Specialized launched a new sub-brand called Globe dedicated to building high-quality electric utility bikes that are designed specifically to replace car trips. Globe will be “an extension of the Specialized brand that will focus on bringing more fun to local living while reducing the number of car, truck, and SUV trips needed for everyday transportation,” the company says.
E-bikes are unique among two-wheeled vehicles thanks to their very real ability to replace car trips for the vast majority of owners, especially those trips that are under five miles. Cargo and utility e-bikes in particular excel at reducing car usage thanks to their rugged design and payload capacity. Specialized, the third-largest bicycle manufacturer in the US based on market share, says it wants to accelerate e-bike adoption, and Globe will be the company’s vehicle for making this happen.
“We are living in the last generation able to make a difference in the fight against climate change,” Saul Leiken, global category leader for Globe, told The Verge in an email. “Electricity has revolutionized the way we get around, and in order to offer the bicycle as the ultimate climate-friendly solution for everyday trips, Specialized is expanding on our traditional notions of how and why we ride.”
The details are still a little thin, but Specialized says that, in addition to making and delivering Globe-branded e-bikes, the sub-brand will also be the way in which the company communicates to its e-bike customers, either through its marketing or customer service interactions.
(After this story published, I was reminded that Specialized actually made a line of stylish urban bikes in the 1990s under the Globe brand.)
Globe’s e-bikes will be some of the “highest performing bikes Specialized has ever brought to market in order to serve everyday riders and the performance for utility that they require,” Leiken said. “Cargo and kid-carrying are two of many uses for Globe, as we’re taking the concept of ‘everything bikes’ quite literally. Globe isn’t boxed into any particular rider experience.”
Globe will also emphasize the “commitment to lifetime value and affordability with the products that we create,” the company says. And most interestingly, the new unit will serve as the face of Specialized’s partnership with independent local bike shops “who don’t currently benefit from the growth of direct-to-consumer exclusive brands,” the company says.
In many ways, the e-bike revolution is being led by direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies, like Rad Power Bikes, VanMoof, and Super73, thanks to their ability to focus exclusively on making and selling battery-powered bikes. Legacy bike makers, like Giant, Specialized, and Trek, are emphasizing their partnerships with local bike shops as a way to highlight the differences between their DTC rivals. Through its new Globe division, Specialized seems poised to make that difference even more stark for customers and other stakeholders.
The inclusion of “value and affordability” in Globe’s credo is interesting, especially considering Specialized’s prices. Specialized makes fantastic e-bikes with top-of-the-line components — and, as such, they can be really expensive. That’s certainly the case with the new Turbo bikes, which range from $3,250 up to $5,500. Rad Power Bikes, by comparison, typically sells its bikes for $2,000 or less.
Leiken said that Specialized’s Turbo e-bikes will live alongside the Globe brand bikes. “Globe is separate from Turbo and Turbo isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “Specialized continues to invest in both e-bike experiences.”
Specialized will start taking orders for its new e-bikes in late 2022, with the intention to start customer deliveries in early 2023. Globe e-bikes will be exclusive to the US at launch.
Update May 11th, 11:50AM ET: Updated to include reference to Specialized’s Globe lineup from the 1990s.