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The Roll is the kind of bike you want to put your mark on—and that’s just what we let a bunch of Specialized designers do. Take little internal competition, a little imagination, and let the good times Roll.
Potential—the Specialized Roll is just one of those bikes that oozes it. Most people will probably tap into the potential of theirs as a health-honing machine, grocery getter, or get-about-towner, but imagine the “what if?” scenario. What potential could be unlocked in this “little bike that could” if you really put your mind to it? In an attempt to discover the limits of the Roll’s versatility, we challenged our in-house designers to create what was, in their eyes, the perfect Roll. No guardrails, no rules—just open up the dream box and build.
Enjoy the fruits of this exercise—a fleet of bikes that truly reflect the wide spectrum of the Roll’s applications—in the video, and read the inspirations and explore more detail of each bike below. With everything from a Burning Man steed to the ultimate fishing expedition rig, it’s plain to see these bikes are as diverse as the characters who dreamed them up.
1. “The River Roll” by Eric Jepson 2. “Skaterroll” by Brandon Boswell 3. “Eye Roll” by Jon Takao 4. “The Rainbow Roll” by Alain Lanusse 5. “Dope Soul” Roll by Kayla Clarot 6. “The Roll With No Name” by Dylan Buffington 7. “Booze Cruz” Roll by Jimmy Browning 8. “BKDJ” Roll (Big Kid Dirt Jumper) by Evan Perrone
Fly fishing takes finesse. Its actions are peaceful and serene, much like the environment it occurs in. What better way to get to the river to go fly fishing than with a bike that’s quiet, doesn’t scare off wildlife, and is fully equipped to seek out those Browns and Rainbows? “Access,” as Jepson says, “is everything.”
“I’ve spent many days fly fishing where I walked—in waders—miles of trails and gravel roads, and along rivers and lakes to fish,” he says, when talking of the inspiration for his vision. “I’ve often wished I had a better way to get to those more remote areas, and were able to haul more supplies and gear, to and from fishing spots.” Why? Because the quicker you can do that, the more fishing time you get.
The River Roll is Eric’s answer to his own wish. It’s equipped with ample storage, a rod holder, and an optional cargo trailer to haul whatever you can strap to it. The River Roll allows the angler to comfortably travel faster and farther to those areas that are not accessible by car, or that may be too far by foot. A clear advantage of his Roll is the step-through design and relaxed geo—it allows an angler to ride with ease in full gear, including waders. The rod holder fits a disassembled rod, or rod tube, so they can also keep their hands on the bars rather than awkwardly wrangling a rod while riding.
“Besides being an angler’s dream bike, it can be enjoyed at mountain lodges and resorts or around angling towns and lake communities,” says Eric. As for potential? “This concept could also naturally adapt to other types of sporting recreation, such as camping, photography, or hunting. I wanted this bike to not only convey a fun, rugged feel with colors and textures that reflect nature, but also to stay discrete while fishing.”
If your dream is to become a professional YouTuber, with a focus on skate films on the streets and in the skate parks of your neighborhood, this may very well be the Roll for you. For starters, it’s the best "roadie" to lug all your gear around. It has some rack mods, with an adaptation to carry your deck around, a rack for your camera gear, and even a “skitch” bar to tow around your eager director’s-assistant friend. A secondary bonus—you can also just cruise around town on scouting missions, looking for locations to shoot your skate masterpiece.
“The inspiration for this Roll,” says Brandon, the creator, “was to make something fun to ride to all the local skate spots with the crew. It's the ultimate rig to fuel those that enjoy skateboarding and filming skateboarding, just as much as cycling. Not only is this Roll set up to get you to your favorite spot, but to also carry all of your photo and video equipment, ensuring you get the best footage possible.”
But is this bike guaranteed to turn you into a YouTube sensation? Here’s the prescription: take one Skaterroll, get your board in the bowl, upload the result, and we’ll give you a thumbs up or thumbs down in the morning.
Take approximately 1,000 googly eyes, some fish scale pattern, some glue, a shed-load of Nevadan dust and what do you get? The Eye Roll. While the name might suggest it’s the kind of bike you groan at when you hear the pun, it’s actually derived from the brain-bending eyes that wiggle their pupils around as the rider happily meanders along—in this case, upon the playa at Burning Man.
Dreamed up by footwear designer Jon Takao to serve as his primary mode of transportation for his first ever trip to the desert of Burning Man, it quickly became a labor of intense gluing devotion prior to the event. Evidently, it takes a long time to apply about $80 worth of eyes, procured from a nearby craft store, to a bicycle. The process wore Takao down and, with time running out before leaving for Nevada, he stopped where he was and finished up the back end of the bike with an eye catching, shimmery fish-skin look. “It’s like a fishing lure,” he says. Unfortunately, after 10 days on the playa, that particular design feature isn’t as prominent or flashy as before. The googly, incessantly-rolling eyes are now the lure for a passersby.
This is the only Roll in the collection that was vigorously field tested prior to presentation. The dust has now settled upon this bike to become a key design callout, and whilst the dust-crunchy chain doth protest, you can’t deny this Roll has reached its true, full-Burner potential.
While the name instantly summons up thoughts of sushi, one look at this rainbow and you can tell there’s no need for wasabi here—this bike has plenty of kick already. For Alain, the goal was simple: create a fun looking bike for his wife, Nicole, to ride with their kids and to go on adventures. It had to look ready to have a blast, but also capable of portaging all the accoutrements that come with a fun day out with kids.
“At its core, bike riding is fun,” says Alain, “so I really tried to push the fun factor. As established cyclists, we sometimes take for granted the amazing experiences and soul-searching feeling bikes give us from a young age. I tried to capture this essence for someone who is relatively new to cycling. I wanted to give her [Nicole] a taste of what bikes have done for me, and try to share that experience on an emotional level. You know how it feels to get a brand new, shiny bike, and you can’t stop looking at it? And how that new, shiny bike just makes you want to ride it? That’s the feeling I want her to get from this bike.”
The Hi-Viz colors and plentiful, practical storage add-ons, makes The Rainbow Roll rise to the occasion—and that occasion is having fun together, as a family.
"You don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens." — Mandy Hale
Namaste. The Dope Soul Roll is a lesson in finding your truth. In designer Kayla Clarot’s case, that truth is a bike with a mellow mood and pure heart. “I chose snowboarder Jamie Anderson as my muse for this project,” she says, “because she not only sees the importance of caring for her mental and physical health, but also this amazing planet that we live on.”
“Being born and raised in a small Californian town, I was able to spend much of my childhood escaping into nature—whether it was snowboarding in the winter, hanging at the beach in the summer, or going to the Central Valley and picking pumpkins during fall. I think growing up with nature being such a huge part of my life, I have grown to see how important it is to take care of our environment, as well as noticing how it takes care of us.”
With this in mind, Kayla found her happy place by incorporating some mood-soothing accents to her Roll, with calming wood and the ethereal colors of Lake Tahoe, then added an air of "Namaste, bitches" to wrap it up. Practical, soul-searching, and as chill as an ocean breeze, the Dope Soul Roll is a lesson in “Om.” Now breathe.
Dylan didn't provide a name for his Roll, but he began his write-up for the bike by saying, “The Roll has so much potential” and that’s when it clicked. He didn’t name his Roll because this bike refuses to be labeled. It can be anything the designer wants it to be. So, what did Dylan want his to be? Put simply: a blend of fashion and function. The function was easy, since the Roll can be decked out with racks and bags to carry whatever, so it does his bidding in the city and sees him rolling around town to coffee, to pick up party supplies, or to just hang with friends. The fashion side draws its inspiration from the designer Dusen Dusen, and makes this Roll a little funk-fashionista on the streets.
“The Roll has so much potential,” Dylan wrote. “This became clear when we were given the opportunity to tailor-make a special blend of classy, comfortable, and creative bikes to our liking. By infusing our experiences and abilities into a set of bikes, we’re able to bridge the gap to new markets and new riders. My Roll is an expression of non-competitive riding, with a high-end build in mind. Because nice bikes aren't only for the peloton, and this Roll will sit nicely with the rest of your fleet.”
"The details are not the details. They make the design." — Charles Eames
"Let the good times Roll." — Jimmy Browning
“I’m a British lad living in Santa Cruz, California,” says Jimmy. “When I'm not drinking tea, nibbling on scones, or designing bikes, I like to get my hands dirty in my design studio—creating hand-drawn letters and illusions under the alias 'whoisthiskid.' Along with these, my other passions include classic cars and my beautiful family. A rule I try to live by is: 'Create your own fun, apply passion to everything your hands touch, and never forget the details.'"
There are a lot of details on Jimmy’s bike, and we could list them here, but the pictures say it all. And to be honest, we’re at a loss for words for this one—it’s a labor of love that you don’t even need to be buzzed on fine whiskey to appreciate. Seriously. Look at it.
“My muse for the Booze Cruz Roll is the fictional Creative Director, Don Draper, from the TV series "Mad Men," says Jimmy. “Like Don Draper, the Booze Cruz represents a time of slim suits, prosperity, and Whiskey Lunches. It's innovative, sophisticated, and fits the needs and desires of an ad-man, with simplicity and hydration being the key design features.”
Refined, eye-catching, and classy—we’ll take ours neat, thanks.
There’s an outlier in every group, and while the designers at Specialized HQ got a crack at designing their dream Rolls, an unexpected submission to the Roll Your Own challenge came from outside the building. Evan Perrone, the Regional Director of Sales for the Central Region, heard about the challenge and set about throwing his Roll into the ring. Or jumping it in, really.
“My inspiration for my design originated with one of my retailers who had a lot of success with Roll. When I asked a staff member about their own, personal like for the Roll, and what their enthusiasm for pushing it heavily on the floor was, he said, “Well look at it—it’s like a big dirt jumper for adults!” BOOM. That’s where the inspiration came from.”
At first glance, you might not even recognize it as a Roll, but hey, you’ll be too busy yahooing over big jumps to think about anyway.