Making It – The Arrival of YT

Part Two of how Gwin and YT Industries came to dominate downhill

If few people had predicted the rapid rise of Aaron Gwin from when the moment he slunk into downhill, then even fewer foresaw the impact that a small firm from north of Nuremburg would make on the mountainbike industry.

From pretty simple beginnings making cheap hardtails and sponsoring kids with affordable bikes the philosophy was taken to full suspension bikes. It was here that through great design, good prices and a different business model to what the majority of mountainbike industry was doing, YT quickly and effectively built a brand. A quality one.

It’s interesting that both YT and Aaron Gwin arrive on the scene at roughly the same time – about 2008. World domination might well have been the aim for both parties all along but first there was a lot of groundwork to do. Producing good quality bikes that are appealing and perform well is more difficult than many have realised. In the Tues downhill bike the guys had hit on a winner even though few people were prepared to understand and accept this at the time.

Founder Markus Flossmann had managed to secure Stefan Willared as chief technology director to develop the Tues. This sounds all very grand when in fact the team was still very small working out of a disused factory but the vision was taking shape.

Dirt visited YT back in 2011. The bemused reply to the phone call went along the lines of “you want to come to Germany to visit us?!”

A year later we took the YT Tues to a press launch in Chatel of another brand simply to evaluate its performance against a quality bike and on the tough, steep technical tracks of the Alps we soon realised the YT Tues was destined to success. It won “Bike of The Year” at Dirt several times much to the bemusement of other media outlets.

A few years later the Capra captured the imagination of rider’s world wide as enduro strutted into town, and typical of YT they decided to launch the bike on the southern slopes of Jerusalem. As we drifted through the dunes we came upon a shepherd who had just delivered a kid – I guess sometimes the planets just line up.

By the is point clever advertising and marketing was central the YT identity, but so too was fun. YT was and still is an upbeat company which is something that rubs off on the riders. In 2012 they signed Andreu Lacondeguy who went on to win Rampage even though few people realised at the time, it was on a YT Tues. A few years on Cam Zink smashed the world backflip record, a few more views.

In the background however World downhill endorsement was burning in the hearts of both Flossmann and Willared. And once the Tues carbon came into being there was only one direction. Getting the right rider to deliver would be no easy task.

In the next chapter we see how one of the greatest racers of all time teams up and rides with one of the least expensive production bikes on the market.

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