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Santa Cruz Bikes Founder Rob Roskopp is Joining Specialized Bikes

May 31, 2024 at 23:26
by Dario DiGiulio  

Rob Roskopp is a name long synonymous with Santa Cruz Bikes, but that might be changing after today. After founding Santa Cruz Bicycles in 1993, he went on to helm the company for over 20 years, before being acquired by Pon Holdings in 2015. He parted ways with Santa Cruz shortly thereafter, and has been pursuing other projects in the ensuing years.

Now, after some time away from involvement in the bike industry, he's stepping back into the ring, taking on an advisory role at Specialized. He'll be involved in all things product, giving input and providing guidance where needed. From the sounds of it, the role isn't a daily clock-in, but more of a board position that will have him providing feedback on certain projects and coming to the design teams with ideas.

I spoke with both Rob and Mike Sinyard - the founder and active head of Specialized - to get their thoughts on the new appointment.

Why Rob Roskopp? What was the appeal of this partnership to you?

bigquotesWell, first of all, I always knew of Rob and I had an admiration for what he did. And then, strangely enough, he ended up becoming my next door neighbor, at first I thought, oh geez - because I'm always riding new bikes and I thought, this is kind of a pinch on my style here. Then I got to know him, and then he said he was leaving that group [Pon Holdings]. So then we started to ride together, and then I realized, wow, this guy is smart, I could see why when he was there he made a great brand.

And then I realized he really knows a lot about how a bike rides. He knows a lot about suspension, geometry, wheels, and tires. So I was just kind of casually talking about things and introducing him to some of our team, and they really hit it off.

So then we said, well, it's just kind of a natural thing. I think it was just kind of the natural outcome of Rob getting involved over a year. So the why is I really respect him, and he's a very direct communicator, and he has really great ideas about riders and brands and then really helping our team, you know, with different things. So I just felt like he has that really great perspective to help us.

I'm always looking to find good people, and you know, I feel really fortunate that we have a lot of really good people. That's why we can do well.
Mike Sinyard

Why Specialized? What does the position mean to you?

bigquotesWhy Specialized? It was really just moving next to Mike and starting the talk. I bought the house across the street from him about two and a half years ago.

And we'd always been very serious competitors, because I always put Specialized as the benchmark for competition. Sure, there's other ones, too - you're always the competing against everybody - but Specialized was the target.

Anyway, so I bought the house, and he was pulling out garbage, and I think I was checking the mail or something. He's like, oh, hey, how's it going? I'm like, hey, and we started talking. He's like, so...

Because there was rumors going around at that point that I was leaving Santa Cruz. I say yeah, it doesn't look like it's going to work out, and then a few weeks later I saw him again, and then he's like, oh, we should talk.

So then we started riding, and really bouncing off ideas off one another. I love bike stuff like we all do, and I've always been a product guy - Mike's that way, too.

I just still wanted to be in the bike industry, and I still wanted to have a pulse on it and be connected with... I don't want to say the leader, but they are in a lot of ways, and I think they have the most potential, especially with what's going on in the industry right now. They have the horsepower to develop product and really make a difference in a lot of ways, from the Outride program to the industry as a whole.

So I'm on the board, just to help give input and steer the ship, so to speak, with Mike, and then give my input with product, test it, and help out where I can.
Rob Roskopp

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of this partnership, the tale of a couple neighbors who happen to share a very fun common interest. For more on Rob's backstory, head over to this longer-form interview Levy and Brian conducted with him for the Pinkbike Podcast last year.

