The return of the GOAT (Greatest of all time) made a whole lot of mountain bikers happy. But what puts the YT Capra on top?
With the birth of YT in 2007 from a need for affordable dirt jump bikes for local shredders at the jump park, Young Talent was to be a direct to consumer gravity specific brand with a fast paced marketing guru and automotive suspension systems engineer at the helm.
The YT Capra 27.5 and 29 are dedicated enduro bikes sitting between the trail ready Jeffsy and downhill race bike the Tues. The Capra has been hailed the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) with the concept of bridging the gap of what is possible on an enduro bike that is very nearly a downhill bike that pedals. There are three carbon models and two alloy models to choose from in this years line up, with two colour choices for Capra CF and Capra CF Pro carbon models. The Capra 29 AL is unbelievable value when you look at the specs. It comes equipped with a RockShox Lyrik RC fork, Super Deluxe shock, SRAM Code R brakes and a Shimano SLX drive train paired with an E-Thirteen 9-46 tooth 511% Cassette all for $3899 – it’s bonkers. Our test bike the CF Pro Race tops out the range at $7899 which given the specs has to be the best value mountain bike available this year. With every component on the bike chosen specifically, YT are confident that Capra will handle anything you throw at it.
To date, there is nothing quite like the Capra 29 Pro Race we have on test in the market, the Pro Race is a 170mm front and rear equipped beast that may share more tech and angles with a downhill bike than that of bigger brands’ long travel 29ers. The closest bike available is the Evil Wreakoning with its 161mm travel, which to date was almost in a league of its own in the rowdy 29er department.
The carbon models are treated to an all carbon construction including both seat and chainstays. There have been some minor tweaks the Virtual Four Linkage mainly to reduce the breakaway point, increasing small bump sensitivity while keeping the mid stroke linear and the last part of the stroke quite progressive for those bigger hits. YT claim that pedalling efficiency is now better than ever with the revised kinematics and angles.
With cues from the Tues the new Capra is un-mistakenly a YT and apart from a steeper head angle and single crown fork might as well be. The full carbon monocoque frame has large voluminous areas with varying thickness carbon ply to create an incredibly light and rigid chassis. All bearings are double sealed and well covered ensuring this is a bike for all occasions and easy maintenance. Internal routing, downtube protection, chain slap protectors and a burley stainless chain suck protector keep everything quiet and well guarded. It is worth noting that there is no means of carrying a bottle, not on or under the downtube. Bring a backpack, a bumbag or some of those bibshorts that let you carry a bottle.
Straight out of the box, our test bike was built well, really well. Brake levers around the right way and shock pressures very close to perfect. Rest assured the direct to consumer model means that YT bikes are built by experts and THEN boxed up safely and ready to ride.
With every component on the Capra CF Pro Race picked for its quality and intended use, there is nothing left to change. The Pro Race has a full compliment of Fox Factory gear and E*Thirteen’s TRS+ 9-46 tooth cassette bosting 511% gear range. Add in the carbon TRS cranks, Renthal Fatbar carbon and Renthal stem and you know this bike means business. E*Thirteen has also adorned the Capra with the TRS Race tyres and TRS Race Carbon wheels which sport a lifetime warranty.
With all these burly components and 10mm shy of a downhill bike, our test bike tipped the scales at a scant 13.75kgs making this on paper to be possibly even more mountain goat than other long travel 29ers we have tested such as the Orbea Rallon or Trek Slash both of with have 20mm less rear wheel travel. This climbing or goat ability is one characteristic we will be scrutinising, as the Capra has been hailed as the do it all and ride all day bike.
On The Trail
The new iteration of the Capra has a lower overall height and stand-over which means that there are two to three sizes that may suit a rider based on the reach they are looking for. With the low stand over and shorter seat tube riders can be certain that the correct seat can be achieved. What is really impressive is that the two largest bikes, XL and XXL have a 5mm increase to the chainstay from 435mm to 440mm. This doesn’t sound like much on paper but imagine having to manufacture a unique set of stays for two sizes so taller riders can have the best performing bike possible. Hats off to YT, putting user experience first in a big way.
