Specialized Globe Brand Launch – Meet the Roll
The Globe brand has been around since the nineties as a part of its Specialized parent, but starting now it is it’s own entity with a new line, starting here with the Roll. Think the way that Mini is made by BMW but occupies a separate segment of the market and you will see the new Globe. Launched just this week in Minneapolis, the new Globe is build on a vision of inspiring others to ride bicycles through solid design from both an aesthetic and functional end.
Shown is the Roll 2, retailing for just about $800 but in my opinion with a look and feel of bikes much higher in price. It’s all in the small touches, like the keyed washer system of the front hub that simultaneously locks the hub in place and lends a seamless line to the lugged crown fork – super slick, and it doesn’t require a special hub at all since the actual dropouts are as standard as they get.
The integrated stem/bar combo is also unexpected at this pricepoint as such things are typically reserved for custom bikes costing 3-4x what the Roll 2 comes in at. While there is a valid concern about not being able to alter stem length without changing the entire cockpit, one can’t help but notice the clean lines the one piece system lends. And no worries, the grip area is standard diameter to fit the grips and brake levers we’re all accustomed to. The internal clamp keeps the back of the stem knee-friendly with a lack of clamp bolts and the sharp edges they many times exhibit. Roughly shoulder width, or just about the width of a set of hoods on road bars, the bar isn’t overly skinny for urban riding by any stretch.
Out back the forged fork ends have integrated chain tensioners and exhibit the only Globe branding outside of the headbadge present on the bike, furthering the largely anonymous urban aesthetic. The Kashimax-style one piece plastic saddle also gives a nod to how many people are building up their personal bikes these days. While it received mixed reviews from the folks giving it a spin here in Minneapolis, I found it comfortable for the few around town miles I spent on the perch, but I tend to prefer harder, narrow saddles as it is. 42mm deep rims are laced up to sealed bearing hubs, another high value item at the $800 level. Sugino messenger cranks make it go, fixed or free choices come standard, and a pair of brakes are in the box to make it all come to a controlled stop.
Potentially most interesting to some is the lower priced Roll 1, sharing the same frame but with a unicrown fork that is nearly indistinguishable and slight downspec changes such as loose ball bearing hubs and not-so-deep V-section rims for just about $600. No word on geometry specifics for the four available sizes, but I will say that the bottom bracket seemed a bit low for my tastes, though some may prefer the more stable stance that the lower center of gravity lends. After a day riding the Roll I’d have to say that Globe is going to give some steep competition to the rest of the market with it’s price and feature set, not to mind the aesthetics that just aren’t matched by anyone else out there.
Look for these bikes to start appearing in shops in just about six weeks time if not sooner and keep an eye out for more reports on the new Globe line come next week, including shots and impressions of their two cargo carrying bikes, the Live and the Haul. There’s plenty more to tell.