It’s not every day that a local shop builds up a $20,000 bike that was made in collaboration with a legendary auto racing company.
Last week, southeast Portland-based River City Bicycles was one only a few shops in the United States that was lucky enough to be part of the S-Works McLaren project with Specialized Bicycles. The bike weighs just 14 lbs and was co-developed with McLaren, a company known for their $1.2 million P1 supercar (among other innovations). Only 250 of the bikes were made.
When we heard River City built one of these up for a local customer, we had to ask the shop’s General Manager Matt Karre a few questions…
BikePortland: How did your shop get one of these special bikes?
River City Bicycles: We had a long time customer inquire about one early on and we were able to get the order placed before the 250 were spoken for. From what I hear only 60 or 70 were sold in the US. The rest were sold in Europe and South America.
BP: Can you tell us anything about the lucky owner (is he/she local)?
RCB: The McLaren is for a customer who is local. He’s a very dedicated rider who works in the automotive industry and appreciates the reputation, quality and precision of McLaren’s work. He’s also a big fan of Specialized and the geometry of the Tarmac model works very well for him.
BP: Were the mechanics nervous working on such a high-end machine? Did they fight over who got to build it?
RCB: his was definitely a special case for a bike build. Specialized hosted an event at their head quarters in Morgan Hill, CA where they invited all the McLaren customers to come down have the bike hand delivered by Specialized founder Mike Sinyard. After that, the bike was shipped to us almost completely assembled in an enormous bike box. All we really needed to do was install the wheels, seat post, saddle and handlebars. Of course, we inspected the build and re-torqued everything, installed a few accessories the customer wanted.
There were definitely some nervousness during the build, mostly about scratching it accidentally, but our service department has an incredible amount of experience and professionalism. All went very well, of course. It’s hanging in solitary confinement now.
BP: How much is it worth?
RCB: The bike sells for $20,000.
BP: Is it most expensive bike ever at RCB?
RCB: I believe it is the most expensive single bike we’ve sold. We’ve had some multi-person tandem bikes that have been close to that amount in the past.
BP: What can you say about the bike itself?
RCB: The bike comes as a fairly large package that includes a McLaren designed and painted S-Works Tarmac frameset with Shimano Dura Ace 9070 Di2 components, Specialized S-Works carbon crank, McLaren designed carbon handlebar, one set of McLaren designed Roval carbon tubular wheels painted to match the frame, one set of Roval carbon clincher wheels. It also comes with limited edition, color matching S-Works road cycling shoes and an S-Works helmet. Specialized included custom made display pieces to properly store the bike, shoes and helmet.
It’s a great looking bike, rather understated but very intricate in the paint scheme.
BP: How much does it weigh?
RCB: With the tubular wheels the bike weighs just under 14 pounds including pedals.
BP: Specialized says it’s “most technically advanced bike ever”… But what does that translate to a non-techy bike lovers?
RCB: This bike is the most technically advanced bike ever because of the McLaren influence. McLaren is mostly known for its work with Formula One racing cars and has vast experience in carbon lay up, design and aerodynamics. So, while the tube shapes and geometry are fully Specialized engineered, the collaboration with McLaren offered a new level of carbon design and manipulation that will result in reduced weight and drag, improved ride quality and durability. Similarly, the frame was painted at McLaren so the weight and durability of the paint is above and beyond what Specialized normally uses. All of the chrome accents on the frame are made from chrome metal paint rather than chrome colored paint. They were able to use significantly different bearings in the bottom bracket than normal, vastly improving the durability and reducing friction. The rather large price tag is not necessarily the result of the “limited edition” status but from the technological and performance upgrades such a price can allow.
BP What were some of the features that stood out to you/the shop staff?
RCB: While the bike is and should be the main focus of the purchase, what stood out to me was the entire process dealing with Specialized. Not just on our end as the retailer but their constant communication with the customer, the very detail oriented ordering, followup and presentation of it all. This could easily have been the bike with all the fixings, which would have been great, but having the opportunity to be presented the bike at Specialized, tour the facility and ride with Mike Sinyard and some of the engineers was a pretty nice touch. They even had a McLaren Ferarri at the presentation that all the customers could test drive.
