Bike Review: YT Capra CF 29
A wave of long-travel 29ers designed to descend like enduro rigs and climb like trail bikes has taken the mountains by storm. More and more of these playful rocket ships are showing up in our test fleet each month, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. The problem is, with bikes this versatile, it’s hard to decide if we should take them to our local downhill track or our favorite enduro course. Maybe we should do laps around a cross-country course; they are 29ers after all. At the end of the day, however, we keep coming back to the same conclusion—these new long-travel 29ers are way more capable than they seem—and, boy, are they fun to ride!
The all-new Capra 29 is an affordable long-travel 29er designed to take on bike-park laps, perform after-work trail rides and shuttle itself to the top of the gnarliest trails. Best yet, YT sells these budget-minded shredders with all the necessary tools to build them and will ship one right to your front door. We just had to see for ourselves what the next generation of long-travel 29ers is bringing to the table, so we contacted the German direct-to-consumer brand and ordered our own Capra 29.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The all-new Capra is available in two wheel sizes—29 inches and 27.5 inches. According to YT, the 27.5-inch model appeals to riders who love airtime and crave an agile feel. The 29-inch version, on the other hand, appeals to riders who want to roll over anything with precision and control. We opted for the 29-inch model. Our bike featured 160mm of travel, and while we’ve ridden 29ers with similar travel in the past, this new wave of 29ers, including the Capra 29, balances descending and climbing like never before. Of course, you can’t expect a bike with downhill race capabilities to fly uphill, but if you think this is a bike you have to hike to the top of the trail, you couldn’t be more wrong. Strap on your clip-less pedals; it’s time to climb.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
YT made tweaks to the Capra’s suspension and geometry in order to increase pedaling efficiency, boost confidence and add stability. The reach got longer. The head tube got slacker. The seat tube became steeper, and the bottom bracket height lowered. A new XXL size was introduced with a reach measurement of 500mm. Size small has a reach of 420mm. Thanks to a shorter seat tube length and a lower standover height, riders can purchase a bike based on reach numbers as opposed to seat tube sizes. The shorter seat tube also allows for the use of longer-travel droppers.
YT fine-tuned its Virtual 4 Link suspension system, dubbed V4L, by adding off-the-top sensitivity, mid-stroke support and a progressive end stroke. These changes not only enhance the Capra’s descending prowess but add efficiency while climbing. YT then gave the Capra adjustable-geometry Flip Chips, sealed bearings, internal cable routing and polyurethane frame protectors.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
Our test bike arrived with a unique build kit that blended components from E*thirteen, Race Face, Shimano and RockShox. The most standout component, however, was the wide-ratio E*thirteen 11-speed, 9-46t cassette. This gave our test rig a 511-percent range, 11 percent more than SRAM’s 12-speed Eagle drivetrain. A Shimano XT rear derailleur handles the shifting. A host of other E*thirteen parts were added, from their 150mm-travel dropper post to their 30mm internal-width rims and 29×2.35-inch E*thirteen tires. The Race Face cockpit features an 800mm-wide bar and a short 40mm stem. YT then spec’d a RockShox Lyrik fork and matched it with a metric-sized Super Deluxe shock.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setting sag: We aimed for 30-percent sag in the rear and 20 percent up front. Setting sag was made easy, thanks to RockShox’s sag gradients located directly on the suspension components. We began testing with a base tune and worked on our settings from there. We backed the low-speed compression on our fork off a few clicks to better match the plush initial stroke of our shock. Two air-volume reducers were installed to give the fork a more progressive rate. Minor tweaks to our shock were then made to help soak up square-edge hits.
Moving out: The Capra 29 has a modern enduro bike feel with an aggressive twist. Wide handlebars and a short stem, combined with a long reach and slack front end, provide a level of confidence that inspires you to ride off a roof. Meanwhile, the steep seat tube angle and well-tuned suspension aid in climbing performance. The bike lacks a water-bottle mount, which may be a concern for some riders. Others who embrace the fanny pack-wearing enduro culture won’t mind. Our test rig came with an under-the-bar E*thirteen dropper remote and came ready to stop with a powerful set of SRAM Code RS brakes.
Climbing: Climbs are seen as a challenge not a burden when powering uphill aboard the Capra. The bike rewards seated climbing more so than out-of-the-saddle climbing. That said, the Capra does charge uphill well, thanks to its neutral seating position that plants the front end to the ground and delivers traction to the rear tire. On smooth climbs, the bike has only a small amount of bob, with the shock set in the open position. Technical climbs were met with ground-gripping traction, encouraging riders to pedal to the top. Throughout our testing, our riders were continually surprised by the Capra’s willingness to earn its turns.
Cornering: Unlike the 29ers of yesteryear, the all-new Capra 29 has a playful feel with lots of pop that’s ideal for shredding the bike park. Blasting through berms and railing turns is what the Capra aspires to do. Its soft-compound E*thirteen tires held traction well, and the plush suspension helped glue the tires to the ground. Tight switchbacks require some finesse due to the bike’s long wheelbase and slack head tube angle, but high-speed turns are met with confidence and control.
Descending: The Capra is a bike that loves to run like a wild horse. This steed rolls over anything in its path, making line choice a thing of the past. Our testers often found themselves straight- lining their favorite trails in search of more speed. The bike loves machine-built jump trails but also handles the rough stuff. Due to the suspension’s progressive nature, the bike prefers to ride in the middle of its stroke, making large square hits feel a bit harsh; however, the 29er wheels more than make up for it. The best riders for the Capra 29 are the ones who prefer all-out speed and “full-send” gaps.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
Our test bike came with an interesting combination of parts that mixed many great components together. We really had no complaints. The brakes worked great. The wheel and tire package was spot-on, and the suspension was plush and efficient. Our 150mm dropper post offered tons of clearance, and the cockpit felt comfortable and ergonomic. Our test rig came with an E*thirteen chainguide and bash guard, further adding to the bike’s value. For $3700, YT managed to pack a lot of bang-for-your-buck into this build.
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