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This is not just a new YT Capra. I mean, it’s never just a new YT anything, given the high-production-value short films that come out alongside every new YT bike, and this one’s no different. If you haven’t checked it out, check it out here. Watched it? Ok, good. Anyway, this is not just a new Capra. This is an answer to the question of what the next wave of bike updates is going to look like. For well over a decade, the most important and most severe changes made in any new model iteration has been in its geometry. Every brand has been playing a game of chicken, waiting for the market to decide how long is too long, how low is too low, and how slack … well, you know. It seems we’ve just about reached that point, leaving the industry to decide what else is so deserving of attention that it merits scrapping four years worth of carbon molds and starting over.
Before we get into exactly what YT decided deserved that much attention, let’s get one mundane detail out of the way: Availability. Unfortunately, the scarcity of components we’ve been dealing with for nearly a year isn’t going to improve any time soon. The new Capras won’t be available for purchase until “late 2021 with production volumes ramping up significantly in early 2022.” No doubt, people will be upset to have this sexy carbon fiber carrot on the end of such a long stick, but it is not YT’s fault. In fact, they are today announcing a program that will address concerns long held by YT customers.
YT is introducing a pre-order system that will make it possible for buyers to secure a spot in line. If a bike’s projected availability is beyond 8 weeks, you can make a refundable 10-percent deposit to secure your bike. Four weeks before the projected ship date, the balance will automatically be charged to your card or PayPal account. If this sounds fishy, keep in mind that plenty of other industries work on long-term pre-orders, from video games to Teslas. It just happens to be new to mountain biking and, hopefully, it will only be temporary. Sam Nicols, YT’s CEO, had the following statement regarding the lead time and the pre-order system.
“Customer feedback has been clear this year – you want to see what bikes with which specs we are going to offer when. We are stoked to reveal all the details about our new CAPRAs now and to make it possible for each customer to make an informed decision whether or not they wish to pre – order. We firmly believe that the pre – order deposit functionality provides a great way for customers to get in line for our exciting line of new bikes without having to pay the entire amount upfront.”
Ok, we all together now? Let’s talk about the bike. But we won’t shock you by starting with anything too exciting after all that. Maybe water bottles? You can now fit one in the Capra’s front triangle. The reason the previous generation didn’t make room for a bottle is that YT didn’t want to sacrifice the stiffness that was offered by the buttress that extends from the down tube to the seat tube. The new asymmetrical design leaves room for a traditional 22-ounce bottle in a traditional bottle cage, or with YT’s Fidlock-mounted Thirstmaster 5000, you can get a sizable 28 ounces.
Of course, that’s probably the least exciting update made to the new Capra. Though not nearly as significant as those made in the last update, there were of course some changes made to the Capra’s geometry. For one thing, there was the addition of a size small. That makes for a grand total of five sizes. Across all of them, there was about a 7-millimeter increase in reach, a degree slacker head angle, and nearly two degrees steeper in the seat tube angle. What all that adds up to depends on exactly which configuration you go for…
I opened this story with a claim that, with the geometry revolution calming down, brands need to find new reasons to justify model changeovers. In the case of the Capra, one of those reasons is a truly dedicated mixed-wheel option, which YT is calling MX. You can either get a matched 29-inch version that stacks 165mm of rear travel and 170 front, or a 27.5-inch rear, 29-inch front with matched 170mm of travel. And YT didn’t just do this with a flip chip or a removable lower headset cup. Each version has a dedicated seatstay and swing link that doesn’t just accommodate the bike for each configuration, it optimizes it.
That means the MX version gets that extra smidge of travel, 5mm shorter chainstays, 3mm lower bottom bracket and a quarter degree slacker head angle. Subtle, but each difference actually makes real sense for its respective configuration. More travel mitigates the compromised small-bump performance of the small wheel, short chainstays play to its fun factor, and the bottom bracket height and head angle play to its downhill bias.
What’s less subtle but just as smart is that the leverage curve changes as well. The MX version is significantly more progressive. That also works with the MX version’s focus on fun. And it reflects the difference in the types of riders who would opt for one over the other. The 29-inch version is better at swallowing up bumps and gaining speed at all costs, so its kinematics are designed to give it up, almost all the way to the end. The MX version understands that its rider may be landing jumps or slashing corners, and opts for support over suppleness. Both versions are compatible with both coil and air, and there’s even a stock coil build, but we’ll get to that later.
The frame has gotten several updates beyond just room for a water bottle. The cable routing is all fully tube-in-tube from front to back. And the shock is now connected to a yoke (which is where the flip chip is now located), not the seatstays themselves. And attention to frame stiffness has shifted from along the top tube and seatstays to, instead, along the downtube and chainstays. Not only does this have an aesthetic impact on where the bike’s perceived center of gravity is, it improves stiffness along the channel that bears the most stress. There’s actually more carbon down there to make for a stouter frame. And carbon, by the way, is the only way to get the new Capra. As just happened with the Jeffsy, the Capra updates will eventually appear in the alloy version, but for now, it’s only available in a carbon frame.
Or carbon frames, you might say. For the first time, YT is offering two levels of carbon, one high-modulus and one ultra-high-modulus. Both frames pass the same strength tests and both are built to have the same ride feel, but the ultra-high modulus frames are lighter. This is something we’ve seen for years from Yeti and Santa Cruz, and it marks YT’s evolution from a bit of a black sheep to a brand that offers something for riders with a little more refined tastes.
And speaking of refined, the photo that you probably clicked on to get here is the Capra Launch Edition. There will only be 100 of these distressed-paint-job beauties made, and only in the MX configuration. Starting with a limited paint job on the ultra high modulus frame, it gets a Cane Creek Kitsuma rear shock, RockShox Zeb Ultimate fork, Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels and Renthal bar and stem. Oh, and a set of Cane Creek eeWings cranks. The rest of the builds follow YT’s new Core model breakdown. These are the builds that will continue through the “model year,” with the potential for other builds to enter the lineup.
Or, at least after the 100 Launch Edition bikes are snatched up in the five minutes after this news drops…
In the meantime below are the prices, weights and spec breakdowns of each Capra Model so you can get ready.