A couple of weekends ago, Andi jumped into his van and headed South for a tour of the newly opened YT Mill in the Surrey Hills.
During the lockdown, German bike brand YT opened another of its showroom style stores to the public. This time the location wasn’t in some far-flung corner of the globe but right here in Blighty, nestled in the tranquil Surrey Hills.
Because of social distancing measures and public safety concerns, YT kept news of the opening of the Surrey Hills Mill on the down low, the last thing they wanted was to get overrun with eager mountain bikers to become a COVID hotspot.
But last week, the chaps at YT finally had the chance to invite me down to visit, take a tour of the Mill and also ride a few of the local Surrey Hills trails, somewhere I’ve never ridden before.
The YT Mill is an impressively large open plan showroom. Inside, YT has separated the ample floor space into different consumer areas. To the right, as you walk in (past the hand sanitizer) there is a coffee shop featuring YT’s own blend of local coffee and a selection of snacks. The rest of the floor space is taken over by a large bicycle showroom, and a clothing area at the far left.
YT aims to have 1 of every model of bike on the showroom floor, and each bike is displayed just as it is on the website. For example, the Izzo area is designed to look like a city scene from the Anime launch video complete with steaming manhole covers. The Decoy is shown with ducks from the Vinny Jones featurette and so on.
While bikes are on show and customers can see them, touch them and even book a test ride, the UK Mill isn’t a bike shop. You won’t be able to walk in, pay for and leave with a bike, but you can wander around sit on different sizes of bike, learn about the differences then order your YT via the website in the coffee shop. YT staff are on hand to answer questions and are there to help with anything you might need to know to help you make a buying decision. Want to know what a Ghost Ship Green Izzo looks like? They can wheel one from the back. Not sure if you should choose an M or L Jeffsy, well here’s the place to sit on both and decide.
The UK Mill is also a fully stocked demo centre. Riders can book a test ride from the Mill and have three hours to enjoy their choice of YT. The fact that the Mill is just minutes from local trails in the Surrey Hills makes it a great spot for testing. Not only is good riding just on the doorstep, but the people at the Mill spend time setting up your demo bike before you hit the trail. Suspension, seat height, tyre pressures, even lever angle and bar roll are all set to your preference.
Behind the scenes
The Mill isn’t just a pretty place to look at bikes, behind the scenes they is fully loaded workshop where bikes can be maintained and fixed. The workshop is also where UK Warranty claims can be handled, and it’s also filled with all those small spares you might need in a rush. Need an axle for a Capra? A mech hanger for a Tues? The Mill has it in stock and can ship it next day to keep you on the trail.
Above the demo bike fleet and workshop is the UK customer service area. I was in on a Saturday so didn’t get to meet the team, but they’re on hand to answer technical questions, advise on bike size and set-up and help with aftermarket and sales questions.
What wasn’t there when I visited, but was talked about, is the YT Rolling Circus. With the new UK base, YT will eventually run Rolling Circus tours. Potential customers who want to test YT models but don’t have the time to get to Surrey can then visit a local demo and ride more familiar trails.
Riding the Surrey Hills
I’ve never been to the Surrey Hills so I was very excited to get out and try someplace new. For my spin in the woods, I took a carbon YT Jeffsy, a bike I’ve not ridden before but thoroughly enjoyed.
Just like any other demo rider, the YT crew went through the same setup procedure to get the size large Jeffsy how I like it, then lead me from the front door to the local trails.
It takes around 15-20 minutes to arrive in the hills, the scenery is stunning and the hills seem to roll on forever. As I had already driven for 4 hours to get to the Mill, and had another 4 hours to get home, we didn’t venture too far but what I did ride I absolutely loved.
The conditions were dry and loamy and the trails were fun and flowing. We didn’t hit anything challenging, just the type of fun tracks you can happily session over and over again. The Jeffsy was right in its element too, easily switching direction at speed, and popping happily into the air when asked. It’s a competent climber too, not as fast as my Izzo but not far off.
Getting to the YT Mill
The YT Mill is located in Guilford, Surrey. There’s a ton of free parking, great riding and some lovely places to eat at too. I suspect that the popularity of the Mill will mean you should call them in advance if you want to test ride a bike, but if you just want to have a coffee, chat bikes and chill you can drop in at any time.
I’ll certainly be heading in that direction again for a guided tour or the local loam filled ruts.
THE MILL UK
UNIT 6A PEW CORNER
OLD PORTSMOTH RD
GUILDFORD GU3 1LP
Tue – Sat 9 am – 5 pm
This is not a sponsored piece of content, but YT did buy me bangers and mash for lunch, treated me to a couple of coffees and gave me a goodie bag plus some good times!
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