Higher Gear’s Brandon Olson spent a few days in Copper Mountain, Colorado for Specialized‘s Dealer Event. It’s the time of year when Specialized showcases what new bikes and products we’ll be seeing in the upcoming year. Here’s what Brandon learned – and saw – during his visit to CO…
One big change that Brandon discovered is that Specialized is putting a huge emphasis on bike fit for 2014. Dr. Andy Pruit and the BG FIT system have led the way for Specialized. Their bikes and products are developed around the human body. So this isn’t entirely new. What is new is that they are requiring their S-Works dealers – of which, Higher Gear is one (S-Works! Get your Specialized S-Works here!) – to have a certified BG Fitter on staff.
Fortunately, Higher Gear is one step ahead of the game, so we will continue to be an S-Works dealer, even with the new requirements. As you already know, Fredo, who was our master fitter at Higher Gear, underwent Specialized’s training earlier this year and is BG FIT certified.
When Fredo returns to California to go through the Level 2 BG FIT training, he will spend an entire day on aerodynamics in Specialized’s wind tunnel. Even more exciting, sometime in the near future, Specialized will allow us to bring FIT customers to their wind tunnel. We will certainly keep you posted on that!
Following this year’s celebration of 10 years of women’s cycling – and the revamp of the Ruby – Specialized is continuing its focus on women’s cycling. Specialized has found that women are the fastest growing segment in cycling and is aiming to please those women cyclists. They continue their efforts to have women designing for women. This effort – of women cyclists leading the way for women’s bikes and products – has two new developments that caught Brandon’s attention.
Specialized has introduced its ultimate women’s full-suspension trail bike, the Rumor. This full-suspension 29er is engineered to give active-lifestyle riders the best-fitting and most-capable bike in the sport. With a petite woman designer behind the Rumor’s development, the Rumor is designed to fit women beginning at 4’10”, who in the past could not find a properly fitting full-suspension bike.
There’s been a big emphasis on cut-outs in saddles the past couple years. But, until now, women’s saddles seemed to be just smaller and, often, more cushioned, versions of men’s saddles. Even the cut-outs were designed in parallel with those in the men’s saddles. Specialized is acknowledging that women are shaped differently than men. With that in mind, they are working with a female women-specific geometry expert to design new women’s saddles with hour-glassed shaped cut-outs, more appropriate to women’s bodies.
Brandon got to see – and ride – the Turbo, Specialized’s electric bike. He said it was impressive to passing people while going uphill with very little effort.
Electric bikes are becoming quite a phenomenon, especially with urban commuters. With Chicago’s infrastructure changing and cycling becoming a safer, faster and easier way to commute from our northern suburbs, we can see Higher Gear customers taking to the streets on the Turbo. When asked about the future of electric bikes, Brandon’s response is, “It’s coming.”
There will also be a lot more disc brake road bikes offered for 2014. Not only available on their SL4 line-up of bikes like the Tarmac and Roubaix, disc brakes will also be found on fitness bike, like the Sirrus and Vita. As a mountain, Brandon thinks, “This is pretty awesome!”
Another change that’s on the way according to Brandon is that we’ll be seeing a lot more color. Instead of the standards – black and white and maybe one color used as an accent – Specialized bikes will be available in a variety of colors. The S-Works Tarmac will come in no less than seven colors for 2014! As far as those colors go, we’ll be seeing more “hot colors” in bikes like the Tarmac and the Crux.
Speaking of the Crux, Specialized is introducing the Crux Pro Race Red Disc that comes complete with two sets of wheels – one set of wheels for training (or the trainer) and a second set of tubulars. Those looking to get into cyclocross, or those looking to get serious about cyclocross, now have a complete package available to them.
Fitness and Urban Bikes
As mentioned above, fitness bikes like the Sirrus and Vita will be available with hydraulic disc brakes. Brandon got to test ride the new Sirrus Pro with hydraulic disc brakes.
