2021 eMTB SHOOTOUT
YAMAHA YDX-MORO PRO REVIEW
Photos by Dusten Ryen
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
All you lifelong Yamaha moto fans can rejoice, there is another two wheeled fun having machine you can add to your garage. The all-new Yamaha YDX-MORO PRO is a 27.5”+ 160mm/150mm travel eMTB that features Yamaha’s own motor and unique twin tube frame design. Bleeding blue is no longer reserved for the gas-powered two-wheeled fiends. Let’s dig in and see how the Yamaha YDX-MORO PRO performs.
Yamaha took advantage of their massive brain power, manufacturing capability, desire to innovate and created their own drive unit. The PW-X2 motor comes in at 6.83lbs and delivers up to 80Nm of torque up to a cadence of 170rpm’s, which is an impressively high cadence to deliver power. Their handlebar mounted multi-function control unit allows you to choose from five power modes, EXPW, MTB, Eco, Standard and High. The MTB mode will switch automatically between power settings, providing power based on the terrain you are riding thanks to Yamaha’s impressive Quad Sensor system. The sensors pick up on cadence, torque, wheel speed and the pitch (incline) of the bike to instantly put the right amount of power down.
It is worth noting that the 80Nm of torque at 170rpm is only available in EXPW and MTB modes. The other modes deliver 70Nm of torque up to 155rpm. Along with the five riding modes there is also a Walk mode for when things get a little too gnarly to ride up. The computer offers Bluetooth connectivity, USB power for accessory charging and connectivity, as well as an array of functional information such as distance, battery life, stopwatch and a power indicator. It’s a rather informative display and is sizeable. Our testers were mixed on whether something that big was necessary and would get in our way, but it tucks nicely out of the way near the stem, so our concerns didn’t come true.
Yamaha has paired this new motor with their own battery. This 500Wh battery comes in at 6.61lbs and features a charge-life indicator as well as a self-diagnosis display. This 36V unit has a charge time of four hours and we really liked the ease of access to the charging port on top of the bike rather than down low near the bottom bracket where many bike’s charging ports are located. To keep the Yamaha YDX-MORO quite there is an anti-vibration mounting plate. Yamaha’s PW-X2 motor delivers power very naturally and smoothly and really makes you feel as if you are a much stronger rider than you are, the intuitive Auto mode with tilt sensor does all the thinking for you. The transition to power is seamless and there is plenty there to get you and the YDX-MORO PRO up the hill. Something to note is that there’s a sensor inside the rear hub, while this is part of what makes Yamaha’s power delivery and the MORO’s brain work, it will limit the ability to put aftermarket wheels on this bike.
The patent-pending hydroformed twin tube frame comes in with a headtube angle of 66.3 degrees and seat tube angle of 70.3 degrees. Our size large had a reach of 478mm and a wheelbase of 1,253mm. The size small comes in at a reach of 388mm and the medium lands at 432mm. Even with the big jumps in reach all models come with a 780mm wide bar, a 40mm stem and 170mm cranks. All models also feature a 469mm rear center, while this was comfortable for our size large, we feel that smaller size riders might suffer. Out back there is an integrated speed sensor harness. The full build on this bike comes in at a respectable 53.1lbs.
Up front there is a 160mm RockShox Yari RC with Boost spacing and a 35mm chassis. This fork offers low speed rebound and low speed compression adjustments. The Yari RC has the Motion Control IS Damper that is tuned to feel like the higher end Charger dampers, but the 35mm stanchions may be an issue for more aggressive and heavier riders as we could feel the fork struggling to keep up in gnarly, high-G scenarios. A RockShox Super Deluxe Select + rear shock with 150mm of travel and a 55mm stroke handles rear end damping. The rear shock mounting on this twin tube frame is one of the most unique designs we have seen. The aluminum at mounting location is cold forged and allows Yamaha to join areas strong with no additional support plate. The Select + shock comes with the DebonAir spring, Maxima Push fluid, low speed rebound adjustment and a two-position compression lever giving you the ability to lock the shock out.
The 27.5” x 40mm (internal width) wheels are Yamaha’s in-house brand. The rear is Boost 12 x 148 and the front is 15 x 110. Along with wheels, the in-house Yamaha bits also cover the grips, saddle, bars and stem. The dropper on our size large came in at 150mm while the small and mediums come with a 125mm version.
