Specialized Pulls Globe Out of the Relic Box

A photo in which four baskets attached to a bicycle are stuffed with cacti. This literally begs for the famous question: What is the artist trying to convey to us? It’ s quite clear, Globe is back. No, of course, it’s anything but clear – but still so. Maybe some of you remember Globe. It was a product line of city-suitable everyday bikes that Specialized added to its range in the early 1990s. It even became an independent brand within the Specialized universe in 2009. Only to disappear completely a few years later. It is precisely this brand that Specialized has dug out of the relic box again and wants to revive it.

Well, the beginning is definitely a bit nebulous. There is a landing page called globebikes.com. There is a photo of the cacti ready for a ride and a press release that is not particularly specific. The press release states that bicycles will soon appear on the US market under the Globe brand, which can be used to replace shorter trips of up to five kilometres, for which people in the USA and many other countries in the world currently prefer to take the car. However, this is economically unviable and bad for the environment. Well, others have realised this before Specialized.

1. What is the motivation behind the Globe brand?
2. What can be deduced from the image of the bicycle?
3. A look back at the past
4. What is it about the cacti?

1. What is the motivation behind the Globe brand?

The manufacturer wants to approach this urban target group without scaring them away with its original adrenaline-soaked, competitive sports image. With Globe, the focus should be on fun. The fun of riding in an urban environment, not chasing records, but getting everyday things done. Luckily, Globe wants to be more affordable than its big sister brand. By more affordable, it presumably means cheaper than, for example, the high-priced offers with the name suffix S-Works. In addition, the purchase of a Globe bicycle should pay off for a lifetime. Durability should therefore play a major role.

On the occasion of the worldwide “Earth Day” on 22 April, Specialized called on people to freeze their car keys and leave their cars for a year. In line with this, bikes from the reactivated Globe brand should encourage you to do this permanently.

Question marks behind future sales concept

The local professional trade is to act as a partner in kissing the brand awake. More precisely, independent bicycle shops, which have so far been left out when manufacturers sell directly to end consumers via the internet. This part of the announcement sounds a little strange. After all, Specialized itself is one of the brands that is increasingly striving to channel sales directly via its own websites to a greater extent than before. Only at the beginning of the year did the company announce that it would offer US customers the opportunity to buy directly via its website. The appointment of Armin Landgraf as the new head of global markets, announced a few days ago, also fits into this picture. Landgraf moves from Canyon Bicycle, where he pursued the direct sales model as CEO.

Likewise, it remains to be seen what is meant by “independent” in relation to the bike shops. In the press release, only a few lines later, there is talk of using existing structures of the Specialized ecosystem. This probably refers to existing distribution structures. Independence from Specialized sounds somehow different.

Everything electrified

At Globe, everything will probably revolve around ebikes. This is more than clearly indicated by the explicit mention of “EV”, i.e. electric vehicles. The corresponding accessories are also explicitly mentioned. The bikes are supposed to meet the requirements of a family-friendly vehicle. This means that they can carry both goods and children. In this respect, there is a logical connection to the cargo bike shown on the landing page. It is very possible that it will not remain the only model.

The online magazine “Global Bike Report” quotes Saul Leiken, Global Category Leader at Globe, as saying that the company intends to break with traditional demarcations between road bikes, mountain bikes and commuter bikes. Instead, Globe wants to offer everyday bikes with which you can basically do everything.

Globe’s Global Category Leader Saul Leiken

As far as the unambiguousness of the teaser image shown is concerned, Specialized, on the other hand, is keeping a low profile. One can expect the most powerful bike ever brought to the market, whether with or without electric drive. According to Global Bike Report, Leiken would “neither confirm nor deny” that the massive rear hub is actually a rear hub motor.

2. What can be deduced from the image of the bicycle?

Well, then we will take a closer look at the bike behind the cacti ourselves. In terms of dimensions, we think it’s a compact longtail, comparable to Tern’s Quick Haul, for example. Its rear carrier does not seem to be completely integrated into the frame. However, it is directly connected to a horizontal solid rear stay at at least four points. In any case, it looks extremely resilient. It is quite possible that it will eventually be approved for a load of 70 kilograms or even more. If its length is sufficient, there would be enough space to carry two smaller children in child seats or on a bench seat.

