Part 2: Pivot -- Into to the Desert

The Place:

The first thing I noticed about Arizona was that it really is a desert.  It’s not just hot or dry or sandy; it is 100% full on Yosemite Sam, The Three Amigos, standing on the surface of Mars, desert.  Coming from temperate green, redwood grove, coastal northern California, this was a stark contrast.  The heat is dry and heavy, and the wind feels like a sauna door is being opened in your face.  I remember asking Brien, our Pivot sales rep, before getting on the plane: "if there was anything I should bring that I might not normally ride with?", and he said, “a hydration pack, the bigger the better."  And man he wasn’t kidding.

The Pivot building is in Tempe, a section of the greater Phoenix Area.  A large unmarked warehouse style development where from the outside might as well have been a cardboard factory.  A few very off road capable vehicles parked out front with trailer hitch bike racks is your only clue as to what’s going on inside. As you walk in the front door you are greeted by a small “showroom” displaying a few of the new Pivot bikes, highlighted by the Phoenix Carbon 27.5 downhill bike. 

In general this is a very reserved, low-key facility, which is surprising because some of the brightest and most active minds in the industry are churning away thinking of how they can create a better mountain bike.

The main shop portion of the facility is loaded with machinery.  They have all sorts of CNC machines and testing machines, forging equipment, and a 3-D printer for making test parts.  The facility is top notch and it alone is worth a special visit.  All of the employees are friendly and welcoming, even excited to see us on the walk through.

The Rides:

Because of the heat we started our first ride just before sundown.  It was still nearly 100 degrees, but there was a mild breeze that made the environment quite pleasant.  In a photograph the trail conditions might seem pretty unforgiving.  The dirt looks loose and deep, there is no shade, there are no roots or ferns or shrubs.  The conditions are just about as different from home as physically possible.  Different however, doesn’t always mean bad, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun this desert was to ride.  First and foremost, the trails had really good traction.  The kind of dirt they have there has a very frictioney (made up word) feel to it, like they put carbon paste on all the rocks and pebbles.  I took Chris’ advise and did not change the air pressure in the Ardent race tires that were on my demo Mach 6.  Although it seemed a little high to me at first, it actually worked out well.

On the first ride we did in the evening, the trail was undulating all the way through with one 5-minute exception right at the end.  There were no long climbs or descents, and you could pedal throughout almost everything.  This ride was perfect for a trail bike demo.  There were plenty of semi technical lines as well as some pretty smooth lines.  I’ll say it again, traction was really good, so much so in fact I got a little over confident a couple times and almost crashed.  On all of the bouldering sections you could really carve into the rocks and force things to happen.  A number of times I went into a section much faster than I would on a similar section around here or in Tahoe, just because the tires hooked up so well.  One other interesting detail I immediately noticed about these trails, was how, unlike in Marin County, you could sometimes really see way up the trail because there are no trees or bushes.  This made things even faster and more predictable.  Before I knew it I was having an absolute blast, and completely forgot about the bike or why I was even there. 

That’s when you know you are shredding, you just forget everything else around you. 

The next morning we did our second ride.  This time I rode a Firebird 275.  The ride was completely different this time around.  Instead of a rolling trail, we rode uphill for about 1.5 hours, stopping occasionally to take in the view and get a quick explanation from the guides (Brien and Chris).  Again, traction was great, and today there were even more boulders to climb over.  There were lots of cool little rock/boulder shoots.  We have a lot of very technical climbing around here as well, so I felt pretty comfortable with everything.  I could see getting really into riding the same sections over and over, trying to beat a time or run a cleaner line.  At the top of the climb we turned around, just an out and back today, but the downhill was a whole different ballgame.  Keep in mind I am on a 7 inch travel bike, dropper post, and sitting on the wheel of a guy who has probably rode this section of trail more than anyone.  All I did was follow his line and the bike was spectacular.    

