YT Decoy CF Pro Race E-Bike Review
Photos by Andrew Villablanca
Billed as an “E-Enduro” bike, the YT Decoy took the world by storm when it launched several months ago, captivating the market in a way few electric bikes have been able to do. Its impact was so powerful not because of the bike itself, but because it signified a turning of the tide in the MTB industry. YT was one of the first core “cool kid” brands to embrace e-bikes, and by doing so, they cemented their place in the market. At this point, if you don’t like e-bikes, you better learn to live with them because they aren’t going anywhere. Enter the YT Decoy CF Pro Race, a mullet (29” front/ 27.5+ rear) e-bike, with 160/165mm of travel, a Shimano Steps E8000 motor and pricing from five to seven thousand dollars. The stats are impressive on paper, but are they enough for newcomer YT to take on the likes of the Norco Sight VLT and Specialized Levo? Let’s find out.
YT started from the ground up with the Decoy, taking lessons from brands that made the move to pedelec systems before them. YT uses their V4L or Virtual 4 Link suspension design to handle the 165mm of travel. It’s the most compliant and supple YT we’ve ever ridden, but the downside is a lack of pop and somewhat heavy feeling off smaller features that we wanted to air out.
The Decoy boasts adjustable geometry thanks to the easily accessible flip-chip. Adjusting the chip changes the seat tube and head angles 0.5 degrees from 76° to 76.5° for the seat tube angle and 65° to 65.5° at the head tube. The bottom bracket height also changes by 7mm from 340mm to 347mm.
Like most modern bikes, the YT Decoy has a spacious reach, 455mm on our size large test bike. Taking note of the trends in the e-bike world, YT didn’t make the rear end of the Decoy CF Pro Race overly short. In an effort to improve climbing performance, traction and rider weight distribution, designers gave the bike 442mm chainstays across the entire size range. That means smaller riders will have a tough time picking up the front end of this bike for manuals, but it’s one of the ways savings are passed on to the end-user.
YT worked with Shimano to offer a custom 540wh battery. Sometime in 2020 there will be a 700wh battery upgrade that can be purchased after the fact. The battery is bolted to the frame with an elastomer lower cap to eliminate any vibration or noise during riding. Charging is done via a port on the down tube with a weatherproof rubber cover.
Power is delivered via a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and XT cranks. Shimano’s E7000 display and shifter are on the bar and allow for easy toggling between power modes. YT tucked the integrated power button neatly under the top tube, which looks nice but tricked first-timers into wondering where the power button was.
YT has been known for offering top tier builds for the price point and the YT Decoy is no exception. The $7,000 CF Pro Race build we tested packs a Shimano XT derailleur, shifter, and cranks with a Fox Transfer post, Fox Factory 36 fork and a Fox Factory Float X2 shock. Rolling stock comes courtesy of E*Thirteen’s E*Spec Race wheels wrapped in Maxxis rubber. SRAM Code RSC brakes keep this beast’s speed under control. For the price, it’s a very solid build, especially considering bikes with similar builds can retail for $8,500- $10,000.