Gravel Comfortably Fast With The New Pivot Vault

Pivot Cycles Vault Gravel Bike

Improved comfort seems to be a reoccurring theme for the recent crop of gravel bikes, and the latest redesigned Vault from the Tempe, Arizona-based Pivot Cycle aims to make those rough rides better with its tunable ISO FLEX technology that uses a rubberized sleeve to isolate vibration from the seat post.

Pivot Cycles Vault Gravel Bike Iso Flex
Pivot Cycles Vault Gravel Bike Iso Flex

Don’t fret because you can still run a dropper in there. 1x/2x friendly with space for crank arm-based power meters, clearance for 700x45C and 650b x 2.0″ tires in a lightweight carbon chassis utilizing their cutting-edge hollow-core molding technology.

Pivot Cycles Vault Gravel Bike BB386

Welp, we are also having a rough time choosing between the slate blue and the sandstorm paint job. Available today.

Hot Steeds Straight Out Of InterBike

Wilier Cento10Air
Photo: Stephen Lam/

Now that one of our other writers has waxed on and on about InterBike leaving Las Vegas (see what I did there?), I am not going to bring up the glorious days of yesteryear.

I wasn’t there at the beginning because the show actually predates my existence. And because I’ve only actually attended a handful of times, three to be exact.

But what I will say is that there were still plenty of neat things to be found scattered all over the show floor inside Mandalay Convention Center. I am going to split the coverage into a three-part series with the first installment being all about the bikes.

Focus Project Y

Focus Project Y eBike
Photo: Stephen Lam/

Perhaps the first eBike that I really really really want to try and man, does this bike look good. Focus was mum on the exact specs of this prototype, but certain is that the bike can be ridden without its one-piece removable motor and battery unit as a regular road bike. The bike comes in at about 26 lbs total with the 250W power unit installed and 8 lbs less without it, essentially making it one of the lighter eBikes out there. The flat mount disc-only carbon frame also comes packed with design cues from the German firm’s lineup such as a 148x12mm Boost thru-axle out back and 110x12mm up front with its proprietary Rapid Axles Technology (RAT), plus full internal cable routing to keep it clean. Please hurry up and release it already.

Pivot Mach 5.5 10th Anniversary Edition

Pivot Mach 5.5 10th Anniversary Edition
Photo: Stephen Lam/

Pivot Cycles has been on a roll lately and their latest offering, the Mach 5.5 10th Anniversary Edition, is as good as putting the cherry on the cake. At its core, the 140mm DW-link equipped frame is the same as the regular Mach 5.5 which was updated earlier this year. The only difference is its bitchin’ blue paint job plus color-coordinated parts top to bottom from its blue-railed WTB Volt saddle all the way to matching Industry Nine hubs laced to Reynolds rims with of course, custom graphics for what many feel is one of the best trail/do-it-all bikes currently on the market. Only 300 of these will be available so better jump on it.

Tern GSD eCargo bike

Tern GSD eCargo bike
Photo: Stephen Lam/

With the GSD, Tern proves that one doesn’t have to juggle between mobility and load capacity. Despite it’s lanky looks, the GSD’s wheelbase is comparable to many full size eBikes. I was able to do a very short spin inside the convention center (don’t tell Mandalay Bay) and it felt lively, even with a full-grown rep sitting on the cargo rack. The disc-brake equipped GSD is designed to carry two Thule Yepp Maxi child seats with room to spare, up to 400lbs of cargo, and the Bosch powered drivetrain with dual-battery will provide enough juice up to 150 miles in one charge. The compact step-thru frame also allows multiple riders between 4′ 8″ to 6’4″ to operate the bike. Furthermore, true to Tern’s reputation as a folding bike company, the GSD’s telescoping seatpost and steer can be folded which effectively reduces its volume to half and it can also be placed vertically (like in an elevator) thanks to the built-in stand on the rack. Even the German-made Hebie kickstand is designed to support up to 80kg. Could this be the X5 of cargo eBikes?

Alchemy Atlas

Alchemy Atlas
The Alchemy Atlas. Photo: Stephen Lam/

With many of the large companies abandoning InterBike, it was great to see the boutique builders such as Denver’s Alchemy on the floor. The Atlas disc isn’t new but that sparkly orange on black paint job with matching graphics on pretty much every place imaginable goes to show how good their paint work is and what it’s capable of. Still trying to find out why it doesn’t have a rear fender though.

Bianchi Specialissima Pantani Anniversary

Photo: Stephen Lam/

While the Alchemy Atlas got me all like ‘damn, that’s nice,’ I had to backtrack to take this one in. Bianchi has been offering their race-proven Specialissima for a few years now with its 780-gram frame and a proprietary Countervail vibration reduction system to soak up the unpleasantries. The bigger story is that the bike is painted to the classy Bianchi celeste and Mercatone Uno yellow identical to the one Marco Pantani used to dominate the 1998 Giro AND Tour. If there’s any paint that automatically connects to a Bianchi, this paint job has to be it. Much like how people associate Colnago C40s with Mapei (and Johan Museeuw). Also happy to know Bianchi didn’t carry over any of their structural foam injections from the Il Pirata days.

