Founding Specialized, Determination, and the Obsessive Curiosity that Drives Innovation
Mike Sinyard is the founder and CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components. Mike was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1988. The StumpJumper mountain bike was added to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection in 1994.
Mike’s journey begins in the summer of 1973 when he sold his VW van for $1,500 and cycled around Europe. During his travels, he connected with Cinelli and Campagnolo, Italian bike component manufacturers, to establish an import-business relationship. Today, Specialized is a leading manufacturer of bicycles and gear. Made by riders, for riders.
In 2015, Mike launched the Specialized Foundation, known today as Outride, which focuses on linking cycling to improve cognitive, emotional, and social health. The foundation helps kids achieve academic, health, and social success. Outride currently supports community cycling, trail projects, and the Riding for Focus program.
Mike joins us to talk about founding and growing Specialized and the obsessive curiosity that drives their unparalleled innovation.
Specialized Bikes, Cyclists, and Beer Festivals mentioned in the episode:
04:20 Specialized origin story; SJSU; Oktoberfest
07:02 How did Mike go from selling bike parts out of a trailer to $18M in 4 years?
07:55 Unlike many founders, Mike is still at the helm all these years later
09:18 What would Mike do differently?
11:11 Covid has led to an explosion in biking
13:00 Electric Mountain Bikes are becoming more accepted and really opening up the sport to more people; Specialized Levo SL; Levi Leipheimer
15:03 eBikes and bike paths are changing the cityscapes and how communities commute
15:56 Juliet rode a Rockhopper for a full year without a seat in the 90s
17:39 Walking Schoolbus; Behavior as adults has a lot to do with childhood habits
18:25 Outride – Specialized’s public non-profit program – is dedicated to improving the lives of young people through cycling; They’ve done studies with brain scans before and after riding which showed that riding really lights up the brain
21:19 Exertion is the opposite of anxiety and depression
21:55 Outride has 50k going through their program
23:03 Mike committed a huge chunk of his own money to support Outride’s diversity initiative in underserved communities
24:57 It’s all about spending your fitness credits
25:55 Rich Froning and the Mayhem team are Specialized Ambassadors
26:40 “There’s nothing more healing than nature” (kids, aging adults)
27:10 Covid supply chain problems
28:46 Specialized employees want bikes and literally can’t get them
29:55 What excites Mike
31:20 Mike’s takeaways on all of the recent biking events MTB World Cup; Tour de France; Olympics
32:20 There are amazing athletes going back decades, but the depth of talent right now is astounding; Eddie Merckx; Mathieu van der Poel; Peter Sagan; Mark Cavendish
34:06 “Thank you, bike”
36:02 The thing that gives you the most grief is also your superpower
36:40 Mike has a foundation for addiction, Project New Day
37:34 Every cyclist Kelly knows is kind which he theorizes is because the sport includes so much suffering and pain; Haley Batten
38:44 What’s next?
40:30 There are Specialized retailers in 108 countries
41:22 Mike’s socials
42:20 Kelly got to help out with Mike’s son when he couldn’t ride and no other docs or PTs could help him; Turns out his quads were stiff
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