Inside Specialized’s quest to build the friendliest, most capable e-bike

For Specialized, the Globe brand name has largely been hit-or-miss.

The bike maker first launched Globe as a subbrand in the early 1990s with a focus on short-distance commuters and city bikes. was able to gain headlines and television coverage in shows such as the oprah winfrey show But never really took off with dealers or the buying public. It was relaunched in 2010 with a more targeted effort aimed at discerning urban cyclists – but was discontinued shortly thereafter.

Now, Specialized is hoping that the third time’s a charm after announcing last year that it was resurrecting the Globe name for a new lineup of heavy-duty, moderately priced electric cargo bikes. For years, California-based company Morgan Hill has watched as e-bikes from a new crop of direct-to-consumer brands such as Red Power Bikes, Aventon and Lectric were flooding the market and wowing consumers with their versatility, helpfulness, and versatility. Were winning with the equipment. , and affordable prices. And now, Specialized is entering the fray.

Last year’s announcement about the Globe came with a sinister photo of a low-step fat-tire bike hidden behind a thicket of cacti jutting out from four hard-shell panniers strapped to either side of the front and rear wheels. A wire stretched from the floor to a wall outlet, indicating that the bike was electric. And a pair of water bottles with smiley, tongue-wagging, emoji-style logos lent the whole thing a sense of silliness.

Today, Specialized is announcing that the first Globe-branded model, the Haul ST, is available for sale. And since we’ve got everything from pricing information and a spec sheet to some exclusive images, it’s safe to say that Globe is ready to step out from behind its curtains of prickly cacti and meet the world.

“We wanted to make it a simple bike, but very capable,” Eric Nohlin, who served as design lead for the original Globe lineup and now reprises the role for the new electrified brand, told me. “We wanted to make it fun and friendly.”

x-ray glasses

But before we get to the design process, let’s go over some of the specifications. First, the most important new information: the price. When it goes on sale later this year, the Haul ST will retail for $2,700. That puts it on the same playing field as some category leaders in the utility e-bike space, including the newly refreshed RedRunner 3 Plus from Seattle’s Red Power Bikes.

Specialized says the bikes are in warehouse and ready to ship directly to riders once orders are placed – though inventory will be somewhat low initially. Riders can have the bike shipped directly to their home, or they can send to a local retailer to help with the build. A handful of licensed specialty retailers sell pre-order bikes directly from the showroom floor, even to walk-in customers.

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With an aluminum frame and a custom 700W hub “Big Motor”, the Hall ST is designed for the heaviest of loads. how heavy? The bike has a payload capacity of 419lbs, which is quite impressive. And not only can you carry a lot of stuff but you can also carry it over long distances. The 772Wh battery (also exclusive to the Specialized) has a maximum range of 60 miles, although this will largely depend on riding style. Riding at the top level of pedal assist, of which there are five, will drain the battery faster than riding at a lower setting.

The Hall ST is sold as a Class 3 throttle-less e-bike with a top speed of 28 mph. If even a little bit doesn’t help, you can buy a plug-in throttle from Globe for $50. When used, it will only power the bike off the throttle up to 20 mph, and a maximum pedal-assist speed limit of 28 mph still applies. Riders can install the throttle themselves or have a specialized retailer do it for them, which can be activated using the Specialized Globe smartphone app.

Speaking of apps, the Haul ST has a secret superpower hidden beneath the surface that gives it a leg up: over-the-air software updates. Over the years, Specialized has been making its e-bikes smarter on the software side with tons of new features. This includes software updates, which means customers can enjoy new features as Specialized develops them over time.

The company’s Globe app is designed to digitize the experience, providing a place where customers can receive OTA software updates instead of bringing their bikes into a shop for minor updates. Specialized’s Turbo line of high-end e-bikes has had this capability for a while, but it’s great to see it in the more affordable Globe lineup as well.

However, the Hall ST is much more than a sophisticated computer on wheels. It’s also built to haul a lot! Not just a fancy name, people. Specialized has equipped this bike with all the bells and whistles needed for big heavy hauling. The bike is literally covered with rack and cargo features, including a rear rack, a front basket and rails for up to four panniers along the front and back wheels.

Specialized has equipped this bike with all the bells and whistles needed for big heavy hauling

Specific, of course, is you’ll prefer to use their own open-top hard-shell panniers called “Coolcaves.” With four 19-liter Coolcaves mounted on the rails of the Haul ST the cargo possibilities are mind boggling. The rear rack can also be converted into a passenger seat with a pair of foot pegs and additional handlebars.

