The History of Specialized Bikes

From Small Shop to Big Factory

specialized bikes

Specialized Bikes, a.k.a. Specialized Bicycle Components, was started in 1974 by Mike Sinyard. It is an American bicycle manufacturer located in Morgan Hill, California. The company started out as a very small operation in which the founder began importing bike components made overseas that were hard to find in the states. By 1976, however, they started manufacturing their own bicycle parts.

In 1981, they introduced the very first mountain bike, the Starjumper, to be majorly produced around the globe. The current rendition of this classic bicycle comes with full suspension and hardtail options. Cycling fans can view the original Starjumper bike at the Smithsonian Institution.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Specialized Bikes launched a brand of urban bicycles called Globe which was later renovated and launched again as an independent brand in 2009.

In 1995, they developed a budget line of mountain bikes called Full Force which were sold in discount and sport stores. This made many of the Specialized dealers angry. Even though Mike Sinyard apologized for this, the company lost approximately 30% of the sales from bike shops by the latter part of 1996 which put them in a tight financial situation. They did manage to recover. However, Merida Bikes purchased a 49% share of the company for $30 million in 2001. Mike Sinyard is still the Chief Executive Officer and owner of the majority of the company.


The company manufactures other cycling related items including helmets, clothing and tires as well as 25 varieties of bicycles. They developed an oil flow inertial valve damping system called BRAIN, which allows the suspension system to shift between stiffening during pedaling and softening enough to absorb the shock from bumpy terrain.

Specialized is also getting into the suspension fork market with their Futureshock line. These suspension forks are characterized by having the hydraulic damper and spring on the same leg of the fork which helps reduce the overall weight of the suspension fork.

As of 2010, Specialized Bikes is the official supplier for Team Saxo Bank and Team Astana on the UCI Pro Tour. They have also supplied the Quick Step and Festina teams. In collegiate cycling, they are sponsor for Colorado State University and the University of Georgia.

Most notable is that Richard Hammond raced against a Mercedes GL500 car, a motor boat, and a public transportation vehicle in London using a Specialized Sirrus Limited bike and won the race. The company produces mountain, all road and freeroad, BMX, road, and multi-street bicycles.

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