Where are Specialized bikes made? (is it really American?)


Specialized bicycles is one of the major American bike brand in the United States. Great quality bikes, loved by many of us, the brand is reknown for its durability and innovation. It’s one of the brands that many American people are proud of.

However, it is a well-known fact that many bicycles are not manufactured on US soil. What about Specialized bikes? Where are they made? Who owns them? Is it designed AND manufactured in the USA? Let’s debunk all these topics!

Where are Specialized bikes made?

Despite being an American company, Specialized bicycles are no longer made in the USA. Most of the Specialized bikes are made by their industrial partner Merida in China and Taiwan. The Specialized bicycles distributed in North America are mainly built in Shenzhen, China.

Indeed, Merida accounts for 90% of Specialized production. Another known industrial partner is Speedtech Industrial located in Cambodia, but their production is small compared to Merida.

Below is a table showing Merida’s factory location and bike market shares:

FactoryCapacity per yearSales distribution
Taiwan (Taiwan)1,000,000EU 54% / NA 30% / Others 16%
Shenzhen (China)750,000NA 70% / China 30%
Shandong (China)550,000100% China
Jiangsu (China)250,000100% China
Data from Merida annual report.

Merida branded bikes are not distributed in North America as a deal made with Specialized. Therefore, though you can find Merida’s bike in EU and China, none are sold in North America. Therefore, all the production tagged as “NA” in the table above account for the Specialized branded production. That’s how we can determine that most Specialized Bikes sold in the US are made in China.

Does Giant make Specialized bikes?

Giant used to produce bikes for Specialized but that’s no longer the case since Merida took shares in the company in 2001 (about 35% stake as of 2013).

Where are Specialized bikes designed?

Specialized bikes though manufactured in Asia are still designed in the US in Morgan Hill, California. This is Specialized historical HQ where they do their research, development, and prototyping. Once a model is designed with precise specifications, the bike is manufactured by Merida in either Taiwan or China.

Below is a video showing some of Morgan Hill HQ and their very nice wind tunnel:

Is Specialized owned by Trek?

Specialized bikes are not owned by Trek. Though some bikes may have been produced in the same factories by Giant, Trek doesn’t hold Specialized shares. Nowadays, Giant doesn’t produce bikes for Specialized anymore (still does for Trek). Therefore Specialized and Trek have no links whatsoever.

Who owns Specialized?

Specialized bicycles are mainly owned by their original founder Mike Sinyard. The second stakeholder is Merida who owns 35% of Specialized in 2013. In 2001, Merida owned 49% of Specialized bicycles shares.

Merida being a major stakeholder of Specialized is the reason most Specialized bikes are manufactured by Merida. The latter is focused on producing high-end bikes as opposed to other Taiwan-based manufacturers. Merida’s range of products was the perfect fit for Specialized which emphasizes on quality.

How does Specialized compare to Trek?

Regarding where Trek bikes are made, I have written a dedicated article here:

Source: Taiwan Bicycle Sector – Equity Research by Credit Suisse, July 2014.

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