Author Info:
dariodigiulio avatar

Member since Dec 25, 2016
210 articles

  • 116 2
 What I wouldn’t give for a job like “bike product advisor”
  • 403 2
 Why would a company pay a guy to be “bike product advisor” when they can the expert comments here for free?
  • 73 1
 You can. You just have to found and helm a successful bike company for 30 years, then sell your company and buy a house across the street from your counterpart at one of your biggest rivals! I think this is awesome news. Fun story.
  • 38 0
 Right!?... "Don't put a crappy recon on that! Z1 instead. Alright, I'm going for a ride! See you tomorrow!"
  • 35 1
 I think all of us here in the PB comments should get a monthly check for all the product “advise” we give
  • 3 0
 Truth. It’s paid forum commenter.
  • 39 0
 @Jdricks: some should have monthly mental health checks.
  • 5 0
 @o-dubhshlaine: I think we all know who needs it the most though
  • 1 0
 @TheR: I think you answered your own question
  • 4 17
flag greg390 (Jun 1, 2024 at 17:27) (Below Threshold)
 @o-dubhshlaine: Everyone should, mind you 5G not healthy, and not only for your brain.
Will go for a ride as well.
  • 2 2
 God grow them up and the wind pile them up
  • 2 0
 @BiNARYBiKE: it's like a business meet-cute
  • 1 0
 @fektor-b: ha! It is.
  • 66 0
 I wonder if there are any more houses for sale on their street?
  • 36 0
 “It’s more than you could afford pal. Ferrari”
  • 3 0
 @vitaflo: Suddenly want fried seafood
  • 7 2
 possibly, but the price is like 20% the GDP of Canada.
  • 5 0
 no one likes the tuna here
  • 28 2
 "After founding Santa Cruz Bicycles in 1993, he went on to helm the company for over 30 years, before being acquired by Pon Holdings in 2015"
can you please recheck your math here?
  • 9 26
flag liquidfoxbat (Jun 1, 2024 at 8:38) (Below Threshold)
 When a company gets aquired by another it's quite normal for the former owner to stay on and run the company, maybe you could check this out?
  • 7 6
 Also: "the role isn't a daily clock-in, but more of a board position"?

I mean, it's a Board position or not a Board position. "More of a board position" doesn't exist.
  • 20 0
 @mi-bike: He might be skiing a little bit too.
  • 2 2
 @mi-bike: Right? My guess is not a board position, but have him on payroll in an advisory/consultation capacity where he can sit in on important meetings and use his experience or whatever. A lot of companies do this with industry veterans or ex-pro riders who have connections. It's like they want to pay them so that their ideas/experience don't go to another company instead, and in this case they're also "business bros" too.
  • 22 1
 This is bro-science, not math. Completely different.
  • 5 0
 @mi-bike: his board position - sick method off a launch ramp
  • 3 1
 @liquidfoxbat: the key word is 'before'
  • 3 1
 @vemegen before the math is checked please check what year Rob left the company
  • 13 3
 Never let the facts get in the way of a great story!
  • 1 1
 @mi-bike: its not a board position(even if he has a board position). it's most like Professor Emeritus in academia. you don't give lectures(unless you want to), you don't run labs, you don't really have to be there. You are an "idea and culture guy".
  • 2 0
 @Mtbdialed: I don't care if the man has a board position or not, but he himself says it is a board position. My guess is that he is a non-executive Director. Show up for the quarterly board meetings (very low time committment) to help "steer the ship" and receive a nice pay check.
  • 1 1
 @Mtbdialed: I think most emeritus profs are those who know where the skeletons are, and the institution/board wants to keep tabs on them…
  • 2 0
 Time is not linear. There is no reality.
  • 1 0
 @thepwnstar39: The obvious reason for this hiring is to scare one of Spesh's biggest competitors and probably use Rob to stay one step ahead of SC, not with product but with selling that product to retailers.
  • 5 0
 @thepwnstar39: maybe a bit of "Let's hire him so someone else doesn't.."
  • 24 1
 Sounds like the No Compete clause has ended.
  • 10 1
 Non-compete clauses are not enforceable in CA.
  • 13 0
 I love the idea that these two giants in the industry and history live across the street from each other and go for rides together. I see this as Mike sinyard bringing in an old school mtn biker as a partner to help advise armin landgraf. Either way, sinyard and specialized have made some pretty good moves lately and I think this is just another one assuming sinyard, landgraf, roskopp and Macguire all work well together.
  • 8 9
 It's easier to plan how to pick up our pockets together
  • 1 0
 Wonder what moves? I'm a fan of their bikes but I've been quite puzzled with what specialized has been up to in Canada in the last few years. Still hoping global is a more sensible company.
  • 15 0
 You know what they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Art of war stuff right here.
  • 4 2
 Sun Tzo would be proud.
  • 12 0
 My first thought after reading the title was, is it April Fools Day.
  • 3 0
 I think it's 4D Chess on behalf of Pon. It's all a little 'too' convenient. In my eyes the plan goes something like this: 1) 'Fire' Rob publicly and make sure he airs his grievances so no one doubts his motivation to get back at them 2) Get Sinyard to let his guard down and give Rob a seat at the table 3) Rob brings down Spesh from the inside with a series of products nobody wants, then 4) Pon swoops in to buy Spesh as the defacto preferred candidate in a process overseen by RR (who also gets Sinyard's house in the deal).
  • 13 3
 Before long Specialized bikes will end up looking like Santa Cruz ones. Wait, did sometging just happen in the matrix?
  • 9 0
 Well they already cost as much
  • 16 8
 I have a lot of respect for Rob but I swear if all the Specialized bikes start looking identical much like the last generation from Santa Cruz we might as well call the brand Sanitized.
  • 11 5
 I fail to see why it's a given that a brand needs a different kind of suspension layout for all of their bikes.
  • 22 2
 @rickybobby19: because they all have different needs? I don't want a flex stay DH bike and I don't want a 6 bar XC bike. I wouldn't want either in a trail bike.
  • 3 0
 @L0rdTom: Well put!
  • 3 0
 That deserves way more upvotes than it's got.
  • 1 0
 @rickybobby19: judging by how much love S usually gets on PB it would be Satanized…
  • 9 0
 Specialized is gonna write S-works on his skateboard decks, and then sell them for $500.
  • 6 0
 So the 'next level battery/E bike project' talk was all just bluster and chest puffing?
  • 5 0
 the only thing next level for battery would be solid state.
  • 3 0
 Maybe, that's what they've been talking about?
  • 23 6
 a dude buzzed past me the other day on what seemed to be a next gen system, I believe it was called "2 stroke"
  • 3 4
 @bikecollin: There's too many under-50s around here who don't understand that the future will always be gas turbines. Yes the 1967 STP-Paxton Turbocar is but a distant memory, and bike turbine projects today are the province of particularly handy Russian YouTubers, but still.
  • 12 4
 This just feels wrong…
  • 7 0
 Walter White and Gus Fring vibes.
  • 13 8
 Seems like Santa Cruz are the baddies now. Rob goes and then SC fuck Minaar over. Boo to the SC mega corp villains. X
  • 6 1
 @lev3000 You clearly have no idea what happened with Minaar situation. From their newsletter a few weeks back:

