YT isn’t the first brand you’d associate with cross-country racing, but it has taken the Izzo trail bike and added ground-covering speed. Weight has been shaved, travel reduced and rolling resistance cut. The YT Izzo range are shorter-travel trail bikes, usually with 130mm of travel. However, by shortening the stroke length of the shock, travel here is limited to a more XC-focused 120mm. This is then paired with a 120mm XC fork from RockShox. The ‘Uncaged’ moniker is one used on a range of YT’s bikes to separate out a ‘special’ version of that model, often reflecting that it’s more race-oriented. While the Izzo Uncaged 7 is intended to be one of the best XC race bikes, with a change of tyres it’d make a brilliant lightweight downcountry bike, too.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 frame details
YT’s first go at an XC race bike impressed me no end. Carbon is used front and rear, with 120mm of travel dolled out via a 4-bar linkage, whereby there’s a pivot sat on the chainstay, between the main pivot and rear axle. The rocker link has a geometry flip chip, offering 0.4 degrees of steepening at the head and seat angles, and 5mm of height rise at the bottom bracket, should you want a bike more suited to technical climbs than rallying descents.
TPE chain slap protection should keep the noise down. The geometry is extreme for XC, with reach ranging from 432mm to 517mm across the five sizes. The head angle is slack, at 66.5 degrees, while the seat angle is a steep 77.5 degrees (slack setting).
|Top tube (mm)||565||590||615||640||665|
|Seat tube (mm)||400||425||450||475||500|
|Head angle (degrees)||66.5||66.5||66.5||66.5||66.5|
|Seat angle (degrees)||77.5||77.5||77.5||77.5||77.5|
|BB height (mm)||332||332||332||332||332|
The frame’s clean lines extend to the integrated Fidlock bottle mount that’s embedded into the down tube. YT supplies its large-volume Thirstmaster 5000 bottle with the bike, however a regular bottle cage can also be fitted. Internal cable routing, TPE chain slap protection and a zero-stack headset are all featured, as are extra seals for the bearings to keep everything running smoothly.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 specification
The four-piston SRAM G2 brakes are punchy stoppers in the XC world. The kit is stellar for the money, especially considering a raft of recent eye-wateringly expensive XC launches. YT specs DT Swiss’ XCR 1200 Spline carbon wheels, with Maxxis’ racey Rekon Race tyres in a 2.4in width, helping keep weight low. The tyres have a shallow depth, closely packed central tread and a slightly more pronounced shoulder tread. They’re dry-weather only tyres, really, but ones that I’m a big fan of in the right conditions.
DT Swiss’ carbon hoops and Maxxis’ race tyres roll fast in the right conditions. SRAM’s top-flight XX1 AXS groupset is used for the gears, with its wireless shifting, and its carbon crank included. It’s paired with the brand’s Reverb AXS dropper, again wireless. SRAM also provides the brakes, with its G2 Ultimate stoppers featuring four pistons – a step up in power from the two-piston Level brakes found more commonly on XC bikes. Finishing kit comes from Race Face and SDG.
Race Face’s finishing kit looks the part.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 ride impressions
I tested the Izzo Unchained 7 on my regular XC test loops. These include fast sprints across town to my local trail-centre loops, and trips to South Wales where I rally my XC bikes around courses used in the Welsh XC Series. I also took in some of the region’s excellent, hillier trail centres.
The SID’s 25mm chassis is stout up-front. This meant the bike was ridden on a broad range of surfaces, from tarmac to mud and rocks to roots. Setting up the Izzo proved easy; I aimed for around 23 per cent sag in the shock and 18 per cent at the fork, with both running fairly fast, as per my preference. I set up the tyres with 19psi at the front and 23psi at the rear.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 climbing performance
Locked out or not, the Izzo climbs well. XC bikes need to climb, fast. The Izzo Uncaged doesn’t hold back, despite boasting more travel than your average XC race rig. There’s a TwistLoc lockout on the bar, which firms up both fork and shock on smooth surfaces, at the same time. This gives the Izzo rapid reactions to pedal inputs, because neither fork nor shock sucks pedal power. The Rekon Race is a very fast-rolling tyre. Its low-depth treads have minimal rolling resistance on smother surfaces, and the thin, compliant sidewalls mould easily to imperfections in the surface.
This helps them reduce rolling resistance, while at the same time improving grip where needed. As such, the Izzo zips along, accelerating easily, and holding speed nicely on tarmac and fire-road sections. Leave the suspension open and the Izzo still doesn’t rob too much pedal power. It surges forward, refusing to feel sluggish, and its 12.1kg mass is competitive.
SRAM’s wireless shifting caused no complaints during testing. There’s little in the way of pedal bob when the shock is left open. However, the combination of the supple tyre and the movement that’s afforded ensures grip levels remain good on looser surfaces. Push hard, or pedal in an ungainly manner, and the rear tyre will occasionally spit out grit from behind it, but this is par for the course with XC bikes and low-depth tyres. Fortunately, when grip is at a premium, there’s ample room between saddle and bar for you to manipulate your body weight to best measure out rear-wheel traction and front-wheel directional control.