When it comes to getting those 80Nm of torque to the ground there are 2.8” wide Maxxis High Roller II’s. Our test tires for the eMTB Shootout were Schwalbe Magic Mary and Big Bettys, so we swapped them out within a few rides for consistency across all bikes. The shifting duties are covered by Shimano’s 11-speed XT long cage derailleur and XT shifter. The front chainring is a 36T Praxis Wave wrapped in a KMC e11 Turbo chain. When it comes time to slow down the YDX-MORO PRO, 4-piston Magura MT30 brakes with 203mm Strom CL rotors both front and rear keep the rider in control with ease.
The Yamaha PW-X2 motor took a minute to learn as most of our riding experience has been on Shimano and Bosch systems, with some Brose units as well. At first we weren’t sure how much power the YDX-MORO Pro was putting down as our thighs were telling us we were working hard, but once we got in the paceline with the other riders we saw how and where the PW-X2 shines. It offers a natural feel and likes spinning higher cadences. Despite the perceived effort being a bit more, there was plenty of power when you needed it. What’s more, Yamaha delivers the power without jolting you off line on technical climbs. The sound the motor produced was pleasant to our testers and became white noise after a few minutes of pedaling. It is difficult to put into words the feeling of power that this motor provides, the best way I can put it is that you feel like a stronger you. The integration of power is seamless. While the Auto function of the motor was a nice treat, we spent the majority of our rides in EXPW or MTB modes to get the most out of our time on the trail. The battery life out of the 500Wh battery was comparable with other bikes offering 504Wh batteries. This meant Yamaha and 504Wh riders ended their day before 630Wh riders and had them watching as others zipped back up for “one more lap.”
Across the board there is a good balance of budget friendly parts that offer reliability day in and day out. Certain things such as the sensor in the rear hub will add complication to upgrading wheelsets, this is something that I think definitely will affect the long-term use of this bike. The fork and shock package on the build also leave some performance to be desired, the rear shock does a decent job at keeping you high up in the travel on big successive hits but sacrifices small bump sensitivity. With that said the shock is an excellent match for this bike on the climbs, the lack of small bump sensitivity was not nearly as noticeable on climbs as it was on descents. The Yari RC is a weak point in our eyes as well. We felt this held the bike back for aggressive riders really wanting to push the limits. A Lyrik Select with the Charger RC damper or Zeb would be a much better match for this bike. That being said, we still rode this bike very hard, fast and had a lot of fun on it, so that says something. And for the record, we understand the choice in spec was probably made to help keep the price point under $6,000 and for that, concessions need to be made.
Climbing: The climbing position on the YDX-MORO was awkward at first and seemed long due to the relaxed seat tube angle and low stack height. We talked with Yamaha at length about their geometry and found they had tested almost a dozen prototype frames with many different geometry and suspension platforms. The decision was made to go with a slacker seat tube angle to give the bike the most rear wheel traction possible and allow riders to climb up steep pitches without the rear tire spinning out. With a wheelbase of 1,253mm the front wheel stayed planted on steep climbs without sacrificing agility navigating tight switch backs, which could be in part due to the somewhat low-feeling front end. The smooth power delivery in MTB mode kept wheel spin at a minimum and allowed you to get the power to the ground. A common issue we have on bikes, especially eMTB’s is dropper length, to achieve a proper saddle height with the 150mm dropper we had the post quite a way out of the seat tube. With the seat tube being nearly completely straight having a 180mm dropper would be appreciated.
The 27.5” wheels made tight uphill sections easy to power through but did like to hang up on square edge steps. We found ourselves planning out the climb to keep speed up through features that we thought we would hang up on. However, we found that to be less of an issue on the second YDX-MORO we rode. During our testing period, the first pre-production bike had some error code issues with the pre-production battery. We called Yamaha and within the hour a marketing rep was on the way from SoCal to Utah with a brand new bike that was full production spec. It quickly became apparent that the newer bike’s fresher suspension products gave the bike a much better feel and performance. Sadly it was towards the end of the week so many of the riders didn’t get the chance to ride the new bike and compare it to the well-worn demo we had been riding all week. Major props to Yamaha for driving a new bike out to get us taken care of.
