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2017 YT Capra AL Comp

2017 YT Capra AL Comp

Geometry: (Here)

Build Overview:

  • Drivetrain: SRAM X1
  • Brakes: SRAM Guide RS
  • Fork: Rockshox Lyrik RC
  • Rear Shock: Rockshox Monarch Plus
  • Wheels: DT Swiss E1900 Spline

Wheels: 27.5”

Travel: 165 mm rear / 170 mm front

Size Tested: Large

Blister Measured Weight (without pedals): 30.5 lbs / 13.8 kg

MSRP: $2,999

Reviewer: 5’10”, 143 lbs.

Test Locations: Oakland, Pacifica, and Tahoe, CA

Test duration: 2.5 months

YT Capra AL Comp

Intro

Since its release, the YT Capra has quickly become a favorite among gravity riders, Enduro racers on a budget, and a number of 14-year-olds I’ve met who simply love hucking their meat. And after a few months on YT’s AL Comp build, it’s easy to see why — the bike’s durable frame, aggressive component spec, and progressive suspension make it a great bike for going big.

While it’s far from the most versatile Enduro bike on the market, YT succeeded in making a bike that does exactly what a lot of riders want out of their long-travel bikes. And compared to just about every brand out there, the bang for the buck that YT offers is unbeatable.

The Build

I rode the Capra AL Comp, which is the second least expensive offering in the Capra lineup. This build comes with an aluminum frame, value oriented parts, and retails for $2,999.

YT gets a lot of credit for giving the Capra a sensible build right out of the box. The bike comes with the proven Rockshox Lyrik RC fork and Monarch Plus shock, durable DT Swiss 1900 Spline wheels, and SRAM Guide RS brakes. YT spec’s 200 mm rotors front and rear — a good indicator of the bike’s gravity leanings. What’s more, the Capra even comes with a bash guard, which is something that often needs to be bought as an accessory.

Given the Capra’s price point, there’s not a lot I’d change. I don’t love the e*thirteen dropper post — it feels a little chintzy and has developed a bit of lateral play over the course of my time on it — but so far, it’s actually been more reliable than plenty of higher-priced droppers I’ve been on.

The only component that needs to be swapped out immediately is the SDG Fly MTN saddle. While a good saddle distributes pressure evenly onto your sitbones, this saddle manages to put pressure everywhere it doesn’t belong. So I ran a SQLab 611 saddle for the majority of this test instead.

Fit and Geometry

At 5’10”, I tend to fall in between most brands’ Medium and Large frames, so I often find myself switching between sizes depending on a bike’s reach numbers. Acknowledging that many riders have different sizing preferences, YT claims that a Medium will fit riders ranging from 5’5” to 5’10” and a Large will fit riders from 5’9” to 6’3”. I agree for the most part, but as a rider with pretty long limbs, I personally can’t imagine riding a Medium. The Capra’s reach on a Medium is only 420 mm, and in combination with a short stem, this made the Medium feel pretty cramped during a brief parking lot test. So I opted for a Large, which was definitely the right decision. It gave me enough room to move around on the bike and an added feeling of stability at speed.

While the Capra’s 65-degree head tube angle was somewhat boundary pushing when the Capra was released a few years ago, it’s now pretty standard for a bike of this class. Likewise, the Capra features a relatively steep 74.8 degree seat tube angle, which helps keep the rider in control of the front wheel while climbing.

The Ride

If you’re the type of rider that likes to get out of the saddle and sprint up climbs, you’re probably looking at the wrong bike. The Capra sinks pretty far into its 165 mm of travel when climbing up steep sections of trail, and bobs a fair bit when you stand up and really stomp on the pedals. Of course, no 165 mm bike should be expected to climb like an XC whippet, but a VPP-equipped bike like the Santa Cruz Nomad III definitely feels less active when you get on the pedals.

This, in combination with its long and slack geometry, makes the front end of the Capra feel more prone to wandering when going uphill than most bikes in its class. Fire road climbs are no problem, but expect the bike’s geometry to fight you a little bit on technical climbs.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with a bike that climbs like the Capra — it just means that your expectations should be realistic. I actually felt pretty happy gaining thousands of vertical feet on the Capra as long as I was in the saddle and pedaling at a reasonable cadence.

