Sebastian Jayne works to find out whether the YT IZZO is more downcountry or errs on the side of a mini enduro sled
Words: Sebastian Jayne
Photos: Matt Rousu
Young Talent is in the name and make-up of the YT brand, and a quick look at their story and philosophy shows that they don’t just want this to be a marketing term but an actual mantra to live by. Young Talent is said to be about finding your passion and having fun no matter your age or talent level. A glance at the features of YT’s models so far shows that having fun is exactly what they’re designed to do. While some brands want to enhance a bike to shave split seconds off a race time, YT wants to enhance the fun factor, although they are also pretty handy on the racecourse.
The YT range so far has heavily featured long travel bikes with a gap at the shorter end of the range. Bikes like the Jeffsy and Capra are big, burly fun machines, while the Tues DH bike is bigger still, but the 120-140mm range has been bare until now. The IZZO is YT’s take on the trail category that looks to take on the widest range of riding possible, from quick trail rides on mellow green tracks up to black and double black diamond if you want. With 130mm of travel and carbon frame, the IZZO might be perfect for Aussie trail riding.
YT run a direct to consumer business which means no middleman to hopefully lower the costs of the chunks of carbon with wheels we like to ride. Direct to consumer isn’t anything new and YT are definitely not new at it, but are distributed locally by Pushys now, which should speed up stock availability. Out of the box, the IZZO was pretty dialled! First out was a detailed instruction booklet that laid out everything we needed to know to get the IZZO unboxed and trail ready. It also had pictures which helped immensely. Also sitting with the instructions was a set of shiny new tools. A torque wrench, allen key and a shock pump was unexpected but greatly appreciated and would be pretty handy if this was your first bike and you didn’t have a shed full of tools yet.
Popping the IZZO out of the box was a breeze thanks to some organised packaging. Built up and trail ready the IZZO Pro Race is a sleek ride. The Titan Black paint job with silver accents and the gold of the Fox suspension and Transfer dropper post pulls together to make a great-looking bike. The rear Fox Float DPS shock features a nifty lockout twist lever at the handlebars made by RockShox. With the Transfer dropper lever and shifter for the X01 Eagle group set on the Race Face Next bars already, adding a conventional lockout lever would have overly cluttered the bars. The twist-to-unlock of the remote is a good way to cut out the need for another lever. The IZZO frame features internal routing which keeps the main frame sleek though it did come with an excessive amount of cabling out the front. This is an easy fix, but a fix I wouldn’t want to have to make after just paying over eight thousand dollars for a bike. The frame features a good amount of protection with clear wrap in some areas and a chunky chain stay protector to keep the noise down and carbon protected. Overall, the IZZO comes squared away and does live up to YT’s plug-and-play tagline.
The IZZO frame is influenced by the Japanese Katana sword and is said to draw the properties that make the Katana fast, agile and sharp. The lightweight and compact carbon frame is said to the help the IZZO remain fast out on the trails. While the Katana’s sharpness is supposed to influence the IZZO’s precision on the trails. Agility comes from the IZZO’s short 432mm chain stays and geometry-wise the IZZO sits firmly in the long and slack category. The 1209mm wheelbase in the large size tested is taken up by the long and roomy 472mm reach. The 66-degree head angle pushes things out further. Overall the ride is geared around a long and stable front end with short and snappy rear, which should make it stable but also playful out on the trails. The trick is balancing the long front with the short rear which isn’t always done right by others.
On the Trails
The 130mm of travel on the IZZO is the middle ground between shorter travel XC bikes and full Enduro rigs. While it’s the middle ground, it doesn’t look to tackle tracks in the middle but looks to cover all trails from XC up to Enduro. To do this, YT claim a bike needs to be stiff and lightweight with efficient and comfortable features paired with reliable components, slack angles and rowdiness … along with space for a water bottle.