BP: Any other comments?
RCB: This bike is a great example of the passion Portland area cyclists have and the commitment to performance and innovation Specialized has. We’re excited to be a part of the whole process. I’ve been told that this was the only McLaren sold north of San Francisco and east of Boulder. Not sure if that’s entirely true but it’s safe to say that there won’t be many riding around this area.
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“East of Boulder”?
If you go around the earth the long way it’s even more impressive to be the only one east of Boulder than west of it.
That bike would be stolen and chopped just as quick as any $200 Walmart bike in this city.
I seriously doubt the owner plans to lock this thing up anywhere besides inside his house or garage.
Garage? I’d be sharing my bed with that baby! Honey, please don’t get chain oil on the sheets.
that’s not chain oil…
I hope he rides it in the rain, wearing a Nashbar jacket and some blinkies.
Wow…At that price, I hope they threw in a free cable lock.
Please be considerate before leaving your comment. I know this type of bike isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t make it OK to be snarky and mean. Thanks!
Couldn’t you post that comment on just about any entry? I’ve been guilty as hell myself of unwarranted snarkiness. But…thanks for the reminder.
Exactly. Maus himself has shown some snark at times.
yes I have Lester. But moderating the comment section is all about context. That means, different rules for different posts. On this post, I don’t want folks flaming the bike/owner/shop unless they can do it nicely and creatively and constructively.
sorry, jon, it’s all i’ve got
But Specialized *is* addicted to litigation. I would guess a good portion of this $20K price tag goes to their elite team of attorneys.
Jonathan, sometimes I think that if Mark Twain were alive and commenting on this blog, most of his quips would either be censored or deleted. Just a thought….
Sounds to me like Jonathan is the “lucky owner” 🙂
As a bike shop employee I find that it is absolutely required to snark hard about this bike and customer. Guys spending over 10k on non-custom, carbon bikes are a rare breed and deserve to be mocked.
But I just talked to *two* bike shop employees who think it *shouldn’t* be snarked at. Please advise.
It’s just conspicuous consumption. That’s worth calling out. There’s nothing here to warrant a 20k price tag.
the eleven speed electronic shifting system alone is over 4k
LIke lots of different “unaffordable to the average person” consumer goods, the technology learned while building this bike, may well trickle down to be an average bike consumer option for the rest of us. Look beyond today.
I see what you’re saying. I don’t entirely disagree and with some consumer goods you’re totally right. We don’t sell Specialized where I work. But we have sold other sub 15 lb. bikes. I’ve yet to see anything really radical that will be seen as an absolute must in bike building in the future. I’m sure this bike is the same.
Alex Singer 1948 17lbs Technical Trails Rando.
I’m talking about the carbon bikes we sell here in the shop. Not any bike in the history of bikes.
A good friend has an Alex Singer, it’s quite nice.
Yes, the possibilities are staggering.
I don’t know that limited editions like this are really that different from customs though.
Maybe in that they’re both unique. But I’d guess that a guy that spends 5000-7000 on a custom bike is going to ride that bike. And ride, ride, ride some more. This will, I’m only guessing and could be wrong, not see much riding at all.
I could be way off. I’d bet I’m not though.
WTF is a “McLaren Ferarri”? Is that like a Subaru Toyota?
So you mean like the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S?
The Subaru BRZ is the Toyota FR-S. So yes it’s just like a Subaru Toyota.
This bike is a great example of the passion Portland area cyclists have and the commitment to performance and innovation Specialized has.
I completely reject the notion that this bike or the person who paid the $20k to buy it represent me and my passion for cycling, or the passion of most any other cyclist in Portland (or anywhere else, for that matter). A large amount of discretionary income does not equal passion – unless it’s the passion to spend money.
As for Specialized’s “commitment,” making and selling a single bike for $20k represents their commitment to retail marketing to the upper 1%. But “performance and innovation” that is out of reach to all but the richest is performance and innovation that is wasted.
Just because somebody has money and spends it on something frivolous doesn’t mean they don’t have passion for the subject. If anything I think it’s a lot more likely that this guy does genuinely love bikes and cycling, than it is that the average Lamborghini buyer genuinely loves cars and driving.
