YT Capra 29 Core 4 review
Mar 22, 2023
A drool-worthy parts package and a comfortable ride at pace make the Capra 29 really appealing
This competition is now closed
By Robin Weaver
Published: May 28, 2023 at 4:00 pm
German brand YT Industries unveiled the latest Capra enduro bike back in 2021.
It's the third edition of this massively popular bike and comes in the full 29in wheel format, or YT's ‘MX’ configuration, which uses a smaller 27.5in wheel at the rear.
The Capra 29 Core 4 as seen here boasts an impressive spec compared to similarly priced competitors, as well as 165mm of progressive rear-wheel travel, matched with a 170mm-travel fork up front.
YT has always offered bikes that are easy and natural to ride from the outset. The Capra 29 Core 4 is no different and feels comfortable going fast almost instantly.
It's no wonder, then, that it managed to make it to the pointy end of our illustrious Enduro Bike of the Year test.
The Capra's well-rounded nature makes it a great bike on just about any trail. However, there are some improvements to be had in certain areas that could unlock even more potential.
The Capra 29 Core 4 is crafted from YT's ‘Ultra’ modulus carbon fibre, the brand's priciest frame material (the Core 3 frame, for example, uses the slightly cheaper ‘High’ modulus carbon).
When YT re-launched the overhauled Capra back in 2021, it set out to create both a full-on enduro race bike with 29in wheels and a machine with a more playful, bikepark-oriented character, which used mixed wheels (29in in the front, 27.5in at the rear).
While both frames share a front triangle, the back ends are different (you can't just go slotting a different-size wheel in and flipping a chip here), including the suspension kinematics.
The 29er-specific frame dishes out 165mm of rear-wheel travel, with just over 30 per cent of progression across the range of travel, meaning the Capra will easily work with a coil-sprung shock.
YT has tweaked the axle path (compared to the previous-generation Capra) in a bid to improve bump absorption and help it maintain speed when trucking through square-edged hits.
The revised axle path now moves backwards during the first 85mm of rear-wheel travel (only by about 5mm if the graph YT provides is accurate) before continuing to arc up and forwards until full travel is reached.
Other frame details worth noting are the asymmetric bracing strut on the driveside of the front triangle, connecting the down tube and seat tube to bolster stiffness. Using this strut only on one side has enabled YT to open up enough space to fit a water bottle, which many riders will be pleased about.
Cables are routed through internal tubing to make the life of any budding mechanic that bit easier and, like many others, YT was quick to jump on board the Universal Derailleur Hanger band wagon. This means the Capra frame is ready and waiting for the new SRAM T-Type Transmission.
YT offers the Capra 29 Core 4 in an impressive five sizes (S-XXL), with the seatstays growing as the frame size increases. The small, medium and large frames feature 438mm stays, while the extra-large and extra-extra-large are 5mm longer, at 443mm.
This is intended to give the bike the same balanced feel, no matter how tall you are.
A flip chip in the shock yoke enables you to alter the head and seat tube angles by 0.3 degrees, and move the bottom bracket up or down by 5mm.
With the medium frame set in the low position, the head angle sits at a slack 64 degrees, while the seat angle is impressively steep at 77.5 degrees (measured with my saddle set to my preferred pedalling position).
Reach on the medium is a touch conservative at 447mm.
The front centre (horizontal measurement from the centre of the bottom bracket axle to the centre of the front wheel axle), a measurement not often quoted but a good indicator when it comes to rider position between the wheels and high-speed stability, is 800mm.
This is roughly on par with many other medium enduro bikes, though certainly not the longest out there.
In the lower setting, there's 27mm of bottom bracket drop, sitting it around 350mm off the floor, which is quite high compared to many other bikes in this category.
The Core 4 build is YT's fanciest, and that's reflected in both the price tag and build kit.
For starters, the 170mm-travel Fox 38 Factory fork, complete with the highly adjustable GRIP2 damper, is matched to an X2 Factory-spec rear shock, both complete with the slippery, gold Kashima coating.
SRAM provides its impressive Code RSC brakes (which feature some useful lever adjustments). You also get SRAM X01 Eagle gearing, which is cable-actuated, as opposed to the more expensive AXS wireless electronic equivalent.