I normally ride a large frame to achieve between a 455mm and 460mm reach or 625mm top tube measurement. For a rider that is only 178cm (5ft10) this means the dropper post length and stand over sometimes isn’t ideal. On the Capra with a 150mm Fox Factory Transfer dropper and the super low standover, the Capra remains adjustable and very maneuverable when you are swapping between corners or just holding on for the ride.
Looking forward to getting the Capra on the descents, it was time to get the Fox Factory X2 DH air shock and Fox Factory 36 dialled in before making the ascent. You’ve got to go up to get down. The X2 is first and foremost a downhill shock and while it is an incredibly adjustable and capable shock for descending its “climb” mode or 1/8th turn of compression to firm is adequate but that’s it. Unlike say a Fox DPX2 with a trail mode, when climbing on rough singletrack the Fox X2 doesn’t perform quite as well. The pedalling efficiency of the Virtual Four Linkage is what makes the bike feel composed and resist against the pedalling induced bob which can often plague a bike such as this, and it does climb surprisingly well. Despite the soft compound and heavy rubber the 1800gram carbon wheels make turning the pedals over pretty easy with help from Shimano XTR and E*Thirteen 9-46 tooth TRS cassette. To think that I was pedalling a bike better than most of my old downhill bikes up a hill, seated and not suffering was pretty exciting. It is worth mentioning that the E*Thirteen TRS Race Carbon cranks are huge, so chunky that when cornering hard I could feel the inside on my ankle hit them. Some forms of bike trailers that hold the left hand crank will have similar issues to that of the older generation Shimano Saint crank.
With the suspension opened up, I started pushing the YT into the turns and was impressed to feel the bike not bog down completely underneath me. For a big bike it does retain some pop out of corners and off lips and doesn’t feel completely stuck to the ground as I had feared initially. With such large monocoque sections of the frame and the large bearings of the Virtual Four Link, the Capra 29 tracks just as described by YT, like a downhill bike. There is very composed and at times almost dullness to the feel in rough terrain which to be fair means that I was not even reaching its potential limits. With this, it was time to punch runs on the downhill track, and explore the capabilities of a 170mm 29er and as expected we flatted the rear tyre. With bikes this capable the recent development of 29er downhill tyre casings are a must to truly leave caution to the wind on our 13.75kg “DH bike” and set sail through the rocks. A quick inspection of the tyre and rim and we were good to go.
The YT Capra 29 is a bike that is home on rough, steep terrain or on huge features where speed and big hits are frequently encountered. True to YT’s word this is a bike that can be ridden all day and albeit big, the YT Capra is quite agile in tight terrain. Climbing was never a chore thanks to the steepish seat-tube angle and tweaked linkage.
When compared to the Capra CF Pro Race’s competition, it is really hard to ignore how good the spec is. There is nothing I would change, nothing is a shortcut or cost saving measure and everything has been picked to compliment the overall package. The only cost saving measure is that it comes direct to you.
With nothing to swap out or change, the best components available, a sub 14kg bike that is nearly as capable as a DH bike and can climb like a “big goat” with ‘only’ a $7899 price tag, you would be crazy to look past the Capra 29 CF Pro Race if all day bombing is your thing. Will we see this style of bike on the EWS circuit? Maybe not, but there could be merit in a more forgiving bike on big brutal days on big alpine trails at home or abroad.
As mentioned earlier, the Capra 29 could take some of the excitement out of riding. It is just so capable, composed and overbuilt that to get that little buzz and white knuckled feeling is a mammoth task. Almost everyone would benefit by riding faster, going bigger and charging harder on a Capra 29, but would it result in more fun? The Capra 29 would be the one bike to own if you lived near a lifted bike park and/or raced both downhill and enduro events. And while there are many clever ways of carrying water, SWAT, bumbags and enduro packs, we would love to see a bottle cage mount. This isn’t a deal breaker, just a nice to have. As it is, the new Capra is a bike that is so capable it would have been hard to consider a bike like this was possible even a few years ago. This model was specced to the eyeballs at a price that remains somewhat wallet friendly given the spec, but with a range that starts below $4000 it shows the new YT Capra should suit a wide range of budgets.
YT Industries Capra 29 CF Pro Race
RRP: $7899 (Plus $200 shipping)
From: YT Australia