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First impressions: YT Decoy SN goes its own way

New mid-power, Fazua-driven model aims to just be an enduro bike

YT is back with a new eMTB. Not just a new eMTB for the German direct-to-consumer brand. Instead, YT’s hoping the Decoy SN is something new altogether.

As eMTB becomes more codified and bracketed, into lightweight, full power, race, etc., YT decided to find its own way. The Decoy SN focuses on a desired experience, not striving to match weight or wattage numbers of other brands. The result is a bike that might defy easy categorization but, at the same time, is really to understand in its purpose. 

YT Decoy SN Core 4
YT Decoy SN Core 4. Photo: Ale Di Lullo

Decoy SN: What is it? 

So, what is the purpose of the Decoy SN? What sets it apart from the existing Decoy? YT says the goal was to make the best possible enduro bike. Not the best e-enduro bike. The brand’s up front that the SN, with Fazua’s lightweight, mid-power motor, is not an E-EDR Bike. For that reason, YT is keeping the OG Decoy in the line. Instead, YT just want to make the best enduro bike. And, in the brand’s opinion, that ideal enduro bike has a motor. Not a huge one – SN stands for “Super Natural” – but one that helps you just enough on the climbs. 

That may seem like a very European approach to mountain biking, sure. But it is also, arguably a value call.  Do value quality of trail time that a lighter bike can deliver or the raw mileage of a huge motor and heavy battery? It’s also more pragmatic for people that don’t only ride with other electric friends. 

YT Decoy SN: The details

The Decoy SN uses a carbon fibre frame with a strong resemblance to the brand’s Capra enduro bike. The carbon fibre frame is built around a MX wheel setup and houses a Fazua Ride 60 motor unit. It is perhaps best described as an updated Capra, with 160mm rear-wheel travel and a 170mm fork, 63.9-degree head angle and 442mm chainstays aimed at aggressive descending performance.

The Decoy SN is longer than the existing Decoy and Capra, with reach sitting at 515mm for the XXL. Since it’s a bike designed to pedal comfortably and for a long time, the seat angle sits at a steep 78-degrees. That seat tube is short, giving clearance for long travel dropper posts and to allow more room for riders to move between sizes.  YT uses a geometry adjust Flip Chip on the Decoy SN, like several other models it makes. But the options change from high/low to regular/low as the BB is lower in ‘regular’ than the current Capra is in ‘low.’

The Fazua Ride 60 system adds 60Nm torque output and a 450W peak power. It’s fueled by a 430Wh battery and operated by Fazua’s minimalist ring remote. YT adds a bolt-on skid plate which is integrated smoothly into the frame.

Not a bad place to test a bike. Photo: Ale Di Lullo

Ride impression: YT Decoy SN in Saalbach-Hinterglemm

We had the opportunity to spend two big days on the Decoy SN in Saalbach-Hinterglemm. With the help of the motor, we also popped over the mountian and dropped down into Leogang. These tracks are famous for hosting the World Cup round in Leogang, downhill and enduro, and helping to develop the prodigious talent of Vali Höll. YT first signed Höll as a teenager, and she is back on the team again, so the brand’s connection to this region is pretty close. We even popped into her parent’s BBQ spot for dinner on the last evening (it was great). 

Austrian bike parks allow for … climbing? Photo: Ale Di Lullo

Fazua Ride 60: Goldilocks or awkward middle child?

Since YT is focused on the SN’s descending capabilities, we spend most of the time connecting trails via Saalbach-Hinterglemm’s series of gondolas. There were a couple significant pedals – which felt short on the Decoy but, checking back after, were actually quite a bit of elevation gain. This is in line with YT’s goal of an enduro bike that you don’t hate to pedal. It was actually quite pleasant to climb, without being a mini-shuttle rig. It doesn’t require the high-cadence of a WorldTour road cyclist to get optimal support but, since it’s a mid-power motor, also doesn’t give as much help when starting from standing on a steeper section of trail. 

Fazua’s minimalist ring-control took a bit of getting used to. I love how nicely it blends into the bars. Changing modes required a push-and-hold instead of the instant button-style actuation. This is probably so you don’t accidentally change support settings while riding, but it took most of the first day for that delayed power shift to feel natural. The super boost function was a mix of hilarious – it’s a 12-second burst of power that makes eMTB feel like Mario Kart – and practical. It gives the assist needed for the steepest pitches without, I felt, letting you get lulled into the E-bike power trap that burns through batteries so fast.

I don’t like that the Fazua’s CPU has a little pop-up function. It’s designed to let users have a direct connection to the bike for updates. YT says its passed all wet-weather tests (and the group before ours did have brutally wet weather), but I can’t help but feel it exposes a vital part of the motor system to weather or, even if it is actually perfectly weather-sealed, just regular damage.

There was also heaps of rooty, rocky tech. Photo: Ale Di Lullo

Enduro bike meets eMTB? Where does the Decoy SN stand?

