As early as next week, you may be able to go online to the Specialized website, pick out the bike of your choice, and have it delivered straight to your doorstep… direct to consumer. Well, maybe? Specialized has apparently announced some new ways that cyclists will be able to buy their bikes in video calls to dealers earlier this week, proposing two all-new options that will ship a new bike straight to your home.

But from talks we’ve had with Specialized dealers, the new direct-to-consumer program may be quite limited at first, with the possibility of expanding over time…

Specialized bikes go direct to consumer

Specialized kids bike, direct to consumer

c. Specialized, lead photo by Wout Beel at last year’s TdF

Reported overnight on BRAIN, BikeBiz & CyclingIndustry.news, amongst other trade news platforms, word in the bike shop is that Specialized is expanding their current online purchase/in-store pickup program to allow for new home deliveries, in addition to similar home delivery service already available to parents purchasing a Specialized Kid’s bike in the US.

A Specialized dealer we’ve spoken with confirmed that this was the news as delivered earlier this week via a Zoom call with Specialized. In fact, we’ve been told this will start in a very limited manner with only one or two adult bike lines available direct, as Specialized tests the waters to dial in their assembly process and consumer-direct bike box. As we’ve seen with other brands, the ability for a consumer to simply open the box and get riding with a few simple adjustments is key to the consumer-direct process running smoothly.

specialized headquarters factory tour - mountain bike design and development center

New bike buyers will ultimately be able to still buy a bike conventionally by dropping into their local Specialized dealer. Or they can still pick their new bike out online, and find a nearby shop with it in stock, for an in-person sale. You can also purchase the bike online, to be shipped to a local Specialized dealer for setup & pickup, as is also currently available. New to the options is the ability to buy the bike online for home delivery. The bike will be pre-assembled by Specialized, who will then likely just remove the front wheel, handlebar & seatpost to pack it into a box for delivery. Buyers will get a ‘mostly assembled’ bike like they would from most consumer-direct bike companies, with minimal additional setup required. Or lastly, buy the bike online, and have it delivered fully set up, ready to ride in a  concierge-style service provided by a local Specialized dealer (like many mobile bike shops offer for smaller bike brands).

The rumor is that both new home delivery options will cost the same for the end-consumer, with the only difference being if your local bike shop gets paid for that sale, setup & service.

If you need warranty service, your local Specialized bike shop will still be the go-to, for which they will be reimbursed from Specialized. Then, the local shop can also handle future regular maintenance needs independently. For one of the dealers we spoke to, this was actually their biggest concern though—having to provide the warranty service for bikes purchased online with less-than-adequate rates in their opinion. However, in the same time frame as the DTC announcement, Specialized also introduced their new “Specialized Service Charter” to dealers which intends to standardize labor rates with retailers to keep both the customer and the shops happy.

Consumer-direct home delivery is expected to first be made available in the US & UK markets. And it’s not clear when it might be expanded to more bike models or more markets.

While it’s likely a bit of a surprise for your local bike shop, the writing has been on the wall for some time. Specialized is really just responding to pressure from both the growing crop of consumer-direct only brands and other traditional bike companies that added direct-to-consumer sales on top of conventional in-store sales.

specialized headquarters tour

We’ve also reached out to Specialized for more information on how the process will work, when exactly it will take effect, and how it will affect different levels of independent bike dealers, Concept shops, and Specialized-owned locations.

We’ll share more details when we know more.

Specialized.com

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23 Comments
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whatever
whatever
3 months ago

Unfortunately, seems Specialized want to have their cake and eat it too. If I’m buying direct, then I expect a better price. If I’m buying from a shop, I recognize the shop is getting a cut to stay in business. That business provides support, supplies etc. So I expect a cost. No matter the claims,no doubt Specialized will end up with a bigger chunk of the sale price, while telling the shops they should be grateful for getting their remaining crumbs. I have nothing against buying direct. Last bike was a direct brand, the two before from a local shop. But this model is not going to make them competitive with the direct to consumer brands where bang for the buck really matters, versus full shop price, while raking over the shops.

NoneGiven
NoneGiven
3 months ago
Reply to  whatever

Fact is, -MOST- LBS Is are out of touch with who the bread-and-butter of their revenue stream is. Most of the bike shops I have gone to in the past 10 years have nothing but hipsters that are stoned trying to sell bikes and the time that they let customers aggravate them.

Is the bread-and-butter used to be kids bikes into the 5 to $600 range. Being as an entry level mountain bike is now more than double that a different demographic is walking into the stores.

