A pair of Café Roubaix Arenburgs, with the original "Richter" branding.

The Legend of @Dan_R and Café Roubaix

The Legend of @Dan_R and Café Roubaix

by / / 88 posts

Although he was already an active community member, I began my friendship with Dan Richter in early 2012 after he reached out to me regarding some wheels he wanted us to take along on Keepers Tour: Cobbled Classics 2012. At the time, he was an amateur wheel builder making some money on the side selling his wheels on eBay. Like many of us in this community, his heart tends toward the classics and the roughest roads around, and the wheels he was focussed on were largely classic wheels designed for rough riding.

Having read that I had built myself some wheels (three times, before I got it right) for the trip, and he wanted to see if his wheels would be able to withstand the torture of the cobbles of Northern Europe. We chatted about it, but the project never came to life as the wheels were damaged in an accident just before he was due to ship them off to me; with no time left to rebuild them, I left for France without a set of his wheels in my luggage.

But we kept up our communication and by the time I got back from the trip, he’s made up his mind to open a bicycle studio in Cochrane, Alberta, named Café Roubaix Bicycle Studio in homage to the greatest and toughest race in the world, Paris-Roubaix. I love seeing friends take a chance on starting a business, not to mention one built around Cycling; I was overjoyed at hearing the news and immediately offered any assistance we might be able to provide via our humble little community.

Fast forward a few months to November 2012 and delivery to my house of a set of Richter-branded carbon tubular wheels laced in a 3x pattern with bladed spokes; quite simply the most stunning wheels I’d ever laid eyes on, and shockingly light. With their lacing pattern, they were designed for Cyclocross but had an obvious use as wheels for the cobbles as well. I raced them the rest of the season before having an issue with one of the hubs. Dan quickly crossed that supplier of his list and sent me a replacement pair of wheels, this time co-branded with Velominati. These wheels were bullet-proof and carried me down the trench of Arenberg and every other cobbled road we hit during our 9-day trip.

In the meantime, I’d also commissioned a prototype climbing wheelset from him for my third attempt at not sucking on Haleakala. I still sucked, but I sucked a little less because the wheels were so insanely light and stiff; Dan immediately dubbed them the Haleakalas and offered them for sale as a standard wheelset through his studio.

But there was a nagging bit of feedback I kept getting from people who saw me out on the wheels, “Hey, how do you like those Ritchey wheels?” They’re not Ritcheys, they are Ricthers; read, you dumbass. (As I’ve said before, my natural charm has made me a good sprinter.) I brought the feedback that there might be some brand confusion to Dan over coffee one afternoon when he happened to pass through Seattle; after some brainstorming he decided to brand them after his shop’s fantastic name.

Every man needs a partner, a tailor, a wheelbuider and I’m proud Dan has been my official wheelbuilder for a few years now; his wheels are the best I’ve ever ridden and I’m grumpy any time I have to ride other wheels. It was only natural, then, that this past summer, we started working on an exciting project to co-brand a premium bespoke wheelset which would be available for sale to the public. KRX-10, Velominati’s trusty Graphic Designer, produced the most stunning design imaginable, before all our plans evaporated when Specialized sent the cease and desist letter. Velominati offered to publicize the matter, but Dan – the good guy that he is – decided to keep quiet and work it out between his lawyer and Specialized while laying plans to rebuild his brand from the ground up. It broke my heart to see his dream fall in shambles around him, but he always seemed to keep a good attitude and had confidence he would get back on his feet. He set about enlisting friends to brainstorm new names, and before long he was on his way to a fresh start.

Dan never asked for the outpouring from the Cycling community; he just gave an interview to a reporter who stopped by his shop and figured that was that. But within hours of its publication, the Cycling world went mad, launching into the biggest social media campaign I’ve ever seen around Cycling and one which Velominati were very proud to play some small part in. With the outpouring came the dropping of the lawsuit and, thanks to all of you in the community – not just here but in the Cycling world at large – Dan now has permission to continue using “Roubaix” in his shop name (although I’m not sure he can still use it on the wheels, we’ll have to ask him now how that works out legally.)

These past days, I have been more proud than ever to call myself a Cyclist, and I was just a bystander on the periphery of this amazing event – I can’t imagine how Dan feels. On behalf of all of us, we can not express our happiness and relief that this has worked out for a fellow Velominatus.

Vive La Vie Velominatus was ever thus.

// Accessories and Gear // Awesome Canadian Guys // Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus // Nostalgia

  1. Somehow, heartfelt apologies lose a little steam when given only after being backed into a corner.

    Was going to spring for a Speci Crux today, but this debacle gave me a great excuse to pick up a Ridley X-Night instead.

