Pivot is an ultra-desirable MTB brand hoping to make its mark on the UK. BikeBiz caught up with sales specialist for the brand Alex Smith
This piece first appeared in the October edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Pivot bikes may not yet be a common site on the trails and bike parks of the UK – but that is going to be changing very quickly.
The US-based brand, which specialises in the highest end mountain bikes, recently joined the Saddleback portfolio, as it has increased its focus on the UK market.
With a new distributor in the UK, a new president in Bryan Mason who was promoted in 2022, and the launch of some exciting new bikes, Pivot is well-positioned to take the UK’s performance MTB market by storm.
To find out more about the brand and its plans, I visited the Saddleback house show, held at the distributor’s HQ just outside of Bristol, and spoke with sales specialist Alex Smith.
Know your worth
The first thing a potential customer or retailer might notice about a Pivot bike is the price – they’re not cheap.
For a short-travel trail machine like the Pivot Trail 429 Pro, you’re looking at forking out around £8,200, while the newest addition to the Pivot range, the Pivot Shuttle LT starts out at £10,000.
But Pivot is not shy about its pricing, instead the brand is keen to shout about the quality of its products, and the significant amount of research that goes into manufacturing processes and into each component selected for a Pivot bike.
“Our brand pillars are relentless, aspirational, and welcoming,” said Smith, explaining the Pivot philosophy.
“In the relentless aspect, we’re always chasing the next leading edge, so whether it’s making a revision to a current model, or deciding that we’re going to add a model to the lineup, we’re looking for the next best thing we can do to give riders the best experience.
“We make very expensive bikes, because the manufacturing process is so involved and complicated.
“Maybe it’s not the everyman’s bike, but it’s a premium, high level product, and that takes a lot of work, and I think people will put in a lot of work to have one for themselves.”
A brief history
The history of Pivot Cycles dates back to the 1980s, when founder Chris Cocalis began making his first bike products while a freshman at Arizona State University.
After repeatedly snapping BMX bottom brackets, Cocalis began making his own, and patented his design under the name Snake Cycles.
In 1989, Cocalis moved into bike building with his brand Titus Cycles, and in 1991, the brand released its first full suspension MTB.
Eventually, Cocalis would turn his focus to the development of carbon components, before he would eventually part ways with Titus Cycles.
In 2007 he founded Pivot.
Part of the reason for the premium price point for Pivot bikes is the brand’s use of carbon.
Pivot uses a proprietary process for its carbon called Hollow Core Carbon Molding. Using internal moulding technology and the highest quality carbon fibre. The process prevents wrinkles, voids and resin pools inside the frame, which makes them stronger and lighter.
Why the UK?
With its following already established in the US, Pivot has been targeting the UK as a key market, but why does the brand feel these shores are a strong location for its bikes?
“The tracks here are gnarly,” said Smith. “If you don’t ride in rough conditions in this part of the world, you’ll never ride.
“So people put bikes through the maximum, and that makes exceptional riders, and it also makes a relentless rider demographic.
“We’re learning through the process, in partnership with Saddleback, what the voice of the UK dealer and customer is, because that’s two pieces of the same puzzle.”
On the relationship with Saddleback, which also distributes premium brands like ENVE, Moots, and Troy Lee Designs, Smith added: “With a high-level distributor like Saddleback, we’re just thrilled to be in line with these other premium brands, and to try to work with the dealers so that we can also learn from them.
“We’re definitely dealer focused.”
Pivot aims to offer its dealers plenty of support, whether that be by managing its supply chain to protect the IBD, or by helping dealers understand the servicing process (for example, Pivot bearings are non-standard).
Smith also had some key tips for dealers considering stocking Pivot, that may just help them sell these premium bikes: “Stocking the product on the floor so customers can actually feel and experience it [is key].
“Demo bikes also give them a chance to ride the bike. You can tell someone the bike is going to be the best bike they’ve ever owned, but unless they experience it, you’re just selling them an idea.
“And you need brand champions – a brand champion is a voice in the community who can rave about your brand and for us at shop level, we’re looking for ambassadors. Someone ripping around the local trail.
“We’ve found that invigorates the IBD model in the best way.”