Van Dessel Country Road Bob

Van Dessel Country Road Bob. Photo: Stephen Lam/

Look at those curves. I mean, look at them. The Van Dessel Country Road Bob, last produced in 2005 is back in the Van Dessel lineup. This aluminum single-speed adventure machine comes with TRP Hylex S hydraulic RS brakes/levers, plus 650b WTB’s fast-rolling Byway tires straight of the box. It’s $1,499.99…for the complete bike that I had to do a double take on to make sure that’s not the price for just the frameset. The Country Road Bob is compatible with a rear derailleur and a 700c wheelset should you decide you need a change of pace.

Wilier Cento10NDR

Wilier Cento10NDR. Photo: Stephen Lam/

Walking down the Italian isle of InterBike is always something to look forward to every year. There are usually a few booths that show nothing but chamois and so many colored fabrics you’d swear they have the whole RGB color model covered. Then, there are bright Italian shoes, helmets… and of course, bikes. Not to be outdone, Wilier Triestina teamed up with Chef Matthew Accarrino of San Francisco’s SPQR restaurant to give out proscuitto-wrapped breadsticks with truffle butter in the middle of the booth next to some especially shiny rigs. The Cento10NDR combines the aerodynamic quantity of the Cento10AIR, but with a more forgiving endurance geometry and what Wilier calls ACTIFLEX. ACTIFLEX employs a small elastomer and a tiny aluminum linkage between the seattube and the seatstay to absorb vibration from the road.  The frame and fork are designed with interchangeable dropouts to accommodate either traditional quick release or thru-axles. You can even choose to run direct-mount caliper rim brakes (with up to 28mm tires) or flat-mount hydraulic brakes (with up to 32mm tires). The choice is yours.

Wilier Cento10AIR. Photo: Stephen Lam/

Speaking of the Cento10AIR, The metallic burnt orange finish on the Cento10AIR IS SO FREAKING SHINY. Turns out the finish is electroplated and will come standard for 2018.

3T Strada

Photo: Stephen Lam/

We first reported the Strada during PressCamp in July when it was just a black, unmarked machine. 3T’s idea of building a dedicated single-chainring road bike has remained the same since and we now know the two dedicated 9-32 cassettes called the Bailout and the Overdrive with different gear spacing (but keeping the same 356% range) to compliment the sole chain ring. The show bike is coated in a sweet coat of red paint as it prepares to be released to the public. The final red paint job will be less pinkish and closer to the 3T red found on their logos but I actually don’t mind this slight pinkish hue. It’s different. The Strada will be raced by UCI Professional Continental Team Aqua Blue Sport next year so it’ll be interesting to see a pro team race exclusively on a 1X drivetrain.

Moots Vamoots Disc RSL

Photo: Stephen Lam/

Ahhh, titanium, the once uber material of the future, only to be now dwarfed by carbon fiber. There isn’t as many titanium bikes at InterBike as there once was when even companies like Mongoose (yes, the very same Mongoose brand available at Target) had a Titanium line (and attended the show). While the Vamoots Disc RSL shown is more or less a carrier to showcase  Campagnolo’s H11Super Record EPS groupset, there’s something to be said about a meticulously welded titanium frame with nothing but a brushed finish. See that trick one-piece dropout? It’s 3D printed titanium. So fresh, so clean.

Carla McCord at Pivot Cycles Takes Your Fun Budget Seriously

Carla McCord of Pivot Cycles. Photo: Stephen Lam/

Carla McCord is a veteran of the cycling industry. Now the marketing manager at Pivot Cycle, she’s been a bike shop salesperson, a mechanic, and a graphic designer. She was even there when the first woman-specific Terry saddle was introduced (more on that in a bit.)

Named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in the Industry by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News in 2014, Carla has been helping various companies in marketing and communicating products to customers. Call it the bridge between you and [insert your favorite bike company here]. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s easier said than done really, as you’ll read in the following interview.

On top of it all, Carla is one of the nicest and hardest working people I’ve had a chance to meet since I’ve started shooting/writing cycling stuff. Oh, and I hear she’s blazing fast on the bike, too.

So what do you really do for work?

Well, the official title is the marketing manager for Pivot Cycles. The unofficial title would be more interesting. You know, it’s a funny combo, marketing is a lot of things to a lot of people and I think there’s an impression out there that you’ll spend a lot of time bro-ing down … I joke about it all the time that I am at these events just to give free stuff and hangout.

And the reality is that is actually a very tiny part of it. The biggest part is you’re trying to think about what is it you do and how that is going to be interesting to people. You’ll spend a lot of time strategizing, you’ll spend a lot of time planning one year, two years down the road. I am in a really privileged place in a sense that my job is to essentially make people happy.

