CyclingTips Podcast, Episode 12: The magic and mystery behind bicycle specs

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Anyone shopping for a new bike has invariably spent hours poring over line items on a spec sheet — the pros and cons of an upgrade here, a downgrade there.

But how exactly did those specs come to be, and who made those decisions? And most importantly, why?

For this week’s CyclingTips podcast, U.S. technical editor James Huang calls upon the wisdom and experience of an old friend. Dave Koesel is currently the general manager of 3T America — the new North American arm of 3T — but spent years beforehand as an unusually all-encompassing product manager for Felt Bicycles‘ road lineup.

As expected for someone in a product management role at a bike company, Koesel’s component decisions were meant to keep his bikes competitive, in terms of cost and performance, as well as up to date with emerging trends.

Bike specifications aren’t just about the components, though, and Koesel also had to consider international tariff policies, manufacturing capacities and turnaround times for a global network of factories, and even regional tendencies and preferences.

As a smaller company, Koesel often had to get surprisingly creative to gain an edge on larger brands with much greater buying power.

It’s a fascinating peek behind the curtain at a process most of us take for granted, and one that you’re unlikely to look upon the same way once you’ve sat down for a listen.

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