Crankbrothers front- and rear-specific Synthesis Enduro Alloy wheels (the front rim is wider but uses fewer spokes in the build, while the rear rim is marginally narrower with more spokes to boost strength) are wrapped in Maxxis tyres.
YT hasn't gone too crazy with the casing of the Assegai front and Minion DHR II rear tyres, sticking with the EXO+ casing, which should be enough for most.
A Renthal bar and stem combo help to highlight the calibre and position of the Core 4 build, though this is undermined slightly by the use of YT's Postman dropper post.
That's not to say there's anything wrong with the post, but I’d expect to see more than 125mm of travel on a dropper post used on a medium frame.
I rode the YT Capra 29 Core 4 on a wide variety of trails around the South West of England and South Wales.
These varied in speed, gradient and terrain. There were some man-made tracks littered with high-speed impacts, rock gardens and big jumps through to steeper, natural, technical trails where the roots and rocks were plentiful but speeds a little lower, along with everything in between.
Of all the bikes within the Enduro Bike of the Year category, setting up the YT was the quickest and easiest.
I left the two stock spacers inside the Fox 38 fork and ran 81psi of pressure in the spring. Both rebound dials were wound out until fully open, as was the low-speed compression, though I did use six clicks (from closed) of high-speed compression to deal with harsh hits on fast, rocky trails.
With the rear shock, 135psi of pressure gave me 30 per cent sag and I wound all adjusters until fully open to get the bike to behave as I wanted.
The Capra 29's seated position is fairly upright thanks to a combination of the steep seat tube angle and the relatively compact 586mm effective top tube length.
It usefully sits your hips over the bottom bracket areas, making for a comfy, efficient pedalling position.
At 172cm, I found this comfortable enough and didn't feel particularly cramped at any point on the climbs.
That said, wind your way up something steeper and more technical, and you’ll find yourself inching towards the front of the saddle to help keep the front wheel from lifting.
Thanks to how supple the rear suspension is, I found I was sinking deeper than I’d have liked into the Capra 29's travel when really grinding a gear and putting the effort in.
Thankfully, a flick of the shock's low-speed compression lever remedies this. I like the fact the X2 doesn't fully lock out. Instead, flicking the lever just firms the shock up, creating a more solid platform to push against.
This limits unwanted bob and helps to sit the bike higher in the travel (and keep the dynamic seat tube angle steeper).
It also enables the rear wheel to move up and over bumps, and maintain traction with the trail. It's ideal when things are loose and a little less predictable.
When I dropped the Capra 29 Core 4 into a steep test track, the first thing that struck me was the saddle, right on the backside.
There's simply not enough travel on the dropper post to get the saddle sufficiently low enough. It's a shame because I had enough of the lower part of the post sticking out of the seat tube, suggesting a longer-travel post could have worked.
Sadly, the 125mm option that comes on the medium just isn't long enough. It's not something I struggled with on either the Bird Aeris 9, Giant Reign 1 or Canyon Strive CFR Unplugged, all of which are big wheelers too.
Take the time and you start to ride around the issue, though. Once you do, you’re in for a treat.
The initial touch of both the fork and shock is super-supple. That leaves both wheels fluttering frantically up and down, tracing the contours of the terrain almost perfectly and ensuring the impressive Maxxis rubber is able to dole out as much traction as there is on offer.
It helps that there's sufficient punch from the Code RSC brakes, and that power is easy to control.
That makes walking the line of slip versus slide in wet conditions that bit easier, improving the chances of staying upright in the process.
It's when the speeds pick up that the Capra 29 Core 4 really comes into its prime.
Mellower trails, where some bikes feel sluggish or struggle to maintain speed, are a total breeze.
The progressive nature of the rear suspension really lets you pump and pop wherever necessary to ensure velocity is maintained. It's easy to loft the Capra 29 up and over obstacles when needed, or skim over the uglier bits with total confidence.
You can properly launch off booters or push hard into features without the fear of any kind of harsh bottom-out (assuming you’ve set the bike up correctly).
When the going gets really rowdy, the Capra 29 Core 4 does an impressive job of keeping you comfortable, and the fork and shock work frenetically, hoovering up the chatter.
Despite the fact that the proportions might not be quite as stretched out as others in this category, I always felt I had the stability, control and confidence I needed when pushing on, especially when it came to high-speed, rough and ready bike park tracks.
