Would You Believe It – The YT TUES Is 10 Years Old Already!
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2020 was a challenging year for downhill mountain biking. However, despite the small sample size of pro racing this year, the YT TUES proved yet again that it is one of the greediest bikes out there, enabling Oisin O’Callaghan and David Trummer to ride to Gold and Silver during the World Champs. World-class athletes have secured several World Championships, World Cup Overalls, and Rampage titles on this bike in years passed – a success story that started back in 2008 and truly kicked off in 2010. Celebrating its tenth anniversary since the conception of the V4L suspension linkage, YT test rider Erik Irmisch sends it on the big rig through Germany. The 32-year-old has played an essential role in the evolution to develop the TUES into the beast it is today.
Erik ‘Irm’ Irmisch has been with YT since 2010 and is closely linked to the evolution of the TUES – YT’s ruthless and uncompromising downhill rig. The downhill racer is part of the product development team and gives valuable feedback from an athlete’s perspective to the engineers and developers. In the early days, the TUES development was spearheaded by Stefan Willared, former CTO and today CIO of the company. Both Stefan and Erik have played a vital part when it comes to the evolution of YT’s downhill bike.
“I live and breathe bikes. I think athlete feedback is important because the added perspective adds to achieving that perfect result. One major development I was involved with was the further development of the TUES MKI and the future positioning and length of the rear shock. This development, coinciding with optimized kinematics, has enabled us to create a bike that is race-ready in every situation. I have also influenced smaller details, that are important to racers such as changing the cable routing so that the number plate is integrated nicely and clearly visible. We have an awesome crew and I love being part of the puzzle.”
– Erik Irmisch, Test Rider & YT Family Member
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the TUES with the V4L technology – a milestone in the history of the radical downhill bike that has carried many riders to podiums, medals, and titles. The bike has come a long way since 2008. Initial development took 12 months until the first aluminum TUES was ready to be brought to market in 2009. With 180mm travel and a Marzocchi 66, it was more a freeride bike than a downhill rig. “A lot of people wonder where the name for the bike came from. When we used to go riding with our mates, we would session features we had built and dare each other to send them. In Germany ‘Tu es’ means ‘do it’ and we’d always encourage a mate by shouting ‘Tu es!’ through the woods,” Stefan Willared reminisces.
However, the former CTO Stefan Willard was not entirely satisfied, which resulted in a seamless transition and development of the TUES MKI. “Irm and I were not happy with the performance of the classic 4-bar linkage. We started reaching out to suspension manufacturers for more data on the behavior of spring elements at different speeds and situations.” This resulted in the evolution of the TUES from a freeride bike to a true downhill bike. “The revolutionary V4L suspension technology allowed for greater sensitivity, improved mid-stroke support, and increased progression of the end-stroke. Bottom line: the bike was more stable and a lot faster. 2010 is the true year of birth in my eyes. The TUES became a real downhill bike thanks to the V4L linkage and the therewith associated geometry and suspension kinematics.”
But innovation did not stop here. 2011 witnessed the release of the TUES MKI with improved V4L kinematics and an increased rear shock length from 222mm to 241mm, which unlocked even more potential and speed. Boundaries were tested yet again a year later with the release of the TUES MKII, the first hydroformed aluminum frame and even longer rear shock length (267mm). “The top priority was that the TUES performed well, but the looks of the frame were important to us too. Hydroformed aluminum frames allowed us to save weight on the frame where it was not needed while also creating an attractive frame design. This was an important step for us as a company,” recalls Stefan Willared.
After major developments four years running, time was spent the next three years working on the next major milestone for YT’s TUES. Stepping into a new world of mountain bike manufacturing the first carbon TUES frame (MKIII) was released in 2015 along with the ‘new’ big 650B wheel size. “Our freeriders weren’t as stoked about the inception of 650B by the industry, but there was no way it wasn’t going to happen”, YT’s CIO remembers and adds, “Industrial design was and is a huge topic for us and after having dug into it with the CAPRA we wanted to transfer the knowledge to our other existing platforms. Carbon has given us even more opportunities to form and design our frames while reducing weight and increasing the stiffness of our bikes.“
The latest steps in its evolution followed in 2018 and 2019. The TUES MKIII received a redefined aluminum and carbon geometry and for the first time, YT was able to offer five different frame sizes. “Additional frame sizes require considerable investment for development. But it was worth it to us, because we wanted to enable riders to choose a bike size based on their riding style or preference and detach the choice from their body height. By finetuning the bike sizes a decision can be made based on the feeling of the bike and the speeds you ride.” The inception of the 29’’ wheel size for the platform in 2019 was the latest major development for the time being.
“Looking back there are a lot of great memories that come to mind. The initial positive feedback from bike magazines like FREERIDE back in the day, a fantastic review in the legendary publication DECLINE in North America after having spent a couple of days with them in Whistler and not to forget being knighted by Mike Rose and Steve Jones when our TUES was included in Dirt 100,” Stefan Willared recalls. The TUES has changed considerably over the past decade and a team effort of passionate designers, engineers, and racers has created a downhill mountain bike capable of carrying the world’s best athletes to World Championship and World Cup title and Rampage glory. “One of the most emotional moments in my life was watching and waiting in the finish coral in Lourdes with Markus Flossmann after Aaron Gwin took the hot seat in 2016. It was the first race of the season, our first World Cup race with the TUES. We were surrounded by French downhill fanatics and the beat of electronic music still rings in my ears thinking about it. Remembering those final seconds until victory was ensured gives me goosebumps to this day. We are looking forward to seeing what the next decade will bring along.”
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