menu
EN
Back to menu

Choose your language

Blogs
07 May 2019

Interview with Chris Cocalis of Pivot Cycles

Shimano STEPS driver Brant Havro sat down with Pivot Cycles owner and e-bike enthusiast, Chris Cocalis, to discuss the progression of the Pivot Shuttle, e-MTB trends, land access, and more.

Pivot launched the first fully carbon, full suspension, e-mountain bike in 2018 with the introduction of the Shuttle. Breaking the mold for the stereotypical “heavy” e-bike, Pivot put in hours designing a frame that not only looks sleek with an integrated STEPs battery, but came in at a just 44 pounds.  

 

Chris Cocalis_ Sea Otter eMTB Race
Chris racing at the Sea Otter Classic e-MTB race on board his Pivot Shuttle.

   

Chris, It’s been almost 2 years now since you have launched the Pivot Shuttle; what’s been the overall take in the North American market so far?

We had a lot of requests for the Shuttle in the US (after launching it Europe) so we developed a US version which we started selling in April of 2018. It has exceeded our expectations. Initially, some of those that had not experienced it questioned our decision to bring it to the US, but one year later, there's really been a shift in overall perception and acceptance. It's certainly not 100% acceptance but we are moving in a positive direction.  

 

Aaron Chase_ Flagstaff2_ Ben Stanziale
Pivot athlete Aaron Chase has fully embraced the Shuttle e-MTB. Check out his Instagram for some of his rad e-MTB adventures.

  

What do you see as the biggest difference between the US and European e-bike market?

In Europe, e-bikes really started out as environmentally friendly transportation. They were able to reduce trips taken by car by a significant amount.  The European market had positive acceptance right from the beginning. The mountain bike was seen as a logical extension of this and also experienced immediate acceptance. The situation here is a little different as we are still working through the idea of a class 1 e-bike being considered the same as a standard bike. Unlike the EU, every state has varying laws and the mountain bike community as a whole is still trying to get their arms around what e-MTB access might do to their trail access. We didn't have the base to start with so it's just taking longer to educate, experience and change some of the current laws and perceptions.  

 

Your Pivot e-bike driver, Damon Williams, has been traveling around the Western states the past year doing primarily Shuttle demos. Will we see him target the East Coast in the next year?

We are trying to be the best resource possible and we provide links to information as to how to find e-MTB legal trails. We also donate a portion of every Shuttle sale to IMBA so that they can have the funding needed to help educate trail builder and municipalities as to the benefits of allowing at least Class 1 e-MTB's on their trails. It's important to us that we do this right and that riders do not take their bikes on trails where they are not permitted. The bike industry with a lot of action and support and People for Bike's has done a good job gaining significant ground in legality and access. It's moved faster than I would have expected but we need to keep moving in a positive direction by trying our best to follow the existing rules and working in the proper way to gain access where it makes sense.  

 

How does your team tell the story to consumers where e-MTB can and cannot be ridden?

We are trying to be the best resource possible and we provide links to information as to how to find e-MTB legal trails. We also donate a portion of every Shuttle sale to IMBA so that they can have the funding needed to help educate trail builder and municipalities as to the benefits of allowing at least Class 1 e-MTB's on their trails. It's important to us that we do this right and that riders do not take their bikes on trails where they are not permitted. The bike industry with a lot of action and support and People for Bike's has done a good job gaining significant ground in legality and access. It's moved faster than I would have expected but we need to keep moving in a positive direction by trying our best to follow the existing rules and working in the proper way to gain access where it makes sense.  

 

   

Maricopa county recently made it legal for Class 1 & 2 e-MTB’s. What was Pivot’s role in this? Are there any other counties you are targeting in Arizona opening up e-MTB?

We started with helping to get the law passed in Arizona so that we could have an actual e-bike classification system. That was a fair amount of work with Pivot, Brandi from Global Bikes, People for Bikes and local enthusiasts that had some lobbying experience and was just not happy that he couldn't ride his e-MTB on his local trails. From there, we met with South Mountain Park and addressed any questions they had and used the example of Jefferson County's acceptance of Class 1 e-MTB's on the trails in and around Denver. They made the decision to allow access based on this.  The fact that there is now a state law in place to support that decision gives the parks the legal support they needed to move forward. We were not as directly involved in the county parks decision to allow access but having the law in place and a passionate group of riders definitely makes it an easier decision for parks and other municipalities to allow access. The mountain bike community in Arizona is really strong and much of the trail building and trail maintenance in and around the Phoenix area is done by mountain bike organizations. This really helps when it comes to something like this, as we have a positive relationship with our parks. 

 

As far as other areas, we are doing our best to do things right and we will do what we can to support People for Bikes and IMBA to be a positive influence for all mountain bike access. We spend a lot of time discussing this access with dealers and helping to educate them on the best ways to promote it in their area if it's something they believe in.  

 

What type of role do you see e-bikes playing in Pivot’s future?

It's a strong market for us in the US and Europe but a small part of what Pivot is and what we stand for.  First and foremost, we make cutting edge mountain bikes and the e-MTB segment is just part of that.  We will continue developing and testing e-MTB's with the goal of innovating and being market leaders across a variety of categories.

 

Chris Cocalis_ Austria

   

What style e-bike do you see becoming the next trend? Backcountry, lightweight, downhill?

We can't give away all our secrets but I do think that any category that is successful with standard mountain bikes will most likely have success with e-MTB's as well.  

 

Best advice for new people entering the sport?

First, make sure it's legal to ride where you live. Second, if you have a chance to attend one of our e-MTB demos, you should do so. It's about as much fun as you can have on two wheels. If you’re a hard core, ultra-fit mountain biker, you'll love it and discover another way to add bikes to your collection and spend more time on two wheels. If you are totally new to this or haven't ridden in a while, it's the perfect way to get back into it. It evens the fitness playing field and allows less fit riders to have more fun, go on longer rides and ultimately get in better shape.