Through the turns, the Capra 29 holds a line with relative ease and, thanks to how the support through the suspension builds, you can really push your weight down into the bike and load the tyres as you near the apex.
The bike still feels slightly taller than some, though, thanks to the high bottom bracket and the inability to get the seat down and properly out of the way. Others in the same situation felt lower-slung and more planted.
There's balance, though, and at no point did I ever feel like I needed to throw my weight around to correct things. Instead, I felt decently positioned between the wheels, where I could make the most of the impressive rubber beneath me.
While some of this sounds a little negative, I really am splitting hairs here.
The main takeaway from the months I’ve spent on the Capra 29 Core 4 is just how well-rounded this bike is.
Whether you’re riding man-made jump tracks or natural trails coated in a blanket of slippery roots, the Capra 29 Core 4 is more than capable of tackling them head-on with confidence.
In comparison to the Nukeproof Mega 297 Carbon Elite, when it comes to carrying speed in rough terrain, I’d say the Capra 29 has the edge.
The big wheels, supple suspension and nimble ride feel help to make it a very confident bike at pace. By working the bike through the trail, it’ll maintain that speed, too, all the while making sure you’re not getting too rattled in the process.
The Mega 297 feels a touch more comfortable on really choppy trails, though, despite the rear travel figures being identical.
And through the turns, the Mega feels that bit more low-slung and planted. It's able to deliver even more confidence when it matters.
While the Mega 297 Carbon Elite build isn't quite as flash as that of the Capra 29 Core 4, the kit is still solid and suspension very similar (you get the same fork damper and similar shock, though with fewer dials).
The Mega's brakes are its weak link, but the Capra 29's seatpost isn't perfect, either.
If you’re looking for an enduro bike that's capable of more than hammering downhill all-day long, the Capra 29 Core 4 might just be for you.
It's a playful, fun bike to ride, but still exudes a calm confidence when you batter into chunky, roughed-up terrain.
The dropper post needs switching to one with more travel, but aside from that, there's no real arguing with the spec.
While others might just pip the Capra 29 Core 4 when it comes to full-on downhill capabilities, few can touch how well-rounded this bike is on a massive variety of trails.
That trait alone inspires confidence from the get-go and makes getting up to speed quick and easy.
Just what constitutes a great enduro bike and what does it take to earn the crown of the best enduro bike on test?
We’d argue it's all about balance and compromise.
Enduro riding and racing takes in all kinds of terrain and gradients. To tackle it confidently, safely and at pace, your bike needs to feel balanced, composed and stable.
Essentially, that equates to suspension that keeps the tyres glued to the trail but prevents the bike feeling like a bucking bronco when things get rough.
Of course, balance doesn't just come from the suspension, but the geometry, too. The right mix should enable it to feel like to a downhill bike when gravity is on its side and pedal back up the hill when the time comes.
The parts package needs to offer good value for money too. There's always going to be an element of compromise, but the smart brands will spend their budgets wisely.
Over a 12-week period, all of the bikes in this category were put through their paces on a wide variety of trails and tracks to ascertain their strengths and weaknesses.
The bikes were ridden back-to-back, as well as in varying orders to see how each one felt at the start and end of the day, once rider fatigue had set in.
Thanks to our sponsors Crankbrothers, MET helmets, Bluegrass Protection, Supernatural Dolceacqua and BikePark Wales for their support of Bike of the Year.
Rob Weaver is BikeRadar's technical editor-in-chief. Rob manages all of the testing here at BikeRadar and across our magazines, Mountain Biking UK and Cycling Plus. Rob first graced the pages of MBUK back in 2001 when working as a freelance writer and went on to start testing bikes for the title in 2007. In 2010 he joined the team full-time and has been keeping a close eye on all things test-related ever since. Rob's expansive knowledge of bikes comes courtesy of his passion for racing. He cut his teeth racing cross-country mountain bikes in the early 90s before finding his feet in downhill. After many years competing on the UK national circuit (including a year attempting to race UCI DH World Cups), Rob realised his know-how and passion for bike setup, tech and writing clearly outweighed his racing ability. A degree in sports technology and decades of riding experience all help to give Rob a thorough understanding of what's needed to create a great bike or product. While Rob's a mountain biker at heart and never happier than when he's sliding down a Welsh hillside, he's more than happy to put the miles in on the road or gravel bike, too. ❚