NoneGiven
NoneGiven
3 months ago
Reply to  whatever

Boy my voice recognition messed up that post

Dirt McGirt
Dirt McGirt
3 months ago
Reply to  NoneGiven

Sure, blame that drivel on talk to text…

None Given
None Given
3 months ago
Reply to  Dirt McGirt

My most recent bike purchase was an S-Works…I am a tad loyal to Specialized. The first shop I went into (local to me) was in a college town (this is supposedly a large volume Specialized dealer) had a few bikes, a TON of used bikes, and a few stoned staff members. One told me point blank that I should buy a used bike and use the excess money to help pay for his college debt….this is a typical attitude from many shops I have been in over the years (in general, more so in college towns like Madison Wi, Gainesville Fl, Boulder Co, Burlington VT). The shops staff are in general, to me, annoying.

If I was Specialized, I would not want these shops representing my brands of “premium” bikes (certainly not “prestige” brands like S-Works, or Project One for Trek). These people, who by design are not exactly among the highest income folks are supposed to provide services to people who are shopping for toys that cost 60%+ of their yearly income (assuming they are full-time at any job). These people, in some sick duty to their lot in life hates anyone who can afford the products they sell… an interesting dichotomy.

I have never had an issue with a warranty on any Specialized item, ever. Not 25 years ago when I worked at a shop. Not today (as recently as a year ago with a wheel). The dealers have every opportunity to read the agreements when they sign the dealer agreements. If they want to complain, they have no one to complain to…they signed the contract.

The typical American consumer is CHEAP. I paid MSRP for my bike, mostly to support the LBS from which I purchased it. I did not have the desire to search the planet or have shops get into a bidding war (other than the fact I got a bike during Covid, so the pickens were slim). All the while, in general, folks will want to compare a Canyon to a Calfee or Time and base its value on the groupset alone (not the caliber of construction of the most important part). S-Works, while not a Time, is certainly higher quality than a Canyon, every day.

My local LBS for one does not care if you purchase an item online and pick it up at the shop. For me, recently it was two pairs of S-Works shoes…paid online, got them at the shop, the shop got a kick back of some sort. Everyone wins. Plus, if I happen to not like the shoes my 30 day return policy from Specialized is not the shops problem as I get a refund from Specialized, not the LBS. Win, Win, Win.

So, Specialized going direct. Blame in some areas delusional governments who are crippling ALL small businesses, not just LBS. Blame consumers who are more and more accustomed to the Amazon style of business. Blame the situation with the traffic management of cargo from the east and California holding the rest of the nation hostage to their import and manpower policies. Blame the situation on overzealous municipalities who would rather everyone suffer than let a business succeed….But, do not blame Specialized for doing its part to run a profitable business.

David Gray
David Gray
3 months ago
Reply to  whatever

True, but then they also piss off all their dealers as nobody is going to buy a bike from an actual store if you can get the exact same bike for less online. At that point they might as well go the Canyon route and be DTC only. But then they can also keep their prices about the same, but with longer margins, which is whatwe’ve seen happen to Canyon over the years.

Dinger
Dinger
3 months ago
Reply to  David Gray

Canyon has been around in the US. PRemium bikes have been available through mail order (Excel, Colorado Cyclist, Cambria Bike, etc.) for a good long time now and bike shops have still thrived through it all.

Only riders who are very confident in their ability to interpret a geometry sheet buys $5k+ bikes sight unseen. Shops will just find a way to incentivize Specialized customers to buy from them instead of direct. As long as Specialized doesn’t undercut the LBS price they’ll be fine.

Dirt McGirt
Dirt McGirt
3 months ago

“Mike Sinyard decides to bite the hand that has fed him for pretty much 40 years”

There, fixed the title for you.

Good thing you can still buy a Giant from a shop. That’s who makes most of the Big red S’s bikes these days anyhow.

Sajuuk
Sajuuk
2 months ago
Reply to  Dirt McGirt

I thought Speshy was made in Merida factories?

