Inside Specialized Bicycles

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2/7/2014 11:23 AM

I paid a visit to Specialized Bicycles just before the Oakland round to see what they're up to. If you're into cycling (or are thinking of getting into cycling, this one's worth checking out for sure. A lot of the guys up there love both cycling and moto, and they've been working with a ton of MX/SX athletes like Brayton, Hahn, Reed, Villopoto, Nelson, Seely, Wilson, and more.

A few of you might know that I worked there back in the '90s. It was my first trip back there in probably 15 years or so, and I was blown away with how much it had changed, but the Innovate or Die mantra is definitely still in effect.

http://www.vitalmx.com/photos/features/Inside-Specialized,37806/Slideshow,0/GuyB,64

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2/7/2014 11:46 AM

Was your graffiti still on the wall of the third stall?
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2/7/2014 11:52 AM

Way cool! I know that in the cycling community, some people have a problem with the big "S" business practices, but I can't remember a time in my 15-years of cycling that I didn't have at least one Specialized in my quiver of bikes. I currently have two: My Roubaix and my wife's Mika mountain bike. From their entry level bikes to their top-shelf stuff, they make a great product.

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2/7/2014 12:00 PM

I have had a few specialized bikes in the past and don't get me wrong, they are good bikes. I just didn't feel like I was getting a bang for my buck like I do on some smaller brands. I currently ride an Intense and I love that the company is still really small and really hands-on. One of the things that steered me away from specialized was the way they portrayed themselves in bike shops. Every bike shop that was a specialized dealer seemed to operate similarly...and that was to jam specialized product down your throat. Need a tire? Buy this specialized one. Need a tube (I know, no one uses tubes anymore, haha)? Buy this specialized one. Need a helmet? Buy this specialized one. Etc. etc. etc. I like to feel like a bought a bike from a bike company...not a marketing company who sells their product based on a the best looking decals and paint schemes. Don't get me wrong, they make a badass looking bike and I really feel like they are putting a good product out there. It's just not my cup of tea. But more power to them because they are obviously doing something right and have a real stranglehold on the market.

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2/7/2014 12:55 PM

hvaughn88 wrote:

I have had a few specialized bikes in the past and don't get me wrong, they are good bikes. I just didn't feel like I was getting a bang for my buck like I do on some smaller brands. I currently ride an Intense and I love that the company is still really small and really hands-on. One of the things that steered me away from specialized was the way they portrayed themselves in bike shops. Every bike shop that was a specialized dealer seemed to operate similarly...and that was to jam specialized product down your throat. Need a tire? Buy this specialized one. Need a tube (I know, no one uses tubes anymore, haha)? Buy this specialized one. Need a helmet? Buy this specialized one. Etc. etc. etc. I like to feel like a bought a bike from a bike company...not a marketing company who sells their product based on a the best looking decals and paint schemes. Don't get me wrong, they make a badass looking bike and I really feel like they are putting a good product out there. It's just not my cup of tea. But more power to them because they are obviously doing something right and have a real stranglehold on the market.

Harley also has a stranglehold on their market, does that equate to a good product or just marketing?

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2/7/2014 12:58 PM

hvaughn88 wrote:

I have had a few specialized bikes in the past and don't get me wrong, they are good bikes. I just didn't feel like I was getting a bang for my buck like I do on some smaller brands. I currently ride an Intense and I love that the company is still really small and really hands-on. One of the things that steered me away from specialized was the way they portrayed themselves in bike shops. Every bike shop that was a specialized dealer seemed to operate similarly...and that was to jam specialized product down your throat. Need a tire? Buy this specialized one. Need a tube (I know, no one uses tubes anymore, haha)? Buy this specialized one. Need a helmet? Buy this specialized one. Etc. etc. etc. I like to feel like a bought a bike from a bike company...not a marketing company who sells their product based on a the best looking decals and paint schemes. Don't get me wrong, they make a badass looking bike and I really feel like they are putting a good product out there. It's just not my cup of tea. But more power to them because they are obviously doing something right and have a real stranglehold on the market.

Mitch_Berger wrote:

Harley also has a stranglehold on their market, does that equate to a good product or just marketing?