It started with the bombshell that after 16 years on the Syndicate, Greg Minnaar would be leaving to join a new team. If you were surprised then trust me, so were we. All the best to Greg, because we’ll still be cheering the GOAT on. We’re pretty sure he’s going to be fired up to put in a record-setting result in Fort Bill, a place he’s had plenty of success over the years.
  • 4 0
 Hmm, the continuation of the fall of Roskopp legacy continues. Can’t he just take his millions and hide away in one of his castles
  • 6 2
 Hope Rob‘s not convincing them to use the same kinematic design on every type of frame. This makes a brand somehow boring.
  • 10 3
 Blur and V10 have different designs from the rest. There's no point making a different Nomad just for the sake of having something different, when their current VPP works great in 5010, Bronson, Nomad, Hightower and Megatower.
  • 2 1
 It's almost necessary these days though, just for coil shock compatibility. Otherwise the company would need to offer different linkages for all their bikes, which is probably a logistical nightmare. The alternative is people have to rely on companies like Cascade Components to make a different linkage, then your warranty is voided once you install that. For a company like SC that sells high dollar bikes in large part because of their lifetime warranty, this isn't gonna fly.
  • 6 1
 Welcome to the dark side of the force
  • 4 0
 This is like when Ron Burgundy accidentally told San Diego to go fuck themselves.
  • 3 0
 C'mon, y'all. Board position? Means he's getting back to his roots finally.
  • 5 1
 Pon Holdings Motto....our job will be done when we've gotten rid of everyone that made the brands we purchased.....
  • 5 0
 I think the point of buying a company is to own it.
Rob took the money and ran, now he’s claiming victim because they didn’t re-new his fat contract for doing nothing. I can only hope that SC were able to keep a bunch of staff on by the savings of not renewing Robs contract
  • 1 0
 This is just too funny. Rob was well known for hassling test riders and employees who left for Specialized. He was convinced that Sinyard and Specialized were the devil. He would openly talk crap about them. And now he sold out to them. It's all about the money for that guy. Needs to buy more Porsche's and expensive houses for his wife.
  • 3 0
 Maybe they’ll finally do away with all the clevis yokes on the stumpjumpers lol
  • 3 0
 Peace out SC, covid was cool and thanks for that... See you in another life...
  • 3 0
 It's like watching Mothra vs. Godzilla, except there's a twist in the plot and they join forces ...
  • 1 0
 And the spawn another... Mothra Fuax Care
  • 5 3
 very positive news, totally agree on Specialized status and impact on the MTB / bike world. very happy for Rob and will see what he brings to the next vision for specialized
  • 2 0
 Didn't expect this-mostly surprised that Specialized would employ anyone in such a nebulous role. Curious to see if anything comes of it.
  • 6 0
 Specialized knew that regardless of his output, the news around the move would be worth the cost of admission. Rob of course would fall for the siren song of the money...just as he did when he sold to PON.
  • 3 3
 SC and intense were sold to Pon Holdings in 2015, and since then both brands have continued to loose market share in their niche market, by diluting themselves into median markets by virtue of sales network through department stores and consumer direct. Intense is quickly loosing momentum and SC is loosing its placeholder as a niche brand. I would also be jumping ship, but this is what happens when you sell out and get that final cheque.
  • 3 1
 It lose not loose. And Rob definitely didn’t jump ship, might be time to google the articles and podcasts, the man was quite open about his feelings on being let go.

