The new RockShox Flight Attendant suspension promises to make enduro bikes as efficient as XC bikes. So, how much more efficient can Flight Attendant make an enduro bike on the climbs and does this technology make short-travel bikes redundant? To find out, we let the YT CAPRA UNCAGED 6 face off against the YT IZZO UNCAGED 7.
Not too long ago, we’d have been considered fools to compare the CAPRA and the IZZO. They’re worlds apart and intended for completely different uses. However, RockShox’s new Flight Attendant electronic suspension technology doesn’t just make this comparison relevant, but also super exciting. Thanks to the automatic compression adjustment, enduro bikes have become so versatile that they could make short-travel bikes redundant. Is that really the case?
On paper, it seems like an unfair contest: the YT CAPRA UNCAGED 6 has more travel, aggressive tires and the latest suspension technology. In the opposite corner, you’ve got the YT IZZO UNCAGED 7 with light, fast-rolling tires and an analogue lockout function. Which of the two will come out on top? Has the enduro bike got any chance of keeping up on the climbs, will the Flight Attendant suspension allow the CAPRA to beat the IZZO in its own territory, and who should buy which bike?
With Flight Attendant – YT CAPRA UNCAGED 6
The YT CAPRA UNCAGED 6 is a big, hard-hitting bike featuring the latest suspension technology. Priced at € 8,999 and weighing 14.9 kg, the enduro bike offers 170 mm travel up front and 165 mm out back. It rolls on 29″ carbon wheels shod with MAXXIS tires. On the front, you’ve got an ASSEGAI with the MaxxGrip compound, which is paired with a DHR II featuring the MaxxTerra compound at the rear. Both rely on the EXO+ casing. So far, nothing new. However, what sets this bike apart is the fact that it comes equipped with RockShox Flight Attendant suspension technology. Thanks to sensors in the fork, shock and cranks, the suspension algorithms can work out what situation you’re in and adjust the compression settings accordingly. The shock and fork get adjusted independent of each other, switching between open, pedal and lock within milliseconds, depending on the situation. In lock and pedal mode, the suspension firms up and stays higher in its travel, positioning the rider more centrally on the bike. As such, it’s very efficient to pedal on flat trails and you’ll no longer have to remember to open the suspension before hitting the descents. If you’re interested to find out more about the system, we recommend checking out our in-depth look at RockShox Flight Attendant here.
Without Flight Attendant – YT IZZO UNCAGED 7
The YT IZZO UNCAGED 7 already had to prove itself against five of its competitors in our downcountry group test. In this case, the UNCAGED designation refers to the fact this model is a shorter-travel downcountry version of the regular IZZO. Apart from the striking “Laser Yellow” paint job, it features standard components and seems rather inconspicuous and delicate next to the CAPRA. It’ll set you back € 6,999, weighs 11.8 kg and rolls on 29″ carbon wheels. Here, too, the tires are supplied by MAXXIS, though they’re the lightweight and fast-rolling Rekon Race models, relying on the EXO casing and DualCompound rubber both front and back. The suspension can also be closed, though you’ll have to do so by hand using the mechanical remote lockout function. With a twist of the hand, you can close or open the fork and shock simultaneously. However, the suspension is so firm that sprinting is the only occasion on which you’ll benefit from using the lockout.
What we learnt from the comparison – The bikes’ technical details
The geometry is the most pronounced difference.
You’ll feel the difference just sitting on the bikes. On the CAPRA, the riding position is very upright and comfortable. As such, you’ll remain super comfortable during long days on the saddle. On the descents, the relatively longer 487 mm reach, slacker 64.2° head angle and wide 800 mm handlebar ensure that the bike stays composed, though it also feels more cumbersome. And that’s despite the fact that the CAPRA was one of the most agile bikes in our enduro bike group test. Aboard the IZZO, the riding position is noticeably more aggressive, which means that it places more weight on your hands. It comes with a considerably narrower 740 mm handlebar, a shorter reach of 475 mm and a steeper 66.5° head angle. This adds to the bike’s quick and agile character, but it’s quicker to get nervous when riding down high-speed sections and over rough terrain.
There’s more to suspension than travel.