The Bikes:

The Mach 6 is like a really pedally downhill bike.  I may have just invented a new bike genre there but I don’t care, that’s how it rides for me.  I think it is a fantastic bike for almost every kind of riding out there.  On that first day you could open it up and really flirt with disaster while feeling in total control.  Cornering over bumps is probably the best part about this bike.  Even though there were no roots there, I could really see this being a fantastic root handling bike.  It felt like more travel than 6 inches on the downhill, and it pedaled uphill quite well.  Out of the saddle uphill burts were very, very effective.  Technical climbing was no problem.  It felt as heavy as it is, but the anti squat properties of the DW design counter balance the weight nicely.  We have so much steep long climbing around here, I have become pretty “weight aware” on a mountain bike.  That’s not to say I’m a weight weenie; I just know when I’m riding a 30 lb bike vs something more 1 hour steep climb friendly.  I would not call it the perfect all around Marin bike, but that is just because of how much steep fire road climbing we have to do in order to reach any trail that is going to push this bike.  I can think of a few trails I would LOVE to get this thing on, but when I picture doing the climbs up to it over and over, I prefer my 429c with its more all-mountain build. 

The Firebird 275 bike that I rode was the most perfect bike I could imagine for the trail I rode it on.  I would not prefer any other bike.  It is very similar to the Mach 6 overall, but its just a little bit more bike.  More bike on the uphill and more bike on the downhill.  We were climbing at a very mellow pace today, so the bike was just fine, but if the pace dialed up, I would have been at a disadvantage over the 6.  The Mach 6 being carbon helped as well.  The stiffness to weight on carbon really shines on an all mountain application.  The way I see it, if I hit something hard enough to crack a carbon Pivot, then I am probably putting a catastrophic dent into a metal bike. 

Either way, the Firebird was impressive and super fun.  I want to get one now.  I think it would be the most perfect bike for the Tahoe area.  This bike could handle the downhill experience at Northstar and then go rip a Rim Trail run.  You could take it up to Downieville and do a loop as well.  It really is a fantastic blend of traits.  I think there are very few other bikes out there that could sit in this spot.  In some ways I think this is a better bike than the Mach 6.  I really feel like if I want a bike that can handle a technical, rocky, unadulterated downhill run, with jumps and drops, this is the bike.  It can still get up the climbs effectively, similar to the Mach 6, but then on the descent I can really open it up.  Geometry wise, the Firebird has a lower BB, shorter wheelbase, and longer chainstay length.  When you combine these attributes with a little more travel and a 36 fork, it makes for a uniquely handling bike   These are very personal preferences.  To be honest I really want all the bikes.  But when faced with a bike to compliment my current 429c, I think the Firebird would be a little better. 

All in all I was blown away by what Pivot is doing down in Arizona.  It is almost like they have their own little bike manufacturing and testing mecca.  All of the staff were welcoming and accommodating as well.  I look forward to the opportunity to reciprocate the experience and show the Arizona guys some good Marin trail riding!

Ride, Pizza, Beer at Studio Velo this Thursday

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PIZZA & BEER AT

STUDIO VELO THIS

THURSDAY!


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- Studio Velo, riding for good -

Join us this Thursday! Meet the founder and executive director of the dZi, ride with the team and/or swing by and enjoy food and beer on us while learning more about our important challenge.
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How many of you know that Studio Velo supports the incredibly-important non-profit, the dZi Foundation, who does deep development work in the high reaches of Nepal?

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Did you know that last year, when the Studio Velo / dZi Foundation Endless Ascent Team went to France to race in the largest, pro-am race in the world, the Trois Etapes  we, the US team, not only won the event but raised over $250,000 for the people of Nepal?

Considering each dollar spent in Nepal is doubled by the local population doing most of the school building, for example, this is an incredible feet for such a small 501c (3).

