Dressed in gold graphics and even more bling than last year’s priciest Decoy, this new YT Decoy Elite packs latest-generation Fox 38 and Float X2 suspension, as well as Crankbrothers’ totally trick and highly-rated carbon Synthesis wheels.
Over six grand isn’t exactly cheap, but scan the parts and it’s clear this ebike rocks all the seriously high-end kit you’d hope for from a direct-sale brand renowned for amazing value.
YT Decoy Elite frame and geometry
The full-carbon frame (lower-tier models have alloy stays) has a true four-bar Horst link rear end, providing 165mm of travel.
Its huge down tube cradles a custom 540Wh battery, which powers a Shimano E8000 motor – YT hasn’t yet switched to the lighter, more powerful EP8.
Slack and super-stiff, the descending-orientated Decoy chassis isn’t as long as some new enduro ebikes, with the 450mm reach on the large size being on the conservative side for a latest-generation machine.
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.5 / 76||75.5 / 77||75.5 / 78||75.5 / 79||75.5 / 80|
|Head angle (degrees)||64.5 / 65||64.5 / 66||64.5 / 67||64.5 / 68||64.5 / 69|
|Seat tube (cm)||40||43||44.5||47||49.5|
|Top tube (cm)||56.9||59.1||61.2||63.5||65.8|
|Head tube (cm)||9.5||10||10.5||11.5||12.5|
|Bottom bracket drop - front (cm)||33 / 26||34 / 26||35 / 26||36 / 26||37 / 26|
|Bottom bracket drop - rear (cm)||10.0 / 17||10.0 / 18||10.0 / 19||10.0 / 20||10.0 / 21|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||34.3 / 35||34.3 / 36||34.3 / 37||34.3 / 38||34.3 / 39|
YT Decoy Elite kit
Tailor-made for the extra twisting forces that heavy ebikes exert, Fox’s beefy new 38mm fork contains its updated GRIP2 damper, which is four-way adjustable, with both low- and high-speed compression and rebound tuning.
The same goes for the Factory-level X2 shock. Combine this with the ability to adjust progression and spring rate via internal spacers, and the Decoy can deliver incredible suspension performance at both ends. It’s easy to get a good working setup, but takes considerable know-how to dial in maximum performance.
Elsewhere, sorted parts include a Renthal cockpit, 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain and best-in-class SRAM Code brakes (in their most tunable RSC guise).
The carbon Synthesis wheels are specifically tuned for front compliance and rear stiffness, and cut into corners and chop about the trail very reactively. But on a 20kg+ ebike it’s hard to sense huge benefits over a quality alloy wheelset, so this might be a low-impact area to save cash if you’re torn between the Elite model and a cheaper Decoy.
The Maxxis Assegai front tyre has exceptional grip, but the plus-size, EXO+ casing Minion DHR II at the rear is too wimpy (I slashed a huge slit in it) and also has issues in UK mud and slop, where it feels ‘floaty’ and lacks bite at hard lean angles or under aggressive braking.
I swapped it for a 2.4in tyre with a thicker casing, which dramatically improved agility, traction and control.
YT Decoy Elite first ride impressions
With its 170mm-travel fork and DH-race-tuned dampers, it’d be easy to assume the Decoy is a stuck-to-the-floor thug, smashing through everything in its path. In fact, with a sunken ride position that’s not totally stretched out, it’s very nimble as e-MTBs go, and capable of as much jibbing and playing as plenty of other ebikes with less weight and travel.
The stiff frame is responsible for some of this reactiveness, and the well-damped suspension – which is tunable for enough support to bounce off and push against, without detracting from any calmness and bump-swallowing smoothness – is the other.
This taut feel ensures the YT never feels cumbersome and makes it a great climber too, especially when the saddle and cranks feel like they’re always in the perfect position.
Last year’s review of a cheaper Decoy with DPX2 shock mentioned that the flipside of this tautness was less comfort over big hits and root webs, but this is a non-issue here, as the latest X2 slurps square edges for breakfast and is supple and sensitive whether creeping down dangerous techy steeps or steamrolling high-speed, rock-strewn Lakeland puncture alleys.
Especially with a narrower rear tyre fitted, the smaller 650b back wheel slashes tight arcs through corners so you can really fling the Decoy about.
One slight negative of the massive grip at all lean angles is that the rear axle unwound occasionally under huge torsional forces. Since this is easy to check, and presumably a side-effect of the stiff chassis, I’ll take how solid and responsive the Decoy feels when riding hard as fair compensation.
The battery connections can get temperamental when sodden (which can happen if you jetwash it upside down) and, in the fast-moving, tech-driven world of ebikes, the lack of the latest motor will be a big deal for some, but it’s a sign of the Decoy’s quality that I never worried about what drive unit was between my feet.
It’s not the longest or slackest rig, but the YT has a fantastic ride quality and enough downhill capability that you can go as fast as possible on the descents if you’ve got the nerve.
Add the fact that it feels lively eating up bendy singletrack, and it’s a brilliant all-rounder that makes you feels safe and confident attacking any level of terrain.
YT Decoy Elite early verdict
One of the best ebikes I’ve ridden, with a near-perfect parts package only tainted by the rear tyre.
|Price||AUD $11999.00EUR €6999.00GBP £6299.00USD $6999.00|
|Weight||22.9g (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Brakes||SRAM Code RSC|
|Cassette||Shimano Deore XT|
|Cranks||Shimano Deore XT with e*thirteen chain guide (1x12)|
|Fork||Fox 38 Float Factory GRIP2 E-Bike, 170mm (6.7in) travel|
|Frame||Carbon fibre, 165mm (6.5in) travel|
|Handlebar||Renthal Fatbar 35, 800mm|
|Motor||Shimano E8000 motor with custom 540Wh battery|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Deore XT|
|Rear Shocks||Fox Float X2 Factory|
|Saddle||SDG Radar MTN|
|Seatpost||Fox Transfer Factory dropper|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore XT|
|Stem||Renthal Apex 35, 50mm|
|Tyres||Maxxis Assegai EXO 29x2.5in (f) and Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO+ 27.5x2.8in (r)|
|Wheels||Crankbrothers Synthesis E1|