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Specialized Bicycle Components was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard. A recent college graduate, Mike had spent time traveling Europe and had noticed that European bicycle parts were a much higher quality than those offered in the United States. Mike made contacts while in Europe with parts manufacturers, and returned home to start a business bringing high end European bike components to U.S. bicycle shops.

He sold his VW Van for seed money to bring his first order of parts and proceeded to visit shops and sell his new found products with great success. His first purchase was $1200 of small parts… he sold out in two days. For the next two years, concentrating mainly on northern California bike shops, Mike Sinyard sold them parts he was buying from Europe and took notes on products they couldn't get easily from U.S. manufacturers. By this time, these shops needed Mike as bad as he needed them.

Throughout the years that followed, Specialized evolved from this "partnership" to become an industry leader in bicycles, components, and accessories.

Specialized Bicycle Components is based out of California, with distribution centers in both Columbus, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah. Although their specific unit and sales figures are held close, I do know that between U.S. and European sales, Specialized is a $200,000,000 company with year 2000 growth in the range of 20%.(Mattison) This is impressive considering that today's market is flat with few companies showing any real growth. Specialized, along with Trek, seem to be the only truly healthy industry leaders. This is due largely to the fact that other major suppliers are unclear as to what segment of the market they are going to target and approach with regards to Mass Merchants, Mail-order, and Internet sales. Specialized has commited itself to the independent bicycle dealers only. This involves a total commitment to independent dealers with the Specialized Dealer Alliance.(Foster) By ensuring that you can only buy a Specialized bike and equipment from a Specialized Alliance dealer, this makes sure that the service one gets is of the highest quality. Many decisions come into play when purchasing a bicycle, ranging from correct sizing to the intended use and the best bike for your money. This is why Specialized doesn't allow itself or anyone else to offer their bikes through mail order or online.

Not all dealerships that carry Specialized bicycles are Specialized Alliance Dealers, though. Examples of some that carry Specialized bicycles in our immediate area are The Pathfinder in Manhattan and Capps Bike Shop in Topeka. Neither of these dealers are Specialized Alliance dealers, but with Specialized's emphasis on the final customer, they are very knowledgable and trustworthy outlets. Overall, Specialized's decision to use this channel of distribution (independent bicycle dealers only) is their best bet for future growth and success in this industry.

Specialized offers a wide variety of products; their mountain bikes being their staple. They are actually recognized as the first company to create the first production mountain bike called the Stumpjumper. (It is actually located in the Smithsonian.) Besides the Stumpjumper, Specialized also offers the Enduro, Bighit, P.3, Rockhopper, Hardrock, Expedition, Hotrock, and Crossroads offroad bicycle lines. Within each of these lines of offroad bicycles, there is a hierarchy of component parts ranging from the FSRxc Pro through to the FS, respectively. They also offer shoes, saddles, helmets, gloves, bags, lights, computers, tires, pumps, locks, bottles and cages, wheelsets, etc. All products that Specialized offers, are made for the serious bicycle rider and all stem from racing origins. This stuff is amazing! Being the original, I feel that the Stumpjumper is a good model to base research on.

The model pictured above is the Stumpjumper FSRxc Pro. It is the "King Stumpjumper". This featherweight FSR system is extremely quick and smooth. It's features include: -FSRxc frame -75mm to 90mm rear adjustable travel -A1 premium aluminum -Fully butted frame -Fox Float RC rear shock with adjustable rebound and compression lockout -Sealed bearings in all pivots -Replaceable rear derailer hanger -RockShox SID XC 80mm fork with adjustable rebound damping and alloy steerer -Mavic 517 rims with machined sidewalls -Specialized Pro saddle with Body Geometry Technology -Rear shock is custom valved and tuned for FSRxc (Specialized.com) These materials and features combined have won this Stumpjumper FSRxc a top honor for 2001 in Mountain Biking magazine. The only downside to this product is the price. With all the race options, it can range over $2000. The customer that ideally would be purchasing this product would place more emphasis on components and quality, though; they wouldn't be phased by the price.

As I mentioned before, Specialized has committed itself to independent bicycle dealers as its sole channel of distribution. Therefore, it targets bicycle dealers who are capable and willing to push Specialized bicycles towards the public to their fullest extent. It is quite obvious with last year's growth of 20% that dealers reacted favorably towards Specialized's decision to not distribute through other channels. With such a reputable product, this level of trust benefits the public by ensuring that they get the best service and most knowledge for their time.

Besides Specialized, the other industry leader is Trek. They are also worldwide with numerous accomplishments. Based out of Waterloo, Wisconsin, Trek has more of a laidback Midwestern attitude about themselves; thus, they aren't quite as radical as Specialized in regards to pushing the boundaries of design, technology, and performance. (Granted, this could be due more to passion than location.) Specialized has a credo of being the "best cycling brand in the world" and that depends on them evolving faster and smarter than anyone else; including Trek. The only similarities that the two share is the emphasis on their channel of distribution. This is the only thing that is keeping the two in close competition. Otherwise, based on design, development, focus, and commitment, Specialized would be the sole "King of the Hill". This is their goal and they will stop at nothing to achieve it.

Specialized bicycles…. Innovate or Die.

Bibliography Foster, John. "Being The Very Best". Specialized Bike Magazine 2001, p.42 Mattison, Mike. Specialized Dealer Rep. Phone Interview.

Specialized.com. http://www.specialized.com/2001/products/bike_finder/stumpjumper