Both Chris Reed and Scott Penzarella will be racing in this year's race and many of you might know some of the other team members too. The team includes, returning rider, Chris Maddox, the youngest rider of the entire event, Eli Kranefuss, and the oldest rider of the B team, the famous Bill Keller, among others.
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Check out the team here, and the team site dedicated to our efforts this summer.

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THE SV/dZi 'ENDLESS ASCENT' THURSDAY NIGHT RIDE

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Come ride with us!
This is a social event and we want you come ride with us. There will be 3 groups, an A, B & C group with one Studio Velo dZi rider with each group.  The route will be up MT. Tam, like the standing Thursday Night Rides.

Details:
Thursday Night
Meet at Studio Velo: 5-6pm
Ride Groups rolling out from SV: 6-7:30pm
Pace: Social 2 Chili Pepper

Finish:  You are invited to turn around at any time and meet back at the store for pizza, beer & good-company.

Note: There will be many rider levels so feel free to come join us and ride at your own pace. We hope to see many of you out there this Thursday!


Please RSVP by email to sales@studiovelocycling.com

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You can learn more about the foundation, team, their goal and why they do what they do by visiting us online at the dZi Foundation & The Endless Ascent.
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This will be the third year in a row that Studio Velo has participated in the race. To learn more and read a first-hand account of the experience check out our blog from last year's race here.

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31 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
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Aspring to Be: Pivot & its people

Here at Studio Velo, we take pride in every aspect of our business. Details matter to us.  From bicycle repairs to bicycle fittings, from soft goods to hard goods, from cleanliness of the shop to presentation of the merchandise, Studio Velo and its employees believe each and every aspect of the business should satisfy and elevate the client experience.

Choosing brand partners who are as fanatic about service and details as we are is a key facet in this process. We are most proud of carefully selecting brand partners. We have high standards for ourselves and for the brands we carry and Pivot is no exception. In fact, we couldn’t be more excited about what the Arizona-based brand is doing these days.

I, Chris Reed, partner and store manager at Studio Velo, recently spent two full days with the fine folks at Pivot to take a closer look, from the inside out. The concept was simple: bring a very small number of Pivot dealers to tour the Pivot facility, meet the staff, ride their bikes and provide critical feedback to help Pivot better understand how they can support their dealers.  From the attendee standpoint, the execution and experience was a brilliant.

This was not the typical invitation to come sit in a conference room and drink the brand Koolaid.  This was an effort to be totally transparent, open and professional from a brand that is know for its dedication to holding the highest standards.  We toured their facilities, had several in-depth meetings and focus groups, shared many meals and, of course, road a host of Pivot bikes. 

Incredibly clean and organized, yet bustling and professional, the Pivot headquarters creates an incredible picture of the brand in and of itself:  it epitomizes the look and feel of what a high-end cycling brand, with an incredible understanding of who they are, should look like and be. From the company culture to the excitement of the staff, Pivot and its employees impart a way of life we all aspire to obtain.  

Shortly after arriving to HQ, I met Chris Cocalis, the founder of Pivot. Chris is a legend in the cycling industry.  A book could be written about Chris’ impact on and contributions to the industry as a whole. His tireless efforts and immense dedication to bringing Pivot to the forefront of the mountain bike world keep Chris involved in every aspect of the business.  Despite his busy schedule, Chris never left our side during the company visit; he never ceased sharing insights and back story to the band and its “meat and potatoes.”  His vision for greatness is obvious, and his ability to lead and guide his employees is evident: Chris, perhaps unknowingly, benefits from an incredible amount of respect and appreciation from his employees. It’s like a cult.  And if a book is ever written about Chris, I suspect it will be worth reading. 

