SRAM AXS and Eagle Boss Joins YT as Head of Development

Oct 2, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Chris Hilton, who was the mountain bike drivetrain product manager at SRAM, has joined YT Industries as their new Chief Technical Officer. Chris has been developing products since the mid-90s and will continue to do so at YT as he heads up the research and development side of the business.

Chris has been an innovating force in mountain biking and oversaw the introduction of XX1 1x systems, 12 speed Eagle and wireless AXS drivetrains in his ten years at SRAM.

bigquotesThe business aspect is critical of course, but I love riding bikes and that’s my passion. This is clearly shared by YT and the people within the company. I look forward to developing products that more people want to be a part of and excite them to go ride their YT bike.Chris Hilton

Chris is taking over from Stefan Willared, who has been with YT since almost the beginning and was the engineer responsible for their curent line up of bikes. After 10 years in the CTO role, Stefan is becoming the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to "confront the challenges posed by developing a brand that operates on a global level".

bigquotesOur effort and success in the past years has led to us become a brand with a global following. My experience within the industry and knowing YT Industries inside out allows me to take on the new role as Chief Information Officer. I look forward to pursuing the goal of improving the customer experience as a whole and ensuring the further development and success of the brand.”Stefan Willared

The final change is the introduction of Elmar Keineke as Global Marketing Director.