Haha, I was trying to be nice when I said that...but I think the fact that I choose to ride a different brand gives you a bit of an idea of what my answer to that question would be.

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2/7/2014 1:34 PM

Specialized: we give a road bike to every pro mxer! silly

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2/7/2014 1:43 PM

My two personal mountain bikes are Santa Cruz and Niner. I prefer to build my bikes up from the frame, and rarely roll one out of the shop floor. I like the idea of having something unique and tailored to my exact needs. However, I have logged hundreds, nay, thousands of miles on Specialized bikes and I have zero issues with them. Again, they are widely renowned for their somewhat heavy-handed retailing practices, but they offer a well thought-out product line...as does Giant, Trek, etc.,etc....

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2/7/2014 1:47 PM

DoctorJD wrote:

My two personal mountain bikes are Santa Cruz and Niner. I prefer to build my bikes up from the frame, and rarely roll one out of the shop floor. I like the idea of having something unique and tailored to my exact needs. However, I have logged hundreds, nay, thousands of miles on Specialized bikes and I have zero issues with them. Again, they are widely renowned for their somewhat heavy-handed retailing practices, but they offer a well thought-out product line...as does Giant, Trek, etc.,etc....

I can agree with that. By the way, how do you like your Niner? I've been kicking around the idea of building up another hardtail and I like what I see from the Air 9 RDO. But I've never actually seen on in person so I don't know too much about them.

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2/7/2014 2:02 PM

I've got a Jet-9, which is their short-travel (100mm) FS frame, and I really like it. Pretty welds, good paint finish. The Jet is more race-tuned with a fairly aggressive head tube angle. Its fast uphill, and through the tight stuff, but it is a little sketchy on the fast downhill. At least I'm not comfortable running the speed that my friends are on their 140mm bikes. I think the Air-9 shares a similar geometry as the Jet-9 except hardtail. This is it the day I finished the build last year. The only thing I've changed since then was the saddle

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2/7/2014 2:13 PM

DoctorJD wrote:

I've got a Jet-9, which is their short-travel (100mm) FS frame, and I really like it. Pretty welds, good paint finish. The Jet is more race-tuned with a fairly aggressive head tube angle. Its fast uphill, and through the tight stuff, but it is a little sketchy on the fast downhill. At least I'm not comfortable running the speed that my friends are on their 140mm bikes. I think the Air-9 shares a similar geometry as the Jet-9 except hardtail. This is it the day I finished the build last year. The only thing I've changed since then was the saddle

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Very nice. Looks awesome

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2/7/2014 2:29 PM

Cool story!

I've known Sean since he was wrenching at my local shop when I first got into MTB..guys come a long way!

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2/7/2014 4:07 PM

Nice report GuyB! I love my Specialized Epic.

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Powerband in every gear !

2/7/2014 4:32 PM

A few manufactures still make their frames in the USA. Turner Bikes utilizes the Dave Weagle or DW link.
With the DW link the shocks run a extra low compression so the shock works less and stays more consistent
Check out http://www.turnerbikes.com/ frames made in the USA. Great product and nice people. Complete bikes
starting at 3499$. I ride their am, xc 29er the Sultan. Logged some major miles on it including a 107 mile day. These are
super efficient and not noddly.

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2/7/2014 4:33 PM

Mitch_Berger wrote:

Harley also has a stranglehold on their market, does that equate to a good product or just marketing?

Sweet Moses, Harley is THE biggest example of cultural marketing (a social group wanting to be a part of something), long-term brand establishment, and playing off of American pride. I'm all for it, but come on, Harley isn't a situation of a great product over marketing.

But thank you for this feature GuyB - love mountain bikes and ride mine way more than moto. I've had a couple Specialized bikes, and am very curious to demo their new Enduro 29, but I'm on the same boat as @hvaugn88 - I got to the point where I appreciated smaller brands, so I bought a Yeti SB 95 a couple months ago.

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2/7/2014 4:47 PM

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My Giant in its native habitat.
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2/7/2014 4:59 PM

Mitch_Berger wrote:

A few manufactures still make their frames in the USA. Turner Bikes utilizes the Dave Weagle or DW link.
With the DW link the shocks run a extra low compression so the shock works less and stays more consistent
Check out http://www.turnerbikes.com/ frames made in the USA. Great product and nice people. Complete bikes
starting at 3499$. I ride their am, xc 29er the Sultan. Logged some major miles on it including a 107 mile day. These are
super efficient and not noddly.

