BIKE TWO: YT INDUSTRIES CAPRA 29 CF PRO
Since YT has never done a long travel 29in bike before, this bigger wheeled Capra is based around a completely fresh chassis. But if building a new ground-up model is a complicated design and fabrication jigsaw puzzle, the smooth 29-er chassis doesn’t betray it. There’s a well-refined, poised look in all colours, as well as a clear family resemblance to the new 27.5in version.
YT has opted for a sportier suspension tune on its new 29-ers to try and balance the ‘runaway truck’ sensation and maximise efficiency and control. So, as well as the smash-ability of YT’s 27.5 version (described as having the ‘gravity genes of a downhiller’), the 29-er also aims for pedalling efficiency over long distances with both up and downhills.
The addition of a flip chip that steepens the head angle and raises the BB also points to this versatility. This desire to keep the suspension a little tighter and sprightlier isn’t something you’d automatically expect from a 29-er that pumps out up to 170mm and has a 1,223mm wheelbase, especially when it’s targeted at enduro racing and hanging on for up to half an hour down some of the roughest tracks.
Straight off the bat, on the same trail as the 27.5 bike, there’s a sense of a tighter ride and less eagerness to swallow bumps and holes from the 29-er back end. This nod to efficiency is subtle though, and isn’t to say the 29-er can’t truck on over all manner of terrain, lock into tight lines on cambers and turns and propel you downhill in a proper hurry.
With the Fox DPX2 performance level shock, the CF Pro model here is a lower spec model than the 27.5 bike I rode and has E13 wheels that aren’t carbon, but, with a shallower attack angle and reduced air pressures in the bigger volume tyres, I still expected rollover to be slightly less edgy and for the bike to feel similarly smooth. It also stands up a little more in the corners than the 27.5 bike. Whether this is entirely down to shock tune, or a combination of factors like frame and wheel stiffness is pretty hard to say.
The subtly reduced tracking and plushness made the 29-er Capra a bit harder to balance and less intuitive slamming berms, feeling for grip on flat corners and hitting jumps – three things that felt totally instinctive on the 27.5 bike.
This CF Race doesn’t pump out as much travel as the 180mm smaller wheeled Capra, and less than the 170mm on the most expensive 29in Pro Race model, which could be also be a factor, but the ride character appears different in more ways than just outright travel.
While at the launch, I also had a chance to try the 29-er bike with the longer stroke more expensive Fox X2 shock for comparison, and while marginally more refined, the 29-er suspension still didn’t feel as balanced and fluid as the 27.5 version.
Before riding either of these Capras, I’d have sworn the long travel 29-er would be first choice for uplifted terrain with the extra potential for security, rolling speed and stability. The new 29-er is a no slouch, but the 27.5 bike is so perfectly refined it overcomes any wheel size or BB-to-axle drop advantages for me. The bigger wheeled Capra might just be a subtle shock tune tweak away from greatness too, but out of the box, it’s harder to adapt to and felt less balanced.
I’ve not done timed runs on either version, but on gut instinct and confidence levels, whether racing or just messing about in the woods, the new 27.5 Capra is the one and a match for any other enduro bike out there. YT has ticked every box and delivered a perfectly evolved machine that’s a great representation of how far Young Talent has now taken this German direct sales brand in just a decade.