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YT Izzo Core 3 review – contender for best short-travel trail bike?

YT inject a short-travel bike with their gravity DNA and the Izzo is the result

The YT Izzo Core 3 bike
(Image: © Rich Owen)

Bike Perfect Verdict

A superb short-travel trail bike that's a blast to ride on undulating trails, but is still capable enough to take on demanding descents.

Pros

  • +

    Best short-travel trail bike contender

  • +

    Climbs brilliantly

  • +

    Full carbon frame

  • +

    Decent value spec

  • +

    Fidlock bottle fitting included

Cons

  • -

    Front tire is unpredictable in tougher conditions

  • -

    Noticeably laggy freehub pick-up

  • -

    Additional fees for packing and shipping

YT established themselves with the massively well-regarded, gravity shredding sled, the Capra. This was followed by the all-mountain, trail slayer, the Jeffsy. Then last but definitely not least, their most recent release, the short-travel Izzo. 

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

The German direct-sales brand has released various builds of its three models, many of which have limited runs like the Uncaged series of bikes or the Pro Race version of the Izzo. The three ongoing builds of the Izzo all come with 130mm Fox suspension – the Core 2 ($3399 / £3399 / €3399), Core 3 ($4299 / £4299 / €4299) and Core 4 ($5599 / £5599 / €5599).

When not comparing it to a samurai sword, YT describes the Izzo as an “everyday trail bike”, so how does our Core 3 test model cut it on the type of trails that most of us ride, erm, every day? How does it perform when taken out of its comfort zone? And can it earn a place as one of the best trail bikes available today?

Design and geometry

The Izzo’s frame design is as sharp as the name suggests. The matte finish on the full carbon frame looks great and YT's signature angled lines that run along the top tube and soften as they meld with the rounded seat tube are particularly eye-catching.

A 'flip chip' is situated on the shock pivot which allows you to alter the headtube angle by 0.5 of a degree. This also of course affects the geometry of the entire bike – the low position gives the bike better ground-hugging qualities, while the high position improves ground clearance and climbing ability.

YT have beefed up the lower mounting point of the inverted shock, but that's also created a water trap. It's got a drain hole to prevent water build-up and I didn't have any issues with it getting blocked with leaves or mud during my time on the bike, but there's sludge pond potential during really nasty rides.

When choosing a size, at 5ft 9 in I come in at the top end of YT's recommended height for a medium and at the very bottom end of the large size range. I prefer a more spacious than tight-fitting reach though and the large's standover height of 721mm was not an issue, so I opted for the bigger size.

Geometry-wise, the Izzo is very similar to that of the current iteration of its harder charging stablemate, the Jeffsy – though the Jeffsy’s geo will surely leapfrog that of the Izzo when the V3 gets a release. Both bikes share the same 66-degree headtube angle and 77-degree seat tube. The ample reach of 472mm (on the large size) is 2mm longer than the same size Jeffsy, while the wheelbase is almost identical at 1,209mm. At 432mm, the chainstay length is about as short as it gets for a trail bike with 29-inch wheels.

The YT Izzo Core 3 MTB

A flip chip on the shock pivot allows you to adjust the Izzo's geometry by 0.5 of a degree (Image credit: Future)

Components and build 

YT has a deserved reputation for delivering value-for-money bike packages and the Izzo Core 3 is no exception. This Core 3 has a full carbon frame (the Core 2 has an aluminum swingarm) and a capable component selection.

The 130mm, Boost width Fox 34 Performance Elite fork is paired up with an inverted Float DPS Performance Elite shock. Both are excellent performers and the fork is 2022 version of the Fox 34 with its updated chassis and GRIP2 damper.

The groupset comes entirely from SRAM, with an Eagle 12-speed drivetrain and cranks, combined with the trail-orientated G2 R brakes with a 200mm rotor on the front and 180mm at the rear.

The Izzo Core 3 rolls on DT Swiss M 1900 Spline wheel with a 30mm internal rim width. They come shod with dual-compound, EXO casing, 2.5in Maxxis Forekaster tires – which handily arrive already set up as tubeless.

Piloting capabilities comes via a 780mm Race Face Turbine R 35 bar and 60mm stem (the small and medium sizes get a 50mm version). While for derriere perching, you get an SDG Bel Air V3.0 with Lux-Alloy rails and a YT Postman dropper with 150mm of travel (smaller frames get less drop).

Last, but not least, the frame comes with a Fidlock bottle mount large enough to take a 835ml Thirstmaster 5000. YT-branded Fidlock bottles must be purchased separately though.

I weighed in my large sized test bike at 13.45kg, which is pretty typical of a bike of this kind.

The YT Izzo Core 3 MTB

The Izzo comes with a Fidlock bottle mount, but the bottle is not included (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Performance

My first ride on the Izzo was on natural wooded trails at the edge of the Exmoor National Park. On flatter trails that snaked between the densely packed trees, the Izzo carried speed really well and was agile enough to snap in and out of tight turns.

