Anthony Sinyard launches Supacaz bar tape company
By Daniel Benson | Thursday, April 18, 2013 5.12am
He has followed his father into the bike industry with his own line of cycling accessories and clothing, but what does Anthony Sinyard, son of Specialized founder Mike Sinyard, have to offer? It's been a long road already for the young man in his thirties, and back when he was an overweight teenager, going into the bike business was the last thing he wanted to do. He's now done just that, launching Supacaz, selling brightly colored bar tape and bar end plugs initially, with more to come.
“The biggest misconception about me is that I’m spoiled,” Sinyard Junior says with a grin.“You know, that I had everything handed to me on a plate and that I’ve wanted for nothing. All I’d say to that is sit down with me, get to know me, and see what I’m really like.”
As the only son of Mike Sinyard, one of the most successful men in the bike industry, it’s easy to pigeonhole Anthony Sinyard when you first come across him. He’s an American in his early thirties with a slightly cocky demeanour and an assured level of confidence. He rides bikes — what legitimate Sinyard wouldn’t — but often on a garish pink frame that screams ‘look at me.'
“A lot of people assume I live off my dad,” he finally gives up. “That’s really not the case. My dad is a stickler. Even when I was a kid I didn’t get an allowance. People can have a misconception that this guy’s family is rich so therefore I must be spoiled, but that’s so far from the truth, people make their own ideas up about someone but I don’t let that bother me.”
Anthony Sinyard wasn't always interested in riding bikes
Sinyard Junior has set up a brand called Supacaz, which sells bar tape and bar-end plugs. Cycling clothing is in the works. ‘Supacaz,’ meaning super casual, is a nickname Sinyard picked up as a youngster.
"It seems to me that a lot of the accessory and clothing ranges at the moment are pretty basic and they all seem to be mimicking each other," he said. "So if there wasn’t a logo on the clothing you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a lot of the brands. I’m looking to bring in something that’s more vibrant, more aggressive and with a hint of surf and skate in there."
When asked, Sinyard said that his last name has opened doors.
“My background and name does help. There’s no denying that," he said. "I have contacts with all the best suppliers and I know all the prices, so I know what Specialized is paying and that helps immensely. I also have friendships with a lot of these people.”
Sinyard is financing the venture himself and his experience, he believes, will stand him in good stead. He briefly worked for Specialized before moving to Japan to study.
There is nothing understated about the Supacaz colour palette
“I opened up the Taiwan retail offices for Specialized. We opened up three Concept stores on the island. People there are crazy about cycling. I remember when I started there in 1998, Giant sold more bikes there than they did in all of Europe. It’s cooled a bit since then but it’s still a huge bike market.”
“I left that comfortable fit though. I like to travel, I like to race and when I was at Specialized I was working 60 hours a week, weighing a lot more, but now I’m my own boss and it’s different. I still have to be serious, prioritise and work hard but it’s all down to me.”
Ten years ago such a path looked at odds for Mike Sinyard’s son. He was overweight, disillusioned by and lacking any direction. The only time he’d spend on the bike were to appease his father’s desire to see his son healthy and happy.
But a switch flicked in his mid-20s.
“I started racing and riding when I was 26 and only turned pro in 2010," he said. "Everyone assumes that I’ve been into cycling all my life but that wasn’t the case. My dad used to go out and ride 80-mile rides all the time and that was my introduction into cycling. I turned to him and said ‘this sport sucks.' It wasn’t until I got fitter that I got into the sport.”
“When I was a kid I was really overweight," he said. "When I was 17 I was 250 pounds and cycling just wasn’t something I cared for. At all. Going up hills super slow, it wasn’t until I lost weight and started playing other sports that I used the bike as training for hockey. There was pressure from the family to ride, sure. If I wanted new shoes I had to go for a 50-mile bike ride to earn them. If I wanted to take the car it was fine but I had to go on a 100-mile ride. There was pressure but I just wasn’t into it. It’s not that I was a rebel, I was very shy and just wanted always wanted to be out of the limelight but now things are a bit different and I like doing things I want to do. “
Supacaz sells bar-end plugs and handlebar tape, with a clothing line in the works
“But one day my dad coaxed me into entering the Sea Otter Classic and I got a podium place," he said. "I just went from there and moved up the ranks.”
His stint in hockey almost led to a change in nationality. After playing at the collegiate level he moved to Hong Kong to work for a PR firm, brushing up on his now-perfect Mandarin, and where his talent soon saw him playing at a national level in Japan.
“The Japan association wanted me to join the federation and play on their national team and because I didn’t have a degree I wasn’t able to do that," he said. "So I decided to head back to university and get a degree. In the end I didn’t play for them but I got my studies and I got my degree from UC Irvine. I see now that it’s really important to have that with you.”
“The Mandarin comes in handy now. I can go to factories and negotiate with the owners right there and then," he said. "I know what’s going on and I don’t need a translator or any help.”
The future of Sinyard Junior’s brand looks bright.
“One of the reasons I launched my own business is because I want to be my own boss, work on my own time and do what I want to do," he said. "This way I can continue racing at the highest level. I like the fact that I’m doing what I want to do and that I’m breaking this idea that I need to be doing what my dad does and working for him.”
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