It’s a huge responsibility. We think about this, the stuff we make at Pivot, these bikes, when someone decides to buy one of our bikes and that’s going to be the thing they ride. For most people that is a significant thing—that’s going to be their fun budget for a while. So it’s a huge responsibility to make sure we communicate in a way they get the real one, it fits them perfectly, it’s set up perfectly so that six months from now, heck, we’re responsible for their fun. They believe our stuff is going to help them to go out and to enjoy the trails, the mountains, the desert and we‘ve got to make sure we hold up to our end of the bargain. So we work really hard to do that.

Were you always in marketing?

Oh gosh that’s the funny one. I have a painting degree. I have a BFA from the University of Washington and I was really serious about it for a while. And then I realized I can pay my bills if I’m employed. At the same time I had worked my way through college at bike shops as a mechanic and salesperson.

The wrenching was an accident. And honestly I wasn’t that great of a wrench. Though if you’ve got a 20 year-old, one-inch-threaded-everything beater old road bike and a campy tool set, I can fix the hell out of that bike. Since then, there are other mechanics that are better than I am.

But I was actually really good at helping people find things and helping people solve their problems. I started working at bike shops pretty much exactly the same time the first women’s saddle was introduced. It was about ’91-’92.

Georgena Terry should be in the cycling hall of fame for that saddle. It really was that one product. For years it was like you had to know that in order to make your saddle comfortable as a woman means you go to the bike shop, borrow the dremel tool and dremel out the plastic in the inside of the nose of the saddle. For beginner cyclists, that was completely inaccessible. They didn’t even know what to ask.

Being a woman in a bike shop in the ’90s was really, really rare. I happened to work at a woman-owned bike shop in Seattle so it was even more rare. I learned a lot of cool stuff about how to talk to different demographics of people not as demographics, and that’s one of the things that was really important.

How many golf balls can you fit in a school bus?

I’ll just guess: 567,000

Uphill or downhill?


First thing you’d do as a captain of a pirate ship?

I’d probably make sure everybody has really frilly blouses because I want a really picture-esque pirate ship that’s aesthetically pleasing. I would design the pirate ship experience to make it visually impressive.

A friend’s coming over, what would you cook them for dinner?

That’s pretty easy. That’s all about getting some really good Mexican food going. That is just my home food. Awesome guacs, good skirt steak, and some homemade tortilla if I am really adventurous but honestly my tortillas are really bad. More guac because I am an avocado addict. I used to live in LA and that is definitely something I miss about LA, just the nonstop availability of a Mexican butcher shop.

Describe your idea of a perfect holiday.

I am kind of a sit in one place kind of person so when I go on vacation what I like to do is to find a spot and basically live there as long as I can. Honestly my vacation I usually try to turn into something I can also get a little work in so I can stay for a month. The cool thing about that is you get to know the local restaurants, bakeries, the food, the people and you’ll start to see the stuff you don’t see otherwise. Always got to have a bike on hand cause you’ll see so many more things on bike than by car. I walk everywhere, always with a loved one, so I’d definitely go with my husband Cam … and our baby on the way … it’ll be a family vacation.

Carla McCord of Pivot Cycles. Photo: Stephen Lam/

If you were a stalker would you be good at it?

Yeah I’d be awesome at it actually. I am really good at getting information. It’s part of being a good marketing manager. You have to be able to do your research, to do your Google things. You’ve got to be able to come up with ideas and figure things from what you find, so I think I’ll be pretty kickass at it.

Most embarrassing story?

I don’t know. I got myself tangled up with some packing tape this morning.

Chosen superpower?

I’d like to be a Google billionaire so I can give all my money away to all the schools. I think it’s something that’s really important that we don’t do enough of.

Choose a car, any car, to represent yourself.

Exactly the car I drive. It’s a Subaru Outback with all kinds of things attached to it. It’s got a rooftop box, a Thule rack, and special shocks so I can run a 4 banger Thule rack and not bottom out my rear suspension.

It’s filled with Border Collie hair at all times. You can’t get into my car without getting coated in dog hair because I always have a dog. There’s probably one snow shoe and some camping gear.

If you were an animal in the wild, what would you be?

Ravens, because they’re super smart. They remember everything and they know you. If you’ve got local ravens they see you. They’re gorgeous that there are lot of beautiful colors in their feathers. Ravens just seem like they kind of have it together. They’re always out there doing interesting raven stuff that they seem they’re smart enough that they have plans.

Any advice for those looking into breaking into this sport industry?

You can’t just think it’s a bro thing. And by bro I mean all these folks want to come in thinking it’s super easy, fun time thing that they get to be a cool guy.

I spend a lot of time in front of Excel, work really hard, think a lot about what I am doing and I also have a lot of folks who work really hard around me. It’s awesome and I try to be respectful of that.

At the same time, it’s a small industry and the most important thing is to have integrity around what you do because if you don’t, man, first of all, what are you doing for yourself, and in the end, that’ll come back to you six months or six years down the road. Somebody’s going to remember and you’ll see the same people over and over. It’s important that you treat them all very well.