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Full name Specialized Bicycle Components, this Northern California-based bike company was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard who initially imported Italian components that were hard to find in the US.
Specialized soon began making its own components, starting with tyres, and bikes with the Allez road bike and Sequoia touring bike.
In 1981 Specialized launched the Stumpjumper, one of the earliest production mountain bikes and certainly the most successful. The company focussed on mountain bikes during the off-road boom of the 90s.
It has been at the forefront of the road bike boom of the last decade and now sponsors the Etixx-Quick Step, Tinkoff-Saxo and Astana professional teams.
As well as a vast range of accessories, Specialized makes road bikes for a range of riding types including the Tarmac and Allez road racers, Roubaix sportive range, Venge aero road bikes and Shiv time trial bikes.
Superficially flawed if you judge it by componentry. But you shouldn't. The Tarmac offers a great frameset that would be, and is, suited to a far more costly bike