"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?”