YT's second go at the Decoy e-bike, with shorter travel and 29er wheels
The YT Decoy Pro 29 sports a full carbon frame. That means it looks sleek as hell, with loads of great touches that make the bike really sing.
YT Decoy Pro 29 need to know
- E-bike with Shimano motor, bespoke 540Wh battery, carbon frame and Fox suspension
- 29er version of YT’s first e-bike, the Decoy, complete with 145mm travel and 150mm suspension fork
- Flip-chip transforms the bike’s geometry, changing the BB height by 8mm and the head angle half a degree
- Mullet version with 165mm travel and enduro attitude still available
- €5,599 online only
YT’s first ever e-bike was the Decoy, a 165mm enduro bike with slack geometry and big sizing, mullet wheels, and excellent suspension.
Now there’s a new version, the Decoy 29, with 20mm less travel, 29in wheels front and rear this time, and a less-aggro focus for trail riding.
The carbon frame is the same, Shimano still provides the motor, and YT still prefers the Shimano drivetrain and suspension on this Decoy Pro 29 version.
All of which might lead to you to think the Decoy 29 is no different to the original bike. But it’s sometimes the little things in life that make the biggest difference, and on the YT Decoy 29 they add up to make a bike that’s very different indeed.
The on-off button is located underneath the top tube, preserving the bike’s clean lines. YT finally has its water bottle sorted out now, something that was missing from the first Decoy, and you now get a squat little bottle that holds a reasonable 475ml of fluid. It’s held in place with a bespoke bottle cage – we’re glad YT has squeezed it in, but it’s not the easiest thing to use when you’re pedalling along because it’s so low down.
You also get internal routing, of course, a chain device, and an excellent raised and rubbery chainstay protector to ensure a quiet ride.
Powering the bike is Shimano’s STEPS E8000 motor, and YT’s custom 540wh internal battery. It’s fine, but compared to the competition the Shimano motor is starting to look long in the tooth. It has more of an on-off feel than the smooth power delivered by Bosch and Brose, and we’ve found that to make a sizeable difference to the speed you can go on a trail. It’s easily the worst thing about the bike, and something YT needs to address if it wants to compete on motor terms with the raft of new e-bikes hitting the market.
YT has gone to some effort to protect the motor from the wet, packing moto foam into any exposed crevices.
YT has four e-bikes, two mullet-wheel bikes in the shape of the Decoy Pro Race and Decoy Comp. And now two 29er options, a Base 29 for £3,999 using the RockShox Yari and Duluxe Select, and this Decoy Pro 29 at £4,999 with Fox Performance Elite suspension.
I’m happy to see YT hasn’t used Shimano Di2 shifting from the old bike – it was unnecessary and cost a bomb, so instead they’ve opted for for regular mechanical Shimano XT. Gone too are the carbon rims, sensibly replaced by excellent alloy ones from DT Swiss. All in, those savings drop the price by £1,000 and don’t affect the performance one jot.
It’s truly wonderful that bike builders trust their customers to such an extent they’re prepared to let us dramatically change the geometry of their bikes. Imagine if motorbike brands or car companies did this, there’d be carnage. Mountain bikers are a savvy bunch though, we’re sensitive enough to detect geometry changes and smart enough to figure out what they do.
I’m talking of course about the flip-chip, shock mounting hardwear you’ll find on plenty of new bikes that lets you raise or lower the bottom bracket height and at the same time steepen or slacken the head angle.
The new YT Decoy 29 has one and, like some kind of traction control button in a sports car, it has the ability to utterly transform the bike’s attitude. Going by our own measurements, the bike’s BB height can be changed by 8mm toggling between the high and low position, while the head angle sees nearly half a degree change.
To make space for the bigger rear wheel YT has had to lengthen the chainstays. Big time. They’re now 30mm longer, while the front end of the bike has remained the same length for a given size. Again, these are our own measurements; YT’s own ones are out by some margin. It’s pretty obvious then that the wheelbase is now longer, and naturally that makes the bike more stable.
Less obvious though, is that it changes where you are on the bike, effectively pulling your weight forward and altering your centre of gravity. On the original Decoy I struggled to weight the front of the bike, but the Decoy 29 has no such problems, the balance is absolutely spot on.
YT says the Decoy 29 has a steeper head angle than the mullet Decoy, but this is actually not the case. Our Decoy 29 test bike actually measured a tenth of a degree slacker than the mullet bike.
All this is great news for anyone who wants more stability on the descents, and easier climbing… all of us then. The Decoy 29 is ridiculously controlled on steep tracks, keeping your body in prime position get high on corners and change lines when you need to.
The suspension is just as good as the geometry too, Fox’s 36 Performance Elite fork and DPX2 well matched. The bike muscles its way through rough terrain like a sleek German saloon, silently damping all the fuss beneath you.
All this stability does come at a price though, ride the bike in its low position and I found it too stable to have much fun on. Ideal for the really steep stuff, but less than inspiring on flow trails. Fortunately, the flip chip transforms the bike to just the ride side of playfulness.
YT set out to make the Decoy 29 more trail bike orientated than the Decoy 29. Instead they’ve made a bike that’s actually better on more aggressive terrain, despite packing 20mm less travel on the rear and up front. It has two geometry settings that are ideally suited to UK riders, low for trail riding and super low for off-piste gnarly stuff. Couple that with the new water bottle, the sensible spec choice dropping the price, and hands down it’s a better bike.