Specialized HQ - The Road To Sea Otter

Apr 13, 2011 at 0:07
Apr 13, 2011
by Mike Levy  
 
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  After a long drive South from B.C., which included a stop in Bend, Oregon, to ride with Kirt and Lindsey Voreis, Pinkbike has nearly arrived at the Sea Otter venue. Before going any farther though, we stopped in at Specialized HQ to catch up with Nic Sims and to take a peak behind closed doors.


That big red letter means that there is no mistaking where we've arrived at, even if it was 3am when we pulled into the parking lot after making the long haul from Bend, Oregon. Specialized HQ is located in Morgan Hill, California, about an hour away from the Sea Otter venue, and situated in the middle of rolling green hills that look to have more than a few great spots to ride.
That big red letter means that there is no mistaking where we've arrived at, even if it was 3am when we pulled into the parking lot after making the long haul from Bend, Oregon. Specialized HQ is located in Morgan Hill, California, about an hour away from the Sea Otter venue, and situated in the middle of rolling green hills that look to have more than a few great spots to ride.
The massive bike rack outside the front door is another give away. Employees are encouraged to not only ride to work every day (<i>there is staff parking inside as well</i>), but also take part in the lunch rides.
The massive bike rack outside the front door is another give away. Employees are encouraged to not only ride to work every day (there is staff parking inside as well), but also take part in the lunch rides.
Still looking ready to shred, Palmer's '97 NORBA bike is displayed proudly in the museum for everyone to see when they enter. Bikes have come a long way, but this bad boy gave me goosebumps. Manitou's X-Vert carbon (<i>with extended travel and integrated stem</i>), those old and much sought after Michelin tires and a very patriotic GripShift shifter and derailleur combo. Judging by the size of that ring, Palmer was looking to hit mach chicken during his race runs!
Still looking ready to shred, Palmer's '97 NORBA bike is displayed proudly in the museum for everyone to see when they enter. Bikes have come a long way, but this bad boy gave me goosebumps. Manitou's X-Vert carbon (with extended travel and integrated stem), those old and much sought after Michelin tires and a very patriotic GripShift shifter and derailleur combo. Judging by the size of that ring, Palmer was looking to hit mach chicken during his race runs!
There was no doubting where Palmer called home.
There was no doubting where Palmer called home.
These are the steeds of some very tough men. Specialized has a long history on the road as well, including supplying bikes for sprint legends Mario Cipollini and Tom Boonen, as well as Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, among others. There is a good chance that these bikes have broken the posted speed limits on the roads that they were raced on.
These are the steeds of some very tough men. Specialized has a long history on the road as well, including supplying bikes for sprint legends Mario Cipollini and Tom Boonen, as well as Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, among others. There is a good chance that these bikes have broken the posted speed limits on the roads that they were raced on.
Specialized has a Sam Hill room - no joke. Koala bears, kangaroos, and walls covered in everything Sam. The fake grass on the ground is a nice touch as well!
Specialized has a Sam Hill room - no joke. Koala bears, kangaroos, and walls covered in everything Sam. The fake grass on the ground is a nice touch as well!
Guests who visit the Sam Hill room, including Kirt Voreis and Brendan Fairclough, have carved their names into the table - it would have been rude to not join them!
Guests who visit the Sam Hill room, including Kirt Voreis and Brendan Fairclough, have carved their names into the table - it would have been rude to not join them!
Sure, employees have access to the in-house gym and can head out for lunch-ride hammer sessions, but it is still nice to get around the office without walking.
Sure, employees have access to the in-house gym and can head out for lunch-ride hammer sessions, but it is still nice to get around the office without walking.
This is the staff parking, full of Specialized bikes, as you might expect. Pretty much everyone at Specialized rides, whether it is to commute to work or out on the lunch group rides.
This is the staff parking, full of Specialized bikes, as you might expect. Pretty much everyone at Specialized rides, whether it is to commute to work or out on the lunch group rides.
Tough day in the office? Head down to the gym to work off some steam. There are even yoga classes if you are looking to get your flex on.
Tough day in the office? Head down to the gym to work off some steam. There are even yoga classes if you are looking to get your flex on.
Is this the very first mountain bike? It even comes complete with a sundial computer. Flat tires look like they might be a bit of a bitch to change though...
Is this the very first mountain bike? It even comes complete with a sundial computer. Flat tires look like they might be a bit of a bitch to change though...
Two motorized creations from the artistic minds behind Specialized. The bike's creators fired them up for us - both are fully functioning motorbikes. Despite my urgings, I wasn't allowed to jump on and light it up.
