YT's short travel Izzo platform goes in for a whet and a grind and comes out sharper than ever.
YT launched its short travel Izzo 18 months ago, and in its original form it was a short travel bike with 130mm travel that bridged the gap between trail and XC. Shortly after, YT over-forked the front end with a 140mm travel Pike and called it the Izzo Blaze. And to complete the Izzo family YT has now gone the other way; lightweight bits and 120mm of travel mean the Uncaged 7 is aimed squarely at those who prefer their pain and pleasure in equal measures. If you want to read more about the best XC and down-country bikes, check out our buyer’s guide.
Need to know
- 120mm travel version of YT’s short-travel trail/down-country bike
- Lock out the front and rear suspension with a twist of the wrist
- Wireless SRAM AXS drivetrain and Reverb dropper post
- Components chosen for weight saving without sacrificing capability
- Limited to 300 bikes worldwide
Unchanged from the original model, the Izzo frame cuts quite a dash with its sharp creases, slender tube profiles and continuous lines hewn from YT’s top end Ultra Modulus carbon. It’s undoubtedly a good looking bike, and nothing on the Uncaged 7 changes that. That bright Laser Yellow paint might prove divisive, but in a sea of blacks and greys, personally I love it.
The Izzo’s layout represents the epitome of classic suspension bike designs given a modern twist. As pioneered by Scott, the shock sits upside down, which allows the upper rocker link to be kept narrow and away from knees and gives direct access to the damping controls for the remote lockout while keeping the cable mostly hidden.
There’s a big and boxy junction between the down tube, bottom bracket and seat tube that doubles as the lower shock mount, but YT has included a small drain hole to ensure the area doesn’t turn into a bird bath.
At the back there’s a pivot on the chainstay, which bucks the trend among short travel bikes to run flexstays and probably adds 100g or so to the frame weight.
Geometry and sizing
Offered in five frame sizes, the Izzo is relatively contemporary in terms of sizing but does suffer slightly from overlong seat tubes on the larger options. Reach spans from 432mm on the Small to 517mm on the XXL, which is slightly longer than the regular Izzo simply because the head angle is a touch steeper and the front end lower due to the fork having 10mm less travel. My size large test bike had a 475mm reach, a few mm shorter than our benchmark down-country bike, the Transition Spur. To help keep the balance and handling consistent across the size range there are two different chainstay lengths – 432mm on the smaller frames and 437mm on the XL and XXL. And for making subtle changes to the handling, a flip chip at the rocker link gives 0.4º of head angle adjustment (65.5º/65.9º) and alters the BB height by 5mm.
Uncaged in YT parlance refers to models where the shackles of hitting a particular price point are severed and anything goes. As such the spec on the Izzo Uncaged 7 should be a juicy affair. Headlining the act is the RockShox SID Ultimate fork and shock along with a complete suite of wireless SRAM AXS components. We’ve been impressed with the latest SID suspension since it was introduced in 2020, and having ridden it on numerous different bikes in many different situations, it’s definitely our fork and shock of choice for any XC/down-country build. Light and efficient when covering ground, the supple, supportive travel also allows you to charge hard on the descents.
On the Izzo Uncaged there’s the addition of a remote lockout wired up to a the RockShox TwistLoc grip. TwistLoc replaces the inner half of the grip – the outer portion remains static – and turning the barrel clockwise locks out the fork and the shock simultaneously. Unlike Scott’s Twinloc, it’s a binary system – either on or off – and to open the suspension again you push a button on the side of the casing.
There are elements of the design we like, such as the clean cable routing, simple operation and the way it leaves the dropper post lever uncompromised. But it also takes a bit of effort to turn the barrel, the grip has to have the locking collar on the outside of the bar – which is uncomfortable – and accessing the release button requires unwrapping your thumb from the grip. Swings and roundabouts then, but the thing is, I don’t think this particular Izzo actually needs the lockout at all. But more on that in a moment.
And if you’re wondering why YT didn’t add RockShox Flight Attendant to take care of lockout duties, the answer is simple; weight. Flight Attendant adds a few hundred grams on its own, let alone the extra weight of the Pike fork and piggy-back shock it has to be fitted to.
We’re big fans of the SID suspension then, and the same appreciation can be aimed at the XX1 AXS drivetrain. Rapid, accurate and reliable, the function of the wide-range Eagle transmission is superb. Battery life is good and we’ll never tire of gazing out over such a clean cockpit.
At under 1,500g, the carbon DT Swiss XCR 1200 Spline wheels are fairly flighty (although not as svelte as the Reserve 28 XC or Syncros Silverton SL) and come wrapped in fast-rolling Maxxis Forekaster/Rekon Race tyres. Further weight saving is evidenced by the Race Face Next SL carbon bar, SRAM G2 Ultimate brakes and alloy spider SRAM Centerline X rotors. All in YT claims the Izzo Uncaged 7 tips the scales at 11.4kg (25.1lb) in size small. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to verify that on our own scales, but if accurate, that compares with 11.25kg for the Transition Spur and 11.12kg for the Scott Spark RC AXS.
How it rides
Ride time was limited to just a few hours on the Izzo Uncaged 7, but on the other hand, I was on home turf, so that short window still gave a decent insight into the bike’s character. Set up was done by YT’s in-house technicians, and I ended up running 13mm sag on the 50mm stroke shock, which translates to 26%.
Having ridden quite a few XC/down-country bikes this year (Santa Cruz Blur, Scott Spark RC, Mondraker F-Podium) I thought I was going to be prepared to some degree for the intensity of the Izzo. How wrong I was. This thing is absolutely razor sharp to the point where it makes those other bikes feel a bit soft. It’s so efficient that every degree of rotation at the crank is turned into propulsion and acceleration. Nothing is lost between pedal and contact patch.
Smooth climbs beg to be attacked out of the saddle, but some traction is lost when the surface is loose or rough. Twist the remote and the suspension almost fully locks out, but this is mostly redundant on anything but tarmac or forest roads, so after trying it once I never went near it again.
Even in the slack geometry position the seat angle gives a good position for revving up rises and along the flat, and this is further aided by a few extra mm of pedal clearance over its rivals.
The Izzo’s super racy responses ensure there’s never a dull moment whether you’re ducking off-piste onto steep enduro trails or weaving at full throttle through the trees on gradual singletrack. You can go full nunchuck with the Uncaged 7, twirling it around tight turns, bouncing off banks and popping wheelies out of corners. There’s so little mass to throw around that it’s a ton of fun to ride. There’s plenty of progression too, so if you want to back off the gas, you can use the suspension to generate or preserve speed.
On the other hand, the narrow 740mm wide bars impede control to a certain extent, especially when pointing down anything steep – it’s tough to summon the same level of commitment as you can with, even, a 760mm bar.
That may seem trivial, but you need to hold on tight aboard the Izzo. Really tight, as it’s no exaggeration to say that the rider takes a pounding when the trail is not perfectly smooth. Honestly, it kicked the crap out of me for the entire ride, which was fine at the start when I was fresh and motivated, but started to grate as my energy levels waned. And it’s not only the suspension that’s firm; the frame feels particularly solid compared to rivals like the Spur and Blur. Yes, it’s stiff and direct, but it also feels harsher.
A bike that’s trying to cover a multitude of bases means it will have made compromises along the way, and if you’re a racing whippet that wants to go fast and shred hard, the Izzo might not be the perfect foil alongside bikes like the softer Spur and lighter Blur. But if you’re not 65kg wringing wet, enjoy a bit of self-flagellation and fancy something seriously rapid, then the Izzo might just be your new dominatrix. Bring out the gimp.