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Made in Colorado 2017: Backyard laboratory makes Moots Cycles a success story

Steamboat Springs-based cycle maker energized active mountain town mindset.


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Product: Routt Gravel Bikes | Made in: Steamboat Springs | www.MOOTS.com

Kent Eriksen started Moots in the back of a bike shop in 1981. More than 25,000 bicycles later, the company's focus remains squarely on quality.

"Our philosophy is all about building the best bikes we can that ride like no other bikes out there," says Jon Cariveau, marketing director and a Moots employee since the mid-1990s. "[Customers] always say there's something magical about their Moots."

In 1981, that meant steel road bikes, followed by a focus on mountain bikes. The 1990s brought titanium frames as mountain bikes went mainstream. Moots grew, and Eriksen sold the company to later start another manufacturing operation.

In the new millennium, Moots stayed on the leading edge of the market with gravel bikes, offering the best of both worlds. 

There's a reason the 23-employee company keeps originality and invention front and center.

"What happens in our industry is the little guys are the ones who can afford to experiment," says Cariveau. "Where we're really finding our niche is in nice road bikes and gravel bikes."

The latter is exemplified by the Routt series, which debuted in 2014. "We figured out that we could tweak some geometry and the equipment and make a bike that's much better on gravel," says Cariveau.

"It's a cool movement," he adds. "A lot of people use it as the Swiss Army Knife of bikes. A lot of people don't want six bikes in their garage."

One strategy, says Cariveau, is "sourcing the best materials we can." That means U.S.-made titanium tubing. "That is by far the best titanium you can get. It also comes with a hefty price tag, but we don't have any problems with quality."

Moots' bikes are priced accordingly, starting at $6,000. "The philosophy with Moots is not cutting any corners," says Cariveau. "We could cut half the price and use Chinese tubing."

Why Steamboat Springs? "It's not a cheap place to manufacture, but it's part of our history, and Colorado as an overarching brand has a lot of recognition," says Cariveau. "It's a big part of our DNA.”

And there's a natural R&D lab just beyond the factory floor, he adds. "We're five minutes away from world-class single-track, and two pedal strokes away from world-class dirt roads and paved roads."

Read more: Why Moots is such an amazing place to work.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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