YT Izzo Core 2 review

The 29er YT Izzo Core 2 is the brand’s entry-level, shorter-travel trail bike, designed for post-work laps or all-day adventures. YT says the bike is sharp and agile, and certainly isn’t an all-mountain bike with less travel. It’s designed to be fast and light, reflected in the choice of fast-rolling tyres and lighter suspension.

YT Izzo Core 2 frame and suspension

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The rear suspension struggled over more gnarly terrain during our tests. YT combines a carbon front triangle with an alloy rear, in a four-bar suspension configuration that delivers 130mm of travel. The trunnion shock sits vertically in the frame, with the shock body bolted to the lower mounting point. All the suspension’s pivot bolts (save for the driveside rear pivot) are accessible from the non-driveside of the frame. The double-sealed bearings benefit from an additional seal on the pivots to help reduce wear and tear. The frame has uncomplicated lines, with the top tube merging into the seatstays via a svelte carbon rocker link.

Hoses and cables run internally, with a foam lining in the front triangle to reduce noise, and guided routing in the rear for easy maintenance. Clamped entry points further reduce noise. The rear triangle also benefits from integrated chainstay protection. YT has worked with Fidlock to provide a pair of bottle options inside the frame, offering 600ml or 835ml bottles, while there are also bosses under the top tube for a tool caddy.

YT Izzo Core 2 geometry

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Chainstays are shorter than average at 432mm, although on the bigger bikes that’s extended to 437mm. I tested a size-large Izzo, with a very balanced, modern shape. This means the head angle is slack, but not ridiculously so at 66 degrees, while the seat angle is 76 degrees with my saddle height of 71cm (from the bottom bracket), a touch slacker than claimed. The reach figure is long for a bike of this ilk, sitting at 472mm, complemented by 432mm chainstays – slightly shorter than average. The extra-large and extra-extra-large bikes get a slightly longer chainstay (437mm).

The 450mm seat-tube length is on a par with many bikes, but may limit those who want to run the current generation of super-long dropper posts. There’s a geometry-adjusting flip chip, which steepens both head and seat angles by 5mm and raises the bottom bracket by 5mm. For the purpose of this review, I’ll refer to the bike mainly in its lower setting, where it spent most of its time. The geometry chart below is as YT presents it.

Seat angle (degrees)77 / 77.577 / 77.577 / 77.577 / 77.577 / 77.5
Head angle (degrees)66 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.566 / 66.5
Chainstay (mm)432432432437437
Seat tube (mm)400425450475500
Top tube (mm)566591616641666
Head tube (mm)95105115130140
Bottom bracket drop (mm)40 / 3540 / 3540 / 3540 / 3540 / 35
Bottom bracket height (mm)33.4 / 33.933.4 / 33.933.4 / 33.933.4 / 33.933.4 / 33.9
Wheelbase (mm)1,1581,1831,2091,2401,265
Stack (mm)603612621635644
Reach (mm)429450472492513

YT Izzo Core 2 specifications

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The Fox 34 fork is from the brand’s Performance line. This being the entry-level Izzo, the spec list isn’t quite as punchy as the top-tier bikes, however all the key components are there to do a decent job. Fox provides the suspension. Both fork and shock come from its Performance line, with a 34 fork that has 130mm travel and the basic GRIP damper, and the Float DPS shock propping the back end up. The drivetrain is from SRAM, with its 12-speed NX Eagle groupset getting an 11-50t cassette. The basic G2 R brakes are also supplied by SRAM with 200/180mm rotors.

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SRAM provides its 12-speed NX Eagle groupset. DT Swiss M1900 Spline wheels are a solid option, and they’re wrapped in Maxxis’ Forekaster tyres. These have a wide-spaced, but low block-height tread that offers more grip than most ‘skinny’ treads, but less bite than burlier tyres seen on many other trail bikes. A mix of brands offer up the finishing kit, with the YT Postman dropper post the smooth-operating highlight.

YT Izzo Core 2 ride impressions

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Braking comes courtesy of SRAM’s G2 R. This bike was ridden as part of our 2022 Trail Bike of the Year test. It was pitted against seven other bikes, with travel ranging from 120 to 140mm at the rear, and priced from £3,299 to £3,850. The bikes were tested all over the UK, from long, steep tracks in South Wales to our regular testing loops in the Forest of Dean, fast rocky tracks in the Tweed Valley and the fresh-cut loam and rocky outcrops of the Cairngorm National Park. Bikes were tested back to back, with short repeated loops ensuring differences were noticed easily. An extensive programme of workshop weighing, measuring and general poking about made sure every little detail was explored.

YT Izzo Core 2 climbing performance

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The Izzo is a top performer on the climbs. Sat down, the Izzo Core 2 climbs well. The suspension manages to balance its ability to soak up steps and roots at the same time as staying stable and composed under normal pedalling loads. Add in reasonable suppleness, and despite what may feel like meagre tyre treads, grip is good. Therefore, climbing tenacity is up there with many lighter trail bikes.

The Izzo felt a little wallowy at around 28 per cent sag, but perked up immediately when I ran it in the 22 to 24 per cent sag area. On long drags, the Forekaster tyres roll well, so on tarmac and fire roads it doesn’t feel like you’re dragging an anchor. The steep-ish seat angle also helps, placing your body nicely over the cranks for a comfortable climbing position.

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The YT Postman dropper post is one of the finishing kit highlights. When things get a little more energetic, and you want to stand up and sprint, or on long tarmac climbs where you simply want a locked-out rear end, the lockout lever on the shock theoretically comes into play. However, the shock’s body is low in the frame, and thus the lever is about as far away from you as it’s possible to get on a bike, meaning a more concerted effort is needed to flick it.

