For the last few months I’ve been ripping around on YT’s Decoy MX Core 3. It’s the first mixed wheel e-bike that I’ve ridden, and I’m thoroughly sold on the idea of mullet wheels on them, but more on that later. The bike features 170mm front and 165mm rear travel on their standard Horst link, four bar suspension layout and it utilizes a Shimano Steps motor. After a quick glance at the specs you won’t need much convincing that its $6,999 price tag is a steal. Have a look at the video below and read on for a deeper dive into the bike’s general performance.
Details YT Decoy MX
- Internal cable routing
- Shimano Steps motor with 85 NM torque
- 540 Wh battery
- Flip chip adjustable geometry
- 29″ front wheel / 27.5″ rear wheel
- 170mm front travel / 165mm rear travel
- Steering lock
- Suspension: four bar with Horst link
- S, M, L (tested), XL, XXL
- 50.5 lbs (Medium, claimed) 50.9 lbs (Large, our scale)
- 5 year warranty
- $6,999 USD
Starting with suspension, YT opted for an excellent choice of a Fox 38 Performance Elite up front. The e-bike tuned fork features 170mm of travel with 4-way externally adjustable damping. Out back, the Decoy MX has the all new Float X – in my opinion, a shock that batts well above its weight. The rear shock features singularly adjustable rebound and compression with numbered knobs. It also has a two-way lockout, but on an e-bike – particularly one with this geometry – that’s not really necessary.
YT specs their in-house Postman seatpost, and the travel varies with size as we’ve come to expect these days. The S/M frames feature 125mm travel, the L (tested) has 150mm and the XL and XXL have 170mm. To be honest, I had no issues with the dropper and the lever itself – they had great actuation and feel for in-house parts – but I do wish the Large featured the 170mm travel post – it seems silly not to offer more if the parts already exist. Additionally, I think the Medium frame would also benefit from seeing a 150mm travel option. As far as the SDG saddle was concerned, it looked and felt somewhat similar to the Specialized Bridge saddle that I’ve become quite fond of over the last couple of years, so no complaints there!
A couple of notes on the motor and the integration of the pedal assist system…Personally I really like the Shimano EP8 bikes that I’ve ridden. A bonus with the Shimano system is that it is broadly serviceable globally – a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. The motor blends into YT’s suspension layout and sleek aesthetics nicely. The power button is tucked away out of sight underneath the top tube – I’m personally a fan of any integration that limits distraction. It just takes 2 minutes and a quick spin of an allen key to remove the battery from the downtube. You can charge it directly via the port shown above at the top of the downtube…or, you can remove the battery and charge it separately from the bike. Bonus points to YT for including moto foam throughout the bike to keep it extra quiet.
Shimano’s SLX drivetrain is a simple, no frills option that offers wide range and excellent durability regardless of the abuse it’s put through. Sure, it’s not the lightest drivetrain out there, but the shifting performance under power its unmatched and on on e-bike that goes a long ways. It features plenty of range and is more than ready for abuse.
YT opted to spec an e-bike version of the crankbrothers Synthesis Alloy wheelset. Personally, I’ve been a big fan of the crankbrothers approach to wheels as of late. Whether they’re high value aluminum offerings or carbon fiber top of the line hoops, I’ve been impressed. Needless to say, from a value:performance standpoint these are no exception. So far I’ve had zero issues and the ride quality has been solid.
The wheels are wrapped in a Maxxis Assegai 2.5 front and DHR2 2.6 rear combo. The compound is a fairly firm MaxTerra rubber, which is high in durability but can get a little skittish on wet roots and rocks. The EXO+ casings will get the job done, but on a bike with this much travel being pushed accordingly, most riders will want to swap to something thicker *at least* out back.
Looking at the front end you’ll see that YT didn’t cut corners in any regard. The e*thirteen 35mm bar and stem had a great feel and a solid lock on things while the ODI Motion grips felt great, albeit a little firm.
A few notes on frame specific protection…YT includes excellent protection on the all aluminum back end with a chainstay protector that breaks up noise nicely – something that’s particularly important on an e-bike. The Decoy features fully internal routing and while I appreciated that aspect and found it to be plenty quiet, I did get annoyed with the rubber grommets that didn’t stay in place in the cable ports in the frame. A small matter, but bothersome for finicky riders like myself. Lastly, the removable battery is fully encased with a rubber guard to prevent the bike from getting banged up by shuttle pads and rocks/mud flying off the front wheel.
The SRAM Code R brakes were more than up to the task. Over the years I’ve had no issues with Codes at any level but I must say that I’ve grown accustomed to 220mm rotors on more aggressive bikes – particularly e-bikes – and I wish YT would have bumped things up from the 200mm front/rear stock option. However, this isn’t a huge deal as it’s a sub $100 upgrade for a rotor and adaptor.
