Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Ian Linton

This Izzo is the shortest travel full suspension YT Industries bike to date, with 130mm travel on both ends and 29” wheels only. It’s designed to be a trail bike through-and-through, rather than a short travel enduro bike. YT likens the IZZO to a Katana, the Japanese sword that was claimed to be amongst the finest cutting weapons in world military history. How does that translate out on the trails? Let us tell you in this long-term review.

• 130mm Horst Link Suspension
• HTA 66
• STA 77 (effective)
• REACH 492 (XL)
Price: $3,299 / £3,199 – $4,999 / £4,799

YT Izzo Core 4 Profile Photo


The YT Izzo is a 130mm travel trail bike, designed around a pair of 29” wheels only, and available in either full carbon, or a carbon and alloy hybrid frame. The Izzo uses a Horst Link suspension design to control the 130mm of travel as you’d expect from YT, but with a different arrangement using a rocker link and vertical shock instead of the typical yoke-driven horizontal shocks. YT gave the Izzo kinematics that are quite progressive for its category, with a high 33% progression, Anti Squat that rises from just over 100% in the easiest climbing gears to 125% in the hardest gear, and a low 50% Anti Rise. This should make for a bike that is able to handle some hard hits without bottoming out; is fairly neutral under pedaling forces; and has a suspension action that is affected minimally by the use of the rear brake.

YT gave the Izzo a geometry-adjusting flip chip in the upper shock mount, which lets you select between a High and Low position that modify the head and seat tube angles by half a degree and the bottom bracket height by 5mm. The Izzo is offered in sizes Small to XXL, to suit riders between 5’1” and 6’7” (156cm to 204cm). In the Low mode – where the Izzo on test spent most of its time – the key numbers shared across the size range are a 66° head angle; 77° effective seat tube angle and 40mm bottom bracket drop. The chainstays go from 432mm on sizes Small through to Large, to 437mm on the Xl and XXL. Reach figures are quite average, with the Large coming in at 472mm and the XL tested sitting at 492mm; and Stack heights are 621mm and 635mm respectively. This gives a wheelbase of 1240mm for the XL tested, which is in the region that you’d expect for the trail bike category.

YT continues to offer their Core and Uncaged model ranges. The Core models, as you can perhaps tell by the name, are more standard build kits that share similarities across the whole of the YT range. The Uncaged models are typically limited edition, special builds that use more exotic build kits and offer something slightly different to the norm. In this case the Uncaged 7 is a more XC race-focused build, dropping down to 120mm travel and using lighter weight components. Thankfully that’s not the model I tested, instead receiving their top-spec Core level build, the Core 4 which retails for $4,999 or £4,799. Below this in the Core range are the Core 3 and Core 2 at $4k and $3300 respectively.

YT Izzo Geo Chart

The Uncaged 7, Core 3 and Core 4 models share the same full carbon fiber frame; whereas the Core 2 gets an alloy rear end to save some money at the expense of slightly increased weight. All the frames have the headset cups molded into the headtube; full internal cable routing including the provisions to add a remote lockout if you’re that way inclined; extra sealing on the frame pivots to improve bearing life; generous molded rubber guards on the stays, and a top tube tool mount for taking the essentials with you on a ride.

The Core 4 build is designed to be a high performance kit with minimal compromises. The suspension package is a full Fox Factory affair, with their latest 34 Float with the Grip 2 damper up front, and a Float DPS in the rear with a 3-position compression lever for firming up on the climbs if desired. The brakes are SRAM’s G2 RSC’s, with a 200mm rotor up front and 180mm in the rear to boost the stopping power. The drivetrain is SRAM’s X01 eagle, with their carbon fiber crank and 10-52T cassette. The wheels are DT Swiss’s top-end XMC 1501 carbon fiber hoops, and the tires are Maxxis Forecasters with EXO casings. Rounding out the spec list is a Race Face Turbine stem and Next R carbon fiber bar, YT Postman dropper that uses the well proven SDG Tellis internals, and a SDG Bel Air saddle. This tips the scales at 28.4 lbs in the XL size tested.

YT Izzo Core 4 Review


The Izzo is at the lower limit of what I’d typically choose to test in terms of intentions and travel. But I’m very glad I got this one in, because it’s been a riot, and allowed me to explore some of the further routes and more pedal intensive trails with a smile on my face the whole time.

Getting the Izzo set up initially was a bit of a problem for me. Not because YT themselves had made any errors with the frame, but because the Fox 34 fork has a 120psi air pressure limit. This is what Fox would recommend a rider at 113kg should ride, yet my 96kg mass felt it was too soft at this pressure, sitting too deep in the travel and upsetting the balance all round. I took the risk and overinflated the pressure to a suitable level to achieve the feel I desired, but neither we nor YT or Fox condone this, and if you do so it is entirely at your own risk of serious injury.

Once this setup quirk was overcome, the Izzo came alive. YT recommends 20-25% sag in the rear, and I experimented with both of these figures but found that bang on the 25% mark at the shock gave the best handling overall. There weren’t any notions of hard bottom outs in the rear throughout the test, yet this setup provided enough sensitivity to keep it comfortable and deliver enough traction for going both up and down the hill. The 20% sag setup would certainly suit smoother terrain and those looking for the ultimate in pedaling efficiency and to generate the most speed from working the terrain below, but I found the Izzo became overly nervous for the faster and rougher terrain it was faced with.