Hear hear. Bruce McLaren is like the Ernesto Colnago of the motor racing world, and his company probably knows a little about layups these days, which is the real secret to a frame’s characteristics (not the material alone). Where I ride we actually see P1s on the road, and they cost just a little more than $20K… if you’ve got it, who’s to judge?
Used to be any carbon bike was out of the financial range of most cyclists, but that technology has trickled down.
Electronic shifting a fantasy, but now it is becoming standard.
Flat screen TV’s unheard of.
Someone has to be the first to take on the technology and be and early adopter, and we all benefit from those people.
I agree, though from the sounds of it there isn’t much innovation in this bike over the standard Tarmac. So the rest is just status, a nice way to part rich people from their money. Just like Cartier watches, big yachts, flash cars, etc.
To which I say, so what? It’s their after-tax money. Let them spend it how they will.
All this tells me is that it’s not such a great thing to be rich. You have way more money than the average person, but you have to spend an order of magnitude more to get something that’s only marginally nicer.
sorry, how exactly do i benefit from carbon and electronic shifting?
Depends. How much time in the saddle have you spent on a good carbon frame with electronic shifting? And up how many 18% grades?
yeah the question becomes do you care about going fast. And I know “fast” gets criticized on this site a fair bit.
Funny, yesterday I swapped my mid-compact rings for the compacts for some upcoming climbs and was just telling my wife how great it is not to have to replace, stretch, and re-tune front derailleur cables every time I do that because of the convenience of the Di2 setup.
My friend benefits from electronic shifting because she has birth defects that prevented her from comfortably shifting particularly her front derailleur.
Your mileage may vary.
$20k doesn’t represent the 1%. A just-out-of-college person living at home or very frugally could potentially save $20k in a matter of a couple years or less. Paying $50 million for a painting would represent the 1%.
Can’t imagine ever riding that bike and messing up its pretty face.
I would insist upon Gucci streamers installed in the bar ends.
For 20 grand you’d think it would have the bicycle version of those airless, lightweight puncture proof tires NASA puts on space shuttles.
Or at least Campagnolo.
I better not see this cable-locked downtown.
Think I saw it yesterday , at that camp under the 205 ??
even has a “Shoe/helmet rack” ??? I have one of those too, tho we call it a floor w/couch.
Wow, they really re-invented the bicycle on this one! Genuine chrome accents, enough said…
I wish they gave the same care to my $6,000 Vanilla. Instead they messed up the paint on the stem during a tune up and when I came to pick it up the mechanic was basically just like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You are clearly not part of the upper 1% that Specialized markets to. Otherwise, they’d have taken better care.
Pretty typical Portlandia beardo-hipster attitude.
I’m sorry to hear about your stem. I spoke with our service manager Brandon about this. He was unaware of the situation. Please call and discuss this with him so we can try to make it right. It is very important to us that all of our customers are well taken care of, regardless of whether their bike cost $200 or $20,000.
Clinton – purchasing manager
River City Bicycles
503 233 5973
If it were mine, I’d be worried I’d crash in front of the news crew doing a story on it. Like that guy with his new iphone 6 who fumbled his after waiting hours in line. Ouch.
Beautiful bike! Congrats to the new owner.
What happens when the crabon frame fails catastrophically, like all crabon frames do? What a waste of $200K. How about instead donating that money to a local bike advocacy organization of your choice?
Ruckus (or Calfee) will fix it and make it shiney for a few hundred.
PS:Try that with a metal frame!
PPS: Personal experience!
“Like all carbon frames do”?
Steel or nothing, right?
(PS. You added a zero there, actually $20k, which is not that much compared to what many enthusiasts spend on a motorcycle, boat, RV, etc.).
It’s funny, I have had higher failure rates for my steel and aluminum frames/parts than the carbon ones.
I mean…steel is real. yea. steel. all the time. for everything.
One of the reasons I started riding carbon was because Trek gave me a free carbon frame after warrantying two broken metal frames.
Dude, come on. If we kept a tally of busted carbon frames/forks vs. busted not carbon frame/forks that came into the shop in a year, carbon would be ahead by an ok margin. And you have to consider that for years and years bikes were not made out of carbon fiber so there are a whole lot more steel/alu/ti bikes out there to bust (and yeah, they break too, i’m not saying they don’t).
