The carbon YT Decoy Elite is a divertingly sleek enduro bike that just happens to have a motor
YT Decoy Elite is an enduro-ready e-bike with top-end build kit, adjustable geometry, full-carbon frame, Shimano E8000 motor with custom 540Wh battery.
YT Decoy Elite need to know
- Fox Factory-level suspension sees a 170mm-travel Fox 38 fork leading the charge
- Float X2 shock pumps out 165mm of rear travel
- Crank Brothers Synthesis E11 carbon mullet wheels
- 2.5in Maxxis Assegai tyre up front and a 2.8in Maxxis Minion DHR II out back
- Available in five frame sizes: S to XXL
Sleek as it is, the YT Decoy Elite isn’t fooling anyone. Yes, it has the geometry and specification to match even the best enduro mountain bikes, a build kit that includes Fox Factory suspension, Crankbrothers Synthesis carbon wheels and a Shimano XT drivetrain. But even with the sculpted full carbon frame, YT can’t quite blend in the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and custom 540Wh battery and make them disappear completely. It’s done a bloody good job trying though, the ultra-sleek design making the Decoy stand out in the world of generic e-bikes.
Hiding the power switch under the top tube simply adds to the stealth factor, and I’m pretty sure that if YT could have done away with the Shimano display altogether it would have. It’s probably why it opted for the simple monochrome E7000 unit, putting savings into components that make a bigger difference to the overall performance of the bike. Not that YT needs to count its pennies, the build kit on the Decoy Elite outshining most analogue bikes at the same price.
Take the Fox Factory suspension, for example. The 170mm-travel 38 on the YT has the exact same chassis as the regular 38, where both are rated to a maximum system weight (rider and bike) of 169kg. Given that the YT Decoy Elite only weighs 23.14kg (50.01lb) in size XL, it will easily accommodate riders up to 145kg. Providing, of course, you can get enough air into the rear shock. What makes the 38 on the YT e-bike specific then? In short, damping; the e-bike 38 gets a lighter low-speed compression tune and firmer high-speed compression. It also has an additional volume spacer added to increase ramp-up. As for the X2 shock, it’s already a DH-rated product so there are no structural differences here either, the e-bike sticker simply indicating custom tuning where needed.
Shimano claims that the E8000 motor has 70Nm torque, which is 15Nm less that the new Shimano EP8 motor. Riding both back-to-back, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference, at least in terms of power. So while the E8000 may only have had 70Nm torque when it launched four years ago, I get the feeling that the Shimano has bumped up the power output, just like Bosch did last year, but has neglected to tell anyone.
That’s not to say that there aren’t differences between E8000 and EP8. Structurally, EP8 is more compact and lighter. It also has less drag, which should make it more efficient and easier on the legs when you ride the battery flat. The key difference though, is that the E8000 motor doesn’t rattle when coasting but makes more of a hum than the EP8 when pedalling. Do I think it’s worth holding out for an update to the Decoy platform? No… Not when a bike rides this well and is actually available.
How it rides
The Decoy Elite is surprisingly powerful and quiet. It’s also incredibly agile for a 165mm-travel bike. Preload the rear suspension and it really feels like you could boost to the moon on it. The pitter-patter response of the rear end also offers stacks of grip, but if you’re mostly riding in sloppy, wet conditions, switching to a 2.5in rear tyre is the way forward. Not only will you get less flotation and more traction, the bike will clog less too – something that’s quite pronounced with the elevated chainstay bridge. The ISCG chain device that’s mounted on tabs around the BB shell is also something of a mud magnet, so it would be cool to see YT switch to a simpler frame-mounted design. So the Decoy is more difficult to clean than some e-bikes, just don’t be tempted to turn it upside down to wash it as water can run into the battery/frame connection, which means you’ll need to dry it out again to get the lights back on.
YT offers the Decoy Elite in five frame sizes, from small through to XXL. All sizes share the same carbon rear ends, where the 27.5in wheel shod with a 2.8in tyre affords relatively short 442mm chainstays. At 5ft 11in tall, thanks to the generous standover clearance, I’m equally comfortable on the L or XL, where the reach measurements are 448mm and 476mm respectively. Not that they are the same – on the XL I ran the flip-chip in the high setting to help load the front end more, the taller head tube also forcing me to replace the 30mm rise Renthal Fatbar 35 with a 20mm version.
Contrast that with the size large, where I ran it in the low setting with spacers under the stem. If I had to choose, I’d have the size large for Surrey because the short reach makes it easier to load the front end on flatter terrain, the smaller size also requiring less effort to chuck around so you can still make the dull parts interesting. If my backyard was littered with ridgeline alpine descents however, I’d have the XL in a heartbeat. The taller front end would offset the increase in gradient, and the longer wheelbase would add stability to compensate for the increased speed and general rowdy-ness of the terrain.
Better still, YT could use size-specific rear ends just like it does on the YT Jeffsy, to help maintain the same weight distribution across the size range. Maybe that’s on the to-do list for the next round of revisions. And, if anyone at YT is interested, I’d like to switch the SGG Radar Mtn saddle for an SDG Bel-Air 3.0 to get some additional cushioning, and fatter ODI grips for the exact same reason. Other than these two small mods, and the chain device, don’t change anything else. Yes, I’m more than happy with the 540Wh battery as it seems to give a much longer range than any 500Wh Shimano bike I’ve tested. And if you do have power concerns, for £629 you can buy a spare battery and instantly double your capacity without compromising handling. Ultimately, if it’s ride quality not range or bragging rights about having the most torque that’s important, then the YT Decoy Elite is still very much at the forefront of e-bike development.