After an illustrious and iconic three-year partnership, Specialized and Aaron Gwin will part ways at the end of 2015.
It is Aaron's will to succeed on the bike in the face of adversity that stands apart in defining the chapter. In both Leogang's World Cups of 2014 and 2015 Aaron stayed pinned to the line despite no rear tire and no chain. A relentless fighting spirit like few other. Again, in Val di Sole at the end of the season, faced with the risk of trying to win the day versus the World Cup overall, Aaron chose to race to win. It's this passion that we reflect on with this photo epic of the three years together.
Aaron joined Specialized for the 2013 season, and despite growth pains, it was a near perfect match-up — Aaron being multi-time USA DH National Champion and the fastest American downhill racer to come along in at least decade (perhaps ever), and Specialized, a US-based brand dedicated to the pursuit of creating the fastest race bikes and equipment.
After the first year of growing pains and challenges, racing kicked off dramatically with Gwin taking 2 World Cup victories—one 2nd place result and a total of 5 appearances on the podium in 2014.
For 2015, the momentum continued to build with Aaron bringing home an astonishing 4 wins (one of which with a broken chain!) and the UCI World Cup Downhill series overall.
"Aaron brought a new, unique perspective and an entirely new speed to Specialized. It was awesome to work with him, learn his desires, needs and overall strategy towards racing. His focus on weight and momentum carry was extremely admirable—he wanted whatever it would take to win. Constantly wanting to test something new, anything, just wanted to see what would make him most comfortable and fastest without ever leaving sight of the customer. From carbon stiffness to the strangest bar widths, his attention to detail was amazing. Someday the internet will learn his suspension setup wasn’t crazy at all. He just rode so smooth that the suspension never had a reason to move. Aaron is a legend and will never turn down a good chocolate chip cookie, or ice cream…or anything he shouldn’t be eating." - Brad Benedict, Specialized MTB R&D
“Aaron’s World Cup overall was his main goal of the year – his incredible race runs in Windham and Leogang were, of course, highlights. A season like that was perhaps two years in the making – Eric Carter in 2014 was the beginning of a new energy in the team, Troy won his first senior World Cup and John Hall (Aaron’s mechanic) had his first season at the highest level. Changes in 2015, more testing in the off season, we had both guys confident and it was that internal competitiveness yet relaxed and organised camp that paved the way for such a great season. The Aaron / Troy dynamic was great for both the guys and it kept them both on top of their game. I am sure Troy will miss having Aaron in the pits and on the road, but then too, he is at that level whereby he knows, and we know, he can do great things” - Gavin Noble, Specialized Global Sports Marketing Director
“Aaron is a rider unlike any other. His commitment to success is unrivaled, I have never known another athlete who works as hard and is as focused as Aaron. This past season with him was unforgettable and one for the history books. He will be greatly missed.” - Benno Williet, Specialized Factory Racing MTB Team manager
"Working with Specialized these last two years has been nothing short of amazing, professional and a pleasure. I'll forever be grateful to everybody there, for being great to work with, and providing me with a wealth of knowledge. It's time to move on with Aaron towards new opportunities, and I look forward to seeing everyone at the races! Cheers boys! Bring on 2016!" - John Hall, Aaron's Personal Mechanic and Support
Aaron himself had this to say, "It's been a great 3 years for me at Specialized. I'm very thankful for their kindness, hard work, and continuous support in helping me further my racing career at the highest level. I leave the team satisfied with the results we achieved and will remember the great times we had for a very long time. It's been an awesome ride and I wish them all the best in the future."
Specialized would like to thank Aaron for a truly unforgettable ride that will be forever written into the history of our brand and not forgotten any time soon. We wish Aaron the absolute best in his next chapter and look forward to watching him continue to push the boundaries of speed and grace on a downhill bike.