Pivot Cycles | An Interview With Founder Chris Cocalis

Pivot founder, Chris Cocalis rides the fruits of his own labor.

Pivot founder, Chris Cocalis rides the fruits of his own labor.

What separates Pivot, both as a brand and as a bike from Company X, Y and Z?

I certainly feel we are in a very unique place in the market with my background, and the people we have involved with Pivot. First and foremost, there is not a single person in the company that isn’t a rider. Everyone from engineering to accounting is a cycling enthusiast. This brings a culture and enthusiasm to Pivot that few, if any, other companies can match. We are passionate about what we do and how we do it. The other thing is my personal background along with that of other key people in the company. I started out in a bike shop as a 9-year-old shop grom, designed my first frame in high school and began building frames in 1987 (my first year in college). Our head of engineering as well as our production/R&D manager also have cycling backgrounds dating back almost as long. We have all been involved since the development of the first suspension bikes and have designed and/or manufactured bikes and components for at least 10 different companies over the years. Our combined experience, enthusiasm and passion for the sport as well as the size of our company has allowed us to be able to be true leaders in product development and producing bikes that make the rider experience better. We back that up with a philosophy that our customers are as passionate as we are. We listen to them and always strive to provide a customer experience that matches the level of our bikes. This makes us not only a company with really cutting edge products, but one that riders enjoy being associated with because they know we care about them. We want them to know that they are a part of the Pivot family.

With Pivot still in its infancy, yet already putting a very strong foot forward, where do you see the brand headed in the future?

We will always be an engineering and product-driven company. I see us continuing to grow in areas and segments where we may not currently have a specific model, but also evolving our current line so that we are continually developing products that improve the riders experience and performance on the bike.

In a word, how would you characterize Pivot’s design philosophy? In a sentence or two?

Performance and Engineering driven: Every detail on our bikes is done for a reason, with the end result being a product that improves the riders experience whether it is a cross-country hardtail, a downhill bike or anything in-between. We work very closely with the component manufacturers to help make sure our ideas are supported and are pushing the sport forward as a whole.

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Pivot does a remarkable amount of fabrication in-house, how does this set Pivot apart from other competitors?

I think it is a huge benefit. We have a manufacturing background and believe that being able to fabricate, test and even work out the entire manufacturing process for production allows us to make better bikes. It also allows us to push the boundaries of what can and cannot be done as well as enabling us to bring new products to the market more quickly.

Being deeply involved in the design of the bikes, do any in particular stand out as the most fun to design for you? The hardest?

I love new challenges. When there is a product category that is not well sorted or defined or there is a new challenge, that’s when we have the most fun and also where we can make the most difference. For example, when we developed the Firebird, there really wasn’t anything out there that had nearly 7” of travel that was a capable trail bike, that could be ridden anywhere, and had front derailleur capabilities. Designing our now patented floating front derailleur system to allow a front derailleur to work with a bike of this travel was a challenge, but developing brand new things that have never been done before is awesome. Oftentimes this also allows us to partner with another component company. We developed the press fit 92 design with Shimano and have worked on several other projects which have or will soon become game changers for the sport. This is incredibly satisfying for everyone at Pivot when we can design something that has positive implications for the sport well beyond our own bikes.

Mach 6-1

Can you speak to the design and testing process of the Pivot Mach 6

We had been working on this bike for close to three years. Four years ago we asked both Fox and Rock Shox to make a 150-160mm 650B (27.5”) fork and got shot down at the time. However, we knew that this was really the best balance in the longer travel segment. I have a lot of longer travel 29er prototypes that pushed into the Mach 6/Firebird territory and they are cool, but we did not like the compromises that had to be made in other areas. We really felt we could achieve a better balance on longer travel bikes with 27.5” wheels. Designing any bike is an exercise in balancing many factors. With the Mach 6, we made a lot of prototypes. We tuned in on the feel and balance of the suspension pretty quickly as we have both the Mach 5.7 and the Firebird as benchmarks. The Mach 6 is a near perfect middle ground between those two bikes. The biggest thing was getting the bottom bracket height and head angle tuned in. We kept lowering the BB until we achieved a level where a skilled rider could still pedal through technical terrain but the center of gravity and cornering capabilities were maximized. For the head angle, we arrived at 66 degrees with a 150mm fork, meaning that with a 160mm fork the angle is about 65.5 degrees. This is pretty slack, but the bike still handles climbing and low speed cornering extremely well. This is one of the big benefits the dw-link brings to the party. Where other bikes tend to squat under power (which lowers the BB and slackens the head angle even further) the Mach 6 doesn’t squat, so this allows us to run slacker and lower then our competitors. It makes for a bike that handles the descents like a world cup DH rig but climbs and handles like our Mach 5.7 in more XC style terrain.

Anything else you’d like to add—about anything?

We always encourage riders to try our bikes. We sweat the details so that our customers don’t have to. When you read most of the information on our website, it’s a lot of technical detail. PF92, dw-link, anti-squat, stiffness to weight ratio, direct mount blah blah blah. It doesn’t make much difference if the sum of the parts don’t come together to make something special. I think ultimately what we do best is making it all come together so the quality, the ease of assembly and of course the ride experience are something special and better then what you can get elsewhere. Our demo program, the demo programs that our dealers offer and of course our existing Pivot customers are the best at telling our story. When you get a chance to ride a Pivot, you’ll know and we look forward to welcoming you to the Pivot family.

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