Specialized Bicycle Components

Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc.
Industry Bicycles
Founded 1974
Headquarters Morgan Hill, California, USA
Key people
Mike Sinyard, CEO
Products Bicycle and Related Components
Revenue US$500,000,000 (est.) (2011)[1]
Number of employees
300 (2002)[1]
Website www.specialized.com

Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc., more commonly known simply as Specialized, is a major American manufacturer of high performance bicycles, bicycle components and related products. It markets their products under the brand name "Specialized". The company was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard and is based in Morgan Hill, California.


Specialized was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard,[2] a cycling enthusiast who sold his Volkswagen Bus for $1,500 to fund a cycle tour of Europe, where he bought handlebars and stems made by Cinelli to take back to the US.[3][4][5] Sinyard started out importing Italian bike components that were difficult to find in the United States,[2] but the company began to produce its own bike parts by 1976, starting with the Specialized Touring Tire.[4] In 1981, the company introduced its first two bikes, the Sequoia, a sport-touring design and the Allez, a road bike.[6] Specialized also introduced the first major production mountain bike in the world, the Stumpjumper, in 1981. Like the Sequoia and Allez, the Stumpjumper was designed by Tim Neenan and based on an early Tom Ritchey design. Specialized continues to produce bikes under the Stumpjumper name, including both hardtail and full-suspension models.[7] An original Stumpjumper is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.[4][8] In 1989, Specialized introduced the Epic, the world's second mass-production carbon fibre mountain bike.[6]

In the early 1990s, Specialized introduced the Globe line of urban bikes. The line was the subject of a major relaunch in 2009,[9] which saw Globe become its own distinct brand.[10] The Globe brand has since been discontinued, and Specialized now markets "lifestyle" bikes under its main brand.[11]

A 2008 Specialized Stumpjumper with full suspension
A 2008 Specialized S-Works Transition carbon Triathlon/Time Trial bike.

In 1995, Specialized launched the Full Force brand.[12] Full Force was a lower-end mountain bike brand sold through sports stores and discount retailers such as Costco.[4] The move angered some Specialized dealers. In 1996, Specialized withdrew the Full Force line and Mike Sinyard wrote a letter of apology to dealers.[4][13] By the end of 1996, Specialized had lost 30% of its bike shop sales and, according to Sinyard, "came within a few hundred dollars of declaring bankruptcy".[4]

In 2001, Merida Bikes of Taiwan bought 49% of Specialized for a reported US$30 million. Mike Sinyard remained majority owner and CEO of the company.[14][15] As of 2016, Specialized is one of the biggest bicycle brands operating in the United States, alongside Trek Bicycle Corporation and Giant Bicycles.[16]

2014 time trial bike of world champion Ellen van Dijk

In 2012 Specialized issued a recall on about 12,000 bicycles sold through retailers from 2007 until July 2012 for a faulty front fork.[17] Recalled models include the Globe Elite, Globe Sport, Globe Sport Disc, Globe Centrum Comp, Globe Centrum Elite, Globe City 6, Globe Vienna 3, Globe Vienna 3 Disc, Globe Vienna 4, Globe Vienna Deluxe 3, Globe Vienna Deluxe 4, Globe Vienna Deluxe 5 and Globe Vienna Deluxe 6.

A customized version of the Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike is currently used by the London Ambulance Service to equip their Cycle Response Units which operate in congested areas of the city.[18]


Specialized has a history of aggressively protecting its trademarks.

In 1990, Specialized tried to sue RockShox Inc, claiming the company's name too closely resembled the bicycle model name Rockhopper[19] The case was ultimately dismissed with prejudice.

In 2006 Specialized sued Mountain Cycle over its use of the model name "Stumptown" (nickname for Portland), alleging it resembled the Specialized model name Stumpjumper.[20] Mountain Cycle closed doors shortly thereafter.

In 2009 Specialized had a trademark dispute with a manufacturer of bicycle bags, Epic Designs, now Revelate Designs.

In 2010 Specialized took NASCAR racing driver & team owner Robby Gordon to court over the logo used for his own "Speed energy drink", claiming it was visually similar to their own 'S' logo. Gordon sued Specialized after receiving a cease-and-desist letter in September 2010 and Specialized then counter-sued Gordon.[21] Gordon was ordered by the court to remove the Speed 'S' logo from his racecars and later agreed with Specialized he would change the drink's logo.

In 2011 Portland wheel builder Epic Wheel Works was forced to change its name due to potential trademark conflict with Specialized.[22]

In 2012 the company sued two former employees after they started the bicycle brand Volagi. Specialized lost on all accounts except one and was awarded one dollar in damages after spending 2.5 million dollars on the lawsuit.[23][24] In September 2016, Volagi announced that it would close its doors after a founding member was injured in a bicycle accident involving an automobile.

