The YT IZZO CORE 3 is a trail bike that commands your attention. Visually striking with clean lines, a considerate build spec and a geometry that can man-handle some pretty gruelling terrain, the IZZO CORE 3 is impressive, to say the least. Held back by a less than ideal tyre choice and a lacklustre own-brand dropper post, it's difficult to fault this well-executed and playful trail bike.
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The IZZO platform sits at the lower-travel end of YT's illustrious collection of mountain bikes. Offering 130mm front and rear travel, the IZZO is comfortably considered a trail bike, or maybe down-country for the new-age folk. There are three CORE models in the IZZO range, the CORE 2, 3 and 4, in addition to the IZZO UNCAGED 7 and IZZO BLAZE, all adopting the same carbon IZZO frame, with differing specs and finishes.
YT IZZO CORE 3 | The Build
I've spent much of the winter slop onboard the IZZO CORE 3, racking up kilometres in the hundreds through all sorts of trail conditions. The IZZO sizes range from small to xx. large; in reach terms, that's a range of 429mm to 513mm. For me, standing at 171cm, the medium size with its reach of 450mm was spot on.
The IZZO CORE 3 is built upon a carbon frame that utilises internal cable routing, adding to the sleek visual aesthetic of the bike. A flip-chip located at the shock mount allows you to switch between a high and low setting. The low setting slackens the headtube and lowers the bottom bracket height, while the high setting does the opposite. For the trails I ride, I kept the chip in its low position throughout testing.
The IZZO frame also benefits from a whole host of nifty extras, such as double-sealed industrial bearings to prevent water and dirt ingress, rubber chainstay and seatstay guards, a Fidlock mount and bottle, and finally, a ZeroStack designed headtube with pre-formed headset contact surfaces and integrated bearing shells.
The suspension system is a marriage of Fox 34 Performance Elite forks at the front, with a Horst-Link system for the Float DPS Performance Elite shock, both offering 130mm of travel. The vertically mounted rear shock provides ample space in the main triangle for storing the Thirstmaster 5000 water bottle, race straps and other mounted accessories using the additional bosses on the underside of the downtube.
Rolling on a pair of 29" aluminium DT Swiss 1900 Spline wheels, with an inner width of 30mm, the IZZO CORE 3 wheelset is dressed in tubeless-ready 29" x 2.35" Maxxis Forecaster tyres. Overall, this wheelset is pretty burly for its build and weight, having suffered few (if any) dents throughout testing. However, as Rach also pointed out in her review, the three-pawl rear hub felt somewhat laggy on the uptake, which is a slight shame on a bike that's designed for speed and agility. Similarly, for the tyre choice, Forecasters just didn't work well for me in the Welsh winter slop and on the notorious rocky terrain of the Afan Valley. I'd prefer a burlier tyre, but given the design intentions of the IZZO, Forecasters are pretty aptly suited.
Gearing is supplied by a very capable SRAM GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain with 175mm cranks and a 32T chainring in front. As for braking power, you get a 200mm rotor in the front and 180mm in the rear, powered by SRAM G2 R brakes. If you think that a 200mm in the front is a bit overkill for a 130mm lightweight trail bike, you'd be sorely mistaken - the speed justifies it.
Finishing off the IZZO CORE 3 is a Race Face Turbine R 50mm stem, 780mm Turbine R bars with 20mm rise, ODI Elite Motion grips, an SDG Bel Air 3.0 saddle and, last but not least, YT's own Postman cable-actuated dropper post with 125mm travel for a medium-size frame. We all have personal preferences for cockpits lengths, widths and so on, so setting that aside, this is a pretty good finishing bundle for the bike's price.
YT IZZO CORE 3 | Performance
After the first couple of rides, it was clear why YT likened the IZZO to a Katana sword. It's light. It's poise, and it's precise. The IZZO has a playful nature with great handling that allows you to really move around the bike, which demonstrates its agility. Then, on the other hand, when you want to go flat out for the QOMs (or KOMs), really push yourself on the trails, the IZZO puts on its big bike pants and gets serious.
