The Specialized Foundation

Monday, February 23, 2015

At Specialized, we’ve seen firsthand the challenges of families dealing with attention and learning issues, and we set out to find solutions through our love of bikes. In short, our journey led to some exciting insights. Through groundbreaking scientific research and pilot programs with middle schools across the U.S., there are early indications that kids’ brains are better prepared for learning when they take part in cycling activities—whether they have attention issues or not. These early results prompted us to dive deeper and gave life to The Specialized Foundation: dedicated to improving kids’ lives through original research and cycling programs.

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Mike’s Story

Specialized founder and CEO Mike Sinyard has long dealt with the effects of ADHD in his own life. The inability to stay focused and being easily distracted was something he had grown to just accept as “normal”. Yet, he noticed that those symptoms seemed to dissipate after returning from a ride. Mike also saw the positive benefits riding had on his son Anthony, who also suffered from ADHD. When the Bicycling Magazine article “Riding Is My Ritalin” came across his desk, he decided it was time to explore whether or not there really was science behind riding’s impact on the brain.

“As someone who is personally affected by and as a parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD, I hope this research provides new hope for the more than six million children and their families managing attention deficit disorders and that it serves as a catalyst for prioritizing physical education in our schools.”


Together with RTSG Neuroscientists, Specialized launched a groundbreaking study that analyzed the effects riding had on school children dealing with ADHD symptoms. The results were, in short, awesome. Kids in the study showed improved attention, more “normal” neuroelectric brain activity post-ride, better overall mood, and reduced BMI and waist size. Many of these positive aspects were noticeable even after just one ride and the program demonstrated an 87% retention rate with kids.

“The findings also indicated there may be factors more unique to cycling that make it especially effective when it comes to the brain benefits of exercise. Factors like maintaining balance, being outdoors, riding in groups and the rhythmic motion of pedaling we theorize may have contributed to our findings being so profound”
-Dr. Lindsay Thornton, Lead researcher and Sports Psychologist

Learn More About the Initial Study (PDF)

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At The Specialized Foundation, we imagine a day when doctors may prescribe cycling in place of drugs to battle ADHD, and other attention issues. Through cycling, we believe we can help kids by providing an alternative to prescription medications. To date, ADHD research has focused primarily on pharmaceutical options. Virtually no alternative forms of treatment have been studied. We are researching cycling as a solution that enables better focus in the classroom and overall health and well being. We hope to discover that cycling is a compliment to, and perhaps even a substitute for, medication for some children struggling with attention issues.

Over the next several months, we’ll be unveiling new and exciting announcements from The Specialized Foundation.

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If you’re a business, government agency, or community organization interested in becoming a partnering sponsor, please email