Is YT's Capra Core 1 the best value enduro bike?

Capra’s 170mm travel Core 1 looks a total bargain enduro/park bike, but how does it ride? Guy Kesteven has been sending it hard to see if you should be buying it

The YT Capra Core 1 bike by a river
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

Bike Perfect Verdict

The Capra Core 1 isn’t just outstanding value for money, it’s a really well sorted, super capable and enjoyable enduro/park/playbike with some really neat detailing throughout the frame and spec. It deserves tougher tires though.

Pros

  • +

    Outstanding component value

  • +

    Excellent, upgradeable suspension

  • +

    Sorted (if slightly short) geometry

  • +

    Impressive frame detailing and included accessories

  • +

    S-XXL sizes, MX options and two colors

Cons

  • -

    Deserves tougher tires

  • -

    Heavy

  • -

    Direct sell, not shop serviced

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The YT Capra was the bike that originally exploded the German direct sell disruptors onto the MTB scene almost a decade ago by combining outstanding performance with unbelievable value. The latest Capra incarnation reflects increasingly aggressive riding norms by growing travel to 170mm and using geometry not far off their TUES DH bike. Even before the price recently dropped by $/£400, it looked awesome value for the impressively detailed, brand name spec but it rides even better than expected.

Capra frame, bottle and shock detail

The Core 1 still gets a RockShox Super Deluxe shock, E-13 chain device and 'Thirstmaster 6000' water bottle and offset cage (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Design and geometry

The Capra Core 1 uses the same alloy frame as the Core 2 version and the Specialized-style four bar suspension, asymmetric strut reinforced layout is exactly the same as the carbon fiber Core 3 and 4 models. The short linkage sections and shock driver yoke and rear stays are all reassuringly oversized and the pivot points are all double sided. YT could be forgiven for leaving it at that for the price, but there’s lots of neat detailing too. Control lines run through the mainframe and while there’s something of a spaghetti junction where they exit separately around the BB, there are neat rubber plugs and guide points stopping rubbing and flooding. There’s a sealing collar on the seatpost and extensive rubber frame protection is boosted by a bolt on plastic belly pan and you even get a bottle cage and custom ‘Thirstmaster 6000’ to work with the offset mount. There’s a full E-13 chain guide with skid plate already bolted onto the ISCG mounts. It uses a SRAM UDH gear hanger for easy spares sourcing and potential upgrading to the latest T-Type transmission.

The shock bolts into an eccentric mount to change geometry too, allowing 64-degree head tube, 77.6-degree seat angle or 64.5 / 77.9 options with 5mm ride height change between them. While that might still seem high at 349 / 354mm BB height (27/22mm drop), remember that this is a 170mm bike that likes to sit into it’s travel so it doesn’t feel too tall dynamically. Seat tubes have been shortened slightly to make room for longer travel dropper posts (ranging from 125mm to 200mm) as standard. Unlike many cost conscious brands you still get a decent size range from S-XXL and the XL and XXL even get longer chain stays to maintain better overall proportions. The only number that’s slightly out of kilter are the reach numbers – which are on the short side compared to normal sizing with the large I tested at 467mm. 

There are specific mullet / MX options of the Capra though, and it comes in Black and Sludge Green color options.

YT Capra Core 1 fork

170mm travel, 38mm leg RockShox Zeb Base fork and Maxxis Assegai tire are a serious control combination (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Components and build

The Core 1 is the cheapest Capra but you still get the base model of RockShox 38mm legged Zeb suspension fork and the piggy back oil reservoir Super Deluxe damper controlling the 165mm of rear travel at both ends. SRAM NX Eagle provides functional 12-speed gearing, the cranks are appropriately reinforced and named Descendant with a fixed Dub axle and bottom bracket – not the weaker, heavier square taper setups you’ll sometimes find at this price point, and I’ve already mentioned the E13 chain guide which is a big deal for proper rowdy riding. Brakes are SRAM’s new mineral oil driven DB8 with 200mm rotors. Wheels are sturdy 32 plain gauge spoke, 32mm internal width eyeleted rim Sun Ringle Durocs which I’ve not seen for a while, but were damn solid the last time I did. The 800mm bar gets different rises depending on frame size and 50mm stem (to offset the shorter reach) are E13 too, the saddle is a very nice SDG Bel Air and you even get proper ODI grips. In fact, there’s still only one own brand component – the dropper post –  in the mix and the lever feel on that is a lot nicer than many branded versions I’ve used. The classic Maxxis Assegai / DHR II tire combo in dual compound format give plenty of grip and YT offer a tubeless conversion with Peaty’s valves as standard which I’d definitely recommend. However, a bike this aggressively capable definitely deserves more robust rubber than the lightweight Exo carcass versions that come as standard.

YT Capra Core 1 bar and brakes detail

Famous name spec includes E-13 bars and stem with ODI grips but even the basic SRAM stoppers work really well (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Ride, handling and performance

Even with the relatively light tires, the Core 1 is well over 17kg once you add pedals which inevitably adds effort to acceleration and altitude gain. Revised suspension geometry gives 100 percent percent anti squat at sag, but pedalling actually feels more positive than that, so it climbs with determined purpose not demoralizing sogginess. The steep seat angle gives excellent poise when you’re winching the steepest pitches and the 50mm stem gives a bit more breathing space than you’d normally get with the reach. It also stabilizes the steering at slow speed so while the Capra is designed for “30 percent uphill, 70 percent downhill” according to YT, climbing was consistently less of a slog than I expected. The suspension feel under power encourages you to hustle between turns or charge launches too.

