YT Industries is known for downhill-oriented mountain bikes, which have become indispensable on domestic mountain bike trails. Now the Forchheim-based manufacturer is showing that it can do things differently and is presenting its first gravel bike - the YT Scepter. But does the brand stay true to itself, or is the Scepter a classic Gravel?
We have already been able to present a large number of bikes from the Gravel category of major brands. That's why we're always happy when a manufacturer with no road history brings a new model onto the market. Now the time has come for YT - the scepter expands the otherwise off-road oriented range. But the boys and girls of the German brand remain true to themselves.
And that's exactly why the YT Scepter has features that increase comfort in rough terrain. Not every classic Gravel lover will like that and maybe it will also raise the question of why not just buy a hardtail, but the combination of speed uphill and the opportunity to have fun on moderate trails somehow sounds very appealing.
We were invited to San Clemente, California for the launch of the new YT Scepter. There is one of the few YT showrooms. The ambience was inviting, the presentation was typically stylish and the weather was fantastic. The boys and girls from YT spared no expense and offered a full program. It started with the presentation of the new gravel bike, then it was a trip into the Californian hills, which ended with a fast descent on perfect trails with a lot of flow. The next day we went to a neighboring island where, in addition to a great landscape, free-roaming bison rounded off the experience. In between, the area was admired with a helicopter and the day ended with a cold beer and a delicious BBQ.
optics and features
When designing, the Scepter was based on a Group B rally car, a gladiator's helmet and the aerodynamics of the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft. The Scepter is definitely a bit beefier than many other gravel bikes. The wide down tube, the stiffening in the seat and seat stay area, the suspension fork and the Varia seat post are not found on many bikes in this category. YT is definitely staying true to its mountain bike roots.
The model we were traveling on came in a plain shade of grey. If you like "a little" more color, you can opt for the also simple olive variant. The scepter dispenses with loud tones and large decals.
Anyone who is familiar with the mountain bikes from the Forchheim manufacturer knows that in recent years there has often been no way to mount a bottle in the frame. With the YT Scepter this is absolutely no longer a problem. There are four different mounts in the frame. Two bottle holders can be mounted on the seat tube and on the down tube, and if you want to store tools or bags, you will find two mounts under the top tube.
Since YT obviously wants to go off-road with the scepter, there are two mudguards on the fork and seat stays to protect against flying dirt, mud and water.
YT Scepter - Geometry
Years of focus and experience in mountain biking is also reflected in the geometry of the Scepter.
The ultra-modulus carbon frame with lowered seat stays, 69,3 degree head angle and RockShox Rudy XPLR suspension fork are designed to awaken the rebel in everyone without sacrificing the efficiency needed to scale climbs. The drop-stay suspension is clean and responsive, while a 74,3-degree seat angle across the size range is designed to improve body position on climbs. The 30,9 mm seat tube is equipped with a reduced 27,2 mm seat post, which allows a deep drop, typical for MTB. A maximum insertion depth of 275 mm for frame sizes L and XL ensures compatibility with a 150 mm dropper post and is intended to ensure superior mobility in demanding terrain.
The curved seat tube transitions into an integrated fender that supports the dynamic silhouette of the frame while keeping dirt at bay.
components and equipment
Now it's getting exciting, because now it's about the components and the price. YT starts with two model variants. The Scepter Core 4 is the top version and up 4.499 Euros .
For that you get the YT Ultra Modulus Carbon frame with a RockShox Rudy Ultimate with 40mm travel, the SRAM Force XPLR AXS group with one XPLR cassette with 10-44 teeth and HS2 brake discs in sizes 180/160mm.
For 3.299 Euros Then there is the Core 3 variant. You have to do without the Ultimate equipment, but you still get top performance. Instead of the Sram Force group, the Rival XPLR AXS is also available with one Cassette with 10-44 teeth and brake discs in sizes 180/160mm.
We are sure that there will be many more Scepter models in the years to come. YT is known for expanding the range with many exciting components and for presenting beginner-friendly models.
The YT Scepter on the trail
Our test rider Christof Geiss not only rides his mountain bike, but also covers many kilometers on his gravel bike and racing bike. Whether it's on the way to work or to crack his friends' comms, the guy steps on the gas. So he was also the perfect candidate to fly to California and document the first driving impression for us.
One thing was clear to him very quickly – apart from the drop bar, the YT Scepter feels like a mountain bike. The seating position is central and the bottom bracket is low. The long reach is also noticeable. Christof is 1,77m tall and was very happy with the size M. The reach in size M is 398mm. That sounds like far too little for mountain bikers, but one must not forget that this measurement is different for road bikes and gravel, since we are using a long stem and drop bar here.
YT provided us with the top model Core 4 for the trips.
Since Chris, as already mentioned, travels a lot with his own Gravler, the first thing he noticed was the comfort of the suspension fork. Even if only 40mm of spring travel is available, this is a massive plus in terms of comfort and much more pleasant. The RockShox Rudy Ultimate really does a very good job. More comfort for arms and hands, sufficient feedback from the ground and all without even once uncomfortably bottoming out. Even if you provoke it. There was hardly any rocking when starting. Should it bother you on long asphalt rides or climbs, you still have the option of locking the fork with the help of the lock out.
On longer pedaling passages, whether on gravel or asphalt, the seating position is very comfortable and does not tire you quickly. This is where the advantage of the droper bar comes into play. The advantage is simply the better aerodynamics due to the given seating position and the possibility to position your hands differently on longer trips.
The rest of the equipment also worked perfectly. The Sram Force AXS shifts perfectly through the 12 gears in any position. The Sram Force brake makes an absolutely confident impression on long descents on the trails. The overall picture is rounded off with the Rockshox Reverb AXS XPLR. High-quality components from Zipp and WTB were also used. The tires from WTB were particularly convincing. They delivered enough grip on the dusty trails of California to let it run and still had a noticeably low rolling resistance on asphalt.
This overall package provides a lot of safety on the off-road trails, so you keep pushing yourself to the limit. Without realizing it, you move the bike more like a mountain bike than a gravel bike. You start to jump small gaps and drive berms with more pressure.
Our first conclusion about the YT Scepter
YT has developed a gravel bike and has shown us that the interpretation of the theme definitely means one thing: a good time on the bike! It will not be the first choice for customers looking for a road bike with more comfort and chasing KOMs on the road, but everyone else looking for a robust gravel bike for off-road adventures should find a perfect one with the YT Scepter Find companion.