Today Specialized is one of the most recognisable brands in the marketplace. They were founded on fulfilling riders’ demands for quality parts that afforded them a real competitive benefit and this is still the company’s driving ethos. Their top-end bikes are used by, amongst others, Mark Cavendish and Martin Söderström and they sponsor a raft of race teams and riders in their core MTB and road race disciplines.
In 1974 Mike Sindley sold his VW Camper to fund a trip to Europe. While he was there he managed to arrange a meeting with the legendary Italian racer-turned-craftsman Cino Cinelli. Mike secured a deal for some of Cinelli’s components, mostly handlebars and stems, and shipped them back to California. From this starting point, Sindley began the business that would become Specialized. Initially the company focused on importing sought-after Italian components, but by 1976 they had started producing their own parts. In 1979 they introduced their first road bike to the market and in ’81 they launched the world’s first mass-produced mountain bike, ‘The Stumpjumper’.
Specialized are probably still best known for that first ever mountain bike. While they may be constantly in the cycling press for every little tweak to an S-Works Venge, it’s still the Stumpjumper that people remember. The bike has been in continuous production since 1981 and despite having been constantly updated, modified and improved ever since, it remains a classic. An original Stumpjumper is even displayed in Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian institute.