YT designed the YT Decoy CF to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing
YT designed the YT Decoy CF to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, to look like a conventional bike by disguising battery in the down tube. Hence the name Decoy.
YT Decoy CF Pro Race need to know
- YT’s first e-bike, with full carbon frame, Shimano motor and YT’s own internal 540wh battery
- 165mm travel and 160mm fork points the Decoy squarely at the burlier end of the e-bike spectrum
- Mullet wheels: 29er up front with 2.35in tyre and a 27.5in rear and chunky 2.8in rubber combo
- £4,200 gets you the entry level Base model, or jump up to the Pro at £5k and the Pro Race at £6k
The Decoy felt like a lame duck the first time I rode it. A bent rear rotor — probably dinged during shipping, YT says — slowed the whole bike down, and worse, I couldn’t make it corner properly. And yet within two rides my first impressions had been completely overturned, a few simple tweaks turning the Decoy into one of the most impressive e-bikes I’ve ridden this year.
So, Decoy then. We’re not sure why anyone would want to hide the fact they’re riding an a-bike, but a sleek looking design with the battery enclosed in a carbon frame sure beats the pants off a bike with external power pack, at least aesthetically. And what aesthetics, the Decoy’s full carbon frame looks the business, and it’s powered by the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, and YT’s custom 540wh internal battery. A bigger battery is “in the works” YT says, potentially in 2020, and sensibly there is space in the down tube to retro fit something larger. There’s also a FlipChip to adjust the bike’s geometry, lowering or raising the BB height by 7mm and altering the head angle by half a degree.
The latest trend is for mullet bikes, and the Decoy is right up there with a 29er front wheel to better roll over obstacles, and a 27.5in with a 2.8in tyre at the back to generate grip from the motor. At that back end the Decoy has 165mm travel, delivered through the V4L (Virtual 4 Link) suspension platform YT uses on all its bikes, and the front has just 5mm less. The Pro Race version here is top of the range and comes with a FOX 36 Float Factory E fork and X2 shock and Shimano XT Di2 shifting, but you can shave nearly £2,000 off the price by going for the base model, with a RockShox Yari fork and SLX drivetrain. There’s also a Pro model splitting the difference in terms of cost and components.
On the bike
YT has an irritating habit of cutting its bikes’ fork steerers very short, so that the top of the stem is nearly flush with the top cap. It’s very neat, but it leaves you no room to raise or lowering the bar height with headset spacers. The Decoy’s bar has 30mm rise and it made the front end too high to weight the fork effectively, resulting in understeer for miles. I swapped to a different handlebar, losing 10mm in height and instantly the bike felt better balanced.
Powering the Decoy is Shimano’s trusty E8000 motor, which is decent enough but starting to look long in the tooth now Bosch’s new fourth generation motor is all over the place. YT has specced the more compact E7000 display, which is a good move because it’s sleeker and smaller, and the power button is also stealthily hidden under the top tube.
As ever, YT has some amazing spec, the Decoy sports superlative Fox Factory suspension, Shimano’s XT Di2 shifting and Maxxis Minion tyres (a first for YT, which usually goes with E13) encasing E*Thirteen carbon wheels.
That spec is very impressive, but I’d question some of YT’s choices. Di2 serves no real advantage over a mechanical XT drivetrain, and I actually dislike the shifter switch because you have to move your thumb up from the bar, breaking your grip. That said, it has shifted flawlessly. Carbon wheels are a nice touch on paper, but they’re unnecessary and a potential weakspot on a 45lb bike. I also think the ride feel would be improved by alloy wheels in the slippy, muddy conditions we have now — the bike is incredibly stiff so more sensitive wheels could add just a little more grip. The Decoy also has bottle bosses, but no bottle or cage yet conceived fits in the space — I’ve even tried kids bottles. YT is making its own and it’s “coming soon”, just as the bigger battery is. All these little details make the bike feel ever so slightly unfinished and not quite up to the usual faultless, just-so standards of YT.
How it rides
I’ll forgive all the quirky spec though because this is YT’s first go at an e-bike and, more importantly, because the Decoy feels so darned good to ride. The suspension is very sensitive, like you’re flitting across the top of trail chatter instead of getting hooked up and slowed down by it. The fact that the rear end doesn’t feel outclassed by the superlative Fox 36 Factory fork up front speaks volumes, and in fact I took all the low speed compression damping off the fork to better try and match the plush feel the rear end gives you. The suspension is still progressive enough to catch you if you hit something big though and it makes the Decoy feel more of an enduro bike than a trail bike… just as YT has intended. The geometry felt sorted, once I’d lowered the bar of course, with a really low BB height and slack head angle, while the sizing is on par with modern e-bikes.
Sure there are some niggles, the motor sounds a bit like a stove top kettle when you’re really pushing it and the original bar is too high, but the Decoy is a proper enduro bike that you can charge on.