  • 116 11
 So will we now see new standards with each new bike? What about a new seat tube diameter?
  • 69 7
 shut up please LOL
  • 28 4
 Somewhere around 30.9 - 31.6 would be a sweet spot. 31.25 perhaps.
  • 24 3
 Maybe just give everything a fancy acronym and raise the price 15%
  • 16 4
 @chyu: 30.99
  • 30 4
 Hopefully it means they'll actually be able to forecast their supply chain like someone who has more education than grade school.
  • 8 1
 Seat post shape, not size!
  • 3 0
 @skycripp: uhhh....what bike companies actually do this well?
  • 4 2
 @skycripp: You forecast your sales and production needs, your “supply chain” helps produce your products. You generally have to consider market trends, economy, marketing budgets, prior year numbers, spending budget limitations, staffing and logistics, and product margins. Forecasting sales and predicting production needs are some of the most challenging things for any business, but especially in impulse categories like MTBs. With mountain bikes it’s way harder because you have small companies on budgets working with major vendors like sram, or Shimano, Maxxis, Fox to budget in complete builds with most vendors pushing you to do more volume. Then you have too many bikes and have to sit on them or loose margin. YT has grown in a few short years from a small niche company to a major competitor. Ask Ibis if it’s easy, or any other small brand if it’s easy. Wait lists are frustrating indeed, but if you can be a company with a long wait list for people trying to buy your bikes, your probably doing pretty well.
  • 1 0
 Oval shaped tubes are the big thing now.
  • 1 1
 @Yetimike2019: You also forecast supply side not just demand side, your lack of business experience is showing.
  • 2 0
 @Treadly: hey they'd self center...
  • 71 8
 Pricing on new bikes is going up 28.99% to cover his salary.
  • 10 0
 Nah they dropped Gwin.
  • 44 9
 So does this mean we'll see more stupid ideas on their bikes such as the steel cups on the dub pressfit bottom brackets that corrode into aluminium frames? (Don't ask me how I found that out...)
  • 30 2
 Who installed that bb without liberal amounts of grease?
  • 41 4
 @takeiteasyridehard: he did cause he dont need no LBS doing work for him.
  • 7 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: The bb was installed from the factory dry and had to replace it the other day as it was worn, was not a fun experience.
  • 3 1
 @AD4M: that's a bummer. What brand of bike?
  • 9 0
 @AD4M: well isnt that the bike co’s fault then? Not saying I’m a big fan of sram but putting in a bb without any/too little grease is pretty much the stupidest thing you can do to your bike..
  • 3 0
 @bonkywonky: ever owned a vehicle that you've ever worked on? Nothing is assembled with grease or anti seize...not just a bike industry thing
  • 1 0
 @krashDH85: Cars, motorcycles, you name it. Suzuki's stint of motos with virtually dry steering stem bearings comes to mind.
  • 31 2
 still waiting for axs brakes
  • 26 1
 will be fun when your battery dies. :-D
  • 15 1
 @cermo: Just losing your brakes would be very dangerous. So when you run out of battery they just clamp down instantly and lock in place.
  • 19 3
 @GriefTheBro: think the lock-up feature is already taken by temperature control for when it's getting a bit hot out, no?
  • 1 0
 @P3N54: Thats a different safety feature. Not exclusive to the axs.
  • 25 2
 I feel YT should try out DVO suspension, and spec it with all shimano SLX, XT, and XTR. Then develop their own in house bars and grips like everyone else to really lower their prices
  • 19 0
 Agree with the DVO. It is my favorite suspension. A lot of people flock to fox just for the name brand appeal. Yes they have awesome suspension, but there are others that are just as good, if not better, and they offer excellent customer service. Try calling fox and see how long it takes to get a rep on the phone. Call DVO and an actual person picks up and helps you. Shit, they serviced my suspension for free just because it took a couple days longer than expected. Also ditch the garbage e thirteen components. Shimano would be great
  • 10 1
 @stumphumper92: That level of customer service is only because their installed product base is small. If DVO all of a sudden had the market share of Fox, their customer service would suffer for sure. Sometimes it's better for products to remain niche.
  • 5 3
 Agreed. I think YT needs to streamline and nail down inventory. First make the Jeffsy and Capra both 29ers, with maybe one special Capra 27.5 for park or freeride. Aluminum or Carbon frame option, full SLX or XT build. Keep it super simple, and really focus on the suspension and geometry.
  • 5 0
 @motard5: It'd be nice if they sold frames as well. People take pride in building up their bikes from scratch, or even just swapping out a frame from their current bike while keeping their current components.
  • 1 0
 @Davec85: yeah, dvo struggled to keep quality control up when specced on Giant bikes. I'm sure they had to switch to a different manufacturer to meet the higher demand. And there were lots of premature failures on the giant specced product. The performance when working is top notch. Keeping it that way when scaling up quickly is a challenge for the product itself, and customer service
  • 1 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: Öhlins had similar issues when they were specced on Specialized. Seems like making quality suspension at scale is really hard.
  • 2 1
 I don't think "develop" is the right word for what most bike brands are doing with house brand components. Most of the time they just buy what's cheap from a large Taiwanese manufacturer and slap their logo on it.
  • 18 1
 This is pretty cool news, I dont know what that means for YT, but I am hoping it means that I can buy a frameset here in the US. YT is definitely my favorite frame I have ever ridden, I like how progressive it is. That being said, in order to get a top spec aluminum bike, I had to buy a base model and sell all the parts and put the parts I wanted on it. Kind of bull shit. It would be really cool to have an a la carte bike builder option to build your steed full custom from the site. I would pay extra for that.
  • 12 0
 Thanks for that info. We are listening to this kind of feedback. There's a hell of a lot of complexity to creating such a thing from a production / operations level, but it's also not impossible.
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: I second this. I was an early adopter with the 2016 Jeffsy, and I've since hung a lot of awesome parts on the frame. So now I'm looking at a frame only purchase in the future, and that excludes YT at the moment.
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: With carbon frames you do it, because not with those of aluminum, I also had to replace many pieces of my old jeffsy, although it was a pleasure in my case
  • 1 0
 The vast majority of bikes I ride are from frames I've built up. Its a shame fewer companies don't offer a nice frame only option at a better price. Know who does... Giant. They routinely price their carbon frames much lower than the competition. And you get a headset with it. Every time I check YT's site I look for a frame only option.
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: We want a Pro Race spec an aluminum frame. Doesn't have to be fancy brushed metal - paint is fine to hide the flaws. So much of the YT value is in the high end suspension kit but some of us would like the option of an AL frame. That said, I have 2 CF YT s and am happy with them.
  • 7 0
 Maybe they can make oem bikes for turner? Long live the king kahn, sultan, 5 spot and rfx yo!
  • 3 0
 don't forget the dhr!
  • 4 4
 turner who?
  • 21 0
 @Sethimus: tina
  • 3 0
 Or the Highline...
  • 2 0
 29 dhr would be so legit!!!!!!@Daxdagr8t:
  • 7 0
 What does this have to do with Turner?
  • 6 0
 YT Young Talents Chris Hilton Hmmmmmm... Just kidding. Guy obviously is qualified to lead the technical side of YT, and good for both him and YT.
  • 24 0
 It's true, I'm not young And my talent is debatable! But some days I feel young, and most days I act young. And every day i still love riding my bike.
  • 2 0
 @Hilton: ONE OF US!!!
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: Yeah brother!
  • 4 1
 2020 Capra 29 wish list:
-Steeper actual seat tube angle. Current actual angle is around 65 degrees. Not ideal for long legs.
-More supple rear end. Current kinematics are supposed to offer better pedaling efficiency for longer rides, but the trade off is that the back wheel can get hung up on rough decents. I'll trade having to flip a switch on the shock for better suspension all day long.
-Water bottle mount. I like water.