The on-bar lockout for the fork and shock stiffens the bike with a twist of the wrist. Bumping into steps and roots doesn’t seem to upset the Izzo’s climbing balance too much, either. The suspension moves out of the way, letting you carry on, without the type of awkward lurches I’ve experienced from some XC bikes. The 32t chainring means there’s a nice and low bottom gear, through the 10-52t cassette. Some XC racers, especially over flatter courses, might prefer a slightly bigger 34t ring, though.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 descending performance
With a low-slung BB, the Izzo rails corners. On the way back down, the Izzo Uncaged 7 really shines, as you’d expect from a brand with gravity riding at its core. Its long front end provides plenty of high-speed stability when surfing over looser surfaces, and helps the bike carve gracefully round banked corners. The bottom bracket is low, so you can confidently push the tyre’s shoulder tread into the dirt to try to maximise grip. The shoulder tread isn’t as aggressive as you’d find on the best trail bikes out there, but it’s surprising how well the Rekon Race digs in and spits you out of a corner. Just don’t expect stellar wet-weather performance.
The limited stroke shock reduces the Izzo’s travel from 130 to 120mm on this XC rig. Mid-length 432mm chainstays mean the bike isn’t immune to chopping and changing direction either, with snappy handling when you’re threading the needle through the tech. The suspension works well on descents. There’s always a balance between supple grip-giving softness and pedalling efficiency, but it feels as though YT has the balance right. It’s no sofa ride, but it’s also not harsh or skippy when rattling over matted roots or closely packed rocks, nor does the suspension bog down over repeated hits.
Spot a little booter down the trail, and the Izzo Uncaged 7 is happily loaded into its face, before popping you up over the lip. Despite being race-bred, it’s not nervous when pointed into the air. DT Swiss’ carbon hoops don’t seem to transmit trail buzz to the hands – something other carbon XC wheels are prone to doing. Its ample width and position over a broad rim gives the Rekon Race plenty of volume. This helps you run it at lower pressures, with less risk of punctures. At lower pressures, the tyre helps remove trail buzz, leaving the suspension to deal with the bigger hits.
Ducking and diving between the trees, the Izzo features quick handling. The RockShox SID has long impressed, especially with this beefier 35mm-stanchion model (the lighter-weight SL version still has 32mm uppers). The SID is stout for an XC fork, giving real confidence when barrelling over rocks and roots. The front wheel doesn’t twist and twang as you navigate rock gardens, and pushing into a banked corner doesn’t leave the bike feeling like a collection of tubes constructed from damp spaghetti.
The Race Day damper cartridge gives a moderately firm and efficient platform through which to push, and yet still seems to keep the front wheel glued to the ground, maximising the tyre’s grip. It’s a great fork. The rest of the kit list should impress too.
There’s enough support in the rear end that the Izzo doesn’t wallow under compression. SRAM’s wireless shifting is great and consistent, so long as you keep the batteries topped up. The paddle shifter is comfortable, and it’s surprising how much difference it makes not having to pull a cable through a gritty outer. Forget to charge the gears, and you’ll likely get to the end of the ride with the Reverb AXS’ battery swapped in.
Speaking of which, the Reverb AXS dropper post is simply great. It might be heavier than some of the lightest dropper posts on the market, but its instant reactions and similarly light feel at the lever make it a favourite amongst CyclesGO’s staff. The Rekon Race tyres are fast and light, and are really only suited to summer conditions. It’s easy to criticise a bike that has rubber ideal for only a small proportion of your riding. However, my opinion is that on a focused bike, such as this XC racer, it’s acceptable to have tyres that work within narrow margins. You’ll just want to budget some cash to pick up a few other options for varying conditions to really get the best out of this bike.
How does the YT Izzo Uncaged 7 compare to the Orbea Oiz
The Oiz is a great, contemporary XC race bike, which has the edge on the ups, but the Izzo takes the downhill crown. I reviewed the new Orbea Oiz on its launch, and its another 120mm XC race bike. The Oiz is a thoroughly modern XC race bike, with contemporary geometry. The Izzo is half a degree slacker at the head angle, a touch steeper in the seat angle and a few milimetres longer in reach. The stack of the Izzo is a little higher and the seat tube a touch shorter.
On the trail, the Izzo is slightly more relaxed, reflecting those figures. While the Oiz doesn’t feel nervous in the slightest, the small differences in numbers reflect the Izzo’s slightly more relaxed attitude. The Oiz’s rear suspension is still fairly classic in its XC feel – it’s stiffer, more pedal-efficient and a touch skippier over the rough and under braking. The Izzo’s DNA is clearly intertwined with descending. And, while climbing performance certainly isn’t an afterthought, you can see where the Izzo’s strengths lie.
YT Izzo Uncaged 7 bottom line
YT’s first real dig at an XC bike impresses. It’s a riot downhill, and yet still has the skills to pay the uphill bills. With its modern shape, and stiff XC forks, it’d make a great light weight downcountry bike too, if you put some meatier rubber on there. It’s an ideal rig for smashfests round trail centres and your local woods.