Specialized now offering online purchasing with bikes shipped direct to your door – but don't expect any savings.

Specialized has become the first of cycling’s ‘big four’ to offer online mountain bike purchasing. Choose one of the best mountain bikes on the market, like the MBR Trail Bike of the Year winning Stumpjumper Evo, and get it shipped direct to your front door.

The customer-direct model pioneered by Germany’s Canyon has changed how many smaller bike brands do business. But the announcement of Specialized’s new direct purchasing options is significant, as it is one of the traditionally dominant mountain bike brands – with Cannondale, Giant and Trek – that are sold mostly through independent dealers. While these brands do offer online purchasing, it is in partnership with dealers, where the assembly and (in some cases) home delivery is covered. In return, the dealer still makes its margin. The new Specialized model removes this layer from the process, shipping direct from warehouse to consumer (although the dealer network is still utilised for customer support and warranty work.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Comp

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Comp is our 2022 Trail Bike of the Year

Specialized from your screen – to home

Riders keen on a new Turbo Levo or Enduro can now transact digitally and choose from two shipping and delivery options.

If you possess mild confidence with tools in hand, there is Specialized’s Ship to Home. Select your bike and have it shipped to your preferred address. Ship to Home bikes will be pre-built and require minimal assembly (install the bars and wheels and fit the pedals), but if you aren’t that confident with an Allen, Specialized has telephonic Ride Care agents available to guide you. This option will be free (no extra charge to the cost of the bike).

For Ship to Home buyers, there is also the choice of involving your local Specialized dealer, to ensure perfect assembly.

Specialized dealers will still be there to support online bike customers

You can still get bike fit and set-up

If you want an experience more akin to online and traditional retail hybridisation, there is Specialized Delivery – described as a ‘white glove’ option. Your new bike will arrive with a professional technician in tow, to assist with bike fit and set-up. Once you are ready to ride, the technician will remain on station to ensure that your new Specialized pedals and rolls, as intended. This is only available on bikes costing over £2,500 and the extra service will cost £75.

What about the Specialized Concept stores? Those remain in play and they will process any warranties, regardless of where or how your new Specialized was purchased. The same goes for independent Specialized dealers. If something breaks on your Spesh, you can take it to the nearest Specialized dealer and they will help you out. It doesn’t matter where, or how, you purchased it. This should be a great convenience for riders who might often move for work, and end up riding a trail network that is hours away from where they originally purchased their Specialized bike.

Delivery fees and service costs for the new customer direct Specialized sales have not been confirmed, and considering the weight of e-bikes, that could be an interesting issue for riders who live in rural areas. And don’t expect to save money by buying online like you would with a pure direct-sales brand like YT or Canyon – Specialized told us the extra revenue it receives by not having to pay a dealer margin will include reinvestment into systems and infrastructure to support the online program.

While pure direct-sales brands like YT pass on dealer savings to the consumer, Specialized prices will be uniform whether you buy online or in-store

The future?

This is not an unexpected step in the evolution of bicycle retail, as traditional brands look for every way they can to compete against direct-sales rivals. Outside the biggest players, we’re also seeing lots of consolidation as medium brands get bought up and housed under one roof along with plenty of outside industry interest in the fast-growing electric bikes sector. It will be interesting to see how this pans out going forward. Certainly, there are many questions that will only be answered over time. Such as, what will happen to small independent bike shops not aligned with one of the big four brands? Will they get pressured to squeeze out other bike brands from their showroom floors? How will they feel about dedicating time and effort to answering questions and solving problems for customers who haven’t actually spent any money in their shops? On the direct-sales side, we’ve already seen YT open up physical brand experience sites, like the YT Mill in Surrey. Will we see more of these? Will Canyon follow suit and open up its own concept showrooms? The bike industry was shaken up by the emergence of direct-sales brands around 20 years ago, but as it tries to navigate through the issues posed by COVID-19, it feels like we’re heading into the next big transformation in the way we buy and service our bikes.