In 2013 Specialized mailed a small bike shop owner in Canada a cease and desist letter over its use of the city name Roubaix in its shop name and wheels, the name of a town in France that rose to prominence as a textile center in the 15th century [25] and has hosted an iconic bicycle race since 1896.[26][27] This follows on from Specialized's trademarking of the word in Canada. The situation and behavior towards the shop owner caused some reactions from cyclists worldwide in the days after a story on the matter was published by the Calgary Herald in early December 2013.[28][29] On the 9th of December Fuji Bikes owner, Advanced Sports International of Philadelphia said that in fact, they are the legal owner of worldwide rights to the Roubaix trademark. Fuji has had a Fuji Roubaix road bike model in its lineup since 1992, and has licensed the name to Specialized since 2003.[30] The dispute between Specialized, ASI and the Canadian shop owner was resolved in December 2013, and Specialized vowed to be more cautious in its pursuit of trademark violators going forward.[31]

In 2014, Specialized forced bicycle builder Neil Pryde to change the name of their Alize bike model.[32]

Professional rider sponsorship

Team Gerolsteiner riders (right) with Specialized bikes and gear
Specialized bikes of the Quick Step team, Tour of California, February 2007

Many riders in recent years have used Specialized bicycles in the North American and European professional cycling circuits. In 2016, the professional road teams sponsored by Specialized are Etixx–Quick-Step, Astana Pro Team, Tinkoff, Boels–Dolmans and Axeon–Hagens Berman.[33][34]

Mountain bike riders sponsored by Specialized include the downhill world champion Loïc Bruni, who rides for the Specialized Gravity Team, Troy Brosnan, of the separate Specialized Factory Racing team, Loris Vergier, Finn Iles,[35] Jaroslav Kulhavy, Christoph Sauser, Lea Davison, Troy Brosnan, Martin Soderstrom, Simon Andreassen, Sam Gaze, Hannah Barnes, Annika Langvad, Kate Courtney, Mitch Ropelato, Curtis Keene, Nicholi Rogatkin, Dylan Dunkerton, Curtis Robinson, Matt Hunter and Howard Grotts.[33]

Sponsored triathletes include Brent McMahon, Ruben Ruzafa, Non Stanford, Conrad Stoltz, Richard Murray, Melissa Hauschildt, Tim Don, Lisa Norden, Chris McCormack, Francisco Javier Gómez Noya, Gwen Jorgensen and Benjamin Hoffman.[33]


  1. 1 2 "Specialized Bicycle Components Inc.".
  2. 1 2 "Reinventing the wheel". The Economist. 324 (7770): 61–62. 1992-08-01.
  3. Clarke, Jody (2009-09-18). "Mike Sinyard: Riding the mountain bike craze to a fortune". Moneyweek. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Overfelt, Maggie (2008-05-20). "King of the mountain bike". CNN Money. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  5. "Specialized" (PDF). Cool Brands. 2008–2009. p. 120. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  6. 1 2 Rogers, Seb (23 October 2010). "Interview: Specialized founder Mike Sinyard". What Mountain Bike. Retrieved 23 October 2010.
  7. Rogers, Seb. "Specialized Bicycles Stumpjumper Comp HT (09)". BikeRadar. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  8. Eng, Sherri (1994-09-26). "Mountain bike founders still cycling". Calgary Herald. p. C1.
  9. Boulanger, Gary (2009-09-16). "Specialized relaunch Globe urban brand". BikeRadar. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  10. Booth, Philip (2009-06-12). "Tech features: Specialized launches Globe brand". Road Bike Action Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  11. Gulley, Aaron (8 May 2015). "Giant Just Released a Gorgeous, Low-Cost Commuter". Outside. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  12. Boulanger, Gary (2008-03-20). "Cannondale purchase raises ire of Specialized founder". BikeRadar. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  13. Kaufman, Steve (1996-12-26). "Mountain-bike innovator now rolling with the punches Specialized has matured with founder". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  14. "Merida buys not 49% but 19% of Specialized". Bike Europe. 2001-08-07. Retrieved 2009-09-27.
  15. "Correction: Merida Buys 49% of Specialized". Bike Europe. 2001-08-08. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  16. Frothingham, Stephen (25 February 2016). "Big Three brands duke it out with March discounts". Bicycle Retailer. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  17. "Bicycles recalled after faulty part leads to falls". CNN. 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2012-09-26.
  18. "London Ambulance Service - Cycle responder". www.londonambulance.nhs.uk. London Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  19. http://www.plainsite.org/flashlight/case.html?id=2173443
  20. "Specialized, Mountain Cycle disagree on "Stumptown" - BikePortland.org". BikePortland.org.
  21. "Judge Forces Robby Gordon To Remove Logos From Energy Drink". sportsbusinessdaily.com.
  22. "Epic Wheel Works will change name due to potential trademark conflict with Specialized". BikePortland.org.
  23. "Specialized sues Volagi over Liscio road bike". VeloNews.com.
  24. "An expensive dollar: Volagi owes Specialized $1". VeloNews.com.
  25. "Roubaix". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  26. Tom Babin (2013-12-07). "War veteran forced to change bike shop's name after threat from U.S bike giant Specialized". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  27. "Must Read: Specialized muscles vet over shop's name - VeloNews.com". VeloNews.com.
  28. "Specialized's disastrous trademark case is unnecessary to defend the brand - VeloNews.com". VeloNews.com.
  29. "Social media explosion over Specialized's Roubaix lawsuit". Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
  30. "ASI says Calgary bike shop can use Roubaix name". Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
  31. "ASI, Specialized and Cafe Roubaix in 'complete alignment' over trademark". Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
  32. "Allez, allez NAZARÉ". 2014-04-04. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  33. 1 2 3 "I Am Specialized Riders". Specialized. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  34. Better, Michael (18 August 2015). "Axeon team to become Axeon Hagens Berman for 2016". VeloNews. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  35. Smurthwaite, James (6 January 2016). "Loic Bruni signs with Specialized for 2016". Mountain Bike Rider. Retrieved 28 March 2016.

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