Tempe company rolls into Rio with Olympic mountain biker

PRESCOTT —In the mountain biking world, the mechanics of the bike are just as important as the riding itself. Rio-bound Chloe Woodruff prepared in Prescott for her first Olympics on locally-engineered, custom-painted equipment.

Woodruff, 29, will compete in mountain biking for Team USA. She is sponsored by Tempe-based Pivot Cycles. The company provides her with frames and bike parts specially fit for an Olympian, including a custom-painted frame just for Rio.

“We are super excited about supporting an Arizona athlete as our first Olympian,” Pivot’s marketing manager Carla McCord said. “She’s a local girl and we’re psyched to support a local racer.”

Riding with technology

Long-time mountain bike designer and rider Chris Cocalis founded Pivot in 2007 with the idea of creating a bike company that was technologically driven. Cocalis left the previous cycling company he founded, Titus, to start up Pivot, which manufactures its bikes in Tempe and ships all over the country.

“He’s one of the secret leaders in the industry,” McCord said.

Cocalis was one of the first engineers to make Pivot mountain bikes with fully integrated electronic shifting. This enables Woodruff to select the gear and the bike will electronically shift for her as she rides with more precision than traditional, mechanical shifting.

“We’re driven by pursuing whatever it takes to make a bike the very best bike it can be,” McCord said. “The best bikes are the most fun, and if we can make it so that you have more fun on a trail, then that is how we measure our success.”

Woodruff will be the first U.S. Olympian to use a Pivot bike in the Olympics.

“Pivot has a really great line of bikes and on all of those bikes, they have really great sizing options,” said TJ Woodruff, Chloe’s husband, coach and mechanic.

Chloe, at 5-feet-2-inches tall, said she is comfortable on a Pivot bike that is made specifically for someone of her stature, which can be hard to find in other bike companies. Their engineers design custom frames ranging from extra small to extra large so riders don’t have to compromise their equipment.

“There was no struggle with getting the right fit for Chloe. It’s pretty unique, and that’s not always the case with every bike manufacturer,” said TJ, who built the bike Chole will be riding in the Olympics.

The company offers bikes similar to Chloe’s ranging from $3,499 to $8,199, with hers at the top of that range.

Chloe’s bike, the Pivot LES, is designed to do everything she will be doing on the Rio race course, which was custom built for the games.

Chloe was able to see the Deodoro track last October in Rio during an Olympic test event. There, she was able to get a close look at the terrain, which she said is similar to the dirt she rides on in Prescott.

Partners beyond the bike

Pivot’s high-quality engineering was not the only reason Chloe joined with the company. She also said she appreciated Pivot’s engagement in the closely-knit racing community, especially in Prescott.

“Pivot has been a great fit because they’ve got a big interest in what we are doing in the racing front and we have a big interest in what they’re doing in the engineering, the research and development and how they give back to the community,” she said.

As mountain biking grows in northern Arizona, racers and companies are looking for ways to reach out to young riders eager to get their racing careers in gear.

“So much of what motivates us is seeing a future in the sport and seeing people discover mountain biking,” said TJ, who runs an under-23 development team up north to motivate young people to race.

“We’ve gained a lot from this sport and it’s a lifestyle that we are fortunate to be a part of and to make the most of,” he said.

Pivot is one of several founding sponsors of the Arizona High School Cycling League and also sponsors local racing series such as Epic Rides’ Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, a race Chloe competes in every year.

“Chloe is really methodical and thoughtful in her approach to racing and we really believe that she is a big part of the future of women’s mountain biking in the U.S.,” McCord said.