  2. Hey guys. Thanks for a good read. @Frank for telling about his involvement with my little wheel project and our studio, well written as always.

    No matter what people say about you lot, you are classy. (Am I allowed to do fart jokes again?)

  3. @Dan_R Very glad the forces of light have prevailed.  I don’t know if we are classy, but if we are, you partake of that class and if we aren’t, you still are.  Kudos.

  4. I knew the Velominati had a role to play in this but geesh. Well done for sticking by Dan mate. Keepers Of The Brotherhood seems more fitting atm.

    Two f***ing thumbs up!

  5. @wiscot

    @sthilzy

    I think Mike had his T-shirt on backwards for the interview!

    No offence sthilzy, that’s a fine effort but maybe Cyclops can work some of his photoshop magic and make it look real that MS is wearing a Café Roubaix t-shirt. I mean, if he can make it look like Frank is beating Spartacus at Flanders, he can do this. What say you, Cyclops?

    no offence taken. I did it with MS Paint just for S&G’s. But it turned out real! Happy it all turned out for the best. Mind you on delivery today in work ute via Melbourne’s iconic Beach Road, every bike I saw was a bid S. even this evenings ride with my 8 & 4 year old Pedalwans three  riders had to pass us either way, big S. Maybe just blinkered vision. I’m not dissing S owners, trust they still enjoy their rides. Just the way they went in full ball instead of a little tap on the shoulder for a win-win outcome. Including past and present dudes hit with the full force of the white collar litigation S crew. Cycling is the business first, main reason why anyone with love of the sport starts up in the first place, Mike included, then the main reason is blurred by greed.

  6. @brett

    over before it began! has the Velominati set a precedent?

    http://road.cc/content/news/101165-specialized-drops-new-trademark-case-against-clothing-firm-epix

     

  7. A few things:

    1. Stop hating on Mike S. His company did a shitty thing. But he accepted responsibility. He didn’t duck it – he just explained it. The explanation is plausible – Spesh will have a bunch of lawyers  charged with protecting trademarks, and the CEO shouldn’t know about every letter they send.  He wouldn’t be doing his job right if he did. Of course  he only acted when  it blew up. But at least he acted. Compare that with how many Wall St captains of industry complicit in blowing up the financial world and causing endless misery for untold numbers of people who didn’t front. Mike comes out of that comparison ok. Even if  he needed to do it to prevent more damage, he did it. (If you want to use it as an excuse to bash capitalism, go right ahead – but hand back your carbon fibre frame, your smartphone, your microwave and pretty much everything else you take for granted which you only have beause someone invented it because they had a financial incentive to do so.)

    2. Sometimes I am ashamed to be a lawyer.

    3. Big ups to Dan R. Though Mike and Spesh come out ok, you come out uber-ok. The little guy always wins the popularity contest in the confrontations with the corporate, but even taking that into account you are all class Dan R.

    4. Been absent for a while. Gently chastised tonight by Brett, Rigid and Bianchi Denti for that absence. Made a mental note to check back in once kids were in bed. Perfect timing. A great story to come back to, and a reminder of why, even when you check out, you can never leave. It’s articles like this that make this site and this community what they are.

    5. Please don’t make me sell my Stumpy.

  8. @G’phant but you are only a New Zealand lawyer, so that doesn’t really count now, does it ?

  9. @Souleur

    @frank

    @Gianni

    @sthilzy

    That would have been a classy move to wear a Café Roubaix T for the video.

    I wonder what happened over the weekend at Big S.

    A phone call is not good enough? I have to go to f’ing Calgary to undo the mess you lawyers got us into? I have to have breakfast with this guy and shoot a mea culpa video too? Oh I can’t believe this. Damn it, when I get back I’m going to start firing some of you dicks.

    Based on my inside knowledge of Corporate America, this is verbatim what happened, except swap “dicks” for “fucking fuck fucks”.