As an aside, the structure around the lower shock mount is also prone to holding mud and water, with no obvious drainage points. It’s not necessarily a huge issue a lot of the time, but notable nonetheless. I also found that mounting shock pumps with a long metal head and short, stiff rubber hose could be fiddly because the shock’s air valve is situated close to the frame’s structure.

YT Izzo Core 2 descending performance

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The Izzo is nimble and quick to accelerate but held back by some of YT’s spec choices. When it comes to the steepest, roughest descents, the Izzo isn’t going to trouble the likes of the Nukeproof Reactor or Vitus Escarpe. It has a much lighter feel that’s not as planted or plush as more descent-oriented bikes. However, that’s not always a bad thing. On fast trail-centre loops, it’s a bit of a rocket ship. The Forekaster tyres pick up speed at an almost alarming rate, helping the bike accelerate as soon as you step on the gas, or point it vaguely near a slope.

Faced with a slalom through trees, the Izzo is nimble, ducking and diving past their trunks, and enabling you to quickly re-adjust as rocks and roots pop into view. The suspension here works well too. It’s supple enough to give a smooth ride, and supportive enough that you can pop and pump your way through rollers. The Fox 34 Performance fork’s GRIP damper, though simple, mirrors this feeling, with a light, supple action that complements a bike such as this.

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The RaceFace Aeffect R35 bar is finished with ODI Elite Motion V2.1 grips. The Forekasters wouldn’t be my choice of tyres, though. If you’re rattling around the woods, a bit more bite wouldn’t go amiss, and even on manicured trail centres, the rounded profile of the tyre, especially at the front, doesn’t always encourage you to load the front end mid-way round a flat corner to boost speeds on exit. It’s a similar story when the trail gets even more engaging. The tyres feel thin and don’t have the same authoritative feel that sturdier rubber has when gradients increase.

The rear end also starts to struggle on prolonged rough tracks. It rattles through rocks and roots, rather than quelling their demands and providing a smooth, fuss-free ride. End-stroke progression is reasonable, though, in that my heels never felt they were about to blow off the pedals on big hits. Up front, the less authoritative tyre’s behaviour gives a vague feeling when you need sharp handling. It isn’t tempered by a super-composed back end, either, so I occasionally found myself missing well-known lines into corners. While it didn’t get overwhelmed, if you’re looking for a bike that’ll tolerate the climbs in order to perform its best on steep descents, then maybe the Izzo isn’t quite right.

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A closer look at the Fox Float DPS Performance rear shock. On the flip-side, if your rides are quick blasts round the woods, with regular trips to the UK’s best trail centres, the Izzo may well be right up your street. In terms of kit, YT used to be known as one of the best-value brands around. However, the impact of Brexit and Covid seems to have hit it, here in the UK at least.

The 34 Performance fork is good – in fact, it’s smoother than many Factory-level forks in my experience. The DPS shock also feels like an appropriate spec choice here. However, the low-mid spec SRAM drivetrain is heavier and less refined than the likes of Shimano’s budget drivetrains, and the G2 R brakes from SRAM, lack power and bite by pretty much any standard.

How does the YT Izzo Core 2 compare to the Trek Top Fuel 8?

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The Maxxis Forekaster tyres add to the fast and vivacious ride feel. In terms of a light and fast machine for tackling less technically demanding trails, the Trek Top Fuel 8 seems like an obvious comparison. Both bikes give a spirited fight on the climbs. The Trek is perhaps a little perkier, with a taught back end that doesn’t waste your watts. The Izzo might not be quite as stable as the Trek under pedalling pressure, and the lockout is a pain to access, but the Forekaster tyres zipp along with minimal resistance, really making the bike fly up climbs. Add in a supple early stroke that helps generate grip, and I found the Izzo gave me little to complain about uphill.

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Despite rolling well, you may want to consider an upgrade on the Forekasters. Despite very much coming from the downcountry side of things, the Top Fuel 8 is a ripper on the descents. The tyres play a massive part of this, with a more pronounced shoulder tread than the Forekasters on the Izzo. This means the Izzo isn’t quite as confident being pushed into a corner – though of course, a tyre swap would help here.

The suspension is a bit of a toss-up here. Fox’s 34 Performance fork on the Izzo is a smooth operator, while the SID feels a little more aggressive in its damping. At the back, though it has less travel, the Trek seems to deal with repeated big hits a little better, though I’d say the Izzo is smoother on low-amplitude chatter. This bike was tested as part of our 2022 Trail Bike of the Year test. We collected eight of the latest trail bikes, from downcountry rigs through to mini-enduro shredders and pitted them back-to-back to find the best.

Also on test:

  • YT Izzo Core 2
  • Kona Process 134 DL
  • Specialized Stumpjumper Comp
  • Cube Stereo 120 HPC TM
  • Nukeproof Reactor 29 Alloy Pro
  • Trek Top Fuel 8
  • Vitus Escarpe 29 CRX
  • Canyon Spectral 125 CF 7

YT Izzo Core 2 bottom line

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It won’t thrive over more technical terrain, but the Izzo is a fun companion at the trail centre. It’s easy to look at our Trail Bike of the Year bikes in the context of which is the most capable when things get tough. However, that’s not always the whole picture. Did the Izzo shine on gnarly technical terrain? No, not really. However, take it to a trail centre, or fast, flowy tracks in the woods, and you’ll likely have a blast.

It’s quick to accelerate, nimble through the turns, and more than capable of getting you back to the top of the hill for another lap. Sadly, YT has fallen foul of the current political and economic situation, and so spec levels aren’t quite what we’re accustomed to from YT. However, it’s all usable kit – I’d just budget for some fresh rubber, especially for the front.


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