YT Capra 29 CF 2018 ReviewPrice: $3,699 List Pros: Impressive components, aggressive geometry, stable at speed
Cons: Progressive suspension may be too harsh for many, pedal strikes on climb
Bottom line: A long-travel 29er with aggressive geometry and progressive suspension design.
The all-new YT Capra 29 made quite the splash when it was introduced in February 2018. Wagon wheels, 160mm of travel, impressive components, an attractive price tag, what's not to love? Unfortunately, the Capra is somewhat held back by its harsh and super-progressive suspension design. Three testers spent one month smashing the Capra CF 29 around California and Nevada to obtain the vital ride characteristics. This wagon-wheeled monster truck climbs reasonably well for a 32-pound bicycle. The Capra greatly benefits from the use of the climb switch and technical climbs can be problematic. Downhill performance is solid as long as you don't expect a plush or muted ride. Many riders may find the suspension design too progressive. The ramp-up in the mid-late stroke could be too much for the majority of riders. YT claims the new Capra is 8% less progressive than the previous iteration. We find this to be a reasonable assessment, but it is still difficult to utilize full travel. At $3699, Capra CF 29 is a strong value for the right buyer.
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Should I Buy This Bike
The Capra CF 29 is a solid choice for the very aggressive rider who doesn't mind, or likes, very progressive suspension. There can be speed advantages to a bike that stays higher in its travel. The Capra seems to skip over a lot of obstacles. While this can be jarring and loud, momentum keeps moving forward is not lost into the travel. As a result, an enduro racer may like this bike. This big burly bicycle is also a prime candidate for a coil shock. This could help mellow out some of the harsh ramp-up in the suspension design. There is no doubt the quality of the build specifications is tempting. Riders looking to do significant amounts of climbing or want a more comfortable/plush ride should look elsewhere.
Riders looking for an enduro bike with a more balanced personality should check out the well-rounded Yeti SB5.5. The Santa Crux Hightower LT is another excellent quiver-killer. Both the Santa Cruz and the Yeti blow the Capra out of the water in terms of climbing abilities. Both bikes offer great downhill performance given their 140-150mm of rear wheel travel, but they lack the super-aggressive geometry of the Capra or other aggressive enduro bikes. This gives the YT the advantage on truly gnarly and steep downhills. The Yeti and Santa Cruz are better options for the majority of riders on the majority of trails. The catch? The most affordable Hightower LT sells for $3949 and the Yeti SB5.5 starts at $4999.
Still interested in an aggressive enduro bike? The Evil Insurgent is one rowdy bike. The Insurgent has 151 of rear wheel travel and rolls on 27.5-inch wheels. Despite having less travel than the YT, the Evil is far more plush with a much more muted and calmer rear suspension design. This bike is absurdly stable at high speeds and feels better the harder you push. Motoring over rock gardens is quiet, composed and comfortable. Climbing abilities are also better than the YT. The Insurgent certainly isn't cheap. It is available in carbon fiber only with build kits starting around $5600.
Do you want an enduro bike that is all about pure, blistering, downhill performance? The Santa Cruz Nomad V4 is obscenely good on fast and rowdy trails. This 170mm, 27.5-inch, bike creeps up the hill with a little bit of patience and a lot of effort. On the descent this bike shreds. The super slack geometry and dialed Virtual Pivot Point suspension are extremely composed on the rowdiest of downhills. This bike is a prime candidate for the bike park and/or shuttle enthusiast who still wants a bike that can climb with a slowly-but-surely attitude.
The Capra's redesigned frame uses YT's Virtual-4-Link suspension which is a 4-bar linkage. YT claims the 2018 version is slightly less progressive than the old version. This means the suspension won't ramp up quite as hard deeper in its stroke. This was particularly intriguing as we felt our 2017 test bike was far too harsh. The Capra uses a flip chip to adjust geometry.
Our large Capra CF 29 hit has a 468mm reach and 618mm effective top tube. The chainstays measured 438mm and the wheelbase was 1222mm.
In the high setting, the head tube angle was 65.4-degrees and the seat tube angle measures 76.1-degrees.
In the low setting, the head tube angle measured 64.8-degrees and the seat tube angle comes to 75.5-degrees.
-Two wheel sizes
-27.5-inch version offers 170mm of rear wheel travel.
-29er version has 160mm of rear wheel travel (Tested) with the CF Pro Race model offering 170mm of squish.
-Compatible with dual crown forks.
-Flip-chip geometry adjustments
-Suspension kinematics altered to make the bike less progressive/slightly more linear
-Carbon Fiber or Aluminum options available starting at $2499.
The Capra 29 offers aggressive positioning and a charging attitude. The geometry sets you in a confident position to attack spicy terrain. The suspension is less progressive compared to the old Capra, but testers agree that is still too harsh. Bigger hits felt supportive, but small bump feel is choppy and loud. Suspension setup is extremely important with this bicycle. Our CF Pro model had some very impressive components with an interesting tire choice.
In the attack position, the Capra 29 has a very aggressive feel. We rode this bike in both geometry positions. The high setting has a slack 65.4-degree head tube angle. The low setting has an even slacker 64.8-degree head tube angle. Both exude downhill confidence when feeding into a rock garden or aimed down a chute. Bear in mind that our measurements are taken in the static position without any rider weight on the bike. As soon as the shock sags, the effective head tube angle becomes even slacker. As a result, confidence is high heading into a rock garden or steep section of trail. It would take a serious mistake to stuff your front wheel or get tossed over the bars.
