Specialized has announced a new semi-custom bike program called S-Build. Offered solely to North American customers for the time being, prospective buyers can choose their favorite frame model, select a program-exclusive paint job, and then choose from a wide range of componentry to complete their dream machine. There are only a few models available at the moment – and although gorgeous, the paint jobs aren't fully custom, either – but it's a good start, and one that we're eager to see grow moving forward.
"Our dealers wanted the ability to work with their really, really good customers that wanted to build bikes like this that were unique and different, and that can help elevate the product beyond what they could just get with a standard S-Works model," said Specialized PR man Chris Riekert.
Want a Specialized but want it to be a little more, well, special? S-Build is a new semi-custom option from Specialized
Specialized is only offering the S-Build option for a few of its flagship frames for now: the S-Works Tarmac and Tarmac Disc, and the S-Works Epic and Epic World Cup. According to project manager Brent Graves, the company is intentionally starting small but definitely has plans to expand the S-Build program based on customer feedback.
"This is a first iteration," he said. "We wanted to keep the program as simple as possible to ensure that we get it right and can deliver for the rider every time. For now, we covered the bases, offering choices to suit probably greater than 90 percent of what riders will choose or need. We will absolutely build the program out to include a broader array of options. In the meantime, since the S-Build process is completed between a rider and a retailer, additional substitutions can be made outside of what's available officially within the program."
The new Specialized S-Build semi-custom program will include some stunning paint jobs
While there is indeed a reasonable amount of flexibility on tap in terms of cockpit components and wheels, it's still limited to Specialized-branded gear (although there are also options to delete certain categories altogether). However, Specialized isn't currently providing groupsets through the S-Build program, either, so effectively what they'll be getting is a rolling chassis that the dealer will need to complete on their own.
"Eventually we hope to include this option to provide riders with true one-stop shopping," Graves said. "But for now, there are few hurdles we need to figure out logistically before that can happen. It's pretty complicated on the back end."
On the surface, S-Build certainly sounds like Specialized's answer to the Project One program that Trek has offered for years. But there is one major difference: S-Build unfortunately has no online configurator that interested customers can play with. Instead, S-Build requires a trip to a participating dealer who runs through the options with you. According to Specialized, this was a conscious choice to make the process more personal.
"It really encourages the dealer to work with their client in a way that builds that relationship," said Riekert. "Having that interaction face to face is something we've been pushing for a long time."
For more information, visit http://www.specialized.com.