Login to VeloClub|Not a member?  Sign up now.
  • cthenn

    Hurr durr, Specialized sucks, etc!!!

    No, but seriously, I’m confused. Why would some kind of special insert be needed for Terpstra’s bike? Maybe I don’t understand how this particular model looks, or works, but why couldn’t he just use a standard fork with standard alu (or carbon) steerer tube, like on every other “normal” bike? Is this particular model only made with the shock insert, in such a way that a standard fork with steerer couldn’t be used? And if not, why didn’t he just use a different model altogether that uses a standard fork? Sorry if I’m asking dumb questions, but I guess I’m missing why a rider who wanted a traditional set up is the one who needed the special insert, as opposed to having to use some kind of special dampening insert for those who wanted more suspension? Seems backwards to me.

    • Alex

      The way the new bike is built seems like the fork/frame interface is completely proprietary meaning that you can’t throw in a regular fork.

      I think Specialized was trying to balance it’s marketing goals vs rider wants. In reality Terpstra wanted to ride the older Roubaix (no FutureShock), but Specialized wanted the best riders on the new bike. So in the end he ended up with a prototype that wasn’t up to spec and crashed.

      • cthenn

        Thanks for clearing that up. I’d like to see what this looks like, maybe I can’t picture it, but a fork that doesn’t have an integrated monocoque steerer seems like a bad idea, in theory at least…

        • James Huang

          The carbon steerer ends right above the upper headset bearing. From there, the Future Shock cartridge is clamped inside (not unlike how a seatpost is usually secured), and then the stem clamps to the outside of the Future Shock cartridge.

          • cthenn

            If it ends above the upper headset bearing, it’s outside the head tube. Still doesn’t seem to explain why a normal fork wouldn’t work, as once it’s outside the head tube the shock insert seems optional to attach the stem. Anyway, I’m asking too many questions about this, I’ll just have to look it up or go check it out :)

            • dllm

              Specialized wanted people to see Future Shock raced. A normal fork doesn’t have it and that’s why a special spacer has to be there in place of the coil.

              Does Specialized trying to sell road damping design to racers? Will people buy endurance related things because it’s “race proven”?

  • Martin Toman

    So what this sounds like is Specialized wanted it to appear that every rider was on the new model and Terpstra, who decided that he didn’t want to use this model, was given a bike that was mocked up to look like he was on one. This kind of deception is really poor, especially given it cost a rider a race but also put his safety at risk. Basically marketing has been put ahead of rider safety. Pretty shabby if I understand it correctly.

    • Patrick

      i don’t see any rider safety issue in specialized’s actions, had it not been messed up.
      there was some deception yes, but then that is pretty commonplace in the pro peloton, much of the equipment is in some way not what it seems. specialized went out of their way to accommodate a single rider’s preference rather than insisting he ride what they make as standard. unfortunately somehow he ended up riding a prototype part.

      good on them for standing up and admitting fault (when its not actually clear if it was them or the team that was to blame)

      • Martin Toman

        I don’t really accept that they did what they could to look after their riders. I think they did what they could to create a market for a new product that they wanted to sell. This future shock technology was touted on every major cycling website before and during the cobbled classics as some kind of ground breaking product, positioning Specialized as a cutting edge brand prepared to find any edge so that their sponsored riders would have a technological advantage. If they had stated clearly that some riders do not prefer to ride the new bike and wanted something else that would be fine, but the subterfuge that took place in order for it to appear that everyone supports this new product is both dishonest and poor. In this case it cost their rider their race, changed a team’s tactical approach, and risked the safety of a rider, all of which could have been avoided if they were honest.
        I appreciate and understand that creating and selling new technologies, whether or not they actually improve the riding experience, is a part of business and keeps the industry afloat. But frankly claiming every new thing is the latest and the greatest is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who cycles, and having this future shock mess blow up in their faces is kind of just desserts.
        Having said this I have used Specialized products in the past (the toupe saddle works for me) so I have no grudge against the company, but this kind of deception is just pretty average.

        • James Huang

          I would have to agree with you. Having now ridden the Future Shock system myself, I must say that I find it remarkably effective, and that it makes a lot of sense for the intended purpose. That said, I don’t think it’s a universal benefit to everyone and I also don’t think that anyone would have held it against Specialized had the company been more open about admitting that not all of their riders wanted to use it.

          Nevertheless, this sort of marketing sleight of hand is nothing new, by Specialized or otherwise. Terpstra thankfully wasn’t seriously injured, and all things considered, it could have been worse. Hopefully someone will consider this a lesson learned.

