Though SRAM previewed eTap, its new wireless electronic component group, to the media last year, bikes won’t begin shipping with the parts until late this spring or early summer. And because of tooling and demand, only two manufacturers, Specialized and Pinarello, will offer the gear initially. And quantities will be limited.
Starting Monday, however, five eTap-equipped Specialized Tarmacs will go up for auction in a fundraiser for the charity World Bicycle Relief. The bikes, two size 54s and three 56s, are a special-edition collaboration between Specialized, SRAM, and Zipp, and feature 2016 Tarmac frames hung with SRAM eTap groupos and Zipp hard parts, including WBR-branded 303 carbon wheels. All of the equipment was donated, so 100 percent of the proceeds go to the WBR.
World Bicycle Relief is a decade-old charitable organization that distributes its utility bike, the Buffalo Bicycle, to shore up economic development. In rural, impoverished places, the arrival of bikes has been shown to enable commerce by opening markets that wouldn’t be accessible by foot and improve access to health care and education. Since its launch, the organization has provided almost 300,000 bicycles in that country and across eastern, central, and southern Africa.
“While [Specialized and SRAM] innovate what’s possible in the sport of cycling, World Bicycle Relief is innovating to ensure people have access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity,” says WBR founder F.K. Day. “This extraordinary auction…will go to fighting the barrier of distance that separates individuals from their independence and freedom.”
Specialized founder and chairman, Mike Sinyard, was eager to support the project in part because his daughter, Jalina, is currently living in Zambia and doing monitoring and evaluation for WBR. “Mike’s been passionate about WBR for a while,” says Specialized Road Brand Manager Mark Cote. “When he found out that he could be involved, it was instantly a thing that he insisted that we do.”
The bike auctions will start at the retail price of $9,500. Given that each Buffalo Bicycle costs $147 to produce and distribute, even the starting price will yield over 300 bikes for people in need. But Specialized and SRAM hope they will garner much more from a few philanthropically minded cyclists. “Nike did a fundraiser for some shoes a few years ago and raised almost half a million dollars,” says Cote.
Beyond the charitable aspect, the WBR Tarmac auction is also a great chance to pick up a rare bicycle. Specialized never specs Zipp parts given the two companies’ overlapping product lines, so these Tarmacs are truly one of a kind. That plus, “eTAP is vaporware right now,” Cote says. “Everyone wants it, and nobody can get it. This is an opportunity for people who are interested in an eTAP bike to get bumped up in the line.”
Ebay for Charity is hosting the auction, which ends at 7:59 a.m. on February 18.