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YT Izzo Pro Race mountain bike review

The YT Izzo is the first lightweight XC/Trail bike from the brand and it’s outrageous value for an excellent spec. How does it ride and is it biased upwards, downwards or just flat out everywhere?

YT Izzo Pro
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

More XC than some might want, but a seriously lightweight yet tenacious and powerfully efficient, high velocity trail bike at an exceptional price

For

  • Exceptional value
  • Very light for the category
  • Balanced, adjustable trail handling
  • Efficient yet high traction suspension
  • Fantastic DT wheelset
  • Full Fox Factory kit
  • Premium components
  • Neat frame detailing
  • Bottle compatible
  • Sharp looks
  • S-XXL sizing

Against

  • Fork flex
  • Climb-oriented cockpit
  • Limited shock adjustments
  • Don’t forget the carriage cost

The YT Izzo is a totally new bike for German direct-to-consumer mountain bike brand YT, and its first shot at a lightweight trail bike. The Pro Race sits at the top of a four-bike range that starts at just $2,999/£2,599, plus shipping costs and taxes. They all get the same excellently accurate full carbon frame, with an efficiently dialled 130mm of travel and confident yet agile geometry. Whether you go for the Pro or the Comp, the value for money for the XC-oriented kit out is exceptional.

Design and geometry

The YT Izzo has been designed - and definitely marketed - with a Samurai sword vibe, and the carbon frame has suitably sharp aesthetics. The short 66-degree headtube has the start of the flat, steeply sloped top tube molded into it. The broad but similarly shallow down tube grows out of the flared head tube with cables (and there’s a lot of them) feeding in through inserts on the ‘cheek’. The steep 77-degree effective seat tube has an extended mast at the top end, but the 450mm height on the large doesn’t cramp dropper post choice or upsizing potential if you want longer than the 472mm reach.

The line of the top tube is carried straight into the seat stays with the forged two-piece alloy rocker link cleverly painted to accentuate that alignment. 

Pivots at the far end of the massive chainstays make it a true four-bar linkage, with a DT Swiss ratchet rear axle and 160mm post mount rear brake fixture. The back end is relatively short at 432mm (437mm on XL and XXL to balance proportions), but there’s still plenty of room around the 29x2.35-inch Maxxis Forekaster tire if you fancy bigger rubber. 

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YT Izzo Pro

The rocker link has been painted to accentuate the frames lines (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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YT Izzo Pro

Ribbed protection protects the carbon and reduces noise (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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YT Izzo Pro

The lower shock mount looks out of place and can collect mud (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Other practical touches include ribbed rubber chainstay and seat stay protections, offside tightened, double-sealed pivot bearings and neat cable routing between the mainframe and stays. There’s room for an 835ml Fidlock bottle in the mainframe, as well as a twin bolt accessory mount under the top tube. As our current long-termer press-fit bottom bracket has lasted well over a year of relentless riding, we’re less bothered than we used to be about press-fit BBs. 

The deep BB block and triangular webs holding the bottom of the shock don’t sync with the rest of the aesthetics, though. They do add stiffness where it really matters and the switch to a vertical shock takes load out of the rest of the frame so the tubes can be made lighter. There’s a drain hole for water too, although it still collects a lot of mud in there. An eccentric chip in the shock linkage also lets you raise ride height by 5mm and steepen angles by 0.5 degrees. While there’s no heavy-duty belly armor, the sheet of protective film is enough to stop rock scrapes and front tire flung geology from damaging the composite. The seat collar is particularly neat too, and with contrast silver segments on the black frame, it looks like a properly premium chassis. 

Unlike some budget-conscious brands, YT makes full use of the low-slung frame with a comprehensive size range from S to XXL. YT’s 2.74kg weight for a medium frame and shock puts it firmly into the lighter-than-average category, too.

Components and build

The Pro Race might not get the SRAM AXS of the Launch Edition model, but you do get a full set of SRAM X01 Eagle with no cassette or chain shortcuts. You’re also getting a full Factory suite of Kashima-coated Fox suspension - 34 FIT4 forks and DPS rear shock - and the frame size-referenced Fox Transfer dropper post is Kashima gilded too. The shock gets a remote control lockout operated by a RockShox Twistloc Sprint grip segment. The DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels are XC/Trail royalty too. Super light yet tough 30mm internal carbon rims, with DT Aerolite (front) and Aero Comp (rear) bladed spokes on the latest Ratchet EXP equipped 180 hubs build a stiff, strong, agile and relentlessly reliable sub-1,500g wheelset that has World Cup winning cred. These are wrapped in a pair of suitably light Maxxis Forekaster 2.35-inch tires, which growl a bit on hardpack but bite predictably on most surfaces from sand to slop. SRAM G2 RSC 4-piston trail brakes get a power boost from a 200mm front rotor and 180mm rear. The finishing kit is fancy as well with a Race Face Next carbon fiber bar, clean-cut Turbine R stem (50mm on S and M, 60mm on L-XXL), and the SDG Radar saddle is YT logo’d too. That all rolls the Pro Race in at a claimed 12kg for a small without pedals, but we measured our large at just over 12.5 kilos.