Ok thanks. Bye
  • 4 0
 Had three YT bikes, two with e13 components all with carbon wheels. No issues.
  • 2 0
 SRAM has actually done really well at distributing it's new technologies and keeping stock ready for customers. Which is something YT doesn't seem to know the first thing about. This was a good hiring for YT.
  • 3 0
 Can't wait to see what YT comes out with in January! Also can't wait to finally get my hands on one!
  • 3 0
 hmmmmm.... intesting to see if YT want to develop they line of components or they will stick only on bikes
  • 42 1
 @Brzzi: yeah, they should drop E13 and make their own stuff - it couldn't be any worse
  • 12 4
 @jaame They will make a video with Ricky Gervais taking piss out of other German brands.
  • 5 5
 in 2k16 YT meant solid quality components + good price, but it has changed and falling in love with e13 was sh|t idea, now i expect next sh|t ideas
  • 6 0
 xc fs bike is missing
  • 15 0
 @nagan: Having used YT 2016 bike and a 2019 one with SRAM then E13 components I'd struggle to complain about the latter.
E13 seatpost on the 2016 bike was a pig, underrated spring, sticky, seal head ate way too much mud. E13 sent a free uprated spring, then the UK distributor serviced the post for free. OK that's an admittance of issues, but the customer service was great.
E13 components on the 2019 bike defo "feel" a bit cheaper than SRAM, but 1 year into riding the newer bike, the 11spd dinner plate cassette and it still works well, hubs, seatpost all good, cranks etc fine, that's with some shitty UK weather and regular riding. The only E13 thing I didn't keep stock was the LG+1 tyres, they are perfect for gravity runs but draggy on the flat.