Two motorized creations from the artistic minds behind Specialized. The bike's creators fired them up for us - both are fully functioning motorbikes. Despite my urgings, I wasn't allowed to jump on and light it up.
Ski bikes have never really caught on, but this thing is bad ass.
Ski bikes have never really caught on, but this thing is bad ass.
Toy or full sized bike? Specialized is well known for producing some very cool custom bikes, many of which have made appearances at various trade shows over the years.
Toy or full sized bike? Specialized is well known for producing some very cool custom bikes, many of which have made appearances at various trade shows over the years.
Specialized's Nic Sims was doing his best to keep me out of this concept drag bike, although I am willing to bet that he jumps in it every now and then once everyone else has gone home!
Specialized's Nic Sims was doing his best to keep me out of this concept drag bike, although I am willing to bet that he jumps in it every now and then once everyone else has gone home!
Specialized is very serious about security. This guy was standing guard in front of the door where Sam Hill's carbon 29'er DH bike was being worked on. Not.
Specialized is very serious about security. This guy was standing guard in front of the door where Sam Hill's carbon 29'er DH bike was being worked on. Not.
Hands up if you know who the Samurai of Slide is. This is Noriyuki Haga's World Super Bike helmet, complete with a big red
Hands up if you know who the Samurai of Slide is. This is Noriyuki Haga's World Super Bike helmet, complete with a big red "S" decal on the back! Specialized supports a number of different racers in the motorized world, including both F1 drivers and Moto guys.
This is one of the very first Venge prototypes, with the high-end production version being engineered with help from the Mclaren Formula One team. Expect that collaboration to continue over to the dirt in the future.
This is one of the very first Venge prototypes, with the high-end production version being engineered with help from the Mclaren Formula One team. Expect that collaboration to continue over to the dirt in the future.
How is this for unique?
How is this for unique?
The suspension engineers have their very own machine shop to use when one-off parts need to be created for projects.
The suspension engineers have their very own machine shop to use when one-off parts need to be created for projects.
This is what the internals of Specialized's Brain Fade shock look like. The brass weight sits on the spring and acts as the inertia valve.
This is what the internals of Specialized's Brain Fade shock look like. The brass weight sits on the spring and acts as the inertia valve.
The suspension area has a number of different dynos that they use, including a hand dyno (<i>left</i>), as well as full on hydraulic machines that are used to run forks and shocks through testing cycles that can reach up to 300,000 cycles.
The suspension area has a number of different dynos that they use, including a hand dyno (left), as well as full on hydraulic machines that are used to run forks and shocks through testing cycles that can reach up to 300,000 cycles.
You'll be able to read about Specialized's updated Command Post when we cover it during Sea Otter, but this cutaway gives you a good idea of how the system works. The silver collet expands into reliefs that have been machined into the inner walls of the post, holding it in place. Pushing on the remote lever pulls the cable, which retracts the collet and allows the post to move up or down in its travel. The collet then expands once the lever is released.
You'll be able to read about Specialized's updated Command Post when we cover it during Sea Otter, but this cutaway gives you a good idea of how the system works. The silver collet expands into reliefs that have been machined into the inner walls of the post, holding it in place. Pushing on the remote lever pulls the cable, which retracts the collet and allows the post to move up or down in its travel. The collet then expands once the lever is released.
This suspension post was designed and built in 1993, although it never took off. I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's appearance may have had something to do with that...
This suspension post was designed and built in 1993, although it never took off. I'm going to go ahead and guess that it's appearance may have had something to do with that...
The prototyping room is responsible for building the first versions of any of the new bikes. There were a few things in here that I was told not to photograph, despite how much I know you'd all love to see them - sorry!
The prototyping room is responsible for building the first versions of any of the new bikes. There were a few things in here that I was told not to photograph, despite how much I know you'd all love to see them - sorry!
Does this steel sled look familiar? Once the general layout is agreed upon, a steel test mule is built to prove the concept.
Does this steel sled look familiar? Once the general layout is agreed upon, a steel test mule is built to prove the concept.
Just behind the building is a <i>massive</i> pump track that is open for all employees to ride. Video by Brett Hornfelt.
Just behind the building is a massive pump track that is open for all employees to ride. Video by Brett Hornfelt.
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www.specialized.com