    I too read Mike Sinyards comments, and my little me just cannot fathom some of what he said. I really appreciated his consideration to ‘fly in’ and ‘break bread’, and as I would mutually appreciate, there is nothing that solves differences quicker than a common meal. Nonetheless, then MS drivvled about ‘not knowing’ and making excuses, which either you man up and accept the guilty verdict, or you don’t. Don’t offer excuses, and having a team of lawyers that monitor all over the world…your trademarks are one thing, but for them to act exclusive on your behalf on something like this is unbelievable…literally. I mean, are you do distant from the business that you entrust lawyers to act exclusive on you part, I just don’t understand that. If your so busy, that you fall into this <1%'rs, what the hell do you care about a one man shop in Canada?? sorry, but the lawyers must be doing all kinds of things then unbeknownst to MS and specialized, if not, why not? But to find out yourself as the chief, after a bike ride, over the weekend, like everyone else…..hmm. That process is broken, to put it nicely.

    and MS went on mention feeling sorry for a poor chap who crashed one of 'their' bikes, to find it wasn't theirs but a hack, still yet what the hell does that have to do with DanR & his Cafe Roubaix.??? Nothing. just man it up, eat shit for a while, be remorseful and do something cool and leave it at that, thats what most us guys would have done. We don't make excuses, when we suck, we suck. It does look corporate, polished with excuses otherwise, damage control and dare i say 'Tm' control??? I was disappointed in that, but I will also say, DanR did himself right and should be proud! Chapeau

    To be realistic, in these big orgs there is no way he’d know what is going on. I manage a team of about 250 people and there is now way I know what they are doing all the time; I have a few direct reports (about 12, which is too many) and I only really find out about what they’re doing and what they trickle up to me – and the shit the blows up and everyone knows about.

    I’m sure he has a similar structure in place. But what he would know about is the instructions he gave to his direct reports which say something like – and I’m guessing here – “enforce our trademarks even when it means fucking the little guys.”

    I’m sure he didn’t know about this case and his lawyers were running after a bone and the levels of management between them and him insulated him from the details until it got really fucking hairy.

    So I believe he was unaware and the apology was genuine. But he is responsible for the policy and unless he now changes the policy, other similar cases will keep popping up. Sounds like there are some others floating around as well so this is not an isolated case.

  10. @sthilzy

    @brett

    over before it began! has the Velominati set a precedent?

    http://road.cc/content/news/101165-specialized-drops-new-trademark-case-against-clothing-firm-epix

    Good news! Glad to hear MS is taking ownership of the debacle. Sure, I have no doubt Specialized are being ripped off, but it’s not by Dan or EPIX. Maybe Michael Best and Friedrich need to do a bit more homework in the future or would that cut down on billable hours if they realize they can’t send letters to all and sundry?

  11. Unlike @Frank and @Gphant I have been self employed my whole career (missed a corporate job 4 years back cause I spent the night before the interview partying with Frank…) so I have no inside knowledge of the dynamics/politics within such a behemoth. None the less, although it is tempting to generalize and condem Spech and MS  unless some work there or know the man personally we can only judge the superficialities not the corporate structure or the man.

    I agree with @Frank & @Gphant, they made a mistake and made it right so give them credit. If you still want to hate  the corporation that’s a separate conversation I love to have but in the mean time for the little I have paid attention to Spech and the one pair of shoes I own  they seem to be a pretty good company…

    As a sole proprietor, like Dan I am glad it’s over and that it, ironically, has put him on the map in a whole new way! I mean did any of you below the 49th know where he was before this?

  12. @wiscot

    @sthilzy

    @brett

    over before it began! has the Velominati set a precedent?

    http://road.cc/content/news/101165-specialized-drops-new-trademark-case-against-clothing-firm-epix

    Good news! Glad to hear MS is taking ownership of the debacle. Sure, I have no doubt Specialized are being ripped off, but it’s not by Dan or EPIX. Maybe Michael Best and Friedrich need to do a bit more homework in the future or would that cut down on billable hours if they realize they can’t send letters to all and sundry?

    The letter from Mike on FB is promising. I am starting to think I might be back in the market for that Evade helmet, if they ever come available!

    @Rob

    Unlike @Frank and @Gphant I have been self employed my whole career (missed a corporate job 4 years back cause I spent the night before the interview partying with Frank…) so I have no inside knowledge of the dynamics/politics within such a behemoth. None the less, although it is tempting to generalize and condem Spech and MS unless some work there or know the man personally we can only judge the superficialities not the corporate structure or the man.

    I agree with @Frank & @Gphant, they made a mistake and made it right so give them credit. If you still want to hate the corporation that’s a separate conversation I love to have but in the mean time for the little I have paid attention to Spech and the one pair of shoes I own they seem to be a pretty good company…

    As a sole proprietor, like Dan I am glad it’s over and that it, ironically, has put him on the map in a whole new way! I mean did any of you below the 49th know where he was before this?

    Well said. Dan is the big winner, and Spesh did the right thing in the end, even if they were slow to respond. Really still wish Mike had come clean before Fuji gave them a swirly, but at least they did right in the end. 

