2007/03/19

That hurts



Let my rant start:

There are company I just love to support for different reasons: good buisness ethics, better, innovative products they stand behind, underdog companies and so on. It's no secret I'm a big Mervin and Cannondale supporter. There are companies on the other hand, that I don't like much for other various reasons. While Burton makes good products, helps the sport by sponsoring, it seems, every events, films and riders, I don't really like their 'snowboarding wouldn't exist without us' and 'we invented the snowboard' attitude and the fact that 98% of snowboarders think it's the only company out there, I think they will be fine if a few people look somewhere else next time they buy. But while I try to avoid buying their products, I still have some respect for them.

A company I don't have much respect for and that I have absolutely no shame to bash though, is Specialized. They don't make particularly bad products but they really make me feel they are only in the bike buisness for the money and nothing else. Every shameful way to screw other companies and add gold into their accounts is okay with them.

A few years ago, they screwed Trek (another company I'm not particularly fond of, remember the 'removable derailleur hangers are not good' when they didn't have them followed by the 'we found a special way to make them work great' when they figured out they were needed?) by buying the trek.com domain name that they setup to redirect to their own website. Okay, no big deal...

Then came the Horst-Link patent issue. They bought the patent from the real inventor of the rear suspension design just so they could charge, sue or stop every company that was already using the design on their bikes, all in the name of money making. Nice! Doug Dalton from Cannondale said in an interview when he was asked what he would like to see happen to the bike industry: "I would like to see other MTB companies stop the "me me me" thing and really work on growing the pie rather than suing everyone else to get a bigger piece of it."

They recently released mountain bikes with Specialized suspension forks and shocks. Fine, Scott makes their own shock and they are good, Cannondale make their own forks and they are the best in the industry by far if you ask me, but both have been doing it for years and partnered with industry leaders like Manitou, Fox, DT Swiss... Specialized have worked with Fox to get things going and had house branded forks in the 90's made by Rock Shox so you would expect them to know a thing or two about forks... Well, they have forgot that mountain bikers ride with big tires (2.3 is now the norm on trail bikes), and often in mud. Their new fork has so little tire clearance that they had to put 2.3 labels on their 2.0 tires so they could say 'a 2.3 tire fits no problem'... Shady! And even those 2.0 disguised as 2.3 barely fit.



With that fork, they also force you to use yet another front hub standard. New standard should exist if they are better. A few years ago, people were bashing Cannondale for having proprietary sizings or special front hubs for the Lefty but they were there for a reason. Stiffer cranksets, stiffer, more precise steering were on Cannondales years before other companies figured out OnePointFive was a good idea, that tiny bottom bracket were not so good. 20mm through axle are good and stiff, Maverick has a proprietary 24mm axle which is not much stiffer and Specialized now introduces a 25mm axle. Why? Probably just so you are forced to use their hub because I doubt anybody can feel the difference over a 24 or even a 20mm axle. Oh yeah, they also have a bolted on the fork stem so you are stuck there too.

Of course, like many companies, they have all their bikes made in asia to cut production costs, you would guess it's to sell the bikes cheaper but no, they still are among the most expensive bikes from major bike companies.

To make themself look good but even more to attract european potential buyers, they started sponsoring the world's top pro cycling team, Quick Step, to have their bikes ridden by current Olympic, World and Italian Champ Paolo Bettini and pictured above, Belgian superstar, king of the spring classics and sprints Tom Boonen. Good move, until Boonen pulls out of Paris-Nice to go home. What does it have to do with Specialized? The former World Champion went home to heal his back, he has been having back problems ever since he started riding on Specialized bikes and unlike most companies who support top riders, they insist he has to use a stock sized frame... Now that's good publicity Mr. Sinyard!

Now, should I burn my Specialized bike shoes?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Man do not burn your Specialized shoes... they are good. Also, Boonen has back problems given by the geometry of the frame, but he did not quid Paris Nice, because of that. It was a planned move, like it was planned for Bennati, and other sprinters to stop. Not so interesting riding the last stage of 120 km's all hilly and risky with a Milan Sanremo so close.
I am sure you accept this comment, so it will make your blog more exact and closer to reality.

And by the way, aske Cannondale if the bikes they supply Liquigas with feature a custom made geo.
You could be surprised.

Cheers mate.

Dan Gerous said...

Don't worry, I wont burn my shoes, I got them because they fit my feet so darn well.

And you may be right. While almost every pro racers used to have custom made frames, even middle of the pack racers (I have a custom fit, custom painted bike that was built for Nico Mattan, and he is no Tom Boonen) or even have their personnal favorite frames disguised with their sponsors decals, more and more bike sponsor just deliver frames in stock sizes. They use it as marketing tools too: "you can own the exact same frame as whatever racer that rides for us". But Tom had custom sized bikes from Time, and many companies will make special things to keep their top stars happy. Pozzato has custom stems from FSA to make sure his Cannondale fits him well.

But like I said, I'm not saying Specialized make bad products, I just don't like their ethics and politics and like to let people know...

manerkle said...

i am a cannondale and mervin guy also. ride an 11up mtx and a scalpel.

just thought i would add an interesting bit about specialized and cannondale. check out their new BB design. looks strangely familiar, right? compare the dimensions if you can find them. not that they are trying to hide anything, just interesting.

btw, great blog.

manerkle said...

specialized "new" BB design that is.

Dan Gerous said...

Haven't seen the new Specialized BB in details but now, the BB50 (or whatever Cannondale calls the BB standard on their SI cranksets) is now an open source standard, no need to pay a fee to Cannondale to use it... and being a light yet very stiff design, we might see it on more bikes.

Dan Gerous said...

Well, over the weekend, Specialized announced they would make a custom bike for Boonen, to help him solve the back problem... I didn't know I had such an influence!

Rusty Kogz said...

Dan, everyone's entitled to their opinion, so go on being bummed by Specialized if you want to but to set the record straight, Boonen's back problems started after a crash at Ghent-Whallan (sp?) four years ago. And, Specialized has made him a bike with cutom geometry - which, BTW, he won on today at Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium. http://www.cyclingnews.com/road.php?id=road/2007/mar07/dwars07
That is all.

Dan Gerous said...

My point is, Specialized is a company that wants money, like every companies out there but they don't seem to follow any ethics to get theirs. The Boonen back was just free bad publicity... and that made me smile. That's all...