You would also need to normalize for the amount of riding on the frame and the forces being exerted on it (i.e. People riding carbon frames are more likely on average to be putting more torque on the frame).
All types of frames break. (I’ve broken an aluminum and steel frame in the last 2 years, just from use)
I don’t think we totally disagree. Only sorta. I am however highly suspect of you breaking multiple frames in the last couples years “just from use”. JRA, huh?
Yep, both had not had any major crashes. Both were roughly 6-8 years old. Both had large cracks form on tubes (down tube behind the headset on the cheap steel fixie commuter, that luckily I found before it sheered completely, and seat tube on the nice custom aluminum road bike, near where the derailleur clamped that did sheer in the middle of a road ride).
These were the first broken bikes I have had (besides major crashes) in 20 years of riding (well I did crack the weld on a swing arm on a mountain bike 6 years ago). Just weird coincidence that they happened within the same year.
I was able to get the aluminum fixed with a sleeve from Ti Cycles so that was nice.
Don’t know what else to tell you. You bike shop guys are a cynical bunch though.
Things break over time – regardless of what they are made of – it’s the way it goes. I was simply pointing out the stupidity of the original comment more than getting into a stats argument that has way too many variables to control for.
*All* carbon frames fail catastrophically? Whaat?
And who is to say the owner doesn’t donate to organizations already, and what business is it of yours anyways? So quick to judge.
I sold my carbon bike, and I don’t like carbon’s failure mode. But there are thousands upon thousands of carbon frames out on the roads. If even 20 percent of them failed catastrophically, their makers would have been sued out of existence by now.
How about he spend the money the way he wants to?
Yeah, carbon is crap… that’s why they build airplanes out of it.
I hold my “Comment awaiting moderation” status as a mark of high regard.
Congratulations to the new owner of this bike, it’s a beauty, and something we’d all love to have hanging on our wall! Ride safe!
It would be great to see this bike on the future Red Electric Trail in SW.
You sir have a one track mind.
I wonder if it will actually get ridden. It would be a shame ot just hang it on the wall.
My bikes (while durable and practical) are heavy and clunky compared to that 14lb speed machine. It would be absolutely awesome to ride that bike as fast as possible up Larch mt road. Or anywhere.
If I was super wealthy, maybe I would buy it too.
Jay Leno drives a carbon-fiber McLaren–the F1
That bike sounds sweet (and good for the shop for selling one), but my bike is lighter!
Oh wait, my road bike is average…I’m just small!
Seems like a bargain to me. If you had the scratch, you could buy a Trek Emonda for about 16,000 bucks, with a little change left over for nuun and stingers. How much will that bike be worth the minute you walk it out the door of your Friendly Local Bike Store? I’ll wager less than $16000.
The bike in the article is an extremely limited edition bike with Formula 1 provenance. It may not mean much in America, but in Europe, F1 is as popular as Soccer. More than likely, (because this is the world we live in) there are conspicuous consumers scrambling to get their hands on one of these and they’ll pay much more than the 20 grand asking price.
(Plus, you get pedals, shoes and a helmet – with the Trek, your wallet is gonna have to stay open a little longer.)
I’d say, if extremely expensive bikes are what floats your boat, get the Specialized!
(PS, you cannot buy a McLaren-Ferrari at any price.)
The buyer better eat his Wheaties — if that’s not an invitation for every other cyclist who sees you on a ride to try to drop the hammer on you, I don’t know what is.
I’m guessing this bike’s not for riding.
If it were mine, after the bells, bags,racks and crap that I load on …it would weigh 40 pounds …
ie: not a good fit here … 🙁
Over 40 years ago Gene Pourtoesi(sp) from the Cyclo-Pedia in Cadillac, MI said to me when I was admiring a Liota I could not afford in his shop, ‘don’t worry young man, the great riders can win on a Schwinn Contintal.’. A lot of wonderful things have happened in cycling technology since then but his observation still holds true. At the time I rode a Gitane Tour de France which was a sweet ride at a reasonable price.
