"Specialized stands strong with female riders and we do not support the objectification of women in any way"

Specialized has apologised after being accused of sexism in its marketing of a limited edition “Playboy” version of its Turbo e-bike, saying that it does not condone the objectification of women and will continue to support women’s cycling.

The bike in question was a collaboration between Specialized and Playboy, and was launched at the Berlin Bike Show last week with models dressed in Playboy bunny outfits in attendance, drawing considerable criticism on social media.

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In a statement, Specialized CMO Slate Olson said that the company apologised for its marketing of the bike and will continue to support women’s cycling.

“We apologize for a recent marketing activation which we participated in at the Berlin Bike Show with the Limited Edition Turbo. Specialized stands strong with female riders and we do not support the objectification of women in any way, in any region. In the future we will continue only to build on the great work we have done to promote women and men in cycling.”

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The American company has been at the centre of a social media storm over the last few days, as both female and male cyclists took to Twitter to highlight the alleged sexism.Mon Zamojska, the co-founder of self-proclaimed feminist clothing brand House of Astbury, being one of the first to highlight the questionable marketing.

Others called out Specialized on trying to target the women’s market while launching a bike with Playboy bunnies, especially as the launch was taking place just a day before Lizzie Armitstead took a fine victory in the Trofeo Alfredo Binda while riding a Specialized Amira.

However, Specialized is far from the first cycling brand to get itself accused of sexism after Halfords was recently criticised for describing a women’s bike as being “great for cycling to Auntie Doris’s”, while Colnago found itself having to apologise after posting a photo on Twitter of a woman leaned over a bike with the caption “ready for the weekend ride?”

  • BuffyzDead

    I don’t mean to inflame …just provide some perspective. An actual Trek Brochure, circa mid 2000’s, that never created a peep.

  • ummm…

    woops, sorry

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    ummm… stop being a twit for a minute. I am on the same side as you – I was responding to a comment from some upright modern pc prude -their comment now deleted – not Gazzaputt!

  • ummm…

    Rad Fem clickbait is good for cycling weekly so they post it. They have no knowledge of either side of the argument. They just know it brings clicks. Rad Fems don’t see the irony of how their movement is being coopted. Each article in this vein is having more opposition in the comments section. Fair opposition. And until cycling weekly can have a discussion and make the stories relevant and why they should carry weight they should stay out of weighing in on the conversation.

  • ummm…

    cycling media is just doping and gender outrage these days. Or at least it feels that way. way to go Rad Fems – everday Fems lose with this.

  • ummm…

    the ability to pair beauty, sex etc. with advertising should not be censored. when a mans sexuality is used we aren’t up in arms. I mean gaws cippollini ads are hyper sexualized. And to tell you what, I dont mind seeing a guy that fit because he looks good. Rad Fem is ruining it for egalitarian/humanist/dissident feminists. Break down how this image is damaging for all/some women please.

  • ummm…

    !!!..ha good one.

  • ummm…

    thats because the radical feminist wing is swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction to such a degree that when it comes swinging back around it is going to hurt; then nobody wins.

  • ummm…

    man fights nature.

    edit:…..or woman fights…..

  • ummm…

    not if the media continues to post faux gender war click bait. These writers have little knowledge of the arena, and the application of this criticism is usually leveled at benign images of attractive women next to bikes. Every media sector is being coopted by sjw’s and/or gender warriors and they do it with no knowledge of the facts on the ground. Ironically it shows how little they care about the subject, and how little knowledge they have, that they are willing to trade clickbait and diminish a movement that has and still can do some good SANS the radical element.

  • ummm…

    please go ahead. teach us the relevance of your 40+ year outdated RADICAL ideology. You do realize that modern feminists (not the vocal radical minority) really aren’t upset by this – or in the least shouldn’t be. But, I’d love to hear how this ad tactic is retrograde or harmful to all/a select few women. I’d really be interested to hear as I think a dialogue is necessary and opposing points of view are always welcome.

  • ummm…

    no apparently it is. And additionally, the cycling media is cool trading clicks for inciting faux gender wars and division. keep reporting the important stuff cycling weekly. thanks for doing your “research” on the actual “harm” this does, instead of sticking to what you are good at – writing articles about famous british dopers and quizzes.