          • cthenn

            “this sort of marketing sleight of hand is nothing new, by Specialized or otherwise”

            Didn’t the Motorola team of early Lance use an entire frame from a certain company, but paint and rebadge it as something else for races?

            • James Huang

              Yep, they used bikes that were branded as Caloi, but were actually made by Eddy Merckx.

            • 900Aero

              Lance rode a Litespeed rebadged as a Trek, a couple of times I think. LOTS of guys (including Ulrich, Boonen and perhaps Robbie McEwen too) rode rebadged Pegoretti’s. Loads of teams use HED wheels badged as whatever….
              It happens.

            • Larry @CycleItalia

              Same sort of thing’s gone on since bike makers got involved in the sport. How many “builders of trust” created bikes for Merckx for example…and not-a-one of ’em ever had the builders name on it.

          • ebbe

            Yes, that’s really an important question James: Why not just admit that not everybody wants to use it? Or, by extension, why not blow the trumpet about it?

            My take: There’s even an argument to be made for showcasing that “your” sponsored riders use different options, to suit their personal needs and riding style. From a marketing standpoint, that would add credibility (a “reason to believe”) to the argumentation that you offer a wide portfolio of different products to suit everybody’s needs. An message most companies would be happy to spread. I’m just theorizing here of course, but if I were a bike brand I’d actually be happy with my riders using different options.

            However, it seems to that the problem in this case would be that allowing Terpstra to ride an older model (assuming that is what he really wanted, which again is an assumption I possibly make too easily – as you’ve said there might be additional benefits in the new model) would involve putting an OLD MODEL “on par” with the new model. That’s certainly not a message they’d want to spread, understandably.

            All in all, if everything would have gone well this plan may have really been the best solution. I do however think this case again highlights that the disconnect between “what a pro uses” and “what the masses buy” will only increase. The average weekend warrior really doesn’t want to copy Terpstra’s preferences, position on the bike, material, etc anyway. You’ll probably end up with a wide range of repetitive strain injuries in your back, shoulders, arms and knees if you do. Even teammate Tom Boonen admits he can’t ride Terpstra’s bike properly, even though they are the same size, because of the crazy low and forward position (even for a pro).

            But… That’s not an easy marketing message to communicate of course. “Get this bike that these (former) winners of Paris Roubaix used” is much easier. Marketeers will – understandably – usually go for the simple message.

          • Eric Hancock

            It seems the new front-end without the suspension would be rather unforgiving, particularly bad for Roubiax.

        • Bones

          You may be overthinking this, I don’t see any intentional deceit, just as stated a mis-communication. I think this is more of Terpstra’s fault or lack of being a professional. He was the one wanting a different product and it was his responsibility to communicate with Specialized- IMO, that is. Simply because he is a professional and he is the one riding the bike. The buck stops with him.

          • ebbe

            He did communicate with Specialized and clearly requested a stiff fork – as he had been testing. “They” just didn’t put the correct (redesigned) part in his bike, but instead used a prototype which they knew was “underdesigned”, while a redesigned part was in fact available. At most, you could blame the mechanic who did the swap of parts for not checking if he had received the correct part. We don’t know whether a team mechanic or a Specialized mechanic performed the actual swap, but it certainly wasn’t Terpstra himself. Nor is that his responsibility. A pro needs to be able to trust his mechanics.

            • Bones

              You are right, of course, I would just add another layer of redundancy coming from the rider. In your example of Tony Martin, he would look at the ring and see if it looked like a 58T ring and if not, check with the mechanic. As Terpstra is not going to take apart his stem, a simple verbal confirmation that it had been changed with the mechanic would suffice. Really no different than a tradesman knowing his tools.

              • ebbe

                Possibly. And it would have been better if this never happened, we can all agree on that ;-)

                But it’s also possible Terpstra himself wasn’t even aware that one part still needed replacement. Or alternatively, the person he asked said it had already been changed, but meant “from soft to rigid” in stead of “from old rigid to new rigid”. Or any other mix-up we don’t know about. There’s all kinds of communication errors that can happen, and in this case Specialized voluntarily took the blame for this one. I don’t really see a reason to question that ;-)

  • Oldan Slo

    Remember folks, the exact same Specialized bikes that the pros race are available at your local bike shop.

    • cthenn

      You mean the one with the aluminum steerer tube insert so it can mimic a regular bike?!

