Chris Sugai Joins Gates as General Manager of Global Mobility

Mar 16, 2023
by Matt Beer  

Chris Sugai, co-founder of Niner Bikes, has joined Gates, the company best known in the cycling world for its carbon belt-drives, as General Manager of Gates Global Mobility. After spending nearly twenty years of pushing 29ers, Sugai will use his long-standing industry knowledge and leadership to focus on developing drive solutions for not only bicycles, but all forms of two-wheel vehicles, including powersports. That divisions encompasses e-bikes and motorcycles, as well as electric micromobility, too.

bigquotesAdding Chris Sugai to the Gates leadership team signals our commitment to reach beyond the Gates automotive heritage and bring the best and brightest talent into the Gates family as we advance how the world moves. Whether it’s 29-inch wheels or disc brakes, Chris Sugai is a visionary thinker who was ahead of the curve on technologies that revolutionized bike design and improved the bicycling experience for customers around the globe. He will play a key role as we grow and expand our offerings for the personal mobility market. Tom Pitstick, Chief Marketing Officer, and Senior Vice-President of strategic planning for Gates

Given the growth of e-bikes across all sectors of cycling, it makes sense that Gates would be looking to further expand into that area. After all, this is the same company that created the first toothed timing belt back in 1945 - they have a long history of supplying parts for motors.

bigquotesI am absolutely thrilled to become a part of the dynamic team at Gates Corp's Global Mobility Unit. As the world rapidly progresses toward e-motors for bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles, there is a dire need to reimagine the conventional use of chains and derailleurs, and explore cleaner, simpler, and more efficient alternatives. This is where the cutting-edge Gates Carbon Drive belt drive technologies come into play, promising to revolutionize the way we envision and execute drivetrains. With unparalleled strength, durability, and quiet operation, these innovative belts are poised to become a game-changer in the industry. I am eager to work with this exceptional team and contribute towards this exciting transformation. Chris Sugai, General Manager of Gates Global Mobility

The Gates Carbon Belt on a Zerode Katipo.

More about Gates: Gates is a global manufacturer of innovative, highly engineered power transmission and fluid power solutions. Gates offers a broad portfolio of products to diverse replacement channel customers and to original equipment ("first-fit") manufacturers as specified components. Gates participates in many sectors of the industrial and consumer markets. Gates products play essential roles in a diverse range of applications across a wide variety of end markets ranging from harsh and hazardous industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and energy, to everyday consumer applications such as printers, power washers, automatic doors, and vacuum cleaners, and virtually every form of transportation.

Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
375 articles

  • 75 21
 Thanks Outside overlords, you're really zeroing in on the content that matters to me as a mountain biker. In fact, now I'm wondering there are any other companies you haven't told us about yet that have issued press releases announcing that an industry executive at another company has now become an industry executive at their company. This really feeds my passion for the sport I love and it means everything to my that you guys share that passion. You get it, you really do.
  • 11 1
 Somewhere out there on a trailhead far, far away this article will eat up 20 minutes of someone's riding time.
  • 4 1
 How soon till he says belt drives are the only drives worth a damn and we should all abandon chains?
  • 5 0
 It's actually an interesting announcement considering Niner co-founder Steve Domahidy left Niner over a decade ago, started his own company (currently Viral Cycles) and sells only belt-driven gearbox MTBs.
Considering that and the fact that, with few exceptions (Trek commuting bikes comes to mind), belt-drives and gearboxes have failed to find a place in the line-up of any major bike manufacturer, does this reflect how hard it is to get a fully-corporate bike company to make a radical shift towards adopting different technologies?
Think about it...most PB sh!t-posts echo the same sentiment: whether a bike is long enough, slack enough, or has a steep enough the point where the only bikes in any given segment that are worth discussing are converging on the same design parameters.
So, two leaders in the industry -who happened to co-found the same company- have dropped their chains in favor of belts. If you've ever ridden a belt-drive or gearbox bike (or tried to shop for either), this announcement should resonate as being news-worthy to say the least.
  • 3 0
 @JVance: Bingo