Descending on the Capra leaves little to be desired. As expected for a bike in this class, the Capra rewards staying off the brakes and really comes alive when plowing through rocks at speed, jumping, and trying to gap obstacles.

Xan Marshland reviews the YT Capra AL Comp for Blister Review

Xan Marshland on the YT Capra AL Comp, Bay Area, CA.

But what really defines the Capra is how its suspension is designed.

The Capra’s suspension linkage is really, really progressive — even compared to many other bikes on the market that are intended for the exact same use.

This is something you can feel immediately when you’re on the bike. Even when messing around in my street while running more than 40 percent sag, it was hard to get the bike to make a “thunking” noise at the end of its travel.

Now, I tend to like progressive bikes. They can be set up to feel super sensitive in the initial part of their travel, they resist bottoming out harshly, and they often pop better. But in the case of the Capra, this level of progressivity may narrow its intended audience.

During my first ride on the Capra, I immediately noticed how supportive the bike’s rear suspension is. You can weight the rear end of the bike and manual out of corners without the bike’s rear suspension wallowing, which feels great. The bike also pops off small trail features really nicely.

And even when compared to other bikes in its class, the Capra has a HUGE margin for error. I think there are plenty of other bikes out there that a skilled rider can ride just as fast (or faster, depending on the terrain), but few bikes will take your poor decisions in stride so willingly. There were a few scenarios when I expected to dent a rim or get bucked over the front end, but the Capra’s rear suspension shrugged off the impact without complaint.

In general, it’s remarkably composed when doing dumb stuff like overshooting landings, casing doubles, or landing in corners. So for intermediate to advanced riders looking to push their limits on rowdy descents and big jumps, this bike is just about perfect.

Xan Marshland reviews the YT Capra AL Comp for Blister Review

Xan Marshland on the YT Capra AL Comp, Bay Area, CA.

On the other hand, this bike is so progressive that I question whether a novice rider (or any rider in a more “normal” trail riding context) will be able to make full use of its 165 mm of travel. Simply put, the bike really only uses its full travel when you’re putting seriously big impacts into it. If you’re not dealing with these kinds of impacts on your daily ride, you’ll probably be happier with: a) a bike with a more linear suspension linkage, or b) a bike with less travel.

Durability

Within the last few months, I’ve only managed to crash hard on the Capra once, which didn’t result in any serious damage. The bike’s wheels are still more or less true, which is also a good sign.

As for other wear, the bolt on the Race Face Turbine crankset has needed to be retightened, the derailleur has needed some adjustment, and the E*thirteen dropper post has developed a bit of lateral play. All in all, nothing serious to report.

Bottom Line

The “Trail” category seems to grow wider every year, featuring bikes that range from near-XC rigs to single crown bikes that make a solid case for selling your DH bike. The YT Capra clearly falls on the DH end of the spectrum, with the likes of the Rocky Mountain Slayer, Pivot Firebird, and Santa Cruz Nomad IV.

So as a “Trail” bike, the Capra lacks versatility. But as a more downhill-oriented Enduro bike, its strengths make it perfect for the right audience. Its geometry and intelligent spec make it a great bike for anyone who likes going downhill fast, and its huge margin for error will make it a favorite for riders who like going big on their trail rides, or for those who are in the market for a 50/50 Park / Trail bike.

What’s more, the price tag is pretty much unbeatable, which makes it an appealing purchase for anyone looking for a new Trail bike. Just make sure you’re buying the Capra for what it’s good at, as riders with flatter, smoother descents will be missing out on where this bike really shines.

10 Comments

  1. Brian Lindahl September 15, 2017 Reply

    How do you balance the suspension out between the fork and shock when the linkage is this progressive? Did you find any problems with not being able to get the fork progressive enough to keep a balanced feel (the geometry preserved?) when the going gets rough?

    • Xan Marshland October 4, 2017 Reply

      Hey Brian,

      In general, I find that much like a bike’s travel, progressivity does not need to be identical between the front and rear suspension.

