What is YT Szepter? That was what we thought when we saw it for the first time. Let’s take it out of the way already, shall we? It is a weird-looking bike! However, it is not a repurposed hardtail as you are probably already thinking, and obviously, it is not a light and fast gravel bike. So what is it? Above all, this is a YT bike, with a clear heritage embedded in the design and a clear promise: it will deliver you tons of fun and joy.
Before we move on with the bike, if you don’t know YT as a brand, here is a short recap.YT stands for Young Talent, they are German and they are mainly focused on mountain bikes. The first bikes they produced were dirt jump bikes with the purpose of making an affordable bike for every kid that wanted to progress in mountain bike. Their motto is “Live uncaged” which already gives you a hint about how much they care for industry standards. Along those lines, we find it interesting to point out that the CEO of the company appears in many of their promotional videos dressed with a goat mask.
Now, back to the YT Szepter. We had the opportunity to test the bike extensively and to spend some time with the people behind its conception at the BCA event in Massa Marittima, and we can only subscribe to every word of their promotional speech: “The YT Szepter is engineered as a versatile bike and it is built for having fun without compromises”. With this concept, YT delivers a very comfortable ride over any surface and the freedom to detour on any trail you might discover on your way.
Versatility and fun tested & explained
We rode the Szepter extensively on long smooth paved roads, hilly dirt roads, and lots of enduro trails, and we enjoyed every part of it! The main point is: this bike is not a high-performing bike in any specific discipline, so you must stick to the original objective of having fun with it. It can do almost anything with a remarkable 8 out of 10!
Light trails and hardcore dirt roads are without any doubt the places in which you can make the most out of this bike. The geometry inherits several traits that are closer to a modern hardtail, making it very stable and easy to handle, with a 69° headtube angle and a 74° seat tube angle, and a very wide wheelbase starting at 1054mm at size S. However, it is still a gravel bike with drop bars, allowing you a more comfortable stance and several hand positions which are very appreciated for long rides.
The Core 4 -the unit we tested- comes equipped with three distinctive features that explain to the fullest the character of the bike. From one side, a set of wide tires (out of the box with 700x42C) giving you plenty of grip and air volume to ride fast on difficult terrain. A dropper post with 50mm travel (SRAM Reverb AXS XLPR) providing an extra clearance that you come to appreciate quite soon. And, last but not least, a suspension fork with 40mm travel (RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR) enabling a very comfortable ride and extending the grip and retention capacity of the front wheel.
“The dropper post and the suspension fork are features that you don´t need but you will come to appreciate and get used to them very soon!”
With all this equipment, of course, you end up with a bike that is not light by the current gravel standard. However, it rolls beautifully on the dirt road and moves fast on the trails either cruising flat, climbing, or going downhill. The extra comfort that these features add to the bike clearly offset any extra effort required to bring the bike to the top of the climb because of the extra weight. We rode more than 100 km in one day, 50% of which were heavy trails made for enduro riding and we ended up with that smile that the YT team promised us and hardly any soreness on our hands, back, or shoulders.
Where is the limit of this bike?
Clearly, the limit of this bike is at the two extremes of a common gravel bike use: long paved roads and hard mountain trails. However, contrary to the typical gravel bike, the YT Szepter finds its limit much easier on paved roads than on technical trails. It will allow you to ride on paved roads with just a more comfortable feeling than you would on a hardtail, you will be able to ride further but hardly any faster.
On the other hand, the limit on ever more complicated trails is a bit blurry. The more you use it, the more you will be surprised by the kind of complex terrain you can tackle. Indeed, we found our limit on the kicker ramps of enduro trails, but we would argue that this is a pretty decent limit for a gravel bike.
After spending a week together with the YT team at the BCA event, we quickly realised that there were a lot of thoughts put on every detail of the bike: every single thing is there for a reason and whatever is not there, is also not there for a reason. The design of the bike is very detailed, with specific shapes and items to provide riding comfort and most of all an uncomplicated bike.
We think this bike is perfect for those who want to ride long and fast on dirt roads, those who want to venture into any sort of technical trail, and those who take a paved road only when there are no alternatives or when they are running late.