When it comes to climbing, I found the IZZO to make light(er) work of some of my most dreaded local climbs. This is largely owing to the light build, 29" wheel size and geometry. In its low position, the effective seat tube angle of 77-degrees kept my position fairly central over the bottom bracket, as opposed to feeling like I was hanging off the back. In its low position, the BB height of 334mm resulted in some pedal strikes on more technical climbs, especially noticeable if you run a soft rear shock, but firming this up or flipping the chip can remedy this. Due to its lightweight (I know I keep harping on about weight, but it's pretty relevant), the front end was fairly easy to lift up and over a majority of trail obstacles. Further aiding its efficient climbing capabilities is the vertically mounted Horst-link suspension. On relatively smooth fire road, I barely felt any bob in the rear, even with an open shock.
As I mentioned, the IZZO CORE 3 is a very capable bike that shouldn't be underestimated by its "trail" description. This little whippet of a machine glides with almost pinpoint accuracy when it comes to the descents. I comfortably got through almost all the descents I threw at the IZZO, gaining many PRs along the way. However, the geometry does have its limitations when it comes to proper rough, steep chunky trails, but this bike isn't designed for that. The IZZO isn't a short-travel enduro bike; instead, it has a reasonable 1,183mm wheelbase, 66-degree headtube angle and only 432mm chainstays that contribute to its lively and nimble nature. The low BB height helps keep things planted, especially in corners, striking a fine balance overall.
The 130/130mm suspension system provides just the right amount of travel to handle almost anything. I've never had any issues with Fox Performance Elite in the past, and once dialled in with my preferences, the suspension barely got a second thought.
As impressive as the IZZO CORE 3 is, there were some niggles that held it back from achieving perfection. I've mentioned the tyre choice already, but that's a personal preference more than anything. I was disappointed by the lacklustre Postman dropper. While it's applaudable for YT to create their own, the result lacked bite and responsiveness. Pushing the post down required some shuffling to find the sweet spot, and the return felt a little lazy too. Another niggle is the lack of drainage around the bottom of the rear shock. Hosing down the bike resulted in a pool of watery muck at the base of the shock, which is a minor thing that could have been easily avoided with a port.
YT IZZO CORE 3 | Value & verdict
The YT IZZO CORE 3 is available for £4,300, which may sound like a lot of money, but you get a lot of bike and quality for that price. It has to be said, the value for money is excellent, mainly owing to the buy-direct business model that YT adopts.
To compare with other similar bikes on the market, you have, of course, Canyon's Neuron CF 9 at £3,900. The 140mm front travel trail bike has a full Shimano XT build, 180mm front/back rotors and somewhat externally routed cables (sheathed in downtube housing). This model has a recorded weight of 13.16kg, which is sightly heavier than our recorded YT IZZO CORE 3 at 12.65kg.
There's also the Ibis Ripley with 130/120mm travel, carbon frame, and SRAM GX build, which comes to a total of £5,500. The Ripley has a marginally higher BB height and an effective seat tube angle of 76.5-degrees, 1.5-degrees steeper than the IZZO.
The more cross-country orientated Specialized Epic EVO at £4,250, adopts a more serious pedalling efficiency. A higher BB height, steeper seat tube angle and much shorter reach at 436mm than the IZZO's 454mm, giving the Spesh a more compact climb-efficient build with less consideration given to descending.
Overall, the YT IZZO CORE 3 is an impressive lightweight trail bike, capable of much more than you think. The well-thought-out geometry and suspension system makes it an agile and efficient climber, while the lightweight build and stiff carbon frame result in a nimble and playful trail slayer. There are some niggles with the laggy rear hub, the lazy dropper post and tyre choice, which could do with refining, but overall, the IZZO CORE 3 is well-priced and capable of handling a majority of British trail riding.