      This might come down to riding style, but there are a number of bikes I’ve ridden where I’ve had to put volume reducers in the shock to prevent harsh bottom-outs, but it’s less common for me to need to do this with a long travel fork. That said, if you do feel like the fork is wallowing in relation to the rear suspension (and thus messing with your geometry), volume reducers will absolutely be your friend.

      Xan

  2. Wuffles September 15, 2017 Reply

    I’m not sure calling the super progressive nature of the linkage (which it is, delta of 1.3 LR, about the biggest of any trail or AM bike on the market) something for experts is entirely accurate. Sure, it has massive big hit potential, with the corresponding force characteristics, but that comes at a cost.

    The midstroke of the Capra has the same constant slope LR as the rest of the travel, which means if you are hitting medium hits at speed you are going to be constantly getting a “ramped” feeling from the rear end, rather than a compliant one. Combined with the rather odd lack of any coil shock options (hint hint YT), you get a bike that pushes back hard, all of the time. While this is fine on smooth berms, or single big hits, on any section where you’re getting a lot of decently sized hits in a row (rock/root garden at speed) it’s a recipe for loosing control.

    Now, you can say this about a lot of progressive bikes, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it. YT has catered to their audience- riders who want to have fun, but maybe don’t care about scraping a second or two off their EWS run on Ride Don’t Slide.

    But if you looks at the bikes (and shocks) being ridden by the racer-boi’s, it’s pretty clear a decently linear midstroke is something they value. So rather than expert versus novice, maybe it’d be better to classify it as: riders who ride for thrills vs seconds.

    • Xan Marshland October 4, 2017 Reply

      Hey Wuffles,

      I definitely see where you’re coming from here. To be clear, I’m NOT claiming that progressive bikes are only for experts and linear bikes are only for novices. Rather, I’m saying that a novice rider who might not be comfortable charging into obstacles at high speed might not be well served by the Capra, due to its super progressive nature. Of course, this doesn’t mean that expert riders should avoid linear bikes like the plague.

      You make a good point that a linear midstroke has a lot of value in a racing context. It’s worth noting that while the Capra might just be the best bike out there for casing or overshooting a jump, it’s still not the fastest Trail bike I’ve ridden.

      Xan

      • Brian Lindahl October 4, 2017 Reply

        A few years back, I owned an SB66 (very linear) as a second bike for a while and while it definitely seemed faster than my current bike, it in no-way felt more confidence inspiring when I got in over my head. It actually felt kind of skittish when compared to my PUSH link Nomad 2 (quite progressive). I’ve seen some other reviews talking about Yeti’s newer bikes having that same ‘skittish’ feel and linear suspension. It all comes down to terrain and riding style. For me, the more skilled I become, the better I would enjoy a linear suspension – almost that exact opposite! But for now, when I get in over my head (which I LOVE to do), I much prefer a progressive suspension. In the near future, I’ll be making sure I have two bikes. A long-travel progressive one that can really help me progress (hah), and a shorter-travel linear one that really makes more boring trails a heck of a lot more fun.

  3. James T Kirk September 15, 2017 Reply

    Request for POLE EVOLINK 140 review.

  4. bob September 17, 2017 Reply

    I’m just wondering where you ride in Oakland :)

  5. Igor October 22, 2017 Reply

    “If you’re the type of rider that likes to get out of the saddle and sprint up climbs, you’re probably looking at the wrong bike. The Capra sinks pretty far into its 165 mm of travel when climbing up steep sections of trail, and bobs a fair bit when you stand up and really stomp on the pedals.”

    In open mode od with the lockout?

    • Xan Marshland October 29, 2017 Reply

      Most of my time on the Capra was spent with the shock fully open. But even with the platform on the shock, it doesn’t feel very snappy.

  6. Nick Thom December 8, 2017 Reply

    Hi Xan,

    I’m thinking of purchasing this bike (25% off right now) but another tester noted that the rear suspension ramped up so strongly that he felt like he never used the full travel and thus the rear wheel would hop and chatter on ‘rock gardens’. I assume your rode Joaquin Miller and I’m curious to know how you felt the rear end handled Cinderella. Thanks.

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