StumpedDumper
StumpedDumper
3 months ago

Specialized is giving the finger to their dealers once again. They also want dealers to do warranty work on the bike the customer mangled, no thanks! Hopefully this program will fail miserably and they spend the next couple years apologizing for even considering it

Tony Pepperoni
Tony Pepperoni
3 months ago

Their warranty reimbursement rates are literally 50% what they need to be for our area…. It was the dumbest thing for them “standardize” the rates.
Are they going to magically standardize cost of living across the globe?
Or the minimum wage?
A flat fix costs different in downtown Los Angeles than it does in the middle of remote Oklahoma.Plain and simple. How can they pay the same to both? They are just devaluing the mechanics they need to assemble these and provide a great customer experience. I am bitter, because this is unjust and incredibly disrespectful. Wag of the finger

None Given
None Given
3 months ago
Reply to  Tony Pepperoni

Humans are nomadic…..you have options.

rrutis
rrutis
3 months ago
Reply to  None Given

You know…I got that libertarian vibe from the end of your long comment up above and this confirms it. The thoughtless reply “…you have options” should be turned on yourself. You had the option to write something at least little thoughtful, like your long comment, but instead you turned to a trope. You have options, indeed.

NoneGiven
NoneGiven
3 months ago
Reply to  rrutis

Easy, sit in squalor and complain about “big business”. Always be a victim.

Really, it is pathetic. Specialized does not owe anyone a thing outside of their contractual obligations. Dont like the pay? Find a new contract (you wont). Nope, life aint fair 😉

lukeeee
lukeeee
3 months ago
Reply to  NoneGiven

I find it funny when people bring up this dont blame “big business” thing. Why should we not…….did specialized sell there bikes in the vacuum of space? Did Mike sinyard make the brand and people woke up in the morning and ran to buy one because in their soul they felt this great God of a man revolutionized bikes? No and no, it was the legions of shops, employees, riders and such that for years pushed specialized to where it is now.
Mike has always been a conman, he screwed his friends to make the first stumpjumper, he sued volagi, claimed to own Roubaix even though the word predates his families existence, screwed stratos and the list goes on and on. I dont care how smart he thinks he is or how much you fawn for his business acumen and how he singlehandedly sold every specialized in the world by the sweat of his own hands. He built a brand on the backs of his dealers and now he is ruthlessly screwing them because of his greed. Shops do and will have options, but this will create ripples that will harm the industry for years to come. Cycling has been on the decline for years….covid only boosted the numbers to what we saw in the early 2000’s nothing more. More shops will close and sports presence will continue to diminish. For those that talk about the shift to online, I agree that it is inevitable but even online brands like commencal now want dealers to carry their bikes for a simple reason….their voice on the internet is a ant screaming in a crowd of people. It reminds me of the late nineties when every region had their brand that everyone rode but no one else in the country ever heard of…..slingshot in Michigan, Roark in Indiana, curtly in Cali. Dekerf in nowrthwest. Etc…

There is one thing I do take solice in…..all these years bike shops dealt with customers beating them up on price and having to cave. Now you will need to pay your hero every penny he demands to ride his products….no more sales or haggling….and with prices going up and up that just means less bikes everywhere but fewer stressed bikenshop owners trying to keep their doors open. I have been working in this industry for 25 years and it only seems like a dumber place to work every year.

Vince E.
Vince E.
3 months ago
Reply to  lukeeee

I don’t know about all that, but as a consumer, in a free-market economy, all I care about is that the company replaces my product when it breaks. Specialized has done this time and time again.

There are many more insidious business practices being done by others in other industries that would make the stuff you describe child’s play. You have a guy who played by the rules, albeit ruthlessly (i.e., in America that’s called a type-A personality, a bellwether of executive success and, unsurprisingly, NFL coaches), found success, but is now being lambasted for *too much* success.

America is a contradiction: We love the success story, we just don’t like reading the book on it.

None Given
None Given
3 months ago
Reply to  Vince E.

Fact monger. Rember the old Dead Milkmen song “everybody got nice stuff but me”? That seems to be a theme of life for many.

zombieweekly
zombieweekly
3 months ago
Reply to  None Given

hahaha WHUT?

Martin Ferguson
Martin Ferguson
3 months ago

All good buying direct, but paying Spesh prices should include a bike fit and you’ll not get that with a direct purchase

sam zam
sam zam
3 months ago

good thing I have never owned a Specialized and now another reason never to buy the most over rated brand.

Vince E.
Vince E.
3 months ago

Mods, please change the article title to:

Bicycle Industry: Where capitalism and free-market forces aren’t welcome.

workonsunday
workonsunday
3 months ago

and there i always thought specialized is a advertisement company that happens to sell bikes.

Ivan
Ivan
3 months ago

Bikes are not available from them. I checked this morning, 6am EST. All options show UNAVAILABLE/NOT IN STOCK