I’d also like to see those sale charts you’re reading for SC market share.
  • 1 2
 @Starsky686: must have been autofill from googling your mom.
  • 1 0
 @BoneDog: ahh it’s learning disabled and feisty. Cute.
  • 3 0
 Makes sense that I saw him on a Levo last winter.
  • 3 0
 Maybe Joe G joins Spesh too?
  • 2 0
 Very low possibility of that happening.
  • 1 0
 Less than zero chance of that.
  • 1 0
 Don’t let them know your next move! Holy frick

Also….maybe he can push them to make the specialized branded trust fork….. waiting
  • 4 0
 I dunno if Specialized will go there again. Remember that Enduro fork from... 2006? 2007? Specialized is hoping we've forgotten too.
  • 2 0
 I'd be impressed with Roskopp doing an invert. Or even just an air at Derby.
  • 2 0
 Well thats one name off the list of potential CEOs salivating to take over Scott.
  • 2 0
 "Anyway, so I bought the house, and he was pulling out garbage" - He took out one of his eebs ?
  • 2 0
 Maybe Roskopp joined Specialized as part of a settlement after Sinyard sued him for having a similar sounding address.
  • 2 0
 Waiting to be bought by Walmart...
  • 2 0
 Coming to Sams club soon....
  • 2 0
 At this point I can't even get what is real
  • 2 1
 "Specialized Stump-Heckler, Designed to heckle all the stumps as you shred down the trail"
  • 1 0
 that explains a lot.. (dh and enduro going different way than before, new suspension stuff,..)
  • 2 0
 Is Bruni going to run the Specialized Syndicate after he retires?
  • 1 0
 Keith Bontrager will be joining next for all things not frame related -- getting the band back together!
  • 1 0
 Alternative title: ‘Industry old boys network still keeps jobs-for-the-boys going strong’
  • 2 0
 Let's hope Rob understands that electric has changed the game
  • 6 5
 This is amazing. Congrats to Spesh and Rob. Anything is possible.
  • 1 0
 Rob is a sellout. Spent years talking shit about Specialized and Sinyard. Now they're best buddies? Anything for a dollar with that guy.
  • 1 0
 Santalized bike coming soon!
  • 2 0
 Old guys unite!
  • 2 0
 Short stint at Unno
  • 3 1
  • 6 0
 Special Cruz!
  • 7 7
 I couldnt give 2 F’s about this tbh. Should i get warm and fuzzy some how?
  • 1 0
 Hopefully it will lead to cooler looking bikes in the near future…
  • 1 0
 If you can't beat them, join them.
  • 1 0
 Seems big S always been a SACREDCROSS on Robs mind...
  • 1 0
 And so, disposing garbage in the right place is the key to succes.
  • 1 0
 class-act spying right here!!!
  • 3 4
 He went from a company with VPP to guys using Horst link and single pivot? Blech
  • 5 0
 1x drivetrains, flex stays and modern rear shocks gave single pivots new life.
  • 1 0
 So romantic...
  • 2 5
 What a power move. This is just a flex
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