The Specialized 'Made in Racing' Experience touched down in Glasgow, Scotland at the weekend and opened its doors at City Halls & Old Fruitmarket, Candleriggs. The stunning Specialized event that features an incredible selection of iconic winning bikes, including a selection of the brand's best mountain bikes, a prototype downhill bike currently being ridden by the Specialized Gravity Team, and a wind tunnel experience dubbed the 'Win Tunnel'. There is also the opportunity to meet some of the best riders from the Specialized camp which included downhill mountain bike legend and former multi-world champion, Loic Bruni, with teammates Finn Iles, and Jordan Williams. There is also the chance to meet Peter Sagan who makes his return to mountain biking at Glentress for the XCO World Championship race this weekend, along with Remco Evenepoel, Tour de France Femmes winner, Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky and other members of the most successful team in Women's cycling SD Worx.
I had the opportunity to check out the Specialized 'Made in Racing' Experience and met up with Kirtsy Woodcock, Head of Marketing at Specialized UK who gave me a tour around and the chance to try out the 'Win Tunnel' first-hand.
First up was the historical selection of mountain bikes including the first-ever world championship-winning MTB. Following the launch of Specialized's first production mountain bike, the brand had set its sights on the first UCI-sanctioned Mountain Bike World Championships. The Team Edition Stumpjumper M2 was ridden to victory by Ned Overend in 1990 and earned him the first MTB rainbow jersey. Specialized say this bike paved the way for the Epic platform and the stunning Epic World Cup XC mountain bike we have today.
The Team Edition Stumpjumper M2 came in the era of rear disc wheels, and spectators would hear the top racers before they could see them thanks to the drum-like pounding of the rear wheel when it went over obstacles. It also had a prototype Future Shock suspension which was manufactured by RockShox and provided a minuscule 50mm of air-sprung travel up front. Other features that would give modern-day mountain bike riders sleepless nights are a Suntour's XC Pro MD drivetrain, with three rings up front and a 7-speed, 12-28 cassette. Bar ends, thumb shifters, cantilever brakes and threaded headset makes this bike, which weighs in at around 12kg, a far cry from today's modern World Cup XC race bikes.
As an example of how far the brand has advanced sitting next to the 1990s Stumpjumper is the recently launched Epic World Cup bike and the prototype downhill bike that was ridden by Loic Bruni and Finn Iles at the Downhill World Championships in Fort William the previous day. With the technology involved still covered up, details are still sketchy with the bike obscured in key areas, but it does look like it has 3D printed lugs with a construction that seems not dissimilar to that of the World Championship-winning Atherton Bike ridden by Charlie Hatton.
The exhibition also has a selection of interesting items including Loic Bruni’s World Championship race worn kit, selected items of the brands ultra-light Roval XC component collection, and prototype downhill helmets and shoe collections. The exhibition also goes full circle journey on the road bike side, with early winning bikes ridden by legends like Vincenzo Nibali and Mario Cipollini, through to Remco Evenepoel's World Championship winning bike from last year in Australia and the Tarmac SL8 that was revealed on the day of the Men's World Championships road race. The SL8 was on display in the 'Win Tunnel' and as part of the experience visitors can enter the wind tunnel specially set up for the World Championships.
The 'Win Tunnel' is the lynchpin of the Specialized aero operation, designed and built to the highest standards, which they say is the world's finest cycling-specific facility of its kind. Optimized for speed, the ‘Win Tunnel’ in the Specialized Morgan Hill facility in California. It allows not just road bikes to be tested, but the entire Specialized bike range – from their latest gravel bikes to downhill bikes. The Glasgow version is a replica of the Morgan Hill tunnel and as the lights go off and my special eye protection goes on, the turbines fire up and you feel the full force of the wind tunnel in action. It's quite the thrill as the wind blasts through your clothes and hair, almost lifting your feet off the ground. However, the Tarmac SL8, that you're not allowed to sit on, remains firmly planted on the ground. Once the turbines slow down and you exit the wind tunnel, you can view your wind tunnel experience and download via a QR code scan as a memento of the visit.
The 'Made in Racing' Experience runs from the 6th to the 13th of August at the City Halls & Old Fruitmarket, 100 Candleriggs, Glasgow. The event is free and open daily from 10.00-16.00 with more information available at Specialized.com.