When Specialized launched its 2018 line last month, there was plenty to get excited about. But eyebrows were raised in surprise when Specialized announced it was stripping away gender from its geometries.
For years, Specialized has been beating the drum of women’s specific bikes, but when it comes to the 2018 line of Tarmacs and Diverges, Specialized is diverting from that approach, saving goodbye to the much-loved Amira and introducing a shared platform geometry.
The change in approach, Specialized says, is based purely on new data.
The previous gender-specific approach was based on decades-old anthropomorphic data collected by the United States Army, not bicycle fitters. But since the acquisition of Retül and its digitised fit protocol in 2012, Specialized can now draw from over 40,000 sets of consistent and accurate position files.
“When I stepped in [as product manager], I asked why. And a lot of the why was ‘Oh well women have longer legs and shorter torsos’. Well, where is that based off? Why?” explained Stephanie Kaplan, Specialized road product manager. “Looking at the data that Retül had, we couldn’t find any data to support [anthropomorphic data].”
In fact, based on the more application-specific information, Specialized engineers determined that one single gender-neutral frame geometry can work just as well.
“Through our studying we started finding out that there weren’t as many differences [between men and women] as initially believed, and what we decided to do was to stop looking at anthropomorphic data — because there is nothing there — and let’s look at fit data. Let’s strip gender away and let’s try the best fitting bike for people,” said Kaplan.
Ella Editor Anne-Marije Rook sat down with Kaplan, to find out what led to Specialized’s 180 turn on gender-specific geometries and how it differs from the current frame geometries.
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