KEYSTONE, CO (BRAIN)—Close to 600 U.S. dealers are previewing and riding Specialized’s 2011 bikes and equipment this week in Keystone, a ski resort in Summit County, Colorado, during the company’s three-day 2011 product launch. After two full days of product seminars and demos on surrounding trails and roads, dealers came away impressed with the lineup, even if a bit lightheaded from riding in 9,200-plus feet of altitude.
The mood was upbeat as most reported robust spring and early summer sales.
“We come every year and the bikes look the best I’ve seen,” said Parker Jones, owner of Capital Bicycle in Annapolis, Maryland, a Specialized concept store. Jones said that though it’s hard to leave the business for a few days this time of year, typically the busiest for his store, he comes back to his shop reinvigorated and with fresh ideas from networking with other dealers.
Eric Welp of City Bikes in Washington, D.C, said he liked that Specialized had plenty of bikes for demo in all sizes. At 6-foot-4 inches, he often doesn’t get to test certain models because they’re not typically available for demo in his size. He test rode the company’s new mountain platform called the Camber, which he said was a standout from the 2011 line. “The Camber looked awesome,” he said. “I rode it today and it was a lot of fun.”
Specialized calls the Camber a “pure XC trail bike.” Product managers said it’s a blend of the Epic and Stumpjumper FSR, filling the gap between these two platforms. Featuring a new hydroformed alloy frame, Camber comes in both 26-inch and 29er versions in sizes small to XXL.
Meanwhile, the race-focused Epic cross-country racing, full-suspension platform gets lighter and stiffer for 2011 and the line expands with a carbon version of the S-Works Epic 29er. SRAM’s double crank is spec’d across the board on the Epic (except for the Comp model) while S-Works frame technology trickles down to lower price points. The Stumpjumper FSR, and all-mountain Enduro and Pitch all get tweaks for 2011 and the Demo 7 freeride bike gets replaced by the SX Trail. Also getting slight updates for 2011 are its downhill bikes, the BigHit and Demo 8.
In road, the big introduction was the Roubaix SL3, which gains compliance compared to its predecessor while maintaining stiffness through a new Zertz vibration damping system. A new frame design, with carbon hollow dropouts and internal cable routing, was inspired by the Tarmac SL3 frame and optimizes weight and stiffness. It will be offered in multiple spec packages including a Di2 S-Works model.
Women’s bikes got special attention for 2011 as well. Rachael Lambert, women’s product and marketing manager, said the company has seen the fastest growth in this segment. For 2011 it’s introducing all new frames on its biggest-volume women’s bikes—the Vita fitness road, Dolce recreational road, Ariel hybrid and Myka HT cross-country hardtail. In these four key lines, dealers have begun selling 2011 bikes due to early shortages of 2010 bikes. Retailers were out of stock in these specific models by April and May, according to Lambert.
“No one expected such a big spring,” she said, adding that some women’s softgoods like shoes had to be airshipped to fulfill demand. She said Specialized is addressing the high growth in women’s softgoods and bikes in its 2011 orders. “This has been an aggressive year for producing early launch bikes,” she said.
The women’s Myka FSR and Safire XC trail bikes get new frames, and Safire sees some suspension improvements for 2011, but the S-Works models are dropped on both while Myka welcomes a new hardtail 29er. Meanwhile the Era XC race bike expands with a carbon Comp model.
In women’s road, the endurance-focused Ruby and Amira, targeted for competitive riders, receive a few tweaks to improve ride quality and stiffness including oversized bottom brackets and chainstays and triangulated seatstays. Dealers are also getting early shipments of the 2011 Ruby due to early 2010 shortages.
“The women’s product presentation was the most important for me because we’ve seen the largest increase in sales in this category,” said Brad Hill, owner of Goodale’s Bike Shop in New Hampshire.
And in the city/urban segment, Specialized dialed in its focus, updating colors and dropping price points across the entire Globe line, which includes the light-utility Live, heavy duty cargo Haul and fixed-gear Roll. All carried over from 2010 with improvements in durability and weight. The Vienna was dropped for 2011 while the Haul was trimmed to one model. Specialized will offer two special edition Roll bikes with custom paint and details with limited production. And the new Daily was developed to meet dealer requests for a price point urban bike with classic styling but some light utility. The base model starts at $500.
The flat-bar road offering in this segment, the Sirrus, which comes in six spec models, also carry over with updates for lighter weight and lower price points that range from $460 for the alloy version with 32c tires to $1,700 for the carbon Pro model with 10-speed SRAM Apex drivetrain.
Specialized’s annual dealer gathering kicked off on Monday night with a dinner reception as retailers began arriving from all corners of the country. Product breakout sessions and demos started Tuesday and will wrap up today. –Lynette Carpiet
Photo: A model in the new Camber full-suspension trail platform, the Camber FSR Expert. Lime green was featured prominently as a paint scheme and accent color throughout Specialized’s 2011 product line.