Pivot factory visit arizona mach 6 pivot mach 429c-22

It’s a typical case of self inflicted liability. During the morning we were warned, not to take the desert too lighthearted. Now as I stand here, I’ve stopped sweating. No water left in my Camelback or body. The sun is burning, my eyes too, I try to concentrate. The light shade of a cactus offers protection, while I’m waiting for the group. Part of the group has already decided to go back. Why the hell didn’t I join them? The desert doesn’t seem to end. How long will this last? That is the question, that becomes more and more urgent with every meter.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-06-14 um 17.09.05

The story starts 700 miles from here. Relieved, I enter the small passenger airplane in Monterey, California. A holiday-like road trip with Pivot-Cycles founder Chris Cocalis and marketing manager Lisa Cramton from the Sea Otter Classics to the airport was only the beginning of an exciting trip to Phoenix, Arizona, the Pivot Cycles headquarters.

Pivot Cycles is located in an industrial area of Phoenix. Here one can find the prototype workshop, the offices for development, as well as the manufacturing and storage department inside the unassuming building.

Multi-Talent Chris Cocalis.
Pivot founder and multi-talented Chris Cocalis

Chris Cocalis is head of the 2007 founded bike company, a man who looks back at a long history in the biking industry. At a young age, Chris made the difficult decision to end his studies after his degree in accounting and chose life in the bike business. He started with self initiated projects, the management of several bike shops, as part of the US Cycling Federation he went to a mechanics workshop. He started Titus Bikes with investors and gained lots of knowledge in the process. Over the years he turned into a real frame specialist as well as designing, developing and welding on his own.

Der erste Pivot Mach  4 Rahmen prangt über den Fräs-Maschinen in der Halle.
The first Pivot Mach 4 frame. Right from the start Pivot decided to use a Dave Weagle developed VPP-rear end.

Today one can find 34 employees working for Pivot Cycles. Several distribution channels make it easy to acquire Pivot bikes in over 30 countries.

Skizzen verschiedener Designs.
Different design sketches.
Chris in der Werkstatt. Der Bike-Enthusiast kommt ursprünglich aus Chicago.
Chris can be found everywhere in the company.

Our company statement is “Performance Redefined” and this really drives our entire philosophy. We are always looking for ways to make the bike better. That may mean lighter, faster, stronger, better handling, more capable and of course a combination of all these things. In the end, we want our bikes to allow riders to have more fun and give them a higher level of capabilities when riding their Pivot.

Pivot is very honest: “My favorite bike is always the next one I finish”. This is what Chris Cocalis would say while walking through the holy halls. Or sometimes he would ask himself: “When does it end? Will there be a day when I wake up in the morning thinking we can’t make this any better?”. This hasn’t happened so far, which of course is due to the bike industry’s dynamics and progressiveness in construction.

Daniel Limburg, internationaler Sales-Manager, gibt uns einen Rundgang durch die Heiligen Hallen von Pivot.
Daniel Limburg, international sales manager introduces us to the hallowed halls of Pivot.

Daniel Limburg, a very friendly and funny guy, a real man of principles. He only works with the contemporary model range unlike the developers. He is really keen on ensuring the products meet his own demanding requirements, and making sure that every selling argument is really true.

R&D and bike development.

So it’s no wonder that Pivot uses lots of energy when creating a new bike. Pivot focuses on performance, as well as on simplicity and long-lastingness. Development, prototyping and laboratory tests are all done in the USA.

Bill ist zuständig für den Prototypenbau.
Bill Kibler is in charge of prototype construction.
Die Tools und Hydroformingmolds für die Serienproduktion werden alle in den USA hergestellt und nach Tawain verschifft. So ist sichergestellt, dass die Produzenten optimal die Vorgaben von Pivot umsetzen können.
The tools and hydroforming molds for the production bikes are all manufactured in the US and shipped to Taiwan. This ensures that the fabricators are able to stick to Pivot’s regulations. Quality checks are taken very seriously at Pivot. This is why Chris and his engineers fly frequently to Taiwan to check for themselves about the production processes. The picture shows a linkage unit.
Kleine Qualitätsprüfungen können in-House in Phoenix durchgeführt werden, normalerweise finden diese in einem Labor in Kalifornien statt.
Small quality checks can be done in Phoenix, but usually they are done in a laboratory in California.
Die Geräte vor Ort reichen dazu aus, Rahmen komplett fertigen zu können, zumindest in Kleinserie. Die Serienproduktion findet jedoch in Tawain statt.
The in-house machines are often enough to create the frame completely in small runs. The standard production is located in Taiwan.
Die Schweißlehren werden ebenfalls in den USA gefertigt und dann nach Taiwan verschifft. Durch die genaue Kontrolle über die Werkzeuge und Messinstrumente, welche bei der Fertigung verwendet werden sollen Toleranzen minimiert werden.
The welding machines are manufactured in the US and shipped to Taiwan. Exact controls with the help of tools and measurement instruments minimize tolerances.

The assembly & shipment of Bikes.

