Challenges Specialized Bicycle Components needed the flexibility to design, test, and optimize multiple bike models to bring only the best ideas to market.

Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc. (just “Specialized” to most cyclists) is well known for its competition and recreational bikes. Back in the early 1980s, the company brought the first mass-produced mountain bike to market. Today, it offers numerous models for cross-country, trail, fixed gear, and road riding, all designed with PTC Creo.

The Specialized catalog also includes models designed particularly for women, particularly those who take performance seriously. The women’s bikes feature smaller diameter tubing, a lighter (but not weaker) overall weight, and tuned suspension. “Our products are 100% inspired and built for the women we are and the women we meet every day,” says the company web site.Who are those women? They’re employees and sponsored riders. Sometimes they’re both, like Rita Borelli, a nationally ranked endurance mountain bike racer.

In her role as a competitive rider, sometimes staying in the saddle for races as long as 24 hours, she knows first-hand the value of a bike’s comfort and ability to “go long.” In her role as Specialized women’s performance line manager, Borelli brings her real-life experience to the engineering floor, helping to introduce and assess new concepts and innovations.

The Mission

The Specialized staff is composed largely of men and women, like Borelli, who devote themselves to cycling and the advancement of its technology. “We love bikes. Riding them, making them, and getting other people on them,” says the company web site.

“We all want to ride the best bikes, so we might as well just make the best bikes.”


bike frameThe year 2013 marked a milestone for Specialized; its women’s line is now 10 years old. That’s 10 years of both designing for women, and learning from them.

“Many of the ideas and themes you find on our high-end bikes originated in the women’s line,” says creative director Robert Egger.

The 2013 Specialized Ruby is a great example. Developed from the ground up, this new women’s endurance road bike is packed with ideas from frame to forks to help riders complete long distances, confidently and comfortably.

Robb Jankura, mountain bike engineering manager and power PTC Creo user, credits the design software for helping Specialized bring the best ideas to market. “With PTC Creo, we can explore more concepts than ever before, and pick those that will have the most impact on performance or comfort.”

Jankura and PTC Creo are behind the COBL GOBL-R seat post as well as a carbon leaf spring for the 2013 Ruby.

“We fully built, tested, and optimized these new components within PTC Creo, saving us weeks and months compared to traditional physical prototyping techniques,” says Jankura. The result is a seat post that ensures a comfortable ride even on the bumpiest surfaces.


The seat improvements weren’t the only innovations added to the Ruby. In fact, the fork and the frame also include significant new design features.

The Ruby’s carbon frame is made using FACT Triple Monocoque construction. That reduces frame stress and provides amazing compliance. This innovative design moves the bond joints away from high-stress areas, minimizing joint areas, which results in a lighter frame.

The bike’s carbon fork is a new one-piece design, again reducing weight and increasing stiffness while maintaining a smooth ride.

“With PTC Creo, we could confidently try out and include all these features because we can so easily simulate real-world conditions on the frame, and balance weight and stiffness, to ensure optimal performance and comfort,” says Jankura.


bike with wheelOngoing collaboration with other supplier and brands is a key part of developing an overall winning design. “We work closely with our suppliers, sharing designs and data freely to reach an optimized result for our customer,” says Jankura.

With PTC Creo, designers can easily leverage data from suppliers, including Shimano, Fulcrum Racing, and SRAM, to incorporate others’ components into the bike. The design software provides engineers the flexibility to modify and optimize designs no matter the source.

“Since I don’t have to be concerned about file types or which supplier component is in which format, I get the overall bike developed much faster than before, and with optimal quality,” says Jankura.

The Result

The 2013 Specialized Ruby has won acclaim for its comfort, handling, and styling. For the design team, in addition to excellent reviews, they’ve been able to:

  • Design and introduce the bike in record time, 20-30% faster than traditional approaches involving physical prototyping and testing.
  • Optimize the weight and stiffness of the bike to ensure the lightest product in its class, with the highest levels of performance. The new carbon frame design has led to an improvement in torsional stiffness of 34% compared to the previous generation, with overall weight lowered by 75 grams (8.9% less).
  • Deliver new innovations like the COBL GOBL-R seat post, FACT Triple Monocoque frame, and Zertz viscoelastic dampers, all planned for introduction in various models for women and men.
  • Deliver the highest levels of comfort with new vibration dampening designs, ideal for longer distances.
  • Include their suppliers and suppliers’ designs early in the development process, helping to optimize and tailor overall bike performance and comfort.

bike riding

Egger says, “The pace and amount of innovation we can introduce in each year’s models is a direct result of our design team, and of PTC Creo.”

As a rider, Rita Borelli couldn’t be more pleased. She says the outcome is just what an endurance rider looks for, and more. “The latest Specialized models offer performance, noticeable comfort, with a super cool style and look.”

PTC Tech Solutions

Learn more about the PTC solutions featured in this story.