Words by Robert Johnston
Photos & Video by Max Rhulen

The YT Capra has been the Enduro bike in YT’s lineup – and perhaps their most renowned bike – for some time now, always representing great value but never lacking in performance. As the years have gone on, YT has pushed the performance of the Capra higher and higher, and these days their flagship models are undoubtedly amongst the top performers on the market. But, YT hasn’t forgotten about their value minded roots, and recently updated their entry level spec – the Capra Core 1 – which comes in at just $2,699. They say it “keeps the cost low but the stoke high”, and we have absolutely no reason to disagree thus far. We were lucky enough to get some time on board the bike and speak with Frank Dörr, Product Development Manager at YT to learn more, so let us talk you through the budget minded ripper that is the YT Capra Core 1.

Editor’s Note: Tech Check Features are made with the help of partnering brands to share the latest news and technology about products. These are not our official reviews as we don’t have enough time in the products to have thoroughly vetted them for recommendation. We look forward to putting a lot more miles in these products and will be reporting back with our honest and objective input in the near future.


YT’s mantra when developing their Capra Core 1 and selecting its spec was to obtain a bike that would keep even the most demanding of enduro riders happy, without adding to the price tag with features and finishes that make somewhat trivial differences. Durability, ease of setup and full capability to support hard enduro riding were heavily weighted factors during its creation, and the result seems to tick all of those boxes and then some. With either 165mm or 170mm of rear wheel travel delivered with their V4L Horst Link suspension, paired to a 170mm fork with 38mm stanchions, there’s no denying the capability of the Capra to eat up chunky terrain.

YT Capra Core 1 MX Tech Check


Cutting the cost of the frame by removing features and refinement would have been the easy way out, but YT wanted to ensure that not only was their aluminum Capra frame up to the task of some hard riding, but also that it would be a frame that riders would be happy to upgrade if they saw the need in the future.

The aluminum frame is produced with a mixture of cold forged parts and hydro-formed double butted tubing, giving high durability whilst ensuring the performance is still up to scratch. As with the carbon fiber frames featured on the higher price point models, the Capra alloy frame features their asymmetrical wing inside the front triangle, adding strength and rigidity to the frame without preventing the fitment of a water bottle.

With the two wheel sizes on offer, rather than using a big flip chip to swap between two frames and end up with a geometry compromise somewhere along the way, YT instead developed two unique rear ends to mate with each size of wheels. Add to this two different lengths of rear end for each wheel size option, with a 5mm increase in rear end length on the XL and XXL frames, and it’s clear that YT hasn’t cut corners to save costs here. There is still a small flip chip present at the rear shock mount, which allows the rider to quickly tweak the geometry between a high and low bb setting.


By retaining all of the same wheel size and frame size specificity, YT was able to give the Capra Core 1 the same geometry as on their flagship carbon fiber models. The most recent MK3 iteration of Capra is touted to be better both up and down the hill than the outgoing model, a sentiment that rang true when we tested the Capra Core 4 a while back, and continues to be the case with the Core 1 spec, although the overall weight is higher.

The key geometry numbers on the YT Capra MK3 MX in the low geometry setting has a 64-degree head tube angle; 77.4-degree effective seat tube angle, and average of 21mm bottom bracket drop. The flip chip increases bottom bracket height by 5mm, steepening the head tube and seat tube angles by 0.3 degrees in the process. Reach sizes go from 424mm to 504mm, and the Stack heights are between 627mm and 654mm.

The Large measures in with a reach of 464mm and stack of 636mm, giving a fairly compact cockpit. Seat tube lengths are typically short enough that riders will be able to size up or down to tailor the fit to their preferences. The chainstay lengths go from 433mm on the Small through Large sizes and stretch to 438mm for the Extra Large and XXL sizes, better balancing the increased front end length. The wheelbase on the size Large MX tested comes in at 1243mm, whereas the 29er is 5mm longer due to the extra chainstay length.

YT Capra Core 1 MX Tech Check


YT offers the Capra in a number of builds at a range of price points, with their standard “Core” specs going from the Core 1 to the Core 4 AXS at $5,699, as well as some limited edition “Uncaged” specs from time to time with more exotic build kits. The Core 1 is the entry level model in the Capra range, given a purposeful and durable part spec that foregoes a focus on light weight or adjustability to take the price tag in at an impressive $2,699. The aluminum frame is fitted with a RockShox suspension combo, with their Super Deluxe Select R rear shock mated to a 170mm travel ZEB Base with the Rush RC damper. Setting the Capra Core 1 up couldn’t be easier thanks to the YT suspension guide, which gives you ballpark pressures to set the suspension units to, so you can hit the trails in quick time.