Further testing on wider and more open trails showed me just how rapid the Izzo can be. The bike greedily vacuumed up mile upon mile of undulating, non-lethal trail at warp speed and encouraged me to ride with more speed-hungry abandon than a paid-by-the-drop delivery driver on their last run of the day. The Izzo flies up the climbs too, aided by its 130mm fork which means less axle-to-crown length and a lower, more efficient front end, pedaling-wise, as a result.

The 2.5-inch Maxxis Forekaster tires make short work of soaking up small bump chatter and combine well with the Fox suspension pairing to breeze over mid-sized roots and rock sections in the dry. The aluminum, DT Swiss rolling stock's 30mm (internal) rims pair well with the Maxxis tires. The wheels are pretty average in terms of feel – not too stiff, not too flexible – though the 15-degree freehub pick-up does feel laggy and slow.

However, when riding steep, rooty, off-camber trails more DH than downcountry in the midst of a perma-damp British winter, I definitely felt like I could do with a front tire that offered more bite than the relatively round profile of the Forekaster, as the front end was prone to wander on steep, off-camber descents – particularly when wet and rooty.

The YT Izzo Core 3 MTB

With a rounder and relatively low profile, the Maxxis Forekaster front tire is prone to wander when grip is scarce (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Off-camber trails aside, given YT’s gravity bike pedigree and the shared geometry between the Izzo and the Jeffsy, it’s not a big surprise that even with its relatively short travel, the Izzo can handle the vast majority of features found on tougher trails. I did blow through the 130mm travel on mid-sized drops and hucks, but even then, the progressive ramping of the Fox 34 ensured the impacts didn’t feel harsh or heavy. In fact, I was never 100 percent sure that I’d bottomed out until I checked the O-rings at the end of the section.

At 155lb (70kg), I’m on the lighter side, so riders carrying more timber, or those making regular excursions onto rowdier trails, may well want to beef up the suspension progression by upping the token/band count in the fork and shock.

The SDG Bel Air is a great value, super comfy saddle that I had no issues with. Likewise, I found the YT Postman dropper to be totally reliable throughout my time on the Izzo and the 150mm of available drop to be plenty.

The YT Izzo Core 3 MTB

The YT Postman operated smoothly throughout the test (Image credit: Rich Owen)

Verdict

The YT Izzo is a serious blast to ride. A short-travel bike that gives a superbly planted feel and hungers for out of the saddle sprints and pumps over flowing, undulating, yes, ok, 'everyday' trails. YT's totally sorted geometry means it's more capable than 130mm travel might suggest and the Izzo can take tough trails in its stride. If regularly riding steep descents or the perma-wet conditions that dominate the UK, I'd recommend opting for a more capable front tire than the Forekaster. If you wanted to give the Izzo a serious capability upgrade, it can handle a 140mm fork – as it did when YT released the limited edition, 140mm Blaze model in 2021.

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 0 to 14 degrees C
  • Surface: Blue and red trail center loops, woody singletrack, rocky, rooty, steep off-camber off-piste 

Tech Specs: YT Izzo Core 3

  • Price: $4,299 / £4,299 / €4,299 (not including shipping, bike box or import charges)
  • Model: YT Izzo Core 3
  • Discipline: trail
  • Frame material: Carbon
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Weight: 13.45kg (size L tested)
  • Colors: Assault Green, Black Magic
  • Head angle:  66/66.5-degrees
  • Wheel size: 29in
  • Suspension: Fox 34 Float Performance Elite 130mm travel, 44mm offset GRIP2 damper, Fox Float DPS Performance Elite shock, 55mm stroke, 130mm travel
  • Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed, SRAM XG 1275 Eagle 10-52t cassette
  • Cranks: SRAM DUB 32t
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 R with 200/180mm rotors
  • Cockpit: Race Face Turbine R-35 780mm bars, Race Face Turbine R-35 60mm stem
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss M 1900 Spline 30mm internal width, 110 x 15mm front hub, 146 x 12 rear
  • Tires: Maxxis ForeKaster 29 x 2.35 EXO casing, dual-compound 
  • Seatpost: YT Postman 150mm drop
  • Saddle: SDG Bel Air 3.0 YT custom
  • Bottle mount: Fidlock
Richard Owen
Editor, Bike Perfect

A seasoned journalist with over 20 years experience, Rich heads up the Bike Perfect team having previous been editor of What Mountain Bike magazine and written for MBUK, Bikeradar, Cycling Plus as well as many other magazines and websites. He’s been riding mountain bikes since the mid-nineties and mostly likes hitting flowy yet technical trails that point downhill. A jack of many trades, Rich has competed in cross-country, enduro and long distance events, not to mention also now adding gravel to his riding repertoire. Rich resides in North Devon and can mostly be found pedaling furiously around his local trails, or slightly further afield in the Quantocks, the Mendips or Exmoor. 


Rides: YT Jeffsy Uncaged 6, Canyon Spectral, Vitus Substance VR

Height: 175cm

Weight: 70kg