I entirely approve of and enjoy knowing that there are people who can put $20K into a bike, because it means that some of the people who may constitute a ruling class in this country are willing to commit the act of social deviance and subversion that it really is to ride a bicycle on an American road. I hope the lucky owner rides the shit out of the bike and in five or ten years it’s on it’s tenth set of tires, fourth or fifth Di2 battery, and twentieth chain, with perhaps half a dozen Cycle Oregon bands fastened around the seat post.
Also, who knows…if the bike will ever be ridden again after arriving in Portland. With vintage cars and art being some of the greatest investments with ROIs then this might be better to park it in a glass case.
Plus the value of the event at Specialized, riding with Mike Sinyard and test driving a McLaren Ferarri. That might be worth >$20k with the right connections…meeting the other attendees for purposes of business networking.
Like the Colnago C-35 Ferrari that I believe this bike shop owner made a profit on to help fund their move and expansion: http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Bike_Shops/cupertino_pics_1.htm
I also saw an original Masi sell for $12K not long ago.
And a personal story: ~1980 I bought a ‘cranberry’ Fuji Sports 12 new for $125. I tried to sell it in the Portland area for $40 in 2001 and ended up donating it to CCC. In 2005 I saw what I’m 99% positive was my old bike listed on CL for $180. When I emailed the seller to ask where he got it, he told me he had already sold it but that he had purchased it from CCC years ago.
BTW, I hope one of you out there is still loving my old Fuji! If it’s still all Suntour then Sheldon Brown will save a place in Heaven for you…
I hope he rides the shite out of it, then cleans and polishes it after every ride. They are only new once, but they can look new for a long time.
Ferrari,Mercedes,BMW, and Porsche have all released expensive high end bikes built by established bike manufacturers. Most are used for display purposes alongside their 4 wheeled namesakes(frequently in dealer showrooms).
Jonathon, thanks for writing about this. Here are my personal feelings on this sort of bicycle. First, I’ve never been a ‘car guy’. Even being born and raised in Detroit in the ’60’s, they just never got me excited. On the other hand, I’ve had a very nice bike since my mid-teens, one that should’ve been out of my appropriette income (or lack of) range.
But the fact that someone who I know is very passionate about bicycles, could get what should easily be considered the best bike available anywhere in the world, for only $20K, frankly, seems like great deal. What else can you get the ‘best’ of, with this level of technical sophistication, materials, design, aesthetics, in any category- stereos? Cameras? Motorcycles? Guitars? There’s really nothing else that can compare. This is true Formula 1 technology for pennies on the dollar., But that is true with about any bike in about any price range.
I know for a fact that the owner of this bike will ride the heck out of it. And he will definitely do it justice.
Dave Guettler, owner, River City Bicycles
I’m still looking for a sub-50 lb. bike that will work for me.
i find that just about any functioning bike works for me. ymmv.
I was a pro photog… we had a similar saying “it’s the person, more than the camera”
ie: a pro with an iphone camera can do better than an amateur with expensive gear.
Specialized has no place in Portland. This is right in there with Jewish people driving German cars.
Careful, Specialized will sue!
Oi vey! Did we just invoke Godwin?
Dave G. is a nice guy who runs a great store, but …”best bike available anywhere in the world…” A little myopic.
Road bikes are a miniscule subset of the world’s bicycles, focused on extremely limited activities: road-racing and vigorous recreation. Such “Specialization” is bought at great dysfunction, including nearly daily maintenance, if extreme performance is to be realized. Even learning how to employ all those gears properly requires expert tutelage.
Fast, yes, but delicate as well. Best road bike…maybe so…but road bikes are not good for much.
“Even learning how to employ all those gears properly requires expert tutelage.”
Now they’re up to 11 on the back – where will the madness end?!
it’s expensive because it’s a collab, which almost always are upcharged products at limited runs, which serve as hype drivers / PR opportunities (as proof of this article) while paying out profits to two brands instead of just one — and not because it’s a pinnacle of technology/design/material innovations.
Needs integrated CF rack and fenders.
20k is nothing in the big picture of private transportation. All around you there are brand new $80,000 SUVs that cost $5K a year to insure, fuel, and maintain.
Will need 25 lbs of locks.
I would buy one if I were that flush. And I would ride it ’till it broke into 20 thousand pieces.