 

 

Hand sketches that start the design process along with some exploded views of suspension bits on the drawing board in the design room

The next topic we explored was the actual production of the frames once the designs had been finalized.  Pivot pushes the limits with their visions and their designs which means production is no simple task.   They are able to accomplish feats that no other company can because of their incredible ability to design and innovate.  Pivot builds their bikes in Asia, like nearly every other bike manufacturer around, but they are also unlike any other bike manufacturer. What separates Pivot is their control over the entire build process.  They actually build specific tools, molds and jigs in Tempe, Arizona that allow the frame builders to execute the production to the exacting standards the designs call for.  The amount of quality control each frame goes through is exhausting.  But this is a clear example of Pivots commitment to excellence and the reason why their frames are regarded by so many as the best on the market.

Working behind the scenes is Bill, who handles the in-house machining, prototyping and jig and mold construction and just about any kind of creative tinkering and problem solving you could imagine.  His ability to fabricate is uncanny and his passion for building is remarkable.  When someone says something can’t be done, Bill finds the solution.  Bill’s talents elevate Pivot to another level. 

 

 

Bill’s handy work.: some suspension hardware and a side project, converting his moto into a 4-wheeled street machine.

While the people of the brand are exceptional, operation itself was nothing but impressive.  The layout, the lighting, the cleanliness and the organization were all reflections of their attention to detail.  Each department within the building was well thought out and running like a top.  And the extras steps taken by each person involved in getting bikes out the door doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Brake lines are cut and bled in house to ensure showroom bikes floors don’t have extra housing.  Every model size bike has a specific length assigned to it to ensure this.  The packaging of each component is meticulous and the attention every order gets is matched only by the attention provided by inside sales reps when orders are placed.

Even the storage facility at Pivot reflects their desire to be the best.  Perfectly organized rows of components, amazing lighting and a floor so clean it would pass the white glove test.  Even the boxes Pivot ships their frames in were carefully chosen to protect their cargo and be best in class. 

Pivot’s commitment to their dealers and their product is unparalleled.  They understand the importance of building a brand based on quality, performance and service.  And everyone at Pivot exemplifies this.  Once we talked through everything that needed discussing, it was time to ride some bikes. The first ride was a cross country focused, and the second tested the bikes on some truly technical terrain. 

I was given the new Mach 6 to ride on both days.  Some riders rode different bikes each day, but I wanted to try this bike on several different types of trail.  With 6” of travel and 27.5” wheels, the bike was incredibly capable in the technical sections but still a pleasure to pedal when the trail kicked up.  And one of the most enjoyable parts of the riding was watching Chris Cocalis tear it up on the technical terrain.  I don’t think there would be too many presidents of mountain bike companies who could stay on his wheel when the trail got rough.  Of course, he has been riding these trails since the late 80’s and that is where he tests each prototype of each bike, but knows how to handle a bike.  And it’s safe to say the crew from Pivot don’t just build and sell bikes, they ride them hard as well. 

Once Chris and his crew proved to me that they not only build incredible bikes but can ride them too, I came away more proud than ever to be a Pivot Dealer. The product line sits atop a very competitive market, but the people at Pivot are undoubtedly working hard to make sure it stays there.

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Father's Day Gift Ideas!

Father's Day Gift Ideas!
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THANKS DAD!

- Studio Velo has all of the gift's you are looking for! -

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WE KNOW WHAT
DAD WANTS THIS YEAR
.

We have picked out a few great gift ideas that will help you celebrate the great man you know your dad is!
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He tied our shoes, changed our diapers, rocked us back to sleep and loves us unconditionall; now it is our turn to take care of him. We know that dads can be hard to shop for so we have put together a few items we love and think he might too!
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A bonus of shopping with Studio Velo is that we likely know your father. Check out our suggested items online or swing by the shop and we can help you pick out the perfect gift, make sure it it is the correct size and tell you what he has been "hinting" at for the last month.
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To see some suggestions visit our Father's Day Gift Ideas page online or read below for a few more great options! Visit us online or call (415) 380-1882 with inquires about the items.

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CYCLING APPAREL

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We all know that Dad loves to ride his bike and so do we. From caps to helmets, sunglasses to jerseys, and bibs to jackets, we have everything he wants while on the bike. Choose gifts from top brands like Rapha, Assos, Capo and Kitsbow or pick up a gift card towards anything in the store, including bike repairs!