Complimenting the PX-X2 drive unit’s capabilities was the Shimano XT shifter and derailleur combo. The YDX-MORO PRO blasted through gears like it was nothing. Even when shifting multiple gears the chain held strong and did not skip. While this is not an ideal way to preserve the life of your cassette and chain it is good to know that in a pinch you can make big last minute moves when needed.
When it comes to descending the YDX-MORO PRO had a bit of a mixed response. After getting on the fresh bike we had a much better experience and thought the suspension performed way more how we hoped it would. When it comes to handling, the 27.5” wheels are snappy through tight corners and make it a fun bike overall. We liked how the YDX-MORO blended playfulness and stability, although the 66.3-degree head tube angle won’t be ideal for riders who live on super steep downhill tracks and regularly achieve mach-speeds, unless of course you’re name is Brian Lopes.
We had a bit of an issue with feeling off-balanced on the bike in certain instances. We’re not sure if it is the 666mm top tube length in conjunction with the 70.3-degree seat tube angle but when in an attack position the front end seems long and low. This was confirmed by a number of riders during our eMTB Shootout in St. George, Utah. While I do not think this really impacts the bikes performance, it does give the rider a bit of an unsure feeling through long flat corners until you learn how it likes to be ridden. The YDX-MORO really likes you to ride in a forward position, once accustomed to that riding position, confidence in longer flat corners comes back.
While we did feel that the RockShox Yari fork held the bike back through really rough terrain, it was supportive on undulating trails where you are in and out of the saddle putting down power. With fast successive small bumps there was a lot of feedback in the bars but when encountering larger spaced out hits the fork ramped up well and provided plenty of support, even if there was more flex than a 38mm fork. Once again, the second YDX-MORO PRO with fresh suspension performed much better than the first bike we had and we wished we could have had it all week long as opinions began shifting quickly on how the bike felt in the rough.
The 66.3-degree headtube angle has some real benefits for the right type of terrain. Combined with the 27.5” wheels, this bike changes directions very easily and makes trails feel alive and fun. On mellower descents the YDX-MORO excelled in places the longer “new school” bikes felt like limousines. If you live in an area where you’re snaking through rocks, logs and making quick maneuvers, the snappy front end feel will have you riding faster than other slacked-out rigs.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Yamaha’s YDX-MORO PRO is an eBike that certainly brings a lot of unique and interesting things to the table. From the twin tube frame design to their own PW-X2 motor and control unit, awesome Quad Sensor technology and a sub-$5,500 price tag. Yamaha stands by their geometry convictions and while we applaud them for thinking outside the box, we’re sure some will write the bike off because of it. We felt that the geometry wasn’t a deal breaker, but that it also could have felt better as the low stack height and seat tube put us in a slightly stretched out position. We also think a larger battery would be great to have for riders wanting to ride in higher power modes or get out for big rides. Despite some critiques, the YDX is a fun and capable bike all around. It will suit many riders just fine and we liked how playful it was and how it handled landing into the chunky Utah rock. We look forward to seeing where Yamaha goes with their eMTB line in the future as they’re onto some cool stuff with this PW-X2 system.
Weight: 53.1 lbs
Frame: Yamaha Dual Twin | 150mm
Fork: RockShox YARI RC Boost | 160mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select +
Motor: Yamaha PW-X2 | 250 W, 80 Nm
Battery: Yamaha | 500wh
Brakes: Magura MT30 4-Piston | 203mm Rotors
Shifter: Shimano XT 11-spd
Handlebar: Alloy | 780mm, 30mm Rise
Stem: Yamaha Alloy | 40mm
Saddle: Yamaha Anti-slip
Seatpost: Alloy Dropper | 150mm (Large)
Hubs: Yamaha Alloy
Rims: Yamaha 27.5+ Alloy
Front tire: Schwalbe Magic Mary 27.5 x 2.6″
Rear tire: Schwalbe Big Betty 27.5 x 2.6″
Cranks: PRAXIS ISIS | 170mm, 36t
Cassette: Shimano XT 11-spd | 11/46T
Derailleur: Shimano XT Long-Cage
Chain: KMC e11 Turbo EPT
Seamless motor feel
Easy to access charge port
Intuitive Auto mode
Unique frame design
Short Dropper for a size large
Sensor integrated into the hub
Suspension spec leaves something to be desired
Low Stack height
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