Specialized Bicycle Components, generally called Specialized Bikes or just Specialized, is an American bicycle company that was founded in 1974 in California.
In addition to producing full sized racing bikes, the company also makes a number of bike-related products.
In the beginning, Specialized actually imported and resold bikes from Italy that were difficult-to-impossible to find in the U.S.
However, by 1976, they had started producing their own models. The first was the Specialized Touring Tire. In 1979, they even expanded to Japan with the Allez road bike.
However, it wasn't until 1981 that the company really hit it big. That was the year they introduced the Stumpjumper, the first high quality mountain bike ever produced.
The Stumpjumper would become one of their flagship products, and they still produce them today (although the bike has been upgraded in many significant ways). The Stumpjumper made such an impact on the biking world that an original model is on display in the Smithsonian Institute.
Specialized would make another major innovation in the biking world in 1989 with the Epic, the first carbon fiber mountain bike.
The early 1990s saw the launch of the Globe line of urban bikes, which would later be re-launched in 2009, when it became its own brand.
However, Specialized is truly about mountain bikes, and in 1995, they launched Full Force, a lower-end mountain bike brand.
The Full Force line was designed to be available and affordable to those who may not be biking professionals, and as such, it was sold through a number of sports stores and discount stores.
This move created some friction between Specialized and some bike dealers, who felt that the company no longer supported them. These dealers started promoting other brands over Specialized, a move that hurt the company financially.
They took such a hard hit over the line that, by the end of 1996, the company apologized to the dealers and actually pulled the Full Force line of bikes.
In 2001, 19 per cent of the company was purchased by Merida Bikes, a company based in Taiwan. However, this buy-out did not greatly impact the leadership of the company or its direction.
Specialized supports a number of different professional cycling teams. In 2010, they supported Team Astana and Team Saxo Blank in the UCI Pro-tour.
They supplied the Festina and Quick Step teams, and they also sponsor the cycling teams of Colorado State University and the University of Georgia. Sam Hill, a three-time world downhill champion, rides a Specialized bike.
While Specialized often focuses on Mountain Bikes, they also have lines of dirt/street bikes, hybrid and touring bikes, and road bikes. Some of their road bike models include the Amira, the Roubaix, the Ruby, and the Venge.
The Amira comes in a number of different models, including the SL4 Mid-Compact, the Ui2 Mid-Compact, and the Elite Compact. The SL4 Mid-Compact is the top of the line bike.
It's a women's road racing cycle that has been used by some of the top teams in the world. It's very light, stiff, and fast. The Mid-Compact uses the FACT 11r carbon frame, one of Specialized newest and lightest frames.
Another one of Specialized bikes is the S-Works Tarmac SL4 Di2. It's been described as the next generation of Tarmac models, and it features one of the lightest frames ever produced.
The bike also features fast, precise Shimano Di2 electronics and Roval Fusee SLX wheels. With components like this, it's no wonder this bike is incredibly fast.
Then there's the Allez EVO Rival Mid-Compact racing bike, which is designed more for budgets.
However, that doesn't mean it's cheaply made. Far from it, this bike is a great starting model for the aspiring professional racer. It's light, stiff, and fast. It features an FSA carbon crankset and an E5 alloy frame.
No matter which Specialized bikes you go with, you know you're getting a cycle that is fast, strong, and reliable. That's all any professional could ask for.
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