  13. @Rob I agree on most points. I went through and read the comments and the response from MS last night. While I am inclined to have more respect for Spec. I think it will take some time to get the bitter taste out of most peoples mouths. While the success on Dan R’s side of things leaves me with an overall positive feeling, I do wish this had seen the light of day and reached the same level of recognition with the previous shops threatened by the big S. I still feel bad for the previous brands marred by this aggressive attack by Spec. I hope this new outlook and awareness from specialized will rule out further threats.

    Again Congrats Dan R! If I ever find myself in the area I will be sure to drop by. And if I need a new wheelset in the future I will be sure to contact you.

  14. @frank

    @wiscot

    @sthilzy

    @brett

    over before it began! has the Velominati set a precedent?

    http://road.cc/content/news/101165-specialized-drops-new-trademark-case-against-clothing-firm-epix

    Good news! Glad to hear MS is taking ownership of the debacle. Sure, I have no doubt Specialized are being ripped off, but it’s not by Dan or EPIX. Maybe Michael Best and Friedrich need to do a bit more homework in the future or would that cut down on billable hours if they realize they can’t send letters to all and sundry?

    The letter from Mike on FB is promising. I am starting to think I might be back in the market for that Evade helmet, if they ever come available!

    @Rob

    Unlike @Frank and @Gphant I have been self employed my whole career (missed a corporate job 4 years back cause I spent the night before the interview partying with Frank…) so I have no inside knowledge of the dynamics/politics within such a behemoth. None the less, although it is tempting to generalize and condem Spech and MS unless some work there or know the man personally we can only judge the superficialities not the corporate structure or the man.

    I agree with @Frank & @Gphant, they made a mistake and made it right so give them credit. If you still want to hate the corporation that’s a separate conversation I love to have but in the mean time for the little I have paid attention to Spech and the one pair of shoes I own they seem to be a pretty good company…

    As a sole proprietor, like Dan I am glad it’s over and that it, ironically, has put him on the map in a whole new way! I mean did any of you below the 49th know where he was before this?

    Well said. Dan is the big winner, and Spesh did the right thing in the end, even if they were slow to respond. Really still wish Mike had come clean before Fuji gave them a swirly, but at least they did right in the end.

    Yes, I would love to have heard that phone call from Fuji to M. S.!

    “Herro Mike, we are detecting a sright probrem over here and we thought it would be good if you might possibry want to try seppuku, neh?”*

    “Uhhnn? Oh, ya, right that thing?? Well maybe that would be too much blood for our market, you know they have become such girls? How about I go get a dog team and sled up there and metaphorically fall on my sword??”

    *apologies for seeming latent racism, just trying to get a cultural skew on the global village of corporate world domination… Also apologies to girls, who are truly tough as nails and are not afraid of a little blood and given the same situation would not hesitate….

  15. @frank

    @Souleur

    @frank

    @Gianni

    @sthilzy

    That would have been a classy move to wear a Café Roubaix T for the video.

    I wonder what happened over the weekend at Big S.

    A phone call is not good enough? I have to go to f’ing Calgary to undo the mess you lawyers got us into? I have to have breakfast with this guy and shoot a mea culpa video too? Oh I can’t believe this. Damn it, when I get back I’m going to start firing some of you dicks.

    Based on my inside knowledge of Corporate America, this is verbatim what happened, except swap “dicks” for “fucking fuck fucks”.

    I too read Mike Sinyards comments, and my little me just cannot fathom some of what he said. I really appreciated his consideration to ‘fly in’ and ‘break bread’, and as I would mutually appreciate, there is nothing that solves differences quicker than a common meal. Nonetheless, then MS drivvled about ‘not knowing’ and making excuses, which either you man up and accept the guilty verdict, or you don’t. Don’t offer excuses, and having a team of lawyers that monitor all over the world…your trademarks are one thing, but for them to act exclusive on your behalf on something like this is unbelievable…literally. I mean, are you do distant from the business that you entrust lawyers to act exclusive on you part, I just don’t understand that. If your so busy, that you fall into this <1%'rs, what the hell do you care about a one man shop in Canada?? sorry, but the lawyers must be doing all kinds of things then unbeknownst to MS and specialized, if not, why not? But to find out yourself as the chief, after a bike ride, over the weekend, like everyone else…..hmm. That process is broken, to put it nicely.

    and MS went on mention feeling sorry for a poor chap who crashed one of 'their' bikes, to find it wasn't theirs but a hack, still yet what the hell does that have to do with DanR & his Cafe Roubaix.??? Nothing. just man it up, eat shit for a while, be remorseful and do something cool and leave it at that, thats what most us guys would have done. We don't make excuses, when we suck, we suck. It does look corporate, polished with excuses otherwise, damage control and dare i say 'Tm' control??? I was disappointed in that, but I will also say, DanR did himself right and should be proud! Chapeau

    To be realistic, in these big orgs there is no way he’d know what is going on. I manage a team of about 250 people and there is now way I know what they are doing all the time; I have a few direct reports (about 12, which is too many) and I only really find out about what they’re doing and what they trickle up to me – and the shit the blows up and everyone knows about.