  • Legstrong

    “We really did our best to go above and beyond for our marketing campaign.” There I fixed it for you. Had it been the case, spez would’ve allowed Tepstra to ride a regular bike.

    The caption on the last picture is so agonizing. Well done James. Now, let me go back to the corner of my room and cry.

  • Ragtag

    Going by the history of Specialised i am not even sure if this is really the truth of what happened. They could very well be covering up for something more sinister.

    • James Huang

      “Far more sinister”? For sure, Specialized hasn’t always exactly been the warmest and fuzziest company, but I’m not sure what sort of “sinister” thing they could be hiding that would have resulted in something like this.

      • ebbe

        Electric motorized steering obviously! ;-)

      • Chun-Yu Chang

        “far more sinister” might be suggesting that Terpstra was actually using a future shock system like the rest of his team and that this specially made aluminum insert that supposedly failed did not actually exist…

        • James Huang

          The standard Future Shock cartridge comprises a large-diameter aluminum body and a smaller-diameter steel shaft that slides up and down inside of it on three rows of needle bearings (not unlike Cannondale’s Headshok or Lefty design).

          For the scenario you suggest, much more than just the aluminum outer body would have had to fail on Terpstra’s bike, which, from the images I’ve seen thus far, is not what happened.

          • winkybiker

            The mechanism of the new Spesh is perhaps like a Headshock or Lefty, but the suspension principle is not. In the Cannondale products (and nearly all other front suspension systems) the frame is suspended, not just the handlebars. It is this difference that makes the Specialized idea almost pointless, and why other suspension stems have failed to become mainstream. It’s not quite as stupid as Zertz, but close.

      • Ragtag

        Well James going by their reputation it is very unbelievable that specialised is just fessing upto this on their own. Imagine they could have even tried to blame the team mechanics etc. This is Specialised after all who on instinct lie and exaggerate before their brains start working.

  • MMAster

    I guarantee if Terpstra had won PR… the marketing spin would have been about the new bike, with no mention that he preferred & rode a “normal” setup…

    Owning up to their screw up is definitely a new & unusual tactic for Specialized…I would have assumed Specialized’s Legal Department would have been sending letters to Terpstra, the cobbles, innocent bystanders, & the weather…

    • James Huang

      When a failure is as complete, dramatic, and visible as what happened to Terpstra, it’s far better to fess up and receive the abuse. I personally don’t really like what they were trying to hide with Terpstra’s bike, but kudos to them for so publicly and completely accepting the blame. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how the situation is handled afterward that determines one’s character.

  • Cruz er

    Why didn’t Terpstra just ride a normal Roubaix? Because Specialized is too busy trying to trick customers into thinking this headshock has the pro seal of approval.
    Completely unnecessary crash.
    This answers the question on if manufacturers have a say in what the pros ride. It’s the rider’s choice…unless it’s counter to the manufacturer’s bottom line.

    This is what happens when a company is too busy trying to push something the riders don’t want and making the fans think it’s a viable “advancement”.

    • James Huang

      Again, I personally think it would have been just fine had Terpstra been allowed to ride an older Roubaix, for example, with Specialized merely admitting that the Future Shock technology isn’t going to be for everyone. Then again, I wasn’t privy to the conversation between Terpstra and Specialized, so I can’t say exactly what he wanted and what was said. The rear end on the new bike *is* softer-riding than the previous one, so perhaps Terpstra himself requested that such a modification be made. It’s easy to speculate on the motivations behind what happened, but without more concrete information, that’s all it is: speculation.

      • Cruz er

        That’s an angle I had not thought of but it just doesn’t sound plausible. I realize you are trying to show balance in what may have happened, but if you step back and look at the overall picture: In any scenario proposed, the headshock is not for everyone.
        If you have to fake it, there is something fundamentally wrong with that. If it doesn’t work for Terpstra, don’t use it.

        I could also make the same argument for the older Roubaix: Why not a proven chassis with a softer riding rear end for Terpstra?
        They have no problem offering Sagan a non-consumer available direct mount brake frameset.

        While I agree it is speculation, even the appearance of being fake should have been considered in the ethics of offering a product.
        I tend to see this as pure marketing kicking Specialized in the butt.

        • James Huang

          Once again, I would tend to agree with you. From where I sit, this certainly comes across as a poorly conceived scheme to portray the new Roubaix as a “better for everyone” machine as opposed to a “ride it if you like it” option in a well-optioned quiver. I personally would have handled the situation differently, but then again, I’m not in marketing.