The Capra's suspension feel was the hot topic among testers. YT claims the 2018 Capra is 8% less progressive than the 2017 version. We feel this is an accurate assessment. We still would have liked to see this bike go a little further in the linear direction. It is difficult to utilize the full 160mm of travel. Even when testers experimented with an intentionally plowy or bulldozing riding style, it was hard to get through the travel. The result is a fairly harsh ride on bigger lines. We have ridden bikes with less travel that felt significantly more plush than the Capra. It is important to note that some riders may like this. It can be argued that this bike skips over rocks and holes and doesn't lose momentum by diving into its travel. There could be speed advantages to this. Regardless, there is no denying that this bike does not have the plush feel of other 160mm bikes.
Shock setup is critical with this bike. After countless hours of tinkering, testers found you can run 30-33% sag and have an extremely supportive, but harsh, mid-late stroke. It is difficult to get through the travel with that much pressure. Even our 195-pound tester couldn't utilize full travel. The other option is running closer to 40% sag and use full stroke with a much smoother mid-late stroke. There are two key problems with this. First, at 40 %, you sag through the small bump sensitivity. While your deep stroke feels smoother, your small bump compliance takes a hit. The other important issue is your bottom bracket height is very very low under rider weight and it would be easy to clip your pedals when slipping in downhill pedal strokes.
High-speed handling is impressive. Given the lengthy 1222mm wheelbase and 65.4/64.8-degree head tube angle, this shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Carving down flow trails felt natural and sturdy without getting the dreaded speed twitches. Low-speed handling requires some serious attention. A clean entry to the tight downhill switchback goes a long way. If your entry is a little off and you're running a risk of jackknifing the corner, it is very difficult to recover.
As with other YT bikes we have tested. The component grouping worked very well. This was our first test bike with the new SRAM Code RS brakes. The power was very impressive and the brake sensitivity was reminiscent of the Shimano XT. The 160mm RockShox Lyrik was reliable and supportive while the Super Deluxe rear shock felt good. It was hard to differentiate between the suspension kinematics and shock at times.
The E*Thirteen TRSR/TRS+ 2.35-inch tires were a hot topic among testers. When paired with the 30mm E*Thirteen rims, they had an extremely square profile. Traction was solid in a straight line and navigating rock/tech sections. Aggressive cornering was nice once you got onto those big shoulder knobs. It was fairly easy to find the edge of control through the bends. The trick part of these tires was transitioning into a corner. As your leaning into a turn, there is a period of skittish uncertainty before the shoulder knobs engage.
The Capra 29 climbs well-enough. If you are looking at a 160mm enduro bike, you are probably not concerned about being the fastest up the hill. Despite its long and low geometry, this bike will get you up the hill with a bit of patience. Given its length, it can be tricky to navigate technical trails. In addition, the low bottom bracket can make pedal strikes a serious problem.
The Capra 29 is a big bike. It may be a statement of the obvious to say this bike emphasizes downhill performance rather than uphill abilities. That said, climbing skills are respectable. This is not the kind of bike you are going to want to grind uphill for hours at a time. Nevertheless, the Capra can get you to the top of any hill if your willing to put the effort in. Rider position is slightly behind the bottom bracket. The higher you raise the seat, the further it moves your hips behind the cranks. The 75.9-degree seat tube angle (high position) is reasonable, but it is obvious your riding a big and slack bike.
This bike greatly benefits from the use of the climb switch on the RockShox Super Deluxe shock. Using the climb switch will keep you higher in the shock stroke which preserves the geometry and keeps your bottom bracket higher. The suspension is fairly calm even in the wide open shock position. Standing or seating the YT doesn't bob under pedaling loads.
Grinding up long fire roads or double track is fairly comfortable. Keep your legs turning and zone out, it will all be over soon. When climbing rough or technical trails, the Capra requires your undivided attention. Under rider weight, the bottom bracket is very low. This can lead to high numbers of pedal strikes. As a result, carefully planning your pedal strokes is really important to clean a hard section of trail. Perfecting your ratchet motion/half pedal stroke is very helpful.
Uphill handling is cumbersome, but not horrible. Given the 1222mm wheelbase, tight corners can present a problem. Having a well laid out gameplan is very important. Riding tight switchbacks on a new, unfamiliar, trail can present some issues. Line choice is a little less important if you have momentum on your side, the Capra 29 can plow right over obstacles. At slower speeds, this bike can get hung up and precision is important.
Our Capra 29 CF sells for $3699. By the looks of it, they are selling very well as many sizes and builds are back-ordered until at least August while some are sold out for the year. The component spec on this bike is truly impressive. A carbon frame, RockShox Lyrik, Shimano XT drivetrain, and SRAM Code RS brakes are items typically associated with the $5000-$6000 price tag. It is easy to call this bike a strong value, even if we were a bit underwhelmed with the on-trail performance.
The YT Capra 29 made a big splash when it was introduced this winter. The on-trail performance is decent, but it certainly can't match performance levels of some of our favorite enduro bikes like the Santa Cruz Nomad, Evil Insurgent, Santa Cruz Hightower LT, or Yeti SB5.5. The fantastic component specification is still attractive to many riders and can make the Capra 29 a viable option.
— Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens, Paul Tindal
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