YT is pitching the Decoy SN as an enduro bike that happens to have a motor. That, and the lack of direct comparisons in the mid-weight eMTB category YT is forging here, makes assessing its descending performance interesting. Do you compare it to an acoustic enduro bike that is 10 lbs lighter? Or do you compare it to a full power eMTB that is 10 lbs, at least, heavier?

The answer, like the Decoy SN itself, is probably somewhere in the middle of that. There’s no getting away from the added weight of the motor unit. Fazua’s system may be light, and slim enough that YT can make the Decoy SN nearly pass as a normal enduro bike. But it still adds around 2.3 kg (five pounds) to the overall weight of the bike. YT does keep that weight low in the bike so helps give the Decoy SN traction when you want it. The coil shock on the Core 4 adds to that feeling. All this weight is balanced on the bike, so hitting endless jumps and corners on some flow trails was quickly comfortable, closer to the feeling of a normal enduro bike than a full-powered one.

In the end, it feels somewhere between a lightweight eMTB or pedal enduro bike and a full-power eMTB. You’re not easily picking it up and changing lines. But it’s still more nimble, if that’s the right word, than a full-power bike. A 27.5” rear wheel / 29” front MX set-up definitely helps this, especially in tighter corners on more natural trails.

The XL felt like I was on top of the bike. Switching to XXL immediately felt more comfortable at speed.

Sizing the Decoy SN 

I split my time in Saalbach between an XL and an XXL Decoy SN. I sit right on the edge both sizes in YT’s sizing chart and have ridden both before in other models. The XL was the top-end Core 4 build while the XXL more closely resembled the Core 3, with different suspension and a couple minor spec changes since it was an early sample.

I felt significantly and immediately more comfortable on the XXL. While I really enjoyed the maneuverability and playfulness of the XL when riding YT’s new Jeffsy, the XXL Decoy SN gave me more room to move around in the bike when I couldn’t necessarily make as quick adjustments to the bike itself. It also felt more stable at the high speed and on the steeper descents that an enduro bike is capable of, compared to the Jeffsy. I’ve preferred smaller sizes on eMTB’s in the past, as it makes them easier and more fun to handle in tighter terrain. But something about the Decoy, perhaps the fact that it’s a long-travel eMTB that can actually get off the ground, felt significantly better suited to a longer bike. 

Still, with either size Decoy SN, it was quite a fun bike to ride. It’s not so heavy that you can’t pick lines and play around on the trail, especially compared to most other eebs in the e-Enduro category. Creative riding, side hits, all that is still possible. Especailly with the 27.5″ rear wheel, which is almost always the right rear wheel size for eMTBs. The mid-weight that comes with mid-power means the Decoy SN is not a total point-and-shoot plow like some heavier bikes. But it still felt at home hitting, steeper and faster bike-park trails that we rode in Austria. 

This is a stout frame, though, even with the alloy wheels YT specs across the line. There is little noticeable flex on the trail. It keeps the bike tracking true when you’re really pushing the Decoy SN. But I also found it a bit fatiguing to ride. To be fair, some of that may have been the jet lag. Or just my lack of fitness for back-to-back days of 4,000m elevation loss.

Spec-wise, both the coil shock and RockShox’s Vivid air were quite nice on the Decoy. Both kept the bike moving smoothly without chattering around on breaking bumps or the long mess of roots on some of Leogang’s more technical trails. SRAM’s new uber-powerful Maven brakes suit the purpose and heft of the Decoy SN. As does the wider, 34.0mm diameter long-travel dropper post. SRAM GX T-Type shifted smoothly under power, as promised, after some tweaks on the trail. YT opts to run alloy rims across the entire line, which helps balance out the frame stiffness. Continental tires, front and rear, across the line are also eMTB-worthy out of the box instead of spec’ing a lighter casing to make the Decoy look lighter on paper.

YT offers the SN in three levels of Core build and, as usual with YT, all three are rock-solid builds, especially for the price. 

Is mid-weight eMTB a thing, now?

Is a mid-weight eMTB that doesn’t want to be an eMTB actually a new product category? Who knows. But it is a fun bike to ride. YT succeeds at making the Decoy SN enduro worthy, though with some added weight penalty compared to a pedal bike. But compared to a full-power, long-travel eMTB? It might not be the right bike an e-Enduro racer or someone just looking to self-shuttle endless laps, but it has definitely has its place.

Personally, I’d definitely trade the improved trail feel of the Decoy SN over the extended range of any full-power eMTB for daily riding. Since most of us don’t have access to a small fleet of bikes, the Decoy SN is a great option for riders that want an enduro bike and an eMTB, but can’t have both. Or riders that want an enduro bike but aren’t into pedalling one all the way up to the best trails. The quiet motor and low power setting options also make it a more social bike when riding with non-motorized friends.

Pricing and availability: YT Decoy SN

YT offers the Decoy SN in three Core models to start. All feature the same carbon fibre frame. All are available now directly from YT. YT offers its mid-weight eMTB  in five sizes from  S to XXL.

  • YT Decoy SN Core 2 – $9,000 (USD 6,500)
  • YD Decoy SN Core 3 – $10,000 (USD 7,500)
  • YT Decoy SN Core 4 – $11,900 (USD 8,500)