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PhotoMorgan Hill, CA (December 20th, 2010) - Specialized Bicycle Components is proud to announce the launch of First Gear, a global youth cycling initiative intended to create “first rides that last a lifetime” – promoting cycling as a regular part of kids’ lives.

PhotoA new website (firstgear.specialized.com) will highlight success stories in this and other advocacy endeavors, including the great work of Specialized dealers around the world. The site will also encourage public participation, bring awareness to partner organizations, and communicate philanthropic goals.

Specialized and its dealers have been active in youth cycling development since the company’s founding in 1974, by contributing to programs that positively impact young people of all ages.  In 2010, the company dedicated $1.4 million to global cycling advocacy, a significant portion of which was directed to youth programs.

“Getting kids out riding bikes is probably the most important thing we can do,” explained Founder and President Mike Sinyard.  “A child on a bike is independent and healthy, not just for the time being, but for life. But the best part is, they don’t even realize it. They’re just out there having fun.” 

Funding and support in 2010 went to organizations like CYCLE Kids, which establishes cycling programs in schools to combat childhood obesity, and NICA – the National Interscholastic Cycling Association – which aims to bring high school mountain bike racing to student athletes coast-to-coast by 2020.  Further support went to the hard work of Specialized-sponsored athletes like Christoph Sauser and his South African charity, Songo (songo.info).

First Gear will bring a voice to these efforts going forward and facilitate deeper involvement from riders, the community at large, and every Specialized employee around the world. The Dealer Grant Program will also continue to grow, providing funding for local initiatives important to our dealers.

“I’m excited about First Gear and the new website because we finally have a platform to share and enable this critical work.  By using our reach and influence we will get others involved to improve the quality of kids physical, mental and emotional health by riding. If we’re going to get all kids riding bikes, we’re going to need all hands on deck!” added Sinyard.
PhotoFor 2011, Specialized has set a goal of getting10,000 new kids riding bikes - through local cycling initiatives that provide the setting, the tools and support they need for a memorable ride. To compare, in 2010, Specialized’s contribution to Turning Wheels for Kids got about 250 kids riding, and that to CYCLE Kids got about 1000 kids riding; these were two of many efforts the company undertook – but the goal for 2011 is definitely ambitious.

While direct financial support will be an important element, Specialized believes that its greatest influence lies with the community it reaches on a daily basis – Specialized fans, dealers and those of cycling in general.  First Gear will work to engage and collaborate with riders using on and offline tools to connect the people with the causes.

To discover easy ways you can get involved with this important mission, head to firstgear.specialized.com and click the ‘Join In’ button.

About Specialized:
Specialized Bicycles was founded in 1974 by riders for riders. Headquartered in Morgan Hill, California, with global distribution, the company focuses on making everyone’s time on a bike better by delivering functional and technically advanced equipment that provides a performance benefit.

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