat tube.

However, YT points out that if you’re going to be riding down steep stuff, you’re likely going to be riding up steep stuff, too – so the ability to get your body forward should help in applying power to the pedals when climbing.

Also of note is the brake configuration, with a big 180mm front rotor for stronger braking power, paired to a more standard 160mm rear.

Stiff where needed, soft where wanted

Dropper post? Check. More specifically, a SRAM Reverb AXS XPLR 50mm model.
YT Industries

YT director of product Reynaldo Ilagan says a key design target for the Szepter was to “amplify riders’ confidence”, pointing to the MTB-derived thinking around the new bike.

“The suspension fork gives you more control. That’s been clear from the beginning,” Ilagan says.

“The head tube height was chosen [to provide] a good position in the drops. The head tube angle and reach were also selected [to boost rider] confidence. These are things that we have known in mountain bikes for years.”

The bikes come with 700 x 42c WTB Resolute tubeless tyres, mounted to the specced WTB alloy rims. The frame and fork can accommodate up to 45mm-wide tyres.

Front and rear mudguards are integrated into the frame and fork.
YT Industries

The down tube and head tube are built for maximum stiffness, but the skinny seatstays are claimed to allow for a bit of flex.

All the built-in compliance adds up to a maximum of 8mm of movement at the saddle under load.

The top model gets a SRAM AXS dropper post, while the more affordable model has a 27.2mm Zipp Service course post.

External routing and 1x only

One positive with the AXS system is if your rear-derailleur battery dies, you can swap it with the one on the dropper post.
YT Industries

While routing brake hoses into the bars and stem has become commonplace in high-end gravel bikes, YT opted to keep the brakes routed externally.

“It’s super-important for the YT customer to be able to service the bike by themselves, and this makes it easier,” Ilagan says.

YT also decided against a front derailleur option, which opened up frame design and tyre clearance.

The bike isn’t light. The Szepter Core 4 weighs a claimed 9.9kg / 21.8lb in a size small, and the Core 3 weighs a claimed 9.8kg / 21.6lb, also in a size small.

YT Szepter Core 4 and Core 3 geometry

SMLXLXXL
Seat angle – effective (degrees)74.374.474.474.474.4
Head angle (degrees)69.369.469.469.469.4
Chainstay (mm)425425425425425
Seat tube (mm)450480500530550
Top tube (mm)558578593613628
Head tube (mm)125145170190205
Bottom bracket drop (mm)6161626262
Wheelbase (mm)1,0541,0761,0951,1151,132
Stack (mm)650669697711754
Reach (mm)384398407422433

YT Szepter Core 4 and Core 3 specifications

YT Szepter Core 4

The Szepter is YT’s first gravel bike, aimed squarely at mountain bikers with its upright geometry.
YT Industries
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Frame: Ultra Modulus Carbon Frame
  • Fork: RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR
  • Stem: Zipp Service Course SL, 70mm (all sizes)
  • Handlebar: Zipp Service Course SL XPLR, 115mm drop, 11-degree outsweep, 5-degree flare
  • Crank: SRAM Force 1 Wide, 38t
  • Cassette: SRAM XG1271 Wide, 10-44, 12-speed
  • Derailleur: SRAM Force XPLR eTap AXS
  • Levers: SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD
  • Wheels: WTB Proterra Light i23
  • Tyres: WTB Resolute, 42mm
  • Seatpost: SRAM Reverb AXS XPLR, 50mm
  • Saddle: SDG Bel-Air V3 Overland
  • Price: £4,399 / $4,499 / €4,499
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YT Szepter Core 3

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Frame: Ultra Modulus Carbon Frame
  • Fork: RockShox Rudy XPLR
  • Stem: Zipp Service Course, 70mm (all sizes)
  • Handlebar: Zipp Service Course XPLR, 115mm drop, 11-degree outsweep, 5-degree flare
  • Crank: SRAM Rival 1 Wide, 38t
  • Cassette: SRAM XG1251 Wide, 10-44, 12-speed
  • Derailleur: SRAM Rival XPLR eTap AXS
  • Levers: SRAM Rival eTap AXS HRD
  • Wheels: WTB Speedterra i23
  • Tyres: WTB Resolute, 42mm
  • Seatpost: Zipp Service Course
  • Saddle: SDG Bel-Air V3 Overland
  • Price: £3,199 / $3,299 / €3,299