Specialized Bicycle Components Inc. is the United State’s fourth-largest maker of high-end bicycles. It was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard and it’s based in Morgan Hill, California. It is a leading innovator in the bicycle industry, consistently striving to create new and better bicycle technologies.

In 1981, Specialized revolutionized the biking industry by introducing mountain bikes to the general public. The mountain bike Specialized sold in 1981, the StumpJumper, was such an important and groundbreaking product that an original model is on display in the Smithsonian Institute. Since 1981, Specialized has not backed off from its company motto, “Innovate or Die.”

Mike Sinyard
Mike Sinyard, CEO and founder of Specialized Bicycle Components 

Specialized had quite a success when they launched an advertising campaign in 1990, featuring Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, attracted a significant amount of attention to the company and characterized their advertising methods to be almost as revolutionary as their bicycling technology. Specialized purchased a photo of Mr. Gorbachev and altered it so that Gorbachev was pictured on a bicycle wearing the bicycling uniform of the Soviet national team, his famous mole was altered to resemble the Specialized symbol, and he was holding a Specialized racing helmet. The caption of the photo read, “Mr. Gorbachev is riding a Specialized ‘Sirrus.’ ” The company chose to use Gorbachev’s image for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that the Russian National Team was, at the time of the advertisement, wearing Specialized helmets when they raced. The company continued to use the advertisement as they had planned and characteristically spun the ad in a press release to be a declaration of Specialized “setting the standard for ads in the 1990s and creating a new brand of advertising for the cycling industry: advertising with an attitude; advertising with an edge.” Specialized’s success moving into the late 1990s had something to do with the formation of innovative partnerships with popular brands.

Specialized Demo bike 2012

Mountain Dew and Specialized joined forces when Mountain Dew signed on to sponsor the Mountain Dew Specialized Team and to sponsor the Specialized BMX program. With the increased support and sponsorship of Mountain Dew, Specialized began a national BMX project in inner cities. Specialized renovated deteriorated parks and constructed permanent fixtures for kids to use for riding BMX, skateboarding, and inline skating in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Specialized’s partnership with Subaru was equally community-minded. Subaru helped to support some of Specialized’s grass roots programs including Friends o’ Trails, which teaches off-road biking.Their products were sold primarily out of the catalog and through bike shops, the company saw the Web as a prime opportunity to build brand awareness and cultivate even deeper customer loyalty. When a customer sends e-mail to the site, they do not receive a blanket response, said global E-marketing manager Mike Regan, instead they get a response with the name of a Specialized employee attached so the “customer has a clear sense that they’re dealing with an individual who cares about their needs.”With headquarters in more than 15 countries around the world and double as many distributors, this is a brand that has proven its success, its innovation and its ability to grow and expand on such a prolific brand. It is a brand that has its roots firmly set, and as it has grown exponentially since its inception in 1974, it will continue to grow to pioneer and lead the pack in producing the finest bikes available.Specialized goes beyond being a company who ‘making bikes for riders’.
Specialized Demo 2010 and 1987 RockHopper
Specialized Demo 2010 and 1987 RockHopperContrary to many current bike manufacturers, Specialized rely heavily on the input of the riders they invest in for their product development. Having an army with some of the world’s best athletes in all disciplines at their fingertips, their knowledge and passion and drive to be number one all comes back to in-valuable feedback to how the bikes they ride and win on are built. But does it stop there? No. They are the backbone, the building blocks, the brains, the real life test dummies of the design process and their winning ride is perfected and shared for the whole world to enjoy. Every Specialized is special.

At Specialized, building bikes isn’t a job. It’s a full-bore, hardcore religion.  A religion that’s helped them evolve as a company and as riders over the last 20 years. To some, their obsession may seem a little sick in the head. But then, those people probably don’t ride. They don’t understand that, to be the best at something, you need to be a fanatic. I bet there’s plenty of those types wandering around company’s hallways. People like their product designers, who pursue innovations like they were well-hidden single tracks. Even its founder, Mike Sinyard, has been known to cancel meetings just so he could spend more time on the trail. Weird? Not to people who love the ride.

Specialized was started for two major reasons: Number one: Those people love the sport. Number two: They want to build products that help people like them enjoy the sport as much as they do. Period.