Swing by the shop or check out some of the incredible brands we offer online here.

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CASUAL WEAR

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Aside from cycling gear and accessories we offer a fantastic selection of men's casual wear. Studio Velo has been lucky enough to partner with some great cycling brands but nothing beats supporting a local business like Taylor Stitch. A San Francisco-based company and our personal friends, we love featuring them in our shop! From fitted denim to custom SV button down shirts, we will make Dad look good!

Check out what we have available from Taylor Stitch here.

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ACCESSORIES

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Sometimes it is the little things that make us the happiest. From socks and gloves to sunglasses and watches, shower Dad with gifts this Father's Day!

Not looking for anything cycling specific? We are honored to carry not only the Shinola bikes but their watches and wallets as well. Reviving a storied brand and setting up shop in the old GM factory in Detroit, Shinola is fueling the American economy and defining American luxury through American quality.


While we do not display the watches online we are well stocked in the shop. Swing by and see what we have today or see what other accessories we offer online here!

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31 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
US

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2014 EMPLOYEE BIKE SALE & ITALY ADVENTURE!

2014 Employee Bike Sale & Italy Adventure!
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2014 EMPLOYEE BIKE

SALE & ITALY

ADVENTURE!

- Buy the best, test the best, sell the best -


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IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!
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Once again Studio Velo is having our employee sale!
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We are constantly testing and riding the best in the industry, and now we are offering these top-of-the-line bikes and frames to you at great prices!
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The cycling industry is constantly growing and evolving and the best way to keep up is to change with it. Every year new bikes and other cycling goodies come onto the scene and we need them! However, we don't have nearly enough storage space to keep it all. Instead we want to offer our top-of-the-line and slightly used bikes to all of you for extremely low prices!
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With all the money you will save on your new bike you will have plenty leftover to spend in Italy! Join Studio Velo this summer in Piemonte for another round of world-class cycling in the beautiful region of northern Italy.

You can read more about the trip below or sign up to join us on this incredible adventure online today!

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2014 EMPLOYEE BIKE SALE!

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We feature some of the most exclusive brands in the business including Independent Fabrication, Guru, De Rosa, Cyfac, Pivot and Ellsworth. To compliment these brands and to embrace the lifestyle of riding, we personally ride and test everything we sell. If we wouldn't ride it, we definitely wouldn't sell it!

All very well kept by bike lovers and enthusiasts just like you, these bikes range from brand new or slightly used to ridden for a season or just demo rides. Take a look at our 2014 Employee Sale page to see some great bikes at prices that will make you drool!

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ITALY ADVENTURE 2014

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SV:Travel brings back one of our most successful European Tours of all time. We have one full week's journey to this special region, with the perfect combination of food, drink, rides & fun for all riders. All rides depart from our intimate 4-star hotel where you will experience the best of northern Italy. We will ride some of the famous Giro climbs & quiet valley roads, while also spending time at some of Italy's most unique wine areas. We will ride the rolling hills of the Lange Region while taking in this remote region's culinary & wine treasures!

Dates:  July 26th to August 2nd (Saturday to Saturday)

Trip Includes:

  • 7 days/ 7 nights (with the option of 7 riding days or 6 with one rest day and wine tour)
  • All breakfast & dinners (excludes alcohol)
  • Full SAG support daily, two professional guides, maps, nutritionals & much more
  • Pick up in Turin, Italy (A major International Destination w/ connections via London, Frankfort, etc)
  • Luxury accommodations with pool & full-service spa.  
  • Ride both the Italian & French Alps.
  • Local bike rental available at additional cost (Studio Velo to handle logistics, bike measurement set up, etc)
You can read more about the trip or sign up to join us on this incredible adventure online today!
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Studio Velo Cycling
31 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
US

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