YT isn’t known for subtlety, whether it’s its marketing campaigns or the gravity-focused nature of its bikes. It’s not a ‘bad boy’ image it has, just a ‘we’re more badass than you’ attutude that runs through the brand.
It’s a theme that’s won YT a healthy following, along with multiple media accolades for its bikes and downhill medals, so YT was a little cautious about releasing an electric bike. But, as CEO and founder, Markus Flossmann said “an e-bike can allow you to have more fun, in a shorter amount of time”, which is the other underlying quality of the brand, promoting fun and good times.
The YT Decoy is no different in nature to its other bikes — heavily gravity focussed. For YT, it wasn’t about producing the lightest or most powerful electric bike, but about “producing a real YT — a real gravity bike”.
The Decoy uses a mix match wheelset, running a 29in wheel upfront to help carry speed and a 27.5in wheel at the back to aid climbing traction.
It boasts a geometry that’s similar to the Capra, but with an even lower bottom bracket, and sports 165mm of travel at the rear wheel with a 160mm fork. These are bolted to a carbon frame that houses Shimano’s E8000 motor, although YT has developed and built its own integrated battery.
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race frame details
YT has kept the tubes chunky to help the down tube blend in Jack Tennyson
YT’s goal was to create a balanced bike that handles well and where having a motor on the descents isn’t a drawback. It also wanted to make sure there was a bike to fit everyone, and the Decoy is available in five sizes from small to double extra-large.
The geometry of the Decoy is aggressive and contemporary, but without taking it so far as to wander into the ‘longer is better’ purist territory.
The 65-degree head angle (in the Decoy’s low setting) follows YT’s 29in Capra and is pretty much a standard among 29er enduro bikes, electric or not. While YT could have made the chainstays shorter than the 442mm that is specced on all sizes, it believed going shorter disrupted the balance of the bike and impeded its climbing ability.
The five sizes cover a reach range from 415mm–495mm, jumping by 20mm increments per size. The large bike I rode had a reach of 455mm, which sits in the middle of the range.
To help get the rider back up to the top of the hill in comfort — apart from the aid of the motor — the Decoy has a 76-degree effective seat angle (low position), which again is becoming pretty normal on modern bikes.
Where this bike is a little different is with its low bottom bracket, which is 11mm lower than the 29in Capra and 10mm than its 27.5in version. Plus, with the extra weight of the motor slung low in the frame, YT was proud to show it has the lowest centre of mass compared to its main competitors, something that comes back to YT being just that little more gravity focused.
The silhouette is unmistakably a YT, and the lines of the frame follow its non-motorised siblings. The full carbon frame does have a few tweaks to the suspension kinematics compared to the Capra though, which it used as a base.
The bike still uses its V4L (virtual 4 Link) suspension layout, and tfollowing the general trend in suspension, Stefan Willared, YT’s CTO said “the beginning stroke is sensitive, mid-stroke should support you, and the end stroke is progressive as is necessary.”
The flip chips lets you change the head tube and seat tube angle, and lowers the bottom bracket for either a more aggressive or trail friendly ride Jack Tennyson
YT has opted to minimise the pedal kickback which would fight against the electric motor as the suspension moves through its travel. To achieve this, it has reduced the anti-squat by up to 30 percent compared to the Capra. This also benefits the bike by giving the suspension a more chainless feel, and it claims any negatives are negated thanks to the assistance of the electric motor, which doesn’t induce any extra pedal bob.
SRAM Codes brakes take care of slowing down the Decoy, and Shimano’s Di2 shifter is sleek but takes a little time to get used to Jack Tennyson
The Decoy also has a lighter transition from the beginning stroke into the mid-stroke of the travel versus the Capra. That’s because YT believes you sit down more on an e-bike, which will help give you a little extra comfort and help improve traction.
Cable routing has been made as easy as possible for the customers, driven due to the fact YT is a direct sales brand. The frame features internal cable tunnels that allow you to thread brake hoses and gear cables through the frame, without any painful waste of time trying to find exit holes. The cables are fastened inside the down tube, sitting about the battery, and removing the battery gives unobstructed access to these tunnels.