YT Izzo Core 4 Review

Thanks to the mid-height Stack and relatively flat bar, the front end was lower than I’d usually run on a trail to all mountain bike. However, it suited the intentions and character of the Izzo well, giving it a certain urgency to pedal hard. The overall balance allows for plenty of front wheel weighting, and when combined with the middling head angle, it’ll whip itself up and around tight switchbacks without issue. The seat tube angle is steeper than you’d conventionally find in a bike of this class, but doesn’t feel excessively upright, I think in part due to the slacker actual seat tube angle pushing the saddle a touch further back than the angle stated when up at my high seat height. The fairly central position it provides combines with the relatively supportive rear end to negate any desire to use a climb switch. The small amount of movement in the rear suspension that remained helped to take the sting off the roughness of the trail below, and there was minimal need to actively weight either of the wheels on the climbs. The Izzo feels even faster when you’re out of the saddle and leaning hard on the bars for a sprint, where it gives you great reward for your pedaling efforts and makes mellower terrain an absolute blast. The bottom bracket is certainly low, but pedal clearance proved to be manageable for all but the chunkiest of climbs, and I found myself clearing some sections I don’t often grease.

Once you get the Izzo up to speed, which is extremely easy, it feels as if it hunkers down and offers impressive stability given its typically agile nature. The low bb height no doubt helps with this, and it makes for a high-speed trail center crusher. There’s a great platform to push through to generate further speed out of the trail when pedaling isn’t an option, and enough pop to let you double up rollers and fly off-side hits to your heart’s content. As is inevitable when you live in the Tweed Valley, I found myself on a few descents that were above the Izzo’s pay grade but was impressed by its composure under hard compressions. The suspension is firmer off the top than some of the “mini enduro” bikes in this travel category, which doesn’t generate the same level of traction, and the steeper head angle and less aggressive component spec begin to show their limits when things get particularly steep or rough. But the Izzo impressed me in the gnarlier situations all the same, given how ridiculously fast and fun it is on mellower trails. The Izzo never pretends to be anything more than it is, letting you know quickly when you get a bit carried away in a predictable and fun manner.

The Maxxis Forekaster tires are a great fit for the Izzo, rolling fast and gripping surprisingly well until the terrain gets to a medium level of soft, where they just can’t penetrate deep enough to latch on like a burlier enduro tire can. Similarly, the firm dual compound rubber and lack of rubber thickness mean you deflect off of slick roots and rocks much more than on a stickier and thicker tire, but that’s to be expected. Once you recalibrate your riding and line choice to be a little more deliberate and precise, these tires are seriously impressive, and the gain in rolling speed is an absolute delight. The snappy handling of the Izzo makes this precise riding easier, enabling easy darting from side-to-side on the trail to find the grip and stay out of trouble. Of course, being precise all the time is unlikely, and in one of these lapses of precision I found a small but extra pointy rock, which punished the EXO tire casing and left me with a large hole to plug. Once plugged the tire shrugged off a load more abuse amicably, and I’d be happy to vouch for EXO casings on this bike for general riding scenarios.

The rest of the component spec was chosen similarly sensibly, and all works in unison with the tire spec. The G2 brakes would not be my first choice for most bikes, but provided sufficient power to avoid ever being the weakest link; dealt with heat just fine; and had great modulation to feather speed effectively. The XMC 1501 wheelset is quite stiff but without being overly harsh, with a quick enough response in the rear hub to blend into the background, and some quick snappy acceleration thanks to their low weight. I botched a couple of landings when getting carried away on some jumps on the Izzo, and the wheels didn’t so much as flinch. The Izzo’s frame didn’t either, with its relatively stout feel matched by the pivots staying tight throughout the test duration. The paint work isn’t the strongest, showing a number of stone chips in the most prone areas, but it’s still looking relatively fresh after a bunch of miles of gritty mud and loose stones.

YT Izzo Core 4 Review

The Wolf’s Last Word

Likening the Izzo to a Katana was so unbelievably spot on, capturing its trail character so well. It’s agile, responsive and fast, but still packs enough strength in its reserves to pull you through some rowdy moments in one piece. As a trail crushing weapon, suitable for long backcountry missions in the saddle or high tempo trail center blasting, it’s one hell of a rig! 

Price: $4,999 /£4,799
Weight: 28.4lbs / 12.9kg


Frame: Carbon | 130mm
Fork: Fox 34 Float Factory | 130mm | Grip 2
Shock: Fox Float DPS | 3-Pos | 210x55mm

Brakes: SRAM G2 RSC | 200F/180R Centreline rotors
Handlebar: Race Face Next R 35mm | 780mm | 20mm Rise
Stem: Race Face Turbine R 35mm | 60mm Length
Seatpost: YT Postman 31.6mm | S: 100mm | M:125mm | L:150mm | XL-XXL: 170mm
Saddle: SDG Bel Air 3.0

Wheelset: DT Swiss XMC 1501 Spline
Front tire: Maxxis Forecaster 29×2.35” | EXO | Dual Compound
Rear tire: Maxxis Forecaster 29×2.35” | EXO | Dual Compound

Cassette: SRAM XG 1295; 10-52T
Cranks: SRAM X01 Carbon | 32T | 175mm
Shifter: SRAM X01 Eagle; 12s
Derailleur: SRAM X01 Eagle; 12s

We Dig

Excellent pedaling
Very smart spec
More capable than you’d expect
Serious fun

We Don’t

Not ultra sensitive


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