Braking duties are handled by the SRAM DB8 four-pot brakes, which stop on a pair of 200mm rotors. SRAM also supplies the drivetrain – an NX Eagle 12-speed setup with 11-50t cassette. E*thirteen are called upon to keep the chain in place and the front ring safe with their TRS chain guide, as well as to supply the cockpit with their Base alloy bar and stem. The wheels are the burly aluminum Sun Ringle Duroc Comp SD37 with a 32mm inner rim width, which are wrapped in a dual compound Maxxis Assegai and DHR2 tire pairing with EXO casings. Rounding out the spec is the YT Postman dropper post – a rebadged version of the excellent SDG Tellis – with size-specific lengths from 125mm up to 200mm.


As a direct sales brand, unless you live close to one of the YT Mill locations, then the chances are you’ll be thinking of building up the bike yourself. YT provides an in-depth guide to aid the user in the process from taking their Capra Core 1 out of the box through to hitting the trail. The bike is pre-assembled and checked by their mechanics before being boxed.

The customer simply has to mount the wheels, handlebar and rear derailleur; fit their chosen pedals; set their saddle height and set up the suspension with YT’s suspension set up guide before the bike should be ready to ride. Even the least experienced mechanics would be able to follow the guide provided in the box and have their bike ready to roll in an hour or so.

YT Capra Core 1 MX Tech Check


Can you please give us a little intro?

Frank Dörr, Product Development Manager. I have been with YT for 7 years now and have been closely involved in all bike products you can find on the YT website while leading a team of talented designers and engineers.

What is the hardest thing about creating affordable bikes? 

It can be a challenge to find the balance between achieving price points and maintaining performance levels – as we think they should be.

YT has a very strong brand image that we believe you care about passionately. How do you take that into account while trying to spec bikes in these lower price points before worrying riders may be let down? Is there a point where you’d say, we can’t go lower in price or spec? Or will you continue to try and offer more affordable mountain bikes?

We never release a bike, which we ourselves would not also be comfortable riding. Besides testing all year long on our own, we do have a gang of R&D specific test riders doing the same. For example, one of our R&D test riders is Erik Irmisch. There are not many out there that will ride a YT bike hard as he does and provide such detailed feedback. If a bike and its components can withstand that procedure, we got the proof that it is a high-performance bike, regardless of the price point. In many cases, higher price points come with a higher quality in ride feel and adjustability, but lower price points are just as durable.

When you’re designing the alloy frame, are you targeting the same stiffness and/or strength as the carbon, or is it a totally independent development?

We aim for the same stiffness and ride feel no matter what material we pick. Where we can, we use FEM analysis to anticipate the result. With carbon we are able to create a certain stiffness and flex by adding or reducing the number of carbon fiber layers, but we have to take a different approach talking about aluminum tubes and forging parts. The process to achieve a certain wall thickness and shape of a tube is way more time consuming. However, the process is completely independent just because of the material and production methods. If I have to put it in a nutshell I would say, even if we aim for the same result which is performance on the highest level, the CF frame is more precise and weight optimized, whereas the aluminum frame offers more compliance.

We’ve seen some brands now offering high-end performance bikes in alloy, with some touting performance and feel improvements with the damping and trail benefits of alloy frames. Is this something YT has found, or is the carbon still going to be YT’s premium material?

Taking the approach that premium products are about precise steering, weight and new material developments, using carbon fiber to offer top-notch products makes sense. Just think of racing at the highest level like Formula 1. But yes, there is a different approach existing in terms of ride feel, where riders prefer an extra level of compliance. You can regularly find more high-end aluminum builds with the highest spec in the form of our Uncaged bikes. Good examples would be the CAPRA limited editions from 2018 and 2019 or more recent editions such as the CAPRA Uncaged 9 last year. So, we do offer high-end builds for both materials. If you like top-spec aluminum bikes keep your eyes peeled in the next months.

Aside from your YT/SDG Postman dropper post, everything is from external brands. Is this driven by YT’s beliefs, or do customers in the market for this price point bike still demand name-brand components?