The bearings on the link are accessed internally to help the bike look clean Jack Tennyson
The Decoy also runs a flip chip that changes the geometry of the bike, altering the head angle and effective seat tube angle by half a degree and lowering the bottom bracket.
This means you can run the bike a touch more aggressive, or slightly more trail friendly if you wish. YT has also brought over technology from its Tues downhill bike, such as making all the bearings accessible from one side and providing a second bearing cover to keep the worst muck, dirt and water from finding its way inside.
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race geometry overview
||65 / 65.5
|| 65 / 65.5
||65 / 65.5
||65 / 65.5
||65 / 65.5
|Seat angle (effective)
||76 / 76.5
||76 / 76.5
||76 / 76.5
||76 / 76.5
||76 / 76.5
|Seat angle (actual)
||71.5 / 72
||71.5 / 72
||71.5 / 72
||71.5 / 72
||71.5 / 72
||34 / 34.7cm
||34 / 34.7cm
||34 / 34.7cm
||34 / 34.7cm
||34 / 34.7cm
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race motor and battery
YT has developed its own battery, which has been approved by Shimano, who supplies its E8000 motor. YT is apparently the first company to be granted this freedom from Shimano.
The battery uses 30 type-21700 battery cells — the same, YT claims, that are used in the latest Tesla cars — and has a capacity of 540Wh. It’s held in the down tube with two bolts and has a patent-pending elastomer lower mount to help protect the battery from any torque coming from the frame to protect the connectors.
The Shimano E7000 mode selector is a subtle pair of buttons next to the grips that toggles through the four modes. Boost, Eco, Trail and Walk (Notice YT uses the RacFace dropper lever) Jack Tennyson
It can be charged on or off the bike, but I don’t have any information yet about charging time. The battery has been mounted as close to the motor as possible to help keep the centre of mass low. YT says the battery can be washed on the bike, but certainly didn’t recommend using any pressure washers.
Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor will help drive your pedals around and has four modes: Eco, Trail, Boost and Walk which are customisable through Shimano’s E-TUBE app. YT estimate in Eco mode, you may be able to get 100km out of the Decoy. With its 70Nm of torque and 250W continuous power, limited by law (although maximum power will be much higher), it can provide up to a 300 percent increase in power to the effort you put into the cranks in boost mode.
The Shimano E7000 display tucks in nicely against the stem Jack Tennyson
YT has installed the smaller E7000 display and switch to keep things neat and tidy on the handlebars. This was one of the main priorities for YT, to remove any unwanted clutter.
The switch control, which lets you toggle through the power modes, is the same as Shimano’s Di2 gear shifter — a subtle pair of buttons that sits next to the grips. The display sits discreetly next to the stem, where the LCD screen displays mode and remaining battery power, plus it can be linked into Shimano’s Di2 gears to display which gear you’re in.
The power button for the Decoy is hidden neatly under the top tube Jack Tennyson
As a direct sales brand, YT claims that having Shimano as motor provider offers its customers some extra reassurance because they can take the motor to a Shimano Service Centre to receive any maintenance the system might need. And in the vein of keeping asthetics a priority, the power button is neatly hidden under the top tube.
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race highlights
Fox’s 36 FLOAT Factory E forks help give the bike its gravity-based pedigree Jack Tennyson
YT is a big fan of frame protection, which not only helps keep your bike’s chain and seatstays looking better for longer, it says it improves the quality of the ride by quieting the noise of any chain slap.
It has provided ample protection around these areas for just that purpose and the raised knobs on the chainstay protector are there solely for noise damping.
Being an e-bike, it’s no surprise we see a few e-bike specific parts. Not least the e.thirteen e.spec wheels. I was told the lay-up of the carbon rims is the same as e.thirteen’s downhill wheels, yet a little lighter, unfortunately I don’t have more news than that on them right now.
e.thirteen’s all steel specific 9-46t 11-speed cassette Jack Tennyson
Next up the Fox 36 FLOAT Factory E forks, which are rated for e-bike use by having slightly stiffer lowers and a stronger crown. There is also an e-bike specific cassette from e.thirteen, which is now a full steel construction to help maintain durability under the extra power an e-bike delivers, but it runs the same 9-46t 11-speed range. The hollow tech XT cranks are 165mm which is a nice touch for a bike with such a low bottom bracket.
