Are MTB brands taking over the gravel scene? YT is the latest one to muscle in with its new 'gravity' Szepter
'Gravel by category, gravity by nature' is YT Industries' approach to its all-new Szepter platform
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YT Industries has shocked (pun intended) the mountain bike world by releasing a gravel bike, the Szepter.
After 14 years of producing bikes that our friends at mbr regard as “modern MTB classics” (opens in new tab), the German brand has joined off-road counterparts Nukeproof (opens in new tab), Santa Cruz (opens in new tab) and Orange (opens in new tab)in toning down the travel and clamping on curly bars.
YT explains its decision to enter the gravel market thus: “Young Talent. These two words are what YT stands for, but it’s about far more than age it signifies that it’s never too late to try something new, explore new ground, and discover your own Young Talent."
YT says that with the Szepter, the brand "makes fresh tracks into new territory, bringing an intoxicating blend of confidence, efficiency, and raw capability to a new gravel platform.”
OK, obviously the gravel market is a fast-growing sector worldwide and so MTB brands are naturally going to follow the money, but in some countries ‘gravel’ is more like jagged rocks and slippery singletrack (UK, we’re looking at you) - all of which means mountain bike companies like YT could be in the best position to make the best gravel bikes (opens in new tab) for terrains outside the American Midwest.
So, let’s have a look at what the Szepter offers.
YT Szepter: frame and geometry
“Gravel by category, gravity by nature,” is how YT sums up the Szepter, prefacing its description of the frame with: “Every YT platform conceived is governed by the purest thrill of freewheeling downhill.”
The Szepter’s carbon frame has a 69.3° head angle that backs this up - slack by most gravel bikes’ standards. There’s a dropped seatstay rear triangle that YT says is “clean and reactive” - with no form of suspension unlike the new Specialized Diverge (opens in new tab) for example - while a steep 74.3° seat angle across the size range supplies a more MTB-like upright position - which YT says helps with ascents.
The 30.9mm seat tube uses a shimmed 27.2mm seatpost. A maximum insertion depth of 275mm on the larger frame sizes ensures compatibility with up to a 150mm dropper post.
The curved seat tube transitions into a really neat integrated fender/mudguard, and the RockShox Rudy XPLR receives a YT designed fender upfront too. Thirsty reading this?
The frame has two mounts under the top tube plus water bottle placements on the seat tube and down tube for “massive days in the saddle”.
In case it’s not obvious yet, the Szepter is all about adventures rather than racing.
YT Industries Szepter: specs and pricing
There are two builds available - the Szepter Core 4 (£4,399/$4,499) and the Core 3 (£3,199/$3,299).
Firstly, the Core 4 is the top spec, with a RockShox Rudy Ultimate suspension fork providing 40mm of tunable travel.
Shifting is via a SRAM Force XPLR AXS (opens in new tab) group, coming with a 10-44T XPLR cassette. Braking is courtesy of 180/160mm HS2 - note the big 180mm at the front for more powerful stopping than is generally specced.
The CORE 4 features a RockShox Reverb AXS XPLR dropper post (opens in new tab) with SRAM’s adjustable ActiveRide technology.
A Zipp Service Course SL cockpit, Fizik Terra Bondcush bar tape and SDG Bel-Air V3 Overland saddle cover the contact points, while the bike rolls on WTB Proterra Light i23 wheels and 42c Resolute tyres.
The Core 3 features a RockShox Rudy XPLR fork, SRAM Rival XPLR AXS groupset, WTB Speedterra i23 wheels, and a Zipp Service Course cockpit and seatpost.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism. In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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