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YT Izzo Pro

You get a full SRAM X01 Eagle groupset on the Izzo Pro (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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YT Izzo Pro

The RockShox Twistloc Sprint grip controls suspension lockout (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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YT Izzo Pro

Finishing kit is from Race Face (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Ride, handling, and performance 

That immediately makes it a kilo lighter than all but a few 130mm travel trail bikes at any price, and a couple of kilos lighter than almost anything at this price and travel. Even Canyon’s more XC-angled and flexible Neuron CF 9, while costing less, is still 500g heavier. 

Add the lightweight wheels and even with grippy (in XC terms) tires, the Izzo accelerates super easily for an instant physical and psychological boost as soon as you turn the pedals. Like most four-bar suspension systems, the pedaling/braking feel is basically neutral so it will bounce into its travel if you stomp the watts down out of the saddle. 

Sit and spin though and the medium compression and rebound tunes on the DPS shock keeps it stable and efficient. Even with just a small (0.2) volume spacer in, it’s an aggressively progressive shock rate too so any pedal-related motion never goes far into the stroke. Plus, if you really want to kick hard then the TwistLoc Sprint grip locks the shock rock solid and proves there’s certainly no power lost through the massive chainstays. Keep it open, and the lack of jack-up under power won’t rip the rear wheel free when traction is limited either. Add the super steep seat angle for perfect pedaling poise without looping out, and even with relatively short chainstays, we repeatedly grunted and clawed the Izzo up climbs other bikes stalled or span out on. The 60mm stem also helps keep the nose down and stopped the 66-degree head angle from flopping around and jack-knifing at stalling points on climbs. The 760mm bar means less leverage to pull it offline but helps you sneak through narrower gaps between trees. The short back end means it keeps the rear wheel tight and snappy too. 

Inevitably the comparatively narrow bar and longer stem give a slower steering and less power-assisted feel when you’re attacking technical terrain, so you can’t catch split-second traction saves as easily. The short offset fork, low bottom bracket, 66-degree head angle and decent reach add enough stability to still push pretty hard though, and the more we rode it the harder and faster we attacked descents until we were happy barreling into old skool natural DH runs even in icy, snowy conditions. 

Hitting stuff harder will underline the naturally tight feel of the fork, and the progressive rear end needs a serious impact to get the full 55mm stroke. As a result, bigger hits will be clearly felt in wrists, ankles and speed compared to the most ‘wide open’ bikes in the category. The remote control means there’s no way to adjust the low-speed compression to create a more fluid (or firmer) initial shock feel to match the widely adjustable FIT4 fork damper. The remote also adds a small amount of weight, and the choice of 130mm travel on both ends means the Izzo can’t use the significantly lighter Fox 34SC or RockShox SID forks which top out at 120mm.

YT Izzo Pro

The Izzo is more climb orientated than you might expect from a brand like YT (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Tightly rationed travel and the resultant mid-stroke stability means you can properly drive through turns and pump flowing descents, though. As a result, we were setting PRs straight from the (extremely well designed) delivery box on more roller coaster, twist and turn descents. The low weight also makes the Izzo very easy to flick and throw over or around serious trouble. The short back end helps it manual easily too.

Even on the most aggressive and technical trails, it never felt light in a bad way. Despite the overall low weight and the comparatively flexy 34 fork, the Izzo tracks really well so front tire communication is clear, and you can snipe tight lines or force off-camber carves as hard as the bars let you. 

Verdict

Knowing where to pitch a lightweight XC/Trail bike is always an extremely hard job for designers in terms of geometry, frame, suspension feel and component choices. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the fact marathon racing and alpine touring is still a massive part of the MTB scene in its German homeland, the Izzo has a more climb-focused balance than many competitors. That makes it naturally business-like and efficient in feel rather than swaggeringly insolent, and the remote shock reduces damper tuning potential. 

As part of testing, we also fitted a 140mm fork plus a 780mm bar and 40mm stem, which noticeably boosted confidence for negligible weight gain. The high traction suspension meant boosting speed with a semi-slick Rekon Race rear tire didn’t leave us spinning out everywhere either. As YT points out, the ‘mini enduro bike’ category is getting increasingly crowded though, and the Izzo has a clear edge in terms of weight, acceleration and agile pop without compromising precision or power delivery. While Brexit has hiked the price by 14-percent for UK customers, the exceptional value still means you’ve got plenty in the pot to experiment with alternative kit too. YT recently opened a UK service center for same country support as well.

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 28 to 46 degrees
  • Surface: Snow and ice through to loam and slop on natural woods, old school DH runs and moorland epics. Blue, red and black man-made trail center runs.

Tech specs: YT Izzo Pro Race

  • Price: $5,299 / £4,800.90 (including box, carriage to UK and post-Brexit customs duty)
  • Head angle: 66/66.5 degrees
  • Frame material: Carbon fiber
  • Sizes: S-XXL (L tested)
  • Weight: 12.53kg (actual)
  • Wheel size: 29-inch
  • Suspension: Fox 34 Float Factory FIT4 fork (130mm travel, 44mm offset), Fox DPS Float Factory Evol shock (130mm travel, w/remote)
  • Components: SRAM X01 Eagle 10-50T 12-speed gearing, shifter and 32T chainset. SRAM G2 RSC brakes 200/180mm, Maxxis Forekaster EXO TR 29 x 2.35in rear tires on DT Swiss XMC 1200 Spline wheels. Race Face Next 760mm carbon bar and Race Face Turbine 60mm stem. Fox Factory 150mm dropper post, SDG Radar MTN saddle.