YT claims the motocross style wheels, running a larger wheel at the front, help maintain speed by allowing the bike to roll over obstacles more easily and the narrow 2.4in tyre provides accurate steering. The smaller wheel on the back with a wider 2.8in tyre can be run at lower pressures to increase the surface area, giving you plenty of grip on even the steepest climb.
On this top model, you get Shimano’s XT Di2 electronic gears (other models feature mechanical gears). While this offers precise and quick shifting, they are powered by the battery though, so, if you ever do run out of battery on the trail, you will run out of gears too.
YT Decoy 29 Pro Race range and pricing at a glance
Decoy Mk1 CF Pro Race: £5,999 / €6.599 / US$6,999
Decoy Mk 1 CF Pro: £4,999 / €5,599 / US$5,999
Decoy Mk 1 CF Base: £4,199 / €4,599 / US$4,999
YT Decoy 29 Pro Race initial ride impressions
It’s easy to find a balanced position on the Decoy Johan Hjord
To test the new Decoy, YT invited me to a location just outside Nice in the south of France. The trails here are notoriously rocky and challenging, with big hills to ride both up and down. It’s certainly a location that will challenge any bike. I had two days riding over a mix of technical single track and longer fire road climbs, testing both the bikes’ climbing and descending capabilities.
I rode a size large, which comes with a reach of 455mm, which I found good being 173cm / 5ft 8in tall, and it’s a dimension I know to find comfortable. This was also the case here, where I found I had enough room to move around the bike, but not so much as to feel overly stretched out.
The Decoy can still be flicked around given its low bottom bracket and e-bike weight Johan Hjord
Initially, when you start pointing the Decoy down the hill, you can feel how well it holds its speed. I’m sure this is partly to do with the extra weight, and the 29in wheel up front, but the Decoy enjoys being pointed at the rough stuff and skips over it taking it all in its stride. I found it’s a bike that quickly inspires confidence when faced with a rock garden or two.
One noticeable feature of the Decoy is its low bottom bracket, but while it features a very similar stack height to the Capra 29, the Decoy features a 30mm rise bar and a tall headset cap.
Getting airtime is no problem, and the extra weight makes the Decoy a stable and well-behaved jumper Johan Hjord
Together, this made me feel like there was a significant distance between my feet and hands. This had benefits when the trail got steeper, giving me the feeling of the bike being stable and planted, and I never got the feeling I couldn’t get my weight back to help slow down, even with the extra e-bike weight.
On the flip side, in slower, more flat corners, it made the bike understeer, and I found it harder to lean the bike over and to weight the front tyre. I’m sure lowering the front end would help this feeling, but as there are no spacers under the stem, this set up was as low as the bars could go without changing them.
The rear suspension of the Decoy gave a pretty forgiving ride, but it didn’t dull the trail, and it’s still able to pop off small lips and play around on — even with the reduced anti-squat and 22kg weight.
The Decoy stays composed when you start to push it on the descents Jack Tennyson
There was plenty of support and progression when you got deeper in the travel, so the Decoy feels like you can push the bike hard and it takes a lot to get the bike out of its depth. The weight is something you get used to pretty quickly when riding and it’s not often you feel like you have to manhandle the bike around. Although once you break the motor’s 25kph assistance speed limit, you know you’re back on an e-bike. I feel there is slightly more drag in the Shimano motor than the Brose motor on the Specialized Turbo Levo, for example.
The Shimano motor offered plenty of power, and I never felt I wished for more. In Boost mode, the power delivery isn’t the smoothest, and it has a short lag time between pressing on the pedals and the motor kicking in — it’s not long, but just enough to notice it’s not there instantly. Overall though, the Shimano motor was good and gave an intuitive ride feel, which made winching back up the climbs a breeze.
You can still play around, skid and have fun when you want Jack Tennyson
While I never rode long enough to drain the YT battery, the 35km per day we did do wasn’t enough to drop the battery less than 50 percent. I did ride in Eco most of the time though, as that still had enough power to make you feel like you had another two pairs of legs.
