Mountain Gear

Q&A: Specialized’s Mike Sinyard on 29ers

When it comes to trails, the man at the helm of Specialized — Mike Sinyard — is not only a proponent of the big wheels, but he pilots them too.

From the new Fate and Carve to Jaroslav’s epic World Cup win on, of course, an Epic, Specialized is fully committed to 29ers.

And when it comes to off-roading, the man at the helm of the company — Mike Sinyard — is not only a proponent of the big wheels, but he pilots them too. The 60-year-old Specialized founder finished the 2010 Leadville Trail 100 in 11:17:36 on a S-Works Epic 29er (his son, Anthony, finished in 8:45:47 on an Epic 29er, too).

The photos above of Mike Sinyard’s rig (and this video) were taken just prior to last year’s LT100. Being the boss at Specialized, he probably has a new bike by now, but these photos are all we have.

Meanwhile, Specialized has developed a high-end women’s specific 29er, the Fate, and Jaroslav Kulhavy scored the first 29er win at a World Cup cross-country race aboard a Specialized. We caught up recently with Sinyard to get his take on two-niners… You ride the same bike that Jaroslav Kulhavy won World Cup #2 on: What are your thoughts on his win and did you envision the S-Works  29er as a World Cup bike in the beginning of its creation?

Mike Sinyard: Jaroslav showed his potential last year at so many of the world cups, and it was important for us to keep him in the family. When you team him up with Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser I think there is a lot they can learn from each other, and I expect him to be at the front much more this season.

The win is a true statement that 29ers have a place in this sport, the growth that we have seen in the recent years shows us that the 29er can offer huge benefits to the rider at both the high-end professional level and also the complete beginner.

ST: By and large, European riders and teams have stuck with their 26-inch hardtails; what does a victory like this do to smash some people’s perceptions of 29ers?

MS: This is just what we need to make the 29er take off in Europe. The sport is already embedded here in the U.S., but for Europe so much is focused on the race scene and a big World Cup win will really help people see the potential of these bikes. Our team has been doing some comparison testing in the off-season and is starting to want to ride the 29er versions more now.

ST: You’ve been in the MTB game a long time, how does this fit into the progression of the sport, equipment and bikes as far as you see it?

MS: Absolutely. We have always said that we will not build a bike because everyone else is doing it  We want to bring a bike to the table that offers the rider a performance benefit and I think 29ers do just that. I know that for me riding the Leadville 100 last year I would not want to do it on anything else. We are always looking for the next advancement and will continue to push our ideas to help the sport and its riders progress.