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Field Test: YT Izzo Core 2

Anything but a watered-down enduro bike

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Basics

  • Travel: 130mm front and rear
  • 29″ wheels
  • 66°/66.5 head-tube angle
  • 77°/77.5 seat-tube angle
  • Reach: 472mm (large)
  • Sizes: Small to XXL

Pros

  • Excellent climbing performance
  • Light and lively; well suited for rolling terrain
  • Very good parts spec for the price

Cons

  • Tight clearance around shock air valve limits pump choices

Weight

30.4 lb / 13.8 kg

Price

$3,399

Brand

YT Industries


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The YT Izzo Core 2 was the only carbon-framed bike at this year’s Value Field Test, which is likely part of the reason it was the lightest full-suspension model on test. For comparison, its 30.4 pound weight is 2.5 pounds lighter than the Fezzari Cascade Peak, and 4.5 pounds lighter than the Canyon Spectral 125. Granted, the frame isn’t completely carbon—the rear end is aluminum—but still, that figure on the scales is very reasonable, especially considering the $3,399 price tag.

The Izzo’s frame has room for a water bottle inside the front triangle, and YT offers its own Thirstmaster line of bottles that use the FidLock mounting system. Thankfully it’s still possible to mount up a standard bottle cage and use a regular water bottle, which is exactly what we did.

There are also two bolts on the underside of the toptube for mounting a tube or tool holder. Cables are mounted internally through foam sleeves to keep things quiet, and there’s a molded chainslap protector to further aid in the search for silence.

One frame detail that’s not quite as well thought out is the amount of clearance between the shock air valve and the frame. It’s a tight fit, which means that not all shock pumps will fit. YT does supply one with the bike that will fit, but if you already have a favorite shock pump, keep in mind that it might not be compatible.

The Izzo’s geometry is modern, if a touch on the conservative side compared to bikes that have been released recently. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since long and slack isn’t always the ticket when it comes to making less-rowdy terrain entertaining. There are two geometry positions that can be accessed via a flip chip, but we rode the bike in the low position for the entire test period. That gives it a 66-degree head angle, 77-degree seat angle, and a reach of 472mm for a size large. The chainstays measure 432mm sizes small through large, and 437mm on the XL and XXL sizes.

Component highlights include a Fox 34 Performance fork, which uses a GRIP damper and has externally adjustable low-speed compression and rebound. SRAM’s G2 R brakes handle stopping duties, with a 200mm front and 180mm rear rotor. SRAM’s 12-speed NX drivetrain provides an 11-50-tooth spread, although it doesn’t use the XD driver that SRAM’s higher-end options use. To finish it off, DT Swiss M 1900 wheels are mounted with Maxxis Forekaster tires in a 2.35” width.

Climbing

The Arizona desert is chock full of technical climbs, on which a botched attempt usually results in an uncomfortably close encounter with a prickly cactus or sharp rock. I found that out the hard way on one particularly steep and spicy climb aboard the Izzo. I botched my attempt, foiled by a tall, tombstone-shaped rock in exactly the wrong place. I unclipped and went to put my right foot down, except there was nothing to put it on; the edge of the trail fell away almost 7 feet to a dry creek bed below. Before I knew it, I was sliding down the steep embankment, clawing at the rocks, dirt, and prickly shubbery to stop my fall. I ended up with a nice bruise on my shoulder and a bunch of cuts and scrapes, but luckily nothing worse. The bike ended up with some cuts and scrapes too (sorry YT), but I was able to straighten out a bent brake lever and finish the ride looking a little worse for wear.

Despite that unplanned tumble, out of all the bikes on test, hardtails included, the Izzo was hands down my favorite climber. That’s the reason I was on it when I crashed—I’d chosen it especially for that trail, since I knew there would be some extra-challenging sections, and I wanted to stack the deck in my favor.

The 130mm of rear travel is very well managed, with a great blend of traction and support delivered by the Fox Float DPS shock. You can run the shock fully open for max traction, put it in the middle position for a little more support, or into the firmest position for an almost fully locked-out feel. No matter the position, the Izzo is a fairly calm climber. It’s not insanely snappy, but that also means it’s not harsh, and the shock can absorb all the square edges the rear wheel encounters.

The 77-degree seat tube angle is good for a wide range of terrain—there wasn’t too much pressure on my hands while riding on flat sections of trail, and it was easy to maintain traction on the steeper sections. This also happens to be the lightest full-suspension bike in this test; it’s almost 5 pounds lighter than some of the others. That’s noticeable when riding test bikes back-to-back, and it makes it a bike that encourages standing up and sprinting.

Descending

The Izzo isn’t a watered-down enduro bike, and that’s part of what makes it so fun. It’s super easy to toss around, to get airborne and aim for a little sniper landing. The suspension is very progressive, a trait that works well on a shorter-travel bike like this. I never had any harsh bottom-outs, or felt like the bike was blowing through its travel too quickly.

At higher speeds it doesn’t feel as surefooted as the Canyon Spectral 125, but in the terrain it’s designed for it feels just right. The Izzo is what I’d consider a purebred trail bike, a bike where the ideal ride includes multiple climbs and descents, rather than grinding up a fireroad and bombing down a steep track back to the bottom.

Compared to the aforementioned Spectral 125, the Izzo’s head angle is 2 degrees steeper (66-degrees vs. 64), and the reach is 12mm shorter (472mm versus 486mm). That gives it a more nimble feel, and it’s an easier bike to maneuver through slower-speed sections.

As far as components go, YT has put together a killer spec for the price. I have zero complaints about the Performance-level Fox 34, and the DPS shock performed flawlessly. The SRAM G2 brakes aren’t the most powerful, but they’re certainly a step up from the Level brakes that often get spec’d on bikes at this pricepoint.

I’m not the biggest fan of the SRAM NX drivetrain, but I didn’t have any issues with this particular group. Even the shifter action seemed better than normal, possibly thanks to the use of the Matchmaker clamp instead of the stock clunky plastic mount. The Maxxis Forekaster tires are an appropriate choice for this bike, although we did get two flats—desert dwellers or anyone regularly riding rockier terrain will likely want to get something with a thicker casing to avoid punctures.

Photos by Tom Richards