While climbing the YT was plenty comfortable on the long climbs, the steep effective seat tube made the climbing position well balanced between the wheels, on shorter, steeper and more punchy climbs, I again wished the handlebars were a touch lower so I could get over the front and be able to move around the bike a little more.
The 27.5×2.8 tyre gives plenty of grip both up and down the trail, but the EXO+ casing struggled on the rocky terrain Jack Tennyson
The traction of the 2.8×27.5 tyre was good, and it was my skill that ran out before the bike slipped up when trying to clear awkward technical sections of uphill trails.
The rest of the bike was faultless as you would expect with such a quality set of components. All except the casing of the rear tyre which suffered a couple of punctures on the rocky terrain.
While the Exo + casing might be okay for the local woods, when the trails get rowdy it needs something a little stronger, especially when combined with the stiff carbon wheels from e.thirteen.
The Di2 gears were quick and sharp, although it takes a bit of getting used to having to remove your thumb from the bar to change gear. The Fox 36 FLOAT Factory E forks with their GRIP 2 damper were well matched to the bike, contributing to the its confidence inspiring ride quality. And as for the all the chain protection, it worked well because this is a quiet bike with no noticeable rattle from the chain or battery.
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race early verdict
The Shimano E8000 motor helps the Decoy ease up the hills, meaning you can take in more of the scenery Jack Tennyson
YT has made a very capable e-bike. Sticking to its ‘gravity-focussed’ morals, this bike takes the downs in its stride, whether rough or smooth. The Shimano motor offers plenty of power to winch you back to the summit, and the battery ranged seemed impressive. Having more adjustability to tune the bar would be a bonus though.
I think this bike has definitely thrown the cat amongs the pigeons. With the motor to assist you up and along, why wouldn’t you take advantage of having its confident downhill performance? Plus, with YT’s direct sales model price, this bike should be investigated by those thrill-seeking riders looking to join the e-bike movement.
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race specifications
The Decoy takes a lot of influence from its Capra sibling Jack Tennyson
Fork: Fox 36 Float Factory E, 29“, 160mm, 15QRx110, 44mm Rake
Shock: Fox Float X2 Factory, w/2-Pos Lever | 230x65mm
Headset: Acros AZX-260, Block Lock, High Cap
Stem: Renthal Apex 35, 40mm
Handlebar: Renthal Fatbar 35, Black, 30mm Rise, 800mm
Grips: ODI Elite Motion, Lock-On
Drive Unit: Shimano E8000
Battery: YT Custom, Removable, 540Wh, 36V
Chainring: Shimano 34T, SMCRE80
Crankset: Shimano XT, FCM8050, 165mm
Chain guide: e*thirteen TRS Plus E8000, 2 Bolt, 34-38T, Compact Slider
Cassette: e*thirteen TRS Plus e*spec, E-Bike, 9-46T, 11-speed
Rear mech: Shimano XT Di2, Shadow Plus, 11-speed
Shifter rear: Shimano XT Di2, On-Bar, 11-speed, SWE7000R
Display: Shimano E7000, Monochrome
Switch: Shimano E7000, On-Bar, SWE7000L
Wheelset: e*thirteen e*spec Race
Tyres: MAXXIS Minion DHF 29“ x 2.5(f), MAXXIS Minion DHR II 27,5in x 2.8(r)
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC, Rotor Centerline 200mm/200mm
Seatpost: Fox Transfer Factory, 31.6mm, 125mm/150mm drop
Saddle: SDG RADAR MNT, YT Custom | Yellow
Weight: 22.8kg (actual, size large, tubeless, with pedals (HT X2T))
YT Decoy 29 CF Pro Race geometry
Seat angle (actual): 71.5/72 degrees
Head angle: 65/65.5.5 degrees
Chainstay: 44.2cm / 17.4in
Seat tube: 44.5cm / 17.52in
Top tube: 61.1cm / 24.06in
Head tube: 10.5cm / 4.13in
Bottom bracket height: 34cm / 13.39in
Wheelbase: 1,222mm / 48.11in
Stack: 62.9cm / 24.76in
Reach: 45.5cm / 17.91in