  • Guy

    They could promote a Dike-Jumper to placate the other part of the market. Sorry but sick of people realizing that some men like girls and some girls enjoy looking pretty. GET OVER IT!
    BTW Shame on Specialized for apologizing. I don’t find it interesting when they promote Gay brands of stuff, or other minority specialized things…but I just don’t buy it.
    Amazing how many women spend time and billions trying to be objectified….you are ignoring reality if you don’t admit it! Should all women models be outlawed?

  • Simon E

    Oh, poor you!

    It’s funny how so many people just don’t want to acknowledge sexism, even before we discuss whether it does real harm (IMHO it certainly does but it’s so ingrained that many don’t get it).

    Playboy is sexist. Using women dressed as Playboy bunnies to sell bikes is sexist. I understand some people enjoy it, most men will like it, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

    I think it’s truly pathetic. It shows a lack of imagination and suggests to me that the people who thought it up and those who approved the idea don’t realise that some of us have moved on from 1970s.

  • Richard

    Sick of this hecking social justice warrior world. It’s a collaboration with Playboy for god’s sake. What else should they present their bike with? Actual bunnies? Oh, right, then they would’ve gotten in trouble with Peta. I can see why the Colnago add was kind of inappropriate but this… Rather go and bash Playbloy if you don’t like the message they convey and not a bicycle brand.

  • Gazzaputt

    Not a patch! LOL

    Funny Beckham etc can pose off showing it all and nothing gets said from the women lobby.

  • Riggah

    It’s a tried and tested routine. Cast out the bait and the wilfully offended will swallow it hook, line & sinker then take to twitter by their handfuls. Those nasty ‘sexist, misogynists’ put out a public ‘apology’ and receive infinitely more publicity than they budgeted for. There will be high-fives all round at Specialized HQ.
    A few righteous, uptight, PC zealots complained, thousands didn’t. The silent majority obviously has no problem with beautiful women .

  • speedracer

    what complete bullsh*t. shame on them for even trying to claim that they don’t condone the objectification of women. they just actively participated in it. these incidents just keep continuing to happen, from the sock fiasco at Interbike to this and each time a spokesperson gets up and says, oops, we’re sorry. you can’t claim to support women’s cycling on one hand and then as part of your business treat them as purely sexual objects on the other.

  • Hk

    Well aren’t you a good little scientist.

  • Hk

    ^ also doesn’t get it.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Objectification of women?? German porn – slightly more worrying than Playboy bunnies.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    From somebody that received their grounding in sexual politics in the hothouse atmosphere of radical 1970s London – believe me, you’re the one who doesn’t get it.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Men finding women attractive makes the world go round. It’s what nature intended so I’m told.

  • banguns

    People are so stupid. If I want a bike built with MY name on it, why can’t I have it? How is playboy any different?! Its their event. If you are a woman and feel objectified by this you are f* stupid. If i were specialized I wouldn’t apologize, I would have explained that not to do so would be discriminatory to people and businesses.

  • Gary Anderson

    Don’t see the issue. These girls had a choice to be there, in the outfits etc. Playboy is a brand. The bunny girls are part of that brand and have been for a long time. It would be no different if specialized partnered with Ann summers and had the same girls there in sexy bedroom gear. People really need to get a life.

  • Hk

    objectification of women makes the world go round?

  • Hk

    ^doesn’t get it

  • Del_Varner

    It would have been ok if those were black latino trans bunnies

  • Texas Roadhouse

    I bet those who complained didn’t look as good as those two!!!

    People need to get a life and remember what makes the world go round.

  • Gazzaputt

    Bunny girls look fantastic! For gods sake its a bit of fun and looking at the two twitter band jumpers they need find some. Girl in a bunny outfit isn’t the end of the world especially when your promoting a collaboration with Playboy!

  • The Awakening

    …and the six sexiest bikes of 2016 so far, according to Cycling Weekly;


  • ridein

    Specialized PR dept. needs some inspiration from their own line of bikes.

  • David Chadderton

    Oh, non-UCI-approved cycling suits, no clip-in shoes, and no helmet. Sorry, cannot race like that. Oh, and electric motors!