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More and more, e-bikes are being made one-size-fits-all, which is important for individuals and families who want to buy bikes that can be used by multiple members of the same household. For example. In that regard, the Haul ST certainly checks that box, with dual telescoping seat posts and adjustable handlebars that accommodate riders from 4 feet, five inches to six feet, four inches in height.

When Globe says the Hall ST is one-size-fits-all, they’re not kidding. According to Nohlin, Specialized tapped into its fit database of riders, which it claims is the largest in the Retool system, to crunch the numbers and come out with a bike that best suits the widest group of people . “We’ve found about 95 percent of all the riders we’ve scientifically tested fit us on this bike,” he says.

Low-step frame makes mounting and dismounting easy. And the 20-inch double-wall alloy rims and quiet but capable Carless Whisper Reflect 20 x 3.5-inch tires make for a comfortable and agile ride. (Yeah, that’s right, Carless Whispers. Someone at Specialized must be a George Michael fan.)

“The idea really started with old BMX”

The Haul ST doesn’t exactly scream motocross, but this is where Nohlin and his team began their design process. “Friendly inclusiveness of what BMX was as a movement,” he tells me. “Also the simplicity of that bike. You know, it’s basically one of the simplest forms of bike silhouette.

Helicopters were also a major inspiration for Globe, particularly the Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane. “This is a product that is designed around the load rather than as an afterthought,” says Nohlin. “It’s really involved in the functionality of this system.”

“It’s really involved in the functionality of this system.”

Being able to haul a ton of cargo while projecting a fun, friendly, inclusive image isn’t as easy as it sounds. The low horizontal line of the Howell ST’s frame was meant to encapsulate these design principles, creating the appearance of a low center of gravity that handles well under heavy loads.

BMX-style fork implies robustness and predictability. Globe wanted a frame that was simple but also modular so that when customers started building and adding, they would be impressed with the functionality.

“You can put it in a funny mode,” says Nohlin. “And with the payloads that we have, you can really build on top of this simple bike and make it your own and fit your needs.”

The cheeky logo of a smiley face with a tongue out was designed by Benny Gould, a notable streetwear designer from San Francisco. Globe liked the smiley face as a symbol of the counterculture and anti-establishment, but wanted to make it their own, so the team made it look like an electrical outlet and named it “Plugi”.

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But the Haul ST needed to be more than a cargo bike for urban and suburban riders. Nohlin needed to be sure that it could be the perfect vehicle to communicate with nature. So he set out on a 40-mile ride from Quincy into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on “100 percent gravel” with 4,000 feet of vertical gain — on just one battery. The bike performed exceptionally well.

“It’s so fun to ride on dirt,” he says, “It’s like an overlanding vehicle.”

Living “Car-Light”

When Specialized first announced the resurgence of the Globe brand, the driving ethos was “bringing more fun to local life while reducing the number of car, truck and SUV trips required for everyday transportation.”

My initial reaction was that this was firing a shot across the bow of the auto industry – a direct challenge to a culture dominated by cars, where pedestrians, cyclists and other road users are all under the wheel of a huge SUV with a high Kisses are hood line and terrible gas mileage.

After all, e-bikes are unique among two-wheelers thanks to their very real ability to replace car trips for the vast majority of owners, especially those trips that are less than five miles. Cargo and utility e-bikes, in particular, excel at reducing car use, thanks to their rugged design and payload capacity. Specialized, the third-largest bicycle maker in the US by market share, wants to accelerate e-bike adoption, and the Globe will be the company’s vehicle for doing so.

Globe’s category leader Saul Leiken emphasized that point when we first emailed about Globe in 2022. “Electricity has revolutionized the way we commute, and to position the bicycle as the ultimate climate-friendly solution to everyday commutes, Specialized is expanding on our traditional assumptions about how and why we Let’s ride.”

But in a recent interview, Leiken stressed that Globe’s mission isn’t to replace anyone’s car, but to enable them to live a more “car-lite” life. own a car? He is alright. But maybe instead of getting another e-bike, consider buying a Globe e-bike.

“We wouldn’t really talk about replacing cars,” says Leeken. “It is not our main ambition.”

The Hall ST is designed to handle well under heavy loads so that when someone is trying to decide which vehicle to take to Trader Joe’s, the Hall ST becomes the natural choice. “That’s why it’s so overbuilt,” says Leeken. “It’s too much weight, you might say, but holy crap, when you have too much weight, it doesn’t feel like a bike.”

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