CHAM, Switzerland (BRAIN)—Specialized has expanded its European headquarters in Switzerland adding R & D and engineering staff to work on projects specific to the domestic bike market.
The office, based in Cham, Switzerland, about an hour south of Zurich, recently brought on seven new employees, four of whom are relocating from Specialized’s headquarters in Morgan Hill, California.
That group includes design engineer Amber Lucas, wheel design engineer Rob Meyer, senior product manager Marco Sonderegger and European engineering manager Jan Talavasek. Marc Faude is the product manager for Europe.
The aim is to design urban style bikes for the European market, an area that has not received the right attention in the past with most product designers and engineers based at Specialized headquarters in Northern California, said Bobby Bowen, operations manager of Specialized Europe.
“Being in the U.S. and specifically being in California it’s hard to relate to the local market,” Bowen said. “It only takes being over here for a couple weeks and you notice the number of older people riding bikes here and the number of people who use the bike to ride to the grocery store and take home two bikes of groceries. It’s just stuff that you don’t see day to day in the U.S. so there’s nothing better than being really directly connected with your target audience.”
The result is two new lines of commuter, trekking, sport and city bikes coming out of Switzerland for 2012 called Crossover and Source. Many Specialized European dealers saw the bikes this month and the product will also be at Eurobike. Source includes 12 commuter and trekking bikes with the top model running a Gates carbon belt drive system paired with an internal gear hub. Crossover is seven sportive bikes with suspension forks, integrated rack and light systems and some disc brake models.
The frames and geometries have all been reworked with the city bikes incorporating a more upright position and lower bottom bracket to reduce stand-over height.
Specialized has spec’d established European accessory brands like Racktime and Trelock to better appeal to consumers.
Bowen opened the Swiss office two years ago to improve customer service with the brand’s six European wholly owned subsidiaries. Until recently the office staffed just three people, and now has grown to 14. It is self-sufficient and provides purchasing and order management assistance for subsidiaries in the U.K., Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
Earlier this month, Specialized opened the newly expanded European facility to 150 Swiss retailers to emphasize its commitment to the market, Bowen said.