We believe in the expertise and value the decades of experience our component suppliers have in their fields of play. We are a mountain bike manufacturer and concentrate our expertise on building better frames for specific high-performance mountain bike riding every year. The frame is the heart and soul of the ride. We focus our resources on building and designing the best possible frames while also collaborating with established partners for all components.

We just finished our Sub-$3,000 Mountain Bike Group Test, where the YT Jeffsy took home an award, nicely done! Do you think more brands will be increasing the competitiveness and capabilities of mountain bikes under $3,000? 

Based on how markets and prices have developed lately I don’t think so.

If a rider is torn between going with a Capra or a Jeffsy, uncertain of how much travel and climbing sacrifice they’d really make, what would be your simplest bit of advice to help them decide? 

If the focus is on hitting rough stuff and jumps, destroying berms in bike parks and maybe joining some enduro races go with the CAPRA. If you love trail riding, long or punchy climbs are something you add to your ride with ease and on the rare occasion that you go to a bike park you go for the flow line – the JEFFSY will be your best friend.

Would you personally feel slower on your favorite trails (on the Core 1 vs a higher-spec model)? And, how does that ride performance/cost ratio play out if you were a consumer making a buying decision?

I know I can reach the same time, but I do pick different lines.

That´s a very personal thing. For example, some riders prefer having just the top-notch suspension because they like to set it up perfectly on every ride. Some live the “set it and forget it” mentality. Available budgets are different. Some prefer RockShox over Fox or vice versa.

By offering our Core line up with different specs and our Uncaged bikes we cater to all these different factettes of customer demands.

YT Capra Core 1 MX Tech Check


As is typical with our Tech Check features, we’ve not managed to put extensive trail time on the YT Capra Core 1 yet to the point where we feel ready to share our final verdict, but we have managed to get a handful of rides in to get a solid initial impression.

Out of the box, the Capra Core 1 went together quickly and easily, and looking closely at the fine details there was little to indicate that it’s a “budget” bike. The frame quality appears to be high, with a neat finish that’s only somewhat spoiled by some questionable rubber grommets at the internal cable routing ports. The finish of the components is certainly less flashy than the Core 4 models we’ve previously tested, but all looks clean and ready to take some abuse, with solid ergonomics.

Climbing performance on the Capra Core 1 was very close to the more expensive, lighter weight models in their lineup. Although it’s heavier overall – which you do feel a little when trying to accelerate hard – the climbing position and pedaling support carry over from the higher spec models, so the YT Capra Core 1 is still a comfortable and efficient pedaling machine that we’d happily log big mile days on. The support delivered by the V4L suspension is adequate to make the lack of climb switch in the rear shock a non-issue, but not so firm as to make the rear end struggle for traction or the saddle to transmit an abusive level of feedback to the rider.

On the way down, the alloy frame feels every bit as stout and worthy of punishment as the more expensive counterparts, and when combined with the stout feeling wheels, the YT Capra Core 1 is a bike that’s absolutely worthy of shredding hard. The only components holding back from the overall capability of the bike are the EXO casing Maxxis tires, which are ill-fitted to the hard charging potential of the rest of the Capra, and something we’d recommend just about every rider to replace for improved comfort and control on the descents. The suspension lacks tuning options, which would usually leave us concerned that we’d struggle to find a good balanced setup. Thankfully though, that didn’t prove to be the case, and the stock tune feels really good. The alloy frame might be helping to kill further “buzz” and adding to the smooth feeling of the rear end, and the result is a handling package that can be pushed impressively hard.

Until this Tech Check feature we were yet to spend much time on the SRAM DB8 brakes, and they’ve proved to be solid performers thus far with plentiful stopping power and reasonable control. The NX drivetrain is the only component where there’s a notable difference in performance, with less precise shifting than the considerably pricier GX level and a less refined feel at the lever. That said, it gets the job done adequately, so we’d likely wait until it needed replacing before shelling out for an upgrade.

Overall we’d say YT has done an impressive job at bringing high doses of capability for the $2,699 price tag of the Capra Core 1, and it’s a bike that less wealthy riders or newcomers to the sport will very likely be stoked on and upgrade over time as parts wear or riding abilities grow.

Visit YT-Industries Website to get yours!

YT Capra Core 1 MX Tech Check


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