TL;DR I went for a cheaper (E13 based) build on the 2019 bike and I'm no less impressed.
I'm still the shitest component on the bike.
  • 3 2
 I assume YT got into bed with E13 because they got a sweet deal on components and wheels, which they needed to bring the price down on Fox equipped bikes. And a lot of people want Fox over rockshox. Speaking for myself, I would stump up the cash for a great frame with Fox suspension, then worry about the cheaper parts later.
That said, next year I am expecting (hoping) for full Shimano 12 speed gearing and Fox suspension. Maybe a slight price increase in affected models. It would be worth it for a Capra Al 29 with XT 8100, Code brakes, the new fox coil shock and the 38. That's would be a fantastic build.
  • 17 1
 So funny to see on the international market that YT has become a "want to have" brand. In Germany YT stands for cheap bikes from the beginning so all the kids in bikeparks ride them but nowbody would say "my dreambike is a YT"
  • 11 7
 @Chridel: YT was something to have ever since I can remember. Not as much as Santa Cruz or Trek but still, it was the only German "cheap mass" brand that had good geometries and gravity minded spec. You had either pretentious Nicolai and out there Votec or generic brands who knew how to make a good deal. When I recall 2010 or 2012, Canyon, Cube, Focus were utter sht - generic frames with terrible geos and suspension systems, XTR/Deemax decorated dung. Yt kicked the door in with good geos and sensible spec that at the time was available only among top brands like Intense or SC.
  • 5 0
 Fully proprietary bike
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: 2010-2012? weren't those the years when some of the US brands pushed 29ers even to midgets, even though the handlebars on the smaller frames (with terrible geometry) could not be turned without hitting one's feet with the front wheel?
  • 8 4
 @Chridel: who says yt is actually a desirable brand outside of germany?
  • 2 1
 @zyoungson: Popular in the UK, regularly seen at BPW, FoD, Surrey Hills, would have to assume much of the rest of the UK and possibly W. Europe is similar.
  • 3 4
 @Chridel: My dream bike is a YT here in the US, but i wish they would sell the frames so I could build my dream bike. Maybe a better way to put it is, my dream bike's frame is a yt
  • 4 3
 @f00bar: Indeed, those were the years when almost nobody knew how to design a 29er. Even bloody Niners were worthless... I had one. 2010 EMD. Had it around 2013 - It was a cow. Then rode STumpy Evo 29 and realized 29ers will be the way to go. those were also years when many bikes had shitty geos. These days it's hard to find a crappy bike. But YT had it quite right from the beginning.
  • 1 0
 @Chridel: then they just need to ride one to see just how much fun and capable they are.
  • 5 0
 @jaame: I gotta think that with the Eagle designer at CTO they might be a bit biased against the Shimano 12 speed. My guess is NX/GX shows up on their builds.
  • 5 0
I got 2 YTs.
Number one reason = the progressive rear suspension.
Before I got my first full suspension bike I had test ridden a few brands.
Most of them at the time had almost linear rear suspension which felt like shit in park.
And lots of air pressure to not blow throught the travel on any little jump feels like a pogo stick.
Of course thats just my personal preference.
Today there are more options for me and maybe my next bike will be by a different brand.
  • 2 1
 @zyoungson: internal sales number? moving from Nevada to California? Media surveys?
  • 2 9
flag WAKIdesigns (Oct 2, 2019 at 8:02) (Below Threshold)
 @OneTrustMan: linear suspension curve is desired by air shock users. Air shocks are desired by most people out there because they are lighter than coil and then they eat stuff better in the midstroke. They don’t pop because they can’t, any landing of any bigger thing is a terror to them anyways, so they don’t notice the rebound spike trying to send them on their face.

A bike equipped with low volume air shock that is too easy to bottom when riding with 30% of SAG is a shit bike and company deserves to go under.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Its not about hard facts like geometry, its really only about brand image in this case. And nb over here would say "man, you got the new capra, nice" but reading comments and speaking to people in BC in the last years, it was often that they were keen to get hands on a YT. If you want something nice from Germany, get a LAST :-P

@OneTrustMan I have tried one, maybe too much progression was the case that I felt like it was not that plush... I did not like the feel of the TUES.
  • 4 0
 @Steventux: "I'm still the shitest component on the bike." I too live this whenever I ride.
  • 2 4
 @zyoungson: The USA likes YT a lot. We like that they are the most freeride-centric brand out there and they support some of the sickest riders.
  • 8 0
 @mtmc99: I'd say the opposite is really true for me. I spent years riding, watching, and thinking about my competition. I totally respect what both the big and small competitors were doing. As I am now at YT, my 100% loyalty is to my job at YT, making the best bikes and products possible. Whoever can give us the technical solutions, products, partnerships, support, or whatever to help us make great bikes will have a bias in their favor.
Since I started at YT I have had some great meetings with Shimano. AND with SRAM. I think having 2 big companies push each other to develop the best possible products has been really good for riders. 10 or so years ago, most of us were riding bikes with FDs, XC geo, few dropper posts, and pretty small wheels and tires. Bikes have come a long way because of a competitive market. Bring it on!
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: This is what I was going to say, but you beat me to it. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @Chridel: Same thing in America among people who are fortunate enough to have cash to spend on better bikes.
  • 2 3
 @endlessblockades: Lmao, what are you talking about? They support one rider who can't complete a race run without eating shit. They axed their last team, and they don't even have a freeride bike.