    I’m sure he has a similar structure in place. But what he would know about is the instructions he gave to his direct reports which say something like – and I’m guessing here – “enforce our trademarks even when it means fucking the little guys.”

    I’m sure he didn’t know about this case and his lawyers were running after a bone and the levels of management between them and him insulated him from the details until it got really fucking hairy.

    So I believe he was unaware and the apology was genuine. But he is responsible for the policy and unless he now changes the policy, other similar cases will keep popping up. Sounds like there are some others floating around as well so this is not an isolated case.

    your quite fair in that Frank, its just like I said, in my little mind, its hard to wrap myself around the things that don’t make it up to the top.  I have been on a local school board, I too have ~45 people i am directly over in a role, and granted, the work is quite different, but part of the management I find is communication.  Communication is an art, and management even the more.  I am not corporate, so it is different, but there is no f@$^in way I would be told in retrospect of  something of this nature, even with prior directions..I would have prefaced it with at least a weekly/montly/periodic discussion..somehow, someway.   But thats me, and my small mind, in a little world.  Apples…and….like douchbag comparisons apparently.

    Perhaps, I am simply very glad I look at things the way I do.  You just don’t know what you don’t know, and in this case, the way things are ‘commonly’ done is something I don’t know, and thats not a bad thing.

  16. I understand why some people think it’s “too little, too late”. But the eternal optimist in my likes to think that we all make mistakes, and it’s how you handle them and what you doing going forward that defines who you really are.

    I stopped by the Spec FB page a bit ago, and the comments under the letter of apology aren’t being removed. Some pretty negative ones. So they are allowing a public beating to continue.

    They backed off the Epix company too. Hopefully this lesson learned will be good for Spech and the cycling community at large.

    Totally stoked for Dan and proud to be part of the VM community!

  17. @scaler911

    They backed off the Epix company too. 

    That’s good to hear.  I’m willing to give Specialized the benefit of the doubt that perhaps the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing or at least how the left hand was going about doing it.  I still won’t buy any of their products though, just because I’ve had so many issues with the ones I own (I don’t own any of their bikes though, and I admit their purist bottles are pretty darn nice).

  18. @scaler911

    Agreed.

    I’ve been watching all of this unfold from the sidelines. It’s been pretty painful for all involved, I’m certain. It is quite an amazing thing these interwebs When they use their powers for good instead of evil. (If it weren’t for you meddling kids…)

    From my seat in the peanut gallery, both Dan and Mike Sinyard have come thorough this looking like decent people when they could be forgiven for acting otherwise ( well, Dan anyhow).

    Most exciting though is seeing @G’phant ‘ s glorious return. What’s next; @Jeff in PetroMetro?, @Oli Brook-White?

  19. To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.

  20. @eightzero

    Why are you quoting Montgomery Burns?

  21. class acts on both ends.  Mr. Specialized has contracted lawyers to protect his company’s IP.  They got a bit carried away, and he called them off and apologized.  A bit awkwardly, but if you’ve ever had to eat crow, it does not go down easy.

  22. @eightzero

    To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee. For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.

    I like the analogy: Specialized as Moby Dick, Dan R as Ahab. The only thing is, Ahab was a bit crazy and monomaniacal so it makes sense for the roles to be reversed and Sinyard become Ahab.. After all, in the end, Ahab dies while Moby lives.

    I liken Dan to Ishmael – he just wants to do him job and get on with everyone.

    As Queequeg didn’t say, “Better to ride a real Trek than a pirated Specialized.”

  23. “I began my friendship with Dan Richter in early 2012″

    “Dan has been my official wheelbuilder for a few years now”

    erm…it’s 2013 now.  so…seems like only a year and some change, no?  maybe some proofreading is in order before posting?

  24. Thought the Velominati might like this article in light of the recent Specialized-Roubaix debacle.  http://www.businessinsider.com/exit-6-pub-answers-starbucks-legal-demands-