At a Glance
YT have entered the e-bike game this year with their take on the ultimate powered mountain bike. Named the Decoy it has to be assumed they wanted to make the motor elements of the bike as subtle as possible and as such they've created a rather sleek looking machine.Buy Electric Bikes on
The fundamentals of the bike are a little different from what could be considered 'normal'. Firstly they're running a mixed wheel size, so a 29er wheel up front and 650b outback. This, in theory, gives good precision and 'roll-over' from the front but allows a stronger and bigger traction patch on the back. Although 650b outback, it is 2.8” tyre so the actual diameters are similar.
The Decoy is based around Shimano's e8000 motor but rather than using Shimano's 500Wh battery they've got their own 540Wh battery which is quirky, but you do get nearly 10% more power.
With three models the Decoy comes as the CF Base, CF Pro and finally the CF Pro Race (4,599.00€, 5,599.00€, 6,599.00€ respectively). Prices reflect their direct selling model and are highly competitive.
The model here is the CF Pro Race, the top of the line model with an exclusive spec. The full carbon frame is sprung on Fox Factory suspension and rolls on E13s carbon e-bike specific wheel set. The drivetrain is sent from the future with Di2 shifting operated by an E7000 remote, another of which is also used to change the power settings on the motor. A Renthal cockpit and a Transfer post add to the wow factor.
On The Trail
It certainly feels like a bike from the future. Sleek, dark and angular frame with electric cockpit make for a unique experience. The E7000 shifter is the first thing to get used to, and while it works well for power, as a gear shifter it's simply not ergonomically designed to do it well. After shifting the wrong way repeatedly I eventually adjusted, but having to lift my thumb so far off the grip felt vulnerable and I would never fully get used to it during the test.
Other than the electronic wizardry the Decoy feels familiar and spacious with no strange feeling associated with the mixed wheel size. Shimano power delivery is always pleasant and although not having a huge surge, it simply sweeps you along with power that glides you up the trail ahead.
Climbing is good, but this is not a bike designed to drag you up the steepest and most technical climbs around. The seat angle is borrowed from the Jeffsy, and while steep could be steepened further to make climbing the number one priority. Climbing, however, is more about uplifting to the next descent rather than a major objective in it's own right. The Decoy allows easy spinning up fire roads, and can certainly tackle some gnarly features, but lacks the super long back end of a vertical scrambler.
What this means is that the bike is surprisingly similar to any other enduro bike in terms of feel. The split wheel size is not noticeable most of the time and tends to only give a hint of presence in fast, tight, linked corners. The familiarity of the Decoy is perhaps it's most discerning feature, and no doubt this is no accident aiming to make the switch to electric easy for riders.
My first ride on the bike included a mixture of jumps and drops that a few years ago I would have felt cautious of hitting on an e-bike. Times move on and the Decoy gave the confidence and predictability to launch into pretty much anything that I would on a non-e-bike. E-bikes like this are no longer quirky experiments, they are proper bikes for hard riding.
The well-sprung suspension gives a lightness to the ride and the Decoy has a real playfulness to the ride. At about 22kg it's competitive in weight, but not the lightest. The light feel on the trail and tight back end make cornering a very enjoyable experience, the weight planting the bike firmly on the trail and the large volume tyre keeping the grip levels high. The downside of this high volume tyre is that Plus tyres are still too vulnerable to pinch flats, which happened early on and a Schwalbe Eddy Current was swapped in for the rest of testing.
The Decoy hits a good mix of long travel big-hitter and agile trail bike but sometimes feels lost between the two. I feel this mostly comes down to sizing. My test bike claims to be an XXL but has a reach of only 495mm, for someone of my size (195cm) it's then too short to give stability at top speeds. With a short seat tube, the bike was passed on to a rider shorter than me, and they really connected with the bike and the length worked well for them.
In terms of equipment on the bike, the top-spec is certainly fancy, but I would certainly choose a few different components if I could. The rear tyre obviously died early on, and this remains an issue with 2.8 tyres on any bike. Although carbon wheels and electric shifting may fit with the top-shelf positioning of the Decoy CF PRO RACE, these are two places I would rather see analogue shifting and metal rims. E-bikes can munch rear derailleurs for breakfast and ding rims with alarming regularity. My preference would be to stay robust and perhaps heavier but increase reliability. I would definitely consider a lower-spec option and buying a second battery to go big and far with the Decoy.
Fun, playful and exceptional value, the Decoy represents how e-mtbs have come of age and offer a brilliant riding experience, with the added benefit of a built-in uplift service. I take issue with the sizing and think the spec is questionable in places, but it's hard to argue with the whole package. This is no Decoy, this is the real deal.
This review was in Issue 61 of IMB.For more information visit YT Industries
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.