          No matter how you look at it, it was an unfortunate situation from which no one benefited.

          • Cruz er

            Thanks for the responses. I agree, very unfortunate. It did rob us of possibly a more exciting Paris Roubaix, and robbed Terpstra of the chance to make a difference.
            In trying to dupe the public, Specialized comes out the worst. Rightly so, imo.

            Thank you for the article and digging deeper into this. It’s kind of rare to see real journalism nowadays. It’s appreciated!

    • Bones

      I actually don’t care what the pro’s think, when I’m out riding I do not have any support vehicles … whether they be neutral or team :) I like the idea of Future Shock as I ride mostly white metal roads. My current Ridley X-Night does just fine but a little reduction in vibration would be welcomed.

  • Tony Abbott

    [Senator Collins:] It’s a great pleasure, thank you.

    [Interviewer:] This bike that was involved in the incident at Roubaix this week…

    [Senator Collins:] Yeah, the one the front fell off?

    [Interviewer:] Yeah

    [Senator Collins:] That’s not very typical, I’d like to make that point.

    [Interviewer:] Well, how is it untypical?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, there are a lot of these bikes going around the world all the time, and very seldom does anything like this happen … I just don’t want people thinking that our bikes aren’t safe.

    [Interviewer:] Was this bike safe?

    [Senator Collins:] Well I was thinking more about the other ones…

    [Interviewer:] The ones that are safe,,,

    [Senator Collins:] Yeah,,, the ones the front doesn’t fall off.

    [Interviewer:] Well, if this wasn’t safe, why did it have Nikki Terpstra on it?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, I’m not saying it wasn’t safe, it’s just perhaps not quite as safe as some of the other ones.

    [Interviewer:] Why?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, some of them are built so the front doesn’t fall off at all.

    [Interviewer:] Wasn’t this built so the front wouldn’t fall off?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, obviously not.

    [Interviewer:] “How do you know?”

    [Senator Collins:] Well, ‘cause the front fell off. It’s a bit of a give-away.” I would just like to make the point that that is not normal.

    [Interviewer:] Well, what sort of standards are these bikes built to?

    [Senator Collins:] Oh, very rigorous … engineering standards.

    [Interviewer:] What sort of things?

    [Senator Collins:] Well the front’s not supposed to fall off, for a start.

    [Interviewer:] And what other things?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, there are … regulations governing the materials they can be made of

    [Interviewer:] What materials?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, Cardboard’s out

    [Interviewer:] And?

    [Senator Collins:] …No cardboard derivatives…

    [Interviewer:] Like paper?

    [Senator Collins:]. … No paper, no string, no cellotape. …

    [Interviewer:] Rubber?

    [Senator Collins:] No, rubber’s out .. Um, They’ve got to have handle bars. There’s a minimum crew requirement.”

    [Interviewer:] What’s the minimum crew?

    [Senator Collins:] Oh,… one, I suppose.

    [Interviewer:] So, the allegations that they are just designed to sell as many bikes as possible and to hell with the consequences, I mean that’s ludicrous…

    [Senator Collins:] Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous. These are very, very strong bikes.

    [Interviewer:] So what happened in this case?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, the front fell off in this case by all means, but that’s very unusual.

    [Interviewer:] But Senator Collins, why did the front bit fall off?

    [Senator Collins:] Well, it hit a cobble.

    [Interviewer:] It hit a cobble?

    [Senator Collins:] The bike hit a cobble.

    [Interviewer:] Is that unusual?

    [Senator Collins:] Oh, yeah… At Roubaix? …Chance in a million.

    RIP John Clarke

    • Sam

      Gold! So appropriate.

    • 900Aero

      Well done mate, great tribute.

    • Hurtin’ Albertan

      So good. I can hear it.

    • cthenn

      I don’t get this reference at all but this was seriously LOL-worthy!

      • Matt

        Lovely stuff.

      • If you missed the reference, the late John Clarke put this skit together (along with hundreds of others) as shown here:


        A classic in every sense and very smartly decontextualised above. Chapeau Tony and RIP John Clarke

    • David Beckwith

      chapeau sir – comment of the year. Put away your keyboards now.

  • Rick Steiger

    It’s a shame this company slowly chips away at it’s creditability.

