FIRST RIDE REPORT
2018 YT CAPRA
THE GRAVITY GOAT
Words by Drew Rohde // Photos by Daniel Roos
The crew at YT Industries have created a buzz of anticipation from their following that is now peaking with the release of the 2018 Capra. The revision may surprise many of YT’s followers as the new version of their aggressive, all mountain machine doesn’t just come in one wheel flavor, but two! The most un-German Germans have done it again.
We recently spent a few days at an exclusive media event with YT founder Markus Flossmann, CTO Stefan Willired (Willi), key North American YT staff and Mike Kazimer of Pinkbike. Our small group hobnobbed at a luxurious Spanish-style mansion overlooking the hills of San Clemente, CA. Over the weekend our crew would be riding the rocky steeps of Laguna Beach and pedaling through the pines at a new bike park perched above the San Bernardino Valley.
While there we didn’t see a single power point presentation, listen to PR-style banter about perfect this or optimal that. Instead we spent hours shooting the shit with founder Markus Flossmann and the animated and always entertaining Willi.
The freeform style of the camp and lack of a printed itinerary are only some of the reasons I say these guys are the least German Germans out there. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t get down on some graphs and technical data when they need to. After Willi pointed out some of the finer details of the new Capra, we could see beneath their relaxed California personas, was the stereotypical German techno geek DNA.
Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. The new Capra still sells at an insanely competitive price point and looks good too. YT’s V4L (Virtual 4 Link) suspension system also remains, however it gets some minor revisions. Willi and the YT design team are fans of low leverage rates and over the years they’ve refined their four-bar system. The Capra takes some queues from the Tues, and is even more capable on DH terrain but still pedals quite efficiently for a big hit bike.
For 2018 YT added a 29er to their Capra line up while still offering 27.5-wheeled models. The aluminum and carbon 27.5 bikes will still come with 170mm of travel, and the CF Race version will come with a 180mm fork. Likewise, carbon and aluminum 29ers will come with 160mm forks and the CF Race will sport a 170mm fork.
YT is bringing the heat and motivated to offer bikes that blend bike park capability with an all-day epic mentality. If you’re not one for pedaling then you’ll be pleased to learn the Capra is dual-crown compatible. That’s right, the front end goes through the same tests as the Tues DH bike. If you look closely at either side of the head tube you’ll notice a slightly raised surface where YT added extra material to make the bike pass dual crown crash test protocols.
Build kits on the Capra have more variety than Bobby Flay’s spice rack. YT is using, “the most politically incorrect” spec in the biz, and they love it. And they hope you do too. Depending on the level of bike you select, you could have a mix of Fox, Shimano and e.thirteen to SRAM, Rock Shox, Race Face and DT Swiss.
Sizing One of the biggest changes for 2018 is the sizing and size range of the Capra. YT will be making five different sizes of Capras. Small through XXL bikes will give each rider three potential bike sizes to select from depending on their riding style and preferences.
Top tube lengths have grown some, but most significantly, the seat tube heights have shortened, allowing the consumer to pick a bike based on reach rather than height, thanks to longer dropper posts.
We spent the first morning having a casual breakfast and dialing in our bikes for the day of shuttling Laguna’s finest. Despite my choice of wanting to ride a Large, Willi pulled out their updated XL 27.5 CF Race and told me to try it out for the day. He claimed the longer front end would distribute my weight over the bike better and he also wanted to show how much shorter the seat tube was for someone standing just under 6-foot tall.
Being that I’m never chasing the longest bike on the market, jumping on the XL was a big step up for me. The 18.89-in (480mm) reach was long. On the fast fire road bits I enjoyed the stability and planted feel, however when it got very steep or super tight I felt like I was trying to steer from the backseat of a limousine. There’s a trail called Back Door that abruptly ends with a steep succession of tight 90-degree turns and switchbacks. It was here that I really knew a Large would be much better for me and trends aren’t everything.
Sizing aside, the bike performed well overall. I would like more time tweaking the rear shock as a couple high speed rock gardens on Telonix had my feet floating around on the pedals. Though my time with the bike was short, I was encouraged because I was able to improve the rear suspension’s performance substantially from the first run to the end of the day. Hopefully most of my concerns with chatter can be mitigated with more time and tuning.
For our second field trip we packed up and headed to the new Sky Park Bike Park. Luckily I got on a size Large, which suited me much better. At lunch Willi jokingly referred to the bikes as machine guns at a knife fight, but I think they were more like Panzer tanks. The park is still in its infancy but still has some good trails and very fun terrain to ride, but we definitely had to work to make use of all 180mm of travel on our Fox 36 forks.
The mellower flow trails at the park would have been much better suited for a Jeffsy 29, however we did find some great testing grounds on the enduro trail and big jump line. Sky Park doesn’t have a chairlift so each lap was a self-shuttle. All the pedaling gave us plenty of time to get acclimated to the climbing performance of the Capra – an important thing if you’re going to truly make use of this bike and get out into the backcountry.
The Capra pedaled quite well for such a burly bike. With the climb switch of the shock engaged, the platform was quite stiff and helped transfer power directly to the rear wheel. With the shock open it still did a good job for a long travel, all mountain rig and kept traction extremely well over bumpy terrain.
Depending on which of the four trails we descended, I would focus on different traits of the Capra. One lap would be focused on its composure in the air while being sent off lips and slammed into corners. Frame stiffness and in-air maneuverability are impressive and it’s definitely fun in a bike park scenario, so long as the terrain warrants the travel.
When we went ‘round the back of the park and got into some natural terrain, the bike handled well. My 27.5 test bike was notably slower than Mike Kazimer’s 29er on rolling terrain but it was a real blast to lean over in some of the tight, steep catch turns. It has a playful and poppy demeanor yet also feels planted and stable when cornering aggressively. The front end feels a bit tall with its 180mm of travel, but it was welcome on the steeps as it kept me upright and focused on the trail ahead.
From our short time on two different types of terrain we can say the new Capra 27.5 has a lot of potential! I’m a bit concerned about the same issues we had with the Jeffsy, like the somewhat harsh feel on fast, square edge chatter, but was pleased that in the short tuning time I had it was improved. I’d love to spend more time tweaking the shock to get the rear end more compliant as it seems to be geared more towards bike parky performance. Landing drops, big jumps and flow trails are all right up the Capra’s alley, and rightfully so when you look at the brand and what they’re about. We hope to find the happy medium with more time on the bike.
It goes without saying that YT is doing a killer job and their pricing is incredible. The fact you can buy a top of the line bike with some of the nicest spec out there for $5,199 is pretty awesome! We’re huge fans of value and as broke mountain bikers, we can truly respect the fact that a brand is working hard to get better bikes to riders at cheaper prices.
We’re about to order up our long term test bike from YT. Would you rather see us review the 29er or 27.5? Let us know in the comments!
For more info visit; us.yt-industries.com