Words: Ryan Walsch                                              Photographers: Jack Tennyson, Johan Hjord

For the last three years, YT Industries have been quietly working on a “digital bike”. The concept has been thoroughly researched to decide what attributes when combined would make the ultimate eMTB. A low centre of gravity, handling like an “analogue bike” and not looking like an eMTB were at the top of the list, which is where the all new YT Decoy gets its name.

Like all YT bikes, this digital version shares the same distinct Virtual Four Link, striking angles and overbuilt hard-hitting approach. The Decoy is an eMTB on steroids which finds itself at home on both technical terrain or shredding the local bike park. But instead of just matching what other brands have created, YT feel that they have surpassed others and made something that really suits riders who want to push their bikes hard, but have the benefits of an eMTB.


Utilising the Shimano Steps E8000 drive unit, YT designed their own battery and chose to run a front 29er wheel and 27.5” rear wheel. YT has created a balanced, no holds barred eMTB that is built to party. There is 160mm travel up front with 165mm out the back. It sounds the wrong way around but with the two wheel sizes it balances out.


I had the YT Decoy CF Pro Race on test, and it tops out the range of three models made up of two full carbon models and a carbon with alloy rear stays. The CF Pro Race is specced with Fox Factory suspension and dropper, XT Di2 and E-Thirteen’s Carbon eMTB wheel set coming in at $11999. That's a lot of coin, but considerably less than some top-shelf eMTBs on the market.

I put two full days putting the Decoy through some gnarly terrain in and around France’s Maritime Alps region, to see how it stacks up against the competition. With a full charge, a fanny pack full of Clif bars and a good crew I was ready to cruise up some climbs.


Initial Impressions

The key to getting the weight low down and centred was working with vendors to produce a 540wh battery that sat as close to the motor as possible, while still dissipating heat efficiently. YT opted for a more durable aluminium battery housing which is anchored by a large diameter bolt at either end running through the alloy housing and dampened by an elastomer eyelet. This high level of unseen detail ensures the battery is held silently and securely when you are getting rowdy an any terrain. Further within, the use of “moto foam” which is a medium density foam inlaid between the motor housing and motor itself keeps unwanted dirt and debris from entering into places that are hard to get to and may lead to drive unit noise and creaking that does plague some eMTBs. Kudos to the team and the extensive testing that has been carried out under some demanding and very talented riders.


Possibly the most unique feature, and honestly one that I didn’t notice for at least 30 minutes while setting up the bike before hitting the trail was the different size wheels. Yes that is a 29inch x 2.5” up front running on a 31mm internal E*Thirteen carbon rim and a 27.5 x 2.8” rolling on a 36mm internal E*Thirteen carbon rear rim. All excuses aside, the larger bagged tyre and bigger rim width make things look like they mean business and most importantly brought the back end of the bike in to an impressive 442mm chainstay length which is a great balance of short yet stable. If you look at the spec sheets on other eMTBs you'll see how much shorter this is than others, and it means the ride really matches the rest of the YT range.


The Decoy comes in five sizes, Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large and Extra Extra Large. Small starts with a 415mm reach and each sizes goes up by 20mm per size to 495mm on the XXL. Thanks to the low stand over and fairly short seat tube riders will be able to choose a size based on their reach rather than by the seat tube length. I’m 178cm and went with the Large with a 455mm reach, which when combined with the 40mm Renthal Apex stem and 30mm rise Fatbar makes for a comfortable and stable position.


Like all YTs out of the box the bikes are plug and play, requiring very little setup at all. At the YT Decoy launch we were spoilt and had World Cup racer Erik Irmich and MTB hall of fame and freeride godfather Richie Schley on deck to get us set up and ready to shred. When setting up your own YT Decoy, suspension settings are always available on the website.


With all the components chosen for their functionality, there is only considered spec on the entire Decoy range. My test bike came in just a hair under 22kgs.

While the bike is specced with Maxxis Minion DHF and DHR tyres they are EXO+ casings front and rear, it will be interesting to see how these handle the abuse and added weight of the eMTB. The E7000 shifter is not the most ergonomic shifter I have seen looking like it may be more at home as a climbing shifter on a gravel bike, will I be able to find the right gear on awkward pinches?