Lastly, a few frame features. From left: The ACROS headset features a steering lock internally, but in the event of failure YT includes a rubber stopper on the downtube to prevent damage to the frame itself. YT includes a water bottle mount on the downtube but it will only accommodate an in-house low volume bottle/cage which they offer separately. That said, e-bike rides typically don’t demand a ton of fluid. Lastly, the flip chip at the lower shock eyelet provides a .5º head angle/seat angle adjustment as well as +/- 8mm of bottom bracket drop.
YT Decoy MX Geometry
YT Decoy MX on the trail
Starting with fit, I did find the Decoy to run a bit on the small side. Interestingly, the numbers seem to tell a tale that was wildly divergent to their real life feel. I typically settle into a reach that’s in the 470-485mm range and for whatever reason the stated 449mm reach felt like way more than that…Put it this way – it only felt a little bit small on me, where typically I have found anything under 460mm a bit difficult to get along with. In any case, I thought the head angle was just right – not too slack and floppy and not too steep and twitchy. Another figure that had me scratching my head was the 75.5º seat tube angle – I swear it felt more like 77-78º, but I digress. Regardless of the actual numbers, the Decoy put me in a position that made it easy to weight the front of the bike on the steeper climbs. Given the longer travel and gravity oriented nature of the bike, I appreciated that aspect immensely as it takes more than power to get back up the hill with ease. Another aspect that does play into the climbing performance in an unexpected way is the chainstay length. At 442mm, I found it struck the right balance between a properly weighted rear end that doesn’t loop out on steep climbs and a stable but easy to maneuver machine on the descents.
Getting into the ride characteristics, first and foremost I thought the suspension was extremely well thought out. On trail the rear shock is well tuned and feels like it has an even rate of progression with a slight ramp at the end. This kept it sensitive on the small stuff, while striking a nice balance between support and openness in the middle, meaning it was poppy and didn’t wallow but also gobbled up mid sized successive hits nicely. Lastly, it was very difficult to bottom and I only had one violent bottom out while casing a sizable jump. I never once felt the need to use the lockout as I never really noticed any major pedal bob. As far as the motor and battery are concerned, I get along well with Shimano’s system well – it has smooth transitions as you pedal and back off, it’s relatively quiet and has a simple and logical display. There are systems out there that have more functions and are integrated more cleanly and with less wires – Specialized comes to mind – but the durability, broadly available service/support and clean motor integration goes a long ways and thus shouldn’t be overlooked. The 540 Wh battery isn’t massive compared to some recent offerings, but it’s also quite a bit lighter. And, if you’re smart with your energy usage it has plenty of juice to power you through some pretty big days in the saddle. Personally, I prefer full power e-bikes such as the Decoy. I’m not quite sold on the half power bikes as I either want to go full e-bike or full normal mountain bike when I ride. Perhaps that will change someday…
As far as where I’d place the Decoy MX in the market, it would unsurprisingly be a bit more freeride and a bit less “Enduro”. When I think of Enduro, I think of racing and this rig screams fun above all else. I rode it on a very broad variety of trails and I absolutely had a blast on it regardless of what I was doing. My personal e-bike is a full 29″ and the Decoy left me having second thoughts about that. With e-bikes being a bit heavier and inherently more stable – but also more difficult to throw around – I found the smaller back wheel to be far more helpful than I initially assumed. Cornering and manualing are typically a bit difficult on e-bikes, but the 27.5″ rear wheel goes a long way with making those maneuvers feel effortless. Getting the front wheel up and chucking the back end into ruts and sweet spots is much more natural.
As far as the parts mix is concerned, both on this bike and on bikes in the past I’ve had great luck with most of the components featured – or at least some iteration of them. I found the SRAM Codes R brakes to be quite good, but as stated prior would have liked to see a 220mm rotor up front. The suspension, wheels and drivetrain were all high value offerings that perform well without breaking the bank. Similarly, the drivetrain was a cut above cheaper in-house parts and felt great, although I’d like to see a slight travel bump from the seatpost. All in all the parts are extremely high performance given the price.
Setting value aside for a moment, I must say that I have flat out enjoyed my time on the Decoy MX. I hit some of the biggest jumps of my life on it and it had me grinning from ear to ear any time I rode it. That goes for just about any kind of terrain – it truly is a gas to ride. The formula of mixed wheels, playful geometry and really clever suspension are the aspects that are likely most deserving of praise here. With all of that in mind, what is perhaps most mind boggling is the incredible bang for the buck. I can’t think of any other e-bike on the market that offers such a nice parts package for roughly $7k. I could happily ride the Core 3 level spec in bare bones stock form and be quite content. If it was my personal bike, I’d only swap out a couple of minor parts – for me that’s saying something as I am truly a nit picker. That this bike is not only a hard to fathom value, but an absolute blast to ride makes it a huge winner in my book. The tough part is just getting ahold of one…