Brandon also got to ride the “stylin’” Globe Daily 2 in chrome with front chrome basket. Also available was the Globe Work 3 which he describes as a “cool bike.” Designed as a bike to be beat up – with heavy loads, nasty roads and wild weather – Brandon said the Work 3 was a big hit at the Specialized event. “Everybody was riding that bike around.”
Aero Road Helmet
The helmet that turned heads at the Tour de France this year was the Specialized Evade, the first aero road helmet. Cyclingnews.com said, “The Evade could outperform some companies’ standard road helmets in terms of ventilation at speed.” Of wind-defying weapon, Brandon could only say, “It is awesome. And very aero!” Read more about the Evade aero road helmet.
On the triathlon front, Specialized has spent a long time developing its new Sitero Pro saddle. This saddle has been designed with Body Geometry specialists, doctors and engineers to be the best-fitting saddle for the aerodynamic position. Best-in-class fit, zonal design and integrated storage make this the ultimate triathlon and TT saddle in the world.
A lot of thought has gone into this saddle. Features include triple density padding for comfort on longer rides. A high-frequency, welded cover material provides dual-friction properties for secure hold and a smooth, effortless pedal stroke. The integrated Tri-Pod allows for water-bottle and equipment storage while an interchangeable hook allows for easy racking in the transition area.
One of the reasons Specialized is such a great bicycle company is because their bicycles and components are designed not just with the rider in mind, but with riders actively involved in the process. Cyclists are creating, designing and redefining products based on real-life needs.
Like many cyclists, the designers in Specialized’s mountain biking division – especially those racing courses like Leadville – recognized the need to carry more with less bulk. So they set to do something about it. They have developed a new line they’ve coined SWAT: Storage, Water, Air & Tools.
We’ll be seeing SWAT products like bags that contain everything you could possibly need while out on the trail and brackets that mount off your water bottles. They also have engineered a few Inspector Gadget-like products, such as those we’ll be seeing on the new S-Works Epic. One is a built-in mini tool that is right by the shock. Another is a chain tool that is hidden behind the stem cap.
More Than a Bike Company
These last few items reminded Brandon of exactly why we love Specialized. “They are more than a bike company, they are an engineering company.” Part of what makes Specialized such a revolutionary company is the way it re-invests such a high percentage of its profits back into the company to improve their bikes, equipment and support.
While Brandon had to pack up and head for home before the short track race that closed the event, he did get to enjoy Specialized’s founder, Mike Sinyard’s company over breakfast. As for Sinyard, Brandon describes him as “definitely a bike guy.” His passion is cycling and it shows in his company.
While Specialized is more than a bike company, cycling is the heart of the company. With that in mind, all of the oohing and aahing that Brandon got to do in the classroom and on the open house showroom floor, was solidified in the riding he got to do at the event.
Brandon got to put these bikes to the test on the mountains:
- Road SWorks Stumpjumper FSR Evo 29er
- SWorks Epic World Cup
- SWorks Camber 29er
Brandon also got to ride:
- Turbo Electric bike
- S-Works Roubaix SL4 SRAM Red Disc – with hydrolic disc brake
- S-Works Tarmac SL4 Dura-Ace – in gold & black with Roval 40 wheels – “super nice”
- Crux Pro Race Red Disc
- Sirrus Pro with Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Globe – Daily 2 – in chrome with front chrome basket
- Globe – Work 3 – “cool bike”
If you’d like to talk with Brandon about any of the bikes he got to test ride or products he got to see up close at the Specialized Dealer Event, he welcomes you to come in. But you should probably hold off until next week.
While in CO, Brandon had a couple of days to tweak his downhill skills at Keystone and Winter Park. This week, he is heading off to Angel Fire in New Mexico where he will compete at Downhill Nationals this Sunday, August 4th. So, stop by next week to talk with Brandon about his experience at Specialized and, as a bonus, you’ll get to hear about his experience at Nationals.
Those interested in downhill action, check out Brandon’s practice run from Keystone: