Specialized bikes and Playboy Bunnies in the centre of a sexism row

Specialized has found itself at the centre of a sexism row after a limited edition Playboy e-bike was unveiled at a Berlin bike show alongside women dressed in Playboy Bunny costumes. 

Although the bike was intended for a German market some Brits in attendance at the Berlin Fahrradschau over the weekend expressed shock and disappointment at the association between Playboy and Specialized.

Some complained the marketing was outdated, and discordant with Specialized’s position as an aspirational brand for women, while others say the product’s marketing was lost in translation, and German clientele at the show – both male and female – enjoyed the bike, and the presence of the women.

Monika Zamojska, cycle clothing brand House of Astbury co-founder, spotted the “Playboy Bunnies” at the Berlin Fahrradschau over the weekend, and says she feels the marketing contributes to a gender imbalance in the cycling industry and in the sport.

Zamojska told road.cc: “The reaction were mixed, some people did happily take photos with the models, but not many. A lot of them walked straight past the stand. People I spoke to at the show felt simply uncomfortable with that.

“These women were there to simply to look pretty next to the bike, and reducing women to just their appearance is what makes it so hard for female customers, athletes and women working in the industry to be treated seriously. We are not here to look pretty, we mean business.

“Women have the right to be represented by the industry in the same way as men do and not to be used as a tool to market products to the male audience.

“It might have been a product and a campaign targeted at the local market, but that does not justify it, especially that it only takes one tweet for the whole world to see it.”