Mountain bike suspension is always going to be a compromise. Or, put more positively, a balancing act. Generally speaking, enduro bikes are optimised more for the descents than the climbs. With downcountry bikes, there’s an equal emphasis on up- and downhill performance. However, RockShox Flight Attendant changes the game. On the CAPRA, the suspension automatically gets locked out when you’re riding on level terrain or up forest road climbs, providing an efficient pedalling platform. When the climbs get technical and steep, the suspension switches to pedal mode, firming it up and keeping it higher in its travel, yet remaining active enough to help generate traction. As soon as the gradient declines, the suspension opens back up and the CAPRA comes into its own. It’s stable and composed on natural singletrack, which you’ll benefit from most at high speeds and when ploughing over roots and through rock gardens. On the other hand, this puts you at a disadvantage on flow trails since the suspension stays open when you don’t pedal. That means that the bike absorbs the rider’s input, generating little speed when pumping it through berms and rollers and resulting in sluggish handling.
The suspension of the IZZO is so firm that it hardly needs the remote lockout function. It’s super efficient up the climbs even with the shock open. You’ll have a blast riding this downcountry rocket up winding trails full of switchbacks. However, when things get steep and technical, you’ll have to shift your weight forward to keep the front wheel in control. It’s very unlike the CAPRA on the descents: the progressive suspension encourages you to play with the trail and it can generate heaps of speed when you pump it through berms and rollers. Small jumps are more fun with the IZZO, too, since it’s poppier and more flickable in the air. That said, it has fewer reserves, which makes it less forgiving than its big brother. The progressive rear suspension means the bike isn’t as composed either.
Weight isn’t everything when it comes to (climbing) performance.
There’s a 3 kg difference between the CAPRA and the IZZO. But it’s how this weight is distributed more than the weight itself that ultimately matters. Both bikes have carbon wheels, but those on the CAPRA are 300 g heavier and the more aggressive and robust tires add another 600 g on top of that. As such, the wheels weigh almost 1 kg more, which is rotating mass and means that it takes considerably more effort to get going. It’s no wonder that the IZZO feels so much sprightlier. Pedalling it, you can’t help but sprint until your legs burn and your lungs hurt. You’ll notice the bike’s efficiency most when pedalling on gravel roads. Riding them back to back, the tires on the CAPRA roll noticeably slower. However, the more aggressive tread, softer rubber compound and thicker casing make up for it on technical climbs, offering more traction and thereby saving you energy, letting you master steep and technical sections with ease. More grip also gives you more control on the descents, which increases confidence. On the other hand, the downcountry bike is easier to throw around and allows quicker direction changes despite having the same wheel size.
Both bikes are no-brainers
One of the big advantages offered by the Flight Attendant system on the enduro bike is that it’s impossible to forget to open the suspension. We’ve all had that experience where you arrive at the trailhead after a long and strenuous climb and then start the descent with the suspension still locked out. Thanks to the smart electronic suspension on the CAPRA, that’s a thing of the past. The IZZO, however, has its own recipe: it is so firm that you don’t need to use the lockout function on the climbs, which means that we didn’t face this problem here either. However, our downcountry group test shows that this certainly isn’t the case with all bikes in this category.
Who plays its strengths where? – The bikes’ characters
The bikes’ characters can be summed up well by comparing them to the duel between The Red Viper and The Mountain in Game of Thrones. The CAPRA’s handling is like The Mountain, it’s big and strong, and doesn’t easily get unsettled. It’s cumbersome but stable and composed, offering loads of control and traction. On the other hand, the IZZO is small, agile and quick, like The Red Viper. It allows you to be playful, encouraging you to pop off lips and find creative lines. That said, it also takes more skill to ride, especially through open corners and down steep sections, requiring you to focus and stay on the ball.
Of course, both bikes can be a lot of fun. As you’d expect, the CAPRA has the upper hand on demanding trails, big jumps and in the bike park. The IZZO simply doesn’t have enough reserves to excel in this kind of terrain. At the end of the day, however, the downcountry bike is likely to be more fun on your local turf. Unless you happen to live in Champéry, Fort William or Squamish, chances are your home trails just aren’t that demanding and you’ve already mastered them, so a less hard-hitting bike will allow you to add a level of difficulty and fun.
Both bikes come with top-end components, but the CAPRA will set you back by an additional € 2000. What you get in return is a more versatile bike since the RockShox Flight Attendant suspension makes it capable of delivering in almost every situation.
There’s no clear winner, proving that enduro bikes with RockShox Flight Attendant haven’t made downcountry bikes redundant. The CAPRA and IZZO are different bikes with different use cases. The former is aimed at those who want a bike that instils them with confidence, offering lots of reserves and versatility. Those who want a quick bike for post-work laps around their local trail network are likely to have more fun aboard the IZZO, blasting through the woods like a trail ninja.
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Benjamin Topf