The US doesn't like YT because they can't forecast their supply chain worth shit. People who want a cheap bike and will put up with bad customer service will get a YT, but the US has a full blown love affair with Santa Cruz and Yeti. If you want a freeride brand, look to Commencal. They support DJ Shreda and Kyle Strait.
  • 2 0
 @skycripp: I'm not even going to explain how things work to you, but I said nothing about UCI DH. Follow the Fest Series or watch Red Bull Rampage later this month to see what YT (FREE)riders are up to. Clearly you don't know who rides what or what a TUES can do.
  • 2 0
 @Hilton: thanks for the response. I look forward to seeing whats next from you guys. I was very close to buying a YT last time around.
  • 1 0
 @nfontanella: That's HOPEful.
  • 1 0
 @Chridel: What are the 'want to have' brands in Germany?
  • 1 3
 @motard5: Nicolai is apparantly the only brand you should ever consider. Maybe Pole and Murmur, but nothing more. Because it is long, slack and they make an impression as if they don't employ a single graphic or form designer, they are engineers doing only what works! And if you don't respect that you better wake up! Engerbdneeeeeeer! The rational supremacy! Maximum Optimum! I am surprised they haven't yet made a fork with square section stanchions... Every minute of the hour! When we don't think of rest! When we give all the power. when we give all the best!
  • 1 0
 @motard5: there are a few, the mass compatible ones are specialized, santa Cruz, Trek. In the last years the trend goes to towards smaller brands like yeti, transition, Rocky... But still canyon and yt have giant market shares, what people whish to ride and what they ride is a different story.

At the moment it looks like every second new MTB is an Ebike, sadly!
  • 3 1
 There's clearly no "young talent" behind actually designing the bikes. Something to be said for the ol "10 000 hours thing" Smile
  • 6 0
 They should hire Jackson Goldstone as their CEO. Then we are talking.
  • 2 2
 So YT is famous for "using" industry types for what they want and then just ditching them. Like Gwin, I feel for this guy already. I can assume next they will finally add a water bottle to their Capra and enter into the Enduro segment with a Richie, Hill, Maes team, win it all and then drop the riders...
  • 2 1
 maybe he should have won them more races? and btw "ditching" something, wasn’t there an episode with a letter of intend? already forgotten?
  • 4 1
 FFS - Gwin was far from 'ditched'. YT offered him a contract extension at his already high rate, but he tried to jack up his price and when he found out YT wouldn't pay it he left to go find a team that would. When he found out no one else would take him he tried to go back to YT after their offer had expired, who told him to take a hike. Why do you think he had to make his own team?
  • 3 0
 Congrats Chris @Hilton! Always a pleasure working on projects with you over the years! Best of luck.
  • 1 0
 I second the idea of frame-only sales. I just bought two new boutique brand frames because I had kits to swap from other bikes. My wife bought a different brand because of the same thing. Frame-only would be key.
  • 1 1
 If YT could sell again the 2015 TUES carbon frame set, that would be great as not every one is a Aaron Gwin, much less me, and I like the plushness on the midstroke (on a float X2)
  • 3 2
 One bad experience with E13 wheels which i had spent £600 on was enough for me so wont be buying anything E13 again.
  • 2 1
 From what i read something should be done on the Customer Service area too..
  • 1 0
 Awesome! Maybe SRAM can ditch the two shite narrow-wide cogs on Eagle cassettes now?!
  • 1 0
 But he doesn't have any face tattoos. How is he going to fit in with the YT culture?!
  • 6 0
 I actually do have a tattoo. Bad decision for me, wish I didn't. Everybody has their own sense of self. I just thank god it wasn't on my face. or lower back. (Chris Hilton)
  • 2 0
 YT x SRAM: warranty rate is now infinite.
  • 1 0
 Maybe with Chris Hilton YT will surpass Transition and amp it up to level 12! #takeittotwelve
  • 2 1
 Reliability will improve at YT then...
  • 1 0
 Set up a UK service centre like Canyon and I will buy.
  • 1 0
 Woohoo bigger water bottles will not fit in the frame
  • 1 0
 Wow... just listened to a podcast not too long ago about Chris. Congrats!
  • 2 0
 thanks, I have not actually had the balls to listen to it. I remember sitting and talking to the guys at Sea Otter. Did I sond like an idiot?
  • 1 0
 @Hilton: Not at all! I loved the podcast. It was interesting to hear the background on why 11 speed became a thing, and how the parts were sitting in a box for years. It was cool! I hope you do well at YT, its exciting to see that company grow and innovate!
  • 1 0
 What a warm welcome from PB community.
  • 1 0
 be careful, they might take your brain and then leave you to tektro
  • 1 0
 Tell me Chris H doesn't look like the brother of Freddy Krueger
  • 1 0
 Young Talent hires Old Fart.
  • 1 0
 Def fire the hansons for having such nice hair
  • 4 4
  • 4 5
 If PINKBIKE started deleting POSTS Please DELETE this post, and my previous
  • 3 0
 @TDMAN: Have you heard of the Below Threshold zone? Scroll down, buddy.
  • 3 5
 So thay have employed a new person to pick the frames out of the tiwanese frame catalogues?
  • 11 0
 Every YT frame in production today was 100% engineered and designed BY YT. This will continue as long as I'm around. There are no "catalog" frames from Tiwan. Or Taiwan.
  • 3 0
 @Hilton: I admire you standing up to these fools, but don't put too much effort into it. Haters mean YT is doing big things. Keep it rolling!
  • 1 3
 @Hilton: having worked on many id be rather embarrassed to admit that.
  • 3 0
 @b45her: username checks out.
  • 1 4
 @endlessblockades: i know many people that have bought YT's but i do not know of a single one of them that bought another, i know they have their fans for the perceived value but the fact is they are cheap for a reason.
the frames (at least the carbon ones) are shocking, and the component specs are very often blingy name brands that tend to fall to pieces and cost a fortune to replace like all the e thirteen junk they put on them.
The bolts have torque heads that are far to small for the size of the bolt they are in, the way the ACB bearings in the swing link are assembled is a joke and most of the end up stripping the treads on the weird bolt together insert, the rear ends rarely line up and the quality of the carbon inside is verging on dangerous.