On the head tube, there are eye-catching mounts for a front carrier. If this turns out to be more massive, too, you can expect to carry an additional 15 or 20 kilograms. Hardly overlooked, even the fork has mounts for front luggage carriers. The picture shows large baskets hanging from them, reminiscent of panniers used for touring by bike. Estimated from a distance, each of them holds at least 20 litres. Apparently, a total of four can be attached to the front and rear. If these are full and there are also people on the rear carrier, riding the ebike is likely to be very demanding. Overall, the illustration indicates that the cargo load is quite large.

Preview or bluff?

Speaking of large. One of the things that definitely stands out is certainly the voluminous rear hub. It is highly likely that it features a motor. Since Globe wants to limit itself to the US market, at least for the time being, it may have more power than is permitted in Europe. However, maybe this is just a little confusion played by the manufacturer. With Brose, Specialized has a motor partner on hand who also produces suitable systems for e-cargo bikes. So why not go for a Brose Drive S or Brose Drive T? Both a rear hub motor and a mid-motor would be compatible with the derailleur shown.

Low, wide, black

The wheels seem relatively small and should measure 24 inches. In principle, this is a perfectly acceptable choice, because it lowers the centre of gravity of the bike. This provides good conditions for easy handling both loaded and unloaded. In addition, the bike would be easy to manoeuvre and its small turning circle would be an advantage in city traffic. Smaller wheels also reduce the distance between the top tube and the ground, making it easier to get on and off.

The wide tyres appear typically American. This is a lot like a fatbike. However, the decisive factor was perhaps not so much the appearance, but rather the associated riding comfort. With such wide tyres, this should have been answered the question of a suspension fork. The mudguards fit harmoniously into the overall appearance.

Hidden feature?

With the head tube, we can’t help feeling that it starts fairly low down in the frame. In addition, it stands at a rather upright angle. This is what you would normally expect from a folding bike. Maybe the head tube can even be folded down. In any case, it hides another mount for accessories somewhere. Where else would the bottle cage with the two good-humoured drinking bottles be placed?

The other recognisable components are disc brakes with sufficiently large brake discs, a very stable-looking bipod stand and a front headlight attached to the front luggage carrier. Placed there, it follows your steering movement, which is usually more comfortable than if it is rigidly attached to the head tube.

Patience needed

You can only expect really reliable information about the bike or bikes from Globe in the course of the year. The first pre-orders should be possible in the fourth quarter. It will take until the beginning of 2023 before the actual deliveries. Even though the press release emphasises the exclusivity for the USA, one can read between the lines that a later expansion of the activities to other parts of the world may very well follow. Globally, Europe is once again the strongest selling market for ebikes.

On the internet, the response to the return of the brand is rather reserved. In comments, users write that dealers in the USA have long been demanding bikes from Specialized that can compete in price with competitors like Rad Power Bikes and their direct sales model. However, it remains uncertain how exactly Specialized intends to involve retailers with Globe.

3. A look back at the past

From the very beginning, Globe bikes were typically designed for everyday use, leisure and touring. With a more upright riding position than the rest of Specialized’s range, they had a variety of drivetrains, geometries and carrier and pannier options. Since the early 1990s, short-distance commuters and residents of larger cities were considered the target group. When Specialized turned the product line into its own brand in 2009, it was under similar economic conditions as today. The US economy was weakening, petrol prices were rising and cycling was, almost by necessity, experiencing a resurgence.

Globe Centrum Elite from 2008
Globe City 6 from 2008
Globe Vienna 3 Disc from 2009

4. What is it about the cacti?

It is not clear from the press release why Globe is concealing its ebike with cacti. Possibly Specialized is alluding to the Cactus Cup. This multi-day mountain bike stage race in Arizona first took place in 1991. For many years, the race on the trails at Pinnacle Peak opened the season. Everything was set at zero, the aim was to prove oneself anew. From 1992 to 1998 Spezialized was the name sponsor of the race. So, the event coincides with the time when the first Globe bikes were launched. The current reboot is not unlike the start of a new season. Who knows? Or maybe cacti are just the new kittens and are meant to make us receptive to marketing messages.


Picures: Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc.

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