As a mountain biker who works in the commercial mobility space, I was glad to read this. I had seen this role posted at Gates and even applied for a role in their Mobility Drive Systems department 2 years ago. For me - this type of cross pollination is really exciting. The spirit of the mountain bike industry paired with an organization with the history and resources like Gates - great stuff

(I also had a rock rip of my derailleur two days ago...)
  • 37 1
 *Assistant to the regional manager*
  • 1 1
 No, Regional Director in charge of sales
  • 2 1
 Bears like beets.
  • 8 1
 Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica...
  • 2 1
 @JarrodB: Michael!!!!, Michael!!
  • 1 0
 @bikewriter: What kind of bear are we talking about?
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: what kind of bear is best?
  • 1 0
 @GalenS: That’s a ridiculous question!
  • 25 0
 I want to be a general manager of a general manager
  • 13 1
 Supported by the assistant to the assistant to the general manager of the general manager.
  • 2 0
 Generally, it's not a necessary position, but it's like putting bacon on top of your helping of bacon...more of a good thing is a good thing. Gates belts get that and is putting it to work for you.
  • 2 0
 @beeeefkirky: I just want to be assistant to the regional manager, one day.
  • 7 1
 I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
  • 3 0
 Come to pinkbike for the comment sections, stay for the comments sections.
  • 6 0
 Gotta love corporations. Managers managing managers managing managers..................................
  • 4 1
 Was the general manager of general manager on purpose to drive comments because otherwise no one would click on this earth-shattering piece of breaking news? Every article like this should include a poll asking PB audience "who cares".
  • 6 0
 Dude was so good he got double general manager
  • 6 0
 GM inception.
  • 5 0
 wonder what current general manager thinks of his new general manager
  • 2 1
 "So, team. Revolutionary idea I have for the belt industry. It's a little something I'd like to bring over from the bicycle industry. From now on, we only supply 29" long drive belts, no matter the application. All in favour..."
  • 1 2
 But, how will we make sure they're obsolete and need to be purchased again in a few years? If only there was a way of changing perfectly good standards to maximize profit while infuriating consumers....
  • 3 0
 I thought it was a PB article at first …. I’m sure Mr. Pitstick has developed some resilience through his school years.
  • 2 0
 While I'm sure that buddy is great and all, unless you're some industry nutswinger, what pinkbike reader would actually care about this?
  • 4 2
 This guy was at the helm of Niner when they went bankrupt a few years ago. Nice pickup Gates (not)
  • 1 0
 I'd be very surprised if actually wrote all of his press release comments.

Wonder what this means for Niner going forward though?
  • 1 0
 Whatever. I just want to see a belt driven Zerode Katipo and Cavalerie Anakin V2 included in the mix for the next Enduro Bike field test.
  • 3 1
 I love that the founder of Niner rocks a mullet! Cool
  • 1 0
 How many of these belts does Gates sell in a year and what is his salary? That is, how long will this position last?
  • 1 0
 Unless he is only involved in the specific belts they make for bikes, Gates's bike products are about .5% of their business. They make a belt for just about everything
  • 2 0
 And I thought Gates were meant to stop mobility...
  • 2 0
 I guess the bankruptcy wasn't brought up during the job interview
  • 1 1
 Gates belt-drives still exist?!?!? I propose that Brian make Levy and Henry do a Lincoln-Douglas style debate on belt-drives versus gear boxes.
  • 2 0
 Ironic shirt anyone?
  • 1 0
 Not ironic, but maybe more coincidental.
  • 1 0
 *General to the General Manager
  • 3 0
 genital manager of the general manager.
  • 1 0
 Major major joins who to become general manager of a general manager?
  • 2 1
 I kinda forgot Niner made bikes
  • 1 1
 they're moving into Ellsworth levels of irrelevancy...and went bankrupt. So good pick up.
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: They're still sponsoring riders though? You'd think that would be the first thing to go in a bankruptcy. Then again, I don't know a damn thing about business
  • 1 0
 Id like a belt drive single speed on my v10 please
  • 1 0
 This is exceptional and outstanding
  • 1 0
 Mr Manager
  • 3 2
 Congratulations Chris!

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