Canyon, propain radon etc are all very well made bikes but i have found YT quality to be total dogshit.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Maybe the 'many people you know that have bought YT's' missed the Not Designed for Use In Wales sticker.

No problems here in relatively drier California - I recently did 2 of the frame bearings for the first time on a 2015 CF. Never stripped a bolt.
  • 3 0
 @b45her: I call bullshit on your statements, having previously dealt with all service and warranty issues for YT in Australasia over the past 4 years - which covers thousands of YT bikes - I never dealt with half the issues you're talking about. I saw one alignment issue, a couple of threaded bolts which isn't abnormal for any brand, and I can assure you the carbon frames had a miniscule structural failure rate. And fyi, no YT frame uses Torx heads anymore, and hasn't done since 2017.

The only thing that is even remotely accurate is the e13 droppers were less than brilliant, and the recent TRS+ rims were a bit soft, but otherwise completely talking out your arse.
  • 1 0
 @NickB01: HOw long have you been working for YT by the way?
to be honest not seen a post 2017 capra locally, people have got wise to them and moved onto more sensibly built and spec-ed bikes.
everything e thirteen falls to pieces, the bb's last weeks, the rear hubs not much longer. you are right about the droppers though total shite.
wonder why they swapped from the tiny little torx heads? maybe because they were doing exactly what i said they do, i understand owners and employees are going to defend their bike, but as a neutral bike mechanic i would urge anyone to avoid them, go canyon, propain or radon if you really must go direct, they are far better put together bikes even though they haven't bought themselves the "bro image" that YT have.

Cheap for a reason.
  • 1 0
 @b45her: Wales is Wales not the Whole World. Capras and Jeffsys and TUES are pretty common in my neck of the woods.
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