Stay tuned for more as out Sea Otter coverage begins!
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68 Comments

  • + 25
 WOW does not do it justice, how many body parts do i sell to get a job there..Hopefully Pink-bike will be given more opportunities to do other companies too???.
  • + 4
 Would love to work there....soooo much stuff to do during lunch hour......
  • + 8
 This has been the most interesting write up in a looong time Smile
  • + 4
 I really wish I had a pump track at my work...

Instead we have a server... Cry
  • + 2
 i thought i was lucky to have middleburn just up the road..but this is so much sicker!
  • + 2
 theres a patch of land for sale right next to my work... it would give me something to do at lunch
:P
nice write up guys Big Grin
  • + 0
 ^ ^ GET IT DID! Wink
  • + 1
 check out this video for a more indepth look at the place
i wish they gave tours....
www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/237272-Specialized-HQ-Tour/video/346117-Specialized-Inside-the-HQ-Part-I
  • + 1
 Drool I would die a hundred deaths to work there!
  • + 9
 Nice write up, and awesome to see inside one of the biggest bike companies in the world...
  • + 5
 Awesome, I cant imagine any employee hating a career there. Just being able to see the Palmer bike and sit in the Sam Hill room would be enough to get me in the door makin stuff work...
  • + 5
 sweet would love to work there, quality write up, also check the link out Salute www.pinkbike.com/photo/3398938
  • + 2
 Good link! Thanks. 40 lbs without any components, holy shit!
  • + 2
 Funny thing is, looking at Plamer's bike, I noticed you say how stuff has come on a long way, but in reality it hasn't really. I'm not sure how much travel that bike has but I reckon thats the only major thing that changed in the years later. Looking at it, everything else is still relevant and could easily be raced today at a high level by a top rider.
  • + 3
 Need any mechanical engeneers who work on 3D CAM/CAD solutions?
..just let me know!
  • + 1
 There's a job opening for a MTB Product Engineer... bonus points if you know how to dig, I'm always looking for people to help me work on the track.
  • + 5
 were can i sign in?
  • - 5
flag Downhill340 (Apr 13, 2011 at 3:42) (Below Threshold)
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/6432096 gimme gimme gimme
  • + 5
 Do people not know what the word 'reply' means?
Sorry 'Downhill340' I'm not trying to hate, but your post has nothing to do with what 'saso' said.

It's just I see sooo much of it on pinkbike.

Stay on topic people!
  • + 1
 ^^^ Agreed. Although I am an offender myself in the past, but is it really that important to people to reply to the first comment so theirs gets seen by the majority? "Reply" is to comment on a previous statement, answer a question, correct a sentece etcetc...
  • + 1
 i like how they have skunk works spray painted on the wall of their prototyping room haha - specialized could only dream of being as advanced as skunk works...that being said, i would love to work at either place
  • + 1
 S-Works = Skunk Works. not quite as sick as the real one, but not bad.
  • + 0
 wow i never even thought of that being what s-works stands for...i guess thats what happens when you focus on dh/fr (nothing from s-works is focused on dh/fr)
  • + 2
 No doubt about job satisfaction, I'd quit happily work anywhere with a pumptrack around back
  • + 3
 every work place needs a pumptrack
  • + 1
 With, both past and much more present, working conditions here in Greece, the whole article seemed like an April's fools joke.
  • + 2
 I want that split window BAD
  • + 2
 thats a fairly awesome work place.
  • + 1
 Enduro Expert 06 I think, either way the big S is one sweet bike company. Nice one PinkBike
  • + 1
 I Imagine it goes like this....


" Awwwwwwww, Its the weekend AGAIN, Can't We Work Saturdays" ?

Smile
  • + 3
 That's awesome!
  • + 1
 Any Vacancy available to work there as a mechanical engineer? will love it
  • + 1
 i love how the wheels for the outside bike stand thing are from a hummer...
  • + 2
 well i now know where i want to be working!!
  • + 1
 props to pinkbike for this write up. hope you guys can do more write ups with other bike companies as well.
  • + 1
 I allready sat on Palmer's bike... mouhahahahaha... Razz
  • + 1
 ZOMG sam hills carbon 29er DH bike@!
  • + 2
 DREAM JOB!!!!
  • + 1
 Wow that was awesome! Great photos Mike.
  • + 2
 wow, that is wicked!
  • + 1
 LOL @ the grip shift! Ah, trends.
  • + 3
 Yeah funny how things change huh Razz Still , that FSR DH is still one of the best looking bikes of all time
  • - 1
 ive been using gripshift for 15 years....lighter, faster shifting, ability to go up and down multiple gears at once.
  • + 1
 i would cut my left testicle off for a job there
  • + 1
 fantasy factory more plz...............
  • + 1
 That steel enduro looks so strange!
  • - 2
 erm isnt it a demo 8
  • + 2
 no, I think it's an SX Trail
  • + 4
 No. I'm pretty sure it's an Enduro
  • + 1
 It's definitely an enduro, the sx has a much shorter shock mount to accomadate the longer shock / extra travel
  • - 1
 It is a Demo 8.
  • + 1
 NO! IT ISN'T! It doesn't have the three swing arms for starters, I'm sure somebody could elaborate.
  • + 1
 What a great place to work!
  • + 1
 Awesome place! I want a tour!
  • + 1
 Sick!!! I wanna work there!!
  • + 2
 Martin Soderstrom room?
  • + 4
 Martin Soderstrom room??? Before anything like that there would be a Berrecloth room... he deserves one!
  • + 4
 the Hunter Hacienda?
  • + 4
 I'd say a berrecloth room BEFORE a sam hill room....

Salute
  • + 1
 that
  • + 1
 No sign of any Pre Palmer JMC bikes?
  • + 1
 i love specialized.
  • + 1
 I wanna work there!
  • + 1
 i love the spesh enduro
  • + 1
 LOVE SPECIALIZED ...
  • + 1
 awesome article, thanks!
  • + 1
 dreams job!

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