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Specialized Skips Retailers With ‘Rider Direct’ Purchase Option

Velo Cult bike shop in Portland, Ore.Velo Cult in Portland, Ore., shuttered its doors in 2018
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Today, Specialized launched direct delivery methods for customers, bypassing intermediate retailers.

Starting February 1, 2022, you can order a Specialized bike online, get it shipped to a retailer, and then have it delivered to you by the retailer — fully assembled.

The new program, called “Rider Direct,” applies to Specialized customers in the United States for nonelectric bikes only. This marks the first time consumers can skip the brick-and-mortar stores altogether to purchase a Specialized bike.

The company held Zoom calls with affiliated retailers on Thursday to lay out the plan. It’s the latest of five delivery methods for Specialized and appears to put the tightest pinch on dealers.

Two new Rider Direct options omit a significant portion of traditional bike shop services. One option totally removes dealer involvement from the purchase and delivery, while the other has the dealer handling acquisition, assembly, and delivery. The news adds yet another hurdle to local, independently owned bikes shops at a time when margins are especially tight and demand for bicycles continues to soar.

While the move adds an extra level of convenience for some shoppers, it does not address many of the key selling points of brick-and-mortar shops — like bike fit, test rides, and personal service.

How to Order a Specialized Bike

Here are the five current ways to buy a bike from Specialized Bicycle Components.

  1. Walk into a brick-and-mortar Specialized shop, whether independent or corporate-owned. Buy a bike, ride it out.
  2. Find the bike you want on Specialized’s website, and then use the site’s dealer locator to find the bike in stock near you. Contact the store for purchase.
  3. Buy directly from the Specialized website and have the bike delivered to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Specialized dealer near you. The dealer assembles the bike once it arrives, and the customer picks it up when they’re done.
  4. A new “Ship to Home” option. Buy directly from the Specialized website, and then a professional mechanic assembles, test rides, and repacks the bike in oversized boxes for home delivery. This is similar to what consumer-direct brands such as Canyon’s offerings. A Rider Care Specialist or, if required, a local retailer can provide assistance. There will be a nominal fee added for this service.
  5. A new “Specialized Delivery” program.  Buy directly from the Specialized website and opt to have an assembled bike delivered to your door by a local Specialized dealer — “white glove” service for a nominal fee that most likely will include some support.

As of this writing, “Rider Direct” did not appear to be live on the Specialized bikes website.

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