Das Komponentenlager für die Montage der Komplettbikes.
The component storage.
Montage der Bikes.
All bikes are fully assembled in Phoenix and shipped from there. All the dealers have to do then is fix the wheels onto the bike and adjust it to the client’s individual needs.
BMF = Big Marketing Friend?
BMF = Be my Friend?
Einzelteile für den Zusammenbau der Bikes. Im Bild Ausfallenden.
Single parts for the Firebird 27.5.
Das Firebird.
The Firebird 27.5 with 167mm travel at the rear end.
Die große Lagerhalle für die montierten Komplettbikes.
The large storage building for the completed bikes. Pivot moved into larger buildings in 2012. A regular temperature of over 40°C during summer make it necessary to use an energy efficient cooling system inside the buildings.
/caption] [caption id="attachment_43188" align="aligncenter" width="780"]Hey Mr. Postman! Abholung der Bikes. Hey Mr. Postman! Picking up the bikes.

Sales & Marketing

Pivot Bikes are popular around the globe. The Phoenix headquarters coordinates all distribution channels as well as all dealerships. Shock Therapy is the distributor in Germany.

Die Sales-Abteilung bei Pivot.
Pivot’s sales department.
Bikemodelle und exakte Spec-Listen bedecken dei Stellwände.
The walls are covered with bike models and exact spec-lists.
Marketing Managerin Lisa Cramton - tatkräftig hilft sie auch bei der lokalen Trailpflege mit.
Marketing manager Lisa Cramton – helps with the local trail maintenance.

Testrides on the trails around Phoenix.

The terrain is a mixture of sand, stones and rough steps. 29ers can show off their benefits in roll-over performance, as well as offering more traction up – and downhill in sandy corners.

Mein Bike während des Besuchs: das Pivot Mach429c. Trotz "nur" 100 mm Federweg geht der 29er ab wie Schnitzel!
The Pivot Mach429c. “Only” 100 mm travel is needed with this bike to ensure great riding characteristics.
Dann war die Zeit gekommen für den ersten Bike-Ausflug in die Wüste rund um Phoenix.
Then it was time for the first trip into the dessert around Phoenix.
On the road to the trails! Die Stadt Phoenix ist unglaublich weit.
On the road to the trails! The city of Phoenix is unbelievably wide spread.

We went onto the trails the next day. 8 in the morning – that was the time we planned to start our trail, but of course we failed with sticking to that. We eventually started at 9am: A tour with torture. The 30 km long lap created plenty of difficulties one couldn’t have seen beforehand.

If you crash and you have the choice between a nice looking green fuzzy bush and a pile of rocks – pick the rocks! There is nothing friendly here. They all have thorns, they all have spikes. It will destroy you and most of them have also got some kind of poison inside.“ This was our guide Chris Cocalis’ friendly greeting speech. He was right, which we noticed with our own body later on.

Bergauf - das Terrain rund um Phoenix ist gnadenlos und bietet optimale Testbedingungen für Mensch und Maschine.
Uphill – Phoenix’ ground is pretty rough and offers optimal testing opportunities for man and machine.
Fahren zwischen Kakteen und Steinen - "there's nothing friendly here"!
“There’s nothing friendly here”!

A small bike defect, a little adjustment and definitely not enough water. There is almost no shade in the desert and the sun is burning constantly. As a result? Trembling hands, light nausea and the weird feeling of blacking out. Concentration and strength becomes less and less. So it was no wonder that a few questions started to arise: Why am I doing this? Mountain biking in the desert? Should I have a different bike, and on and on… All these were excuses of one’s own ego, mistakes and weaknesses. In the end I decided there has to be a limit, but I motivated myself with following words: Not here! Motivating words by the group! Support and team work! That is important and essential under the tough conditions: Because every break in the dessert increases body temperature and dehydration.

Full throttle!

And then the turning point arises: Part of the group has already decided to go back home. An empty Camelback and great thirst made it more and more difficult to complete every meter of distance. I turned into energy saving mode, concentration was at its lowest. But stopping was no option, because this would’ve made everything far worse. Speed comes with wind and coolness – so: full throttle until the limit.

Vollkommen am Ende, aber immerhin im Schatten!
Exhausted but at least in the shade!

Exhausted and happy we arrived at the starting point, a roofed place by the side of the “city park”. This offered shade, cold water and a break. I haven’t been so happy in my life before.

After-Ride Barbecue!
After-Ride Barbecue – a perfect day!

Barbecue in the afternoon and a new lap in the evening – including an impressive sunset.

Good view of Phoenix!
Good view of Phoenix!
Flow in the desert!
Shredden bis zum Sonnenuntergang!
Shred until the sunset.
Zurück geht es dann (endlich) angenehm im Dunkeln
On the way back cool wind arises in the dark.

Concluding one can say that it was a brilliant trip with interesting discoveries and long lasting impressions. Although Pivot is a pretty young company, they’ve managed to play in the same league as Yeti, Ibis and Santa Cruz. With high expectations of performance and technical design, we look forward to exciting new products in the future. We should respect the guys at Pivot. Phoenix is tough: Whoever decides to ride a bike here, really has to be made of strong stuff. Spiky cactus’s, edgy stones and hot temperatures, as well as hot sun are soon forgotten, when one enjoys the rough trails full of flow.

Text & Photos: Robin Schmitt

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.