While visiting Specialized HQ prior to the Sea Otter, we got a peek into their new remodel. The tour was centered around the new Stumpjumper but the test rigs and tech are all relevant to their road category too. The buildings outer shell is still the same but inside things have had a major upgrade. The smell of wet paint still lingered and there are a few areas still waiting for their completion. The first stop on our tour was the CT scan room (CAT Scan, Computerized Axial Tomography) where frames can be inspected in a whole new way.
They also have a new 5-axis CNC machine that spits out usable prototypes in a quarter of the time from their previous model. This allows them to design, create and test new pieces on the same day. This sat next to an in-house carbon room. With these two next to each other the machine shop can make molds and the carbon gurus can fill them. This makes for efficient carbon mold modifications and fewer calls to Taiwan. Once things are finalized they can be quickly transferred and replicated overseas.
Next, they have a whole testing area that can replicate force on almost any portion of a bicycle for longevity and failure. As the Stumpjumper was the topic of the day, there was one on a test rig that had been through the pedaling bottom bracket flex test and its relatable timeline was over 100 years of pedaling. We didn’t take notes on it but it was something like 300 miles per week was their baseline for the test. Long story short is they are putting their bikes and the competitions through some rigorous tests. They also said it isn’t about being the stiffest, most of the time it’s a balance of stiffness, compliance and durability for optimum performance.
As we wandered the halls in the mass group of mountain bike journos a few drop bar bikes caught our eye. Have you seen these before?
Last stop was the wind tunnel and while we have been there many times it is always entertaining and cool to see that Specialized is literally testing every product there. Not all the products get radical changes but instead slight modifications for aero optimization. The big takeaway is Specialized has always strived to bring the most advanced products to market and with their new in-house facilities it makes that process more expedited.