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Funny you bring them up, I used to love Turners. My favorite dh bike ever was my DHR but will never touch another one since they treated me like a moron when I had an issue with my Burner that was a few months old.

Now I'm riding an Intense which is welded/machined/powder coated all in Southern California, even went to the headquarters to pick up the frame and they were rad.

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2/7/2014 5:05 PM

seth505 wrote:

Funny you bring them up, I used to love Turners. My favorite dh bike ever was my DHR but will never touch another one since they treated me like a moron when I had an issue with my Burner that was a few months old.

Now I'm riding an Intense which is welded/machined/powder coated all in Southern California, even went to the headquarters to pick up the frame and they were rad.

I ride an intense, as well. I absolutely love the bike, but I think I like what the brand stands for even more

[img]http://www.bikerumor.com/2014/01/22/factory-tour-intense-cycles-impressive-american-production-line/[/img]

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2/7/2014 5:07 PM

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2/7/2014 5:15 PM

hvaughn88 wrote:

I ride an intense, as well. I absolutely love the bike, but I think I like what the brand stands for even more

[img]http://www.bikerumor.com/2014/01/22/factory-tour-intense-cycles-impressive-american-production-line/[/img]

Hell ya, they are pretty as well. haha

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2/7/2014 5:37 PM

Specialized makes a great product. I would say they are the Honda of the cycling industry.
They are in a position to call their own shots with regards to how a dealer conducts business, brand representation etc.. and to some this can be seen as strong arming.
Fortunately for the shops that wont or cant play ball with them there are plenty of other brands out there.
That WC Epic is a beauty!

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2/7/2014 6:01 PM

Thanks for the post, GB. I love my Specialized Stumpjumper. RIDE ON !!!

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2/7/2014 6:13 PM

Very cool report, Guy B. Their wind tunnel technology is amazing, along with the weight of RV's new bike. WOW!

Since this is turning into a bike thread. Here's my steed I built up last month. It's got a charge spoon ti seat on it now and I plan on replacing the wheels and brakes. I'll be doing quite a bit of endurance races on it this year and some oklahoma xc series events.

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The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. ~ Samuel Johnson

2/7/2014 7:16 PM

Nice slide show, GuyB. Thanks!
I have a couple of Specialized bikes, and really like them despite the stuff I have read about the lawsuits,etc.
There is a new Epic World Cup or Santa Cruz Tallboy in my future.
@Hank_Thrill - that's a really nice looking Niner!

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2/7/2014 8:05 PM

hvaughn88 wrote:

I ride an intense, as well. I absolutely love the bike, but I think I like what the brand stands for even more

[img]http://www.bikerumor.com/2014/01/22/factory-tour-intense-cycles-impressive-american-production-line/[/img]

Funny you guys bring up Intense. Back in the BMX days I raced one before I stopped racing. Not a mountain bike, but the intense was the bike to have at the time.

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2/7/2014 8:33 PM

wydopen wrote:

Cool story!

I've known Sean since he was wrenching at my local shop when I first got into MTB..guys come a long way!

My buddy Jacob worked with him back in the day. I have yet to meet Sean, but he sounds like a good dude.

I was riding with some of the Specialized MTB guys this fall and chatting with them about all the MX guys they sponsor..From what I hear Cole Seely is pretty bad ass on his bike.

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2/7/2014 8:35 PM

TwoTwo's setup:

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-OC
"Feed The Bull"
Twitter: @ocscottie | Facebook

2/7/2014 8:45 PM

Good story!

I own 2 Specialized bikes - one MTB and one road bike.

I bought Specialized because they sponsor SX and MX riders.

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2/7/2014 8:53 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/7/2014 8:54 PM

I actually worked there for about seven years. Good times. While I was up there I ran into my old manager, who's still there.

He's a lifer.

When I'm on a mountain bike it's a Specialized Camber Expert. On the road it's a well-worn Felt F-series aluminum/carbon bike.

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2/7/2014 10:47 PM

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