  • mattyonering

    Why not ride the SL4-
    What I can’t understand is why not let him ride the SL4 model. It is still in the line up from the comp models down. If marketing was the goal, Imagine if Tepstra had been there at the end with Tom ect. Specialized could have talked about how great the whole range is, even for the lower end models that most of us ride in the real world.

  • The smart engineer’s choice would have been simply to put Terpstra on previous model Roubaix, which is obviously what he really wanted. (I am currently test-riding a new Roubaix and frankly I would agree, this new bike stinks, see comments passim for my assessment so far).

    Instead a tinkering process took place, and such processes contain risks, and this outcome was one of them. The only reasonable explanation is that Specialized is so ruled by marketing that using previous model bike was either unthinkable, or discussed and rejected.

    Evidently marketing, not engineering, rules the roost at Specialized.

  • Gabriel Vargas

    Great discussion over here. Meanwhile, GvA won on a lower-level BMC bike (just take a look at their Endurance lineup). All this marketing is what makes people love and hate Specialized.

    • They used to make great bikes. I have a 2008 S-Works Tarmac SL & a 2014 S-Works Venge and I love them both. Responsive, elegant, thoroughbred racing machines. The new models, the vias venge and this new roubaix, I’ve tried both and they’re dead to me. I feel as though there’s been a major change of design perspective at specialized, one favouring gimmicks and marketing, and I don’t like it one bit.

  • Jordan Hukee

    It’s always exciting when a fork steerer snaps off but nothing eclipses for me the sexy but badly-executed Bianchi that failed under Museeuw when he was chasing Tchmil in ’94… talk about a one-off disaster that may have changed the outcome of the race! The articles about that bike and why it broke, why it was built incorrectly even though it was planned properly are quite interesting.

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Gotta wonder what would have happened had Terpstra won P-R? Would the Big-S have crowed about their new machine – “The bike that won Paris-Roubaix” despite the fact the rider opted not to have the newest-latest gizmo? Is this the first time a ride pays a big price for NOT wanting to use such a gimmick? We’ve seen plenty of the reverse in the past.

  • Joelbass79

    That Specialized insisted Terpstra use a modified Roubaix over the previous model is made a little more odd/sketchy when you consider all the riders who stuck with the old Venge last year after the Venge ViAS was released and all the hullabaloo/hype surrounding it. I guess they were “OK” with that since there were more races where the ViAS could be raced after they addressed rider concerns, as opposed to a once a year event like Paris-Roubaix.

  • ShayneV

    “Larger-diameter radii were also added where needed so as not to produce any dangerous stress concentrations where a crack might initiate.”

    To me the statement above makes no sense as radius and diameter have a fixed relationship. Diameter is twice the length of Radius.

    E.g. Equation for calculating the circumference of a circle is:
    C=Pi*diameter or C=2*Pi*radius


    • James Huang

      Cote not referring to the radii of the flanges and fillets on the prototype part, not the diameter of the main tube.

      • ShayneV

        That’s fine, but to my mind it is incorrect to refer to the increase in radius by using the term he used. As the radius increases, so does the diameter.

        Classic marketing BS.

        • James Huang

          I’ll be the first to admit that Specialized is often quite heavyhanded on the whole marketing thing, but in this case, Cote is only using common engineering terminology in reference to the transitions between surfaces. When I spoke to him over the phone, I knew exactly what he was talking about, and it had nothing to do with “classic marketing BS.”

  • Ragtag

    Someone should have also checked Boonen’s bike to see what he was riding. Apparently even he was not on the standard spring. Some ‘pro’ only spring was used. Suggests more coverups for their crappy bikes.

  • Chuck6421

    Funny thing about Specialized: (Please pardon the external link, CT…)
    “Specialized Bicycle Components’ founder and chairman Mike Sinyard says
    he believes that in two years time everyone in the pro peloton will be
    riding bikes equipped with disc brakes because they are a logical
    evolution for the industry.”

    Methinks Specialized marketing needs to take a collective breath.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Well,Sinyard IS right… it is the logical evolution for the industry.

      Where he is wrong is imagining for an instant that the UCI and pro peleton will move into the 21st century.

      • Chuck6421

        Meh, I’m betting puncture-proof tires go mainstream before “everyone” buys new bikes for disk brakes.

        • Wily_Quixote

          Well “everyone” who buys a MTB gets disc brakes – it really isn’t that controversial. It isn’t a radical step like a fairing or a gearbox transmission. Anyone would think that it is a new unproven technology or something.


Pin It on Pinterest

December 13, 2017
December 12, 2017
December 11, 2017