I agree with these goals as a trail bike needs to be light enough to handle XC trails that will inevitably feature climbs, but still rowdy enough to let you hook into an enduro trail. Maybe not with as much panache as a full enduro rig will allow, but enough to make it possible. In terms of lightness and efficiency, I was impressed by what the IZZO had to offer. Sure, 100-120mm XC rigs that can afford to stiffen the suspension up are more efficient, but out on the XC trails I didn’t feel weighed down by the IZZO and could pump along and pedal up fairly easily. The super light DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheel set helped in this regard as did the light frame, and the rear suspension lockout came in handy when I wanted to get a firmer pedalling platform to push against.
I flipped the ‘flip-chip’ out of interest to see how XC the IZZO could go. The flip chip raises the BB by 8mm and steepens the head angle by half a degree from 66-66.5 in the high position. Out on the trails it was harder to keep the speed on rougher steep sections which is to be expected. The steeper settings though made cruising around mellower trails much easier and a little snappier in slow XC style technical sections both up and down. YT claim the IZZO can hit up the odd marathon race and with the flip chip in the high position, and I would agree. You won’t be fast, but you will be comfortable, and on the descents, you will absolutely rip compared to those on XC bikes. Aside from racing, if you ride mellower trails most days then the high position would see the IZZO suit your needs with the 130mm of travel still there when you point it into some rough stuff.
Trail bikes tend to fall into two categories as either being beefy XC rigs or lightweight Enduro sleds. I would definitely put the IZZO in the lightweight enduro sled category in both flip chip positions, which isn’t too surprising given YT’s pedigree. Much of the long wheelbase on the IZZO is taken up by the front of the bike with a long reach that offers a very roomy front. Our bike we tested was a size Large with an expected height range between 175-186cm. At 175cm, I’m only just in the large size range, which had me a little worried, but it turned out to be for nothing. While roomy, it wasn’t overly so and offered great stability on high speed enduro trails and other singletrack. The rest of the wheelbase is taken up by short 432mm chain stays, which offered great agility in tight sections or when I needed to lift up over trail features.
One of the strengths of the IZZO was its ability to hold a line in rough terrain. Small repeat hits of roots and rocks were absorbed well by the carbon rims, frame and handlebars. Carrying on from this was the IZZO’s ability for the front to be driven into steep chutes or G-outs and hold its line. This came down to the balance offered by the IZZO’s geometry through the front and stiffness of the frame especially around the headtube area. Overall the balance lent itself to tackling harder black and double black diamond trails. The snappy rear kept things fun with the ability to flick the IZZO around, up-and-over trail obstacles. I wouldn’t say the IZZO is particularly ‘fast’ in terms of racing, though you can go plenty fast on it, but it is more suited to having fun out on trail rides which, if you’re buying a trail bike, is probably what you want to be doing!
While some sections of the enduro trails around Bright had me wanting 20mm more suspension, the bulk of the riding was perfectly tackled by the 130mm package. Ultimately, I would rather be comfortable 90% of the time than have a bike that I’m only taking full advantage of 10% of the time. For trail riding in Australia, we rarely have trail areas that can push a full enduro rig for the bulk of the ride. Sure, there are sections like rock gardens or drops that you’d need the full 150mm+ of travel, but you then have to carry that travel when you dip into an XC track on the way home or cruise a local loop that features some dirt road riding. The IZZO package means you can tackle all of the above and then some.
Overall the IZZO is a great bike with dialled features and balanced geometry that will let you get rowdy on technical descents but still mosey around an XC loop if you wish. For the bulk of my riding, I would prefer a bike like the IZZO if I didn’t really care about ‘performance’ but more about having fun. For those of you interested in the IZZO and wondering about size, if your height puts you on the borderline between two of YT’s sizes, think about the kind of riding you’ll be doing. It you ride a lot of mellow, slower trails with tight sections, then the smaller size might be better. The opposite of this is if you’re hitting fast rough trails daily, then the larger size would be better to offer some more stability. But if you sit in the middle of the size I would opt for that model. Either way the balance and performance of the IZZO is impressive and is definitely a top pick for trail riding.
YT IZZO Pro Race: $8,399
Weight: 12.05kg (tested)