Where the Capra is really at home is when that 17kg mass has some gravity behind it. While the cassette and wheels are heavy, there’s still a big enough unsprung to sprung ratio offset to make the suspension feel extra supple. That gets noticeably better after a few hours of riding have lubed and loosened the seals on the fork and shock too. Add a progression rate of 33 percent to the long 65mm shock stroke and you’ve got a rear end with excellent ‘patter’ response and connection over small or slower speed ripples or bumps. I couldn’t provoke any of the spiking or inconsistency issues that can dog even some more expensive shocks and there’s still enough ramp up give solid cornering support deeper into the stroke too. Berm blowing G-out addicts will probably need to add extra volume tokens in the air can, but that’s a simple job and the twist ring rebound adjuster is easy to use. Relatively high progression means the Capra can be fitted with a coil shock for ultimate plushness too.

The simpler Rush damper in the Zeb fork can handle a surprising amount of step, drop, slap, slam and stutter abuse before return speed and support start to get inconsistent. Once bedded in, there’s none of the hard braking / full extension choke glitches we’ve felt on top end Zeb forks either. As parts are shared across the family, you can easily upgrade it with a more sophisticated Charger damper if you find you’re regularly pushing it out of it’s comfort zone anyway. 

While the suspension seriously impressed for the price, the star of this budget bits show has to be the new SRAM DB8 brakes. Larger reservoirs for the ‘Maxima’ mineral oil might look a bit bulky and crude, but power at the lever is ample even for gravity use and modulation is excellent by any standards, let alone the economy anchor sector where ‘not completely numb’ and ‘bearable braking power’. The only thing that started to hold me back as I realised how happy the Core 1 was being hammered down janky drama and heaved through neck straining turns were the tires. Switching to the latest sticky, reinforced rubber from Vee (review coming soon) not only removed worries about charging rock gardens like the Capra clearly wanted to, but it also opened up lower pressures and better grip/stability for more aggressive lean angles. Unsurprisingly the extra stickiness and rotating weight added to the hurt on hills and made even short burst hustling hard work, but the extra confidence definitely suited the Core better overall. If tire scrabbling snap reactions and Finnish flick steeze not assured steadiness are your vibe, fitting a shorter stem is worth shortening the overall reach for too.

Even with the heavier, stickier tires, the middling reach and decent rather than scaffold pipe frame feel meant the Capra never felt like a dead in the water barge either, encouraging pop and play wherever possible rather than just wanting to plough and Strava steamroller through everything. Though it will do that if you want.

YT Capra Core 1 rear end close up

The Core 1 gets 12-speed gearing, Descendant crank, stout, wide wheels and a proper chain device but it deserves tougher tires than the EXO spec (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

The Core 1 looks great on the Capra website but it’s even better in reality. Even before you start riding, the frame detailing and brand name parts spec are excellent for an ‘economy class’ bike, but the ride is an instant upgrade as soon as you check in. Hefty weight adds authority and sensitivity to already impressive long stroke suspension control. Steep seat angle and stable pedalling means it’s easier than expected to get back to the top for another charge down the hill too. Add powerful brakes, stout wheels and long drop post and all it really needs to push way beyond its pay grade are tougher tires.

Remember it will come in a box for you to set up and sort out unless you go and visit a ‘YT Mill’ though, so if you’re squeamish about spanners or suspension then shop bought might be the better option. 

Test conditions

  • Surfaces: Rocks, roots, kitty litter, random rock gardens, built boulder sections. Fireroad where I absolutely had to.
  • Trails: Loamy / rooty woods, manmade bike park berms and jumps, off-piste natural and black run boulder, drop and drama. Local XC lap just for the hell of it.
  • Weather: Mostly dry, but enough slippery sessions to prove the Maxxis Dual Compounds are dependable whatever the weather 

Tech specs: YT Capra Core 1

  • Discipline: Enduro 
  • Price: $2,299 / £2,299 / €2,299
  • Head angle: 64./64.5 degrees
  • Frame material: Alloy
  • Fork: RockShox ZEB base 170mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Select R 230 x 65mm 170mm travel
  • Size: S - XXL 
  • Weight: 16.89kg (large without pedals)
  • Wheel size: 29in
  • Chainset: SRAM Descendant 6K 32T, 170mm chainset with DUB bottom bracket. 
  • Rear mech: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Shifter: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Cassette: SRAM 12-speed 11-50T
  • Brakes: SRAM DB8 disc brakes with 200mm rotors. 
  • Tires: Maxxis Assegai DC EXO 29x2.5in front, Maxxis DHR II DC EXO 29x2.4in rear
  • Wheels: Sun Ringle Duroc SD37 Comp
  • Bars: E13 Base 800mm bar
  • Grips: ODI Elite Motion V2.1
  • Stem: E13 Base 50 x 35mm 
  • Seatpost: YT Postman 170mm dropper
  • Saddle: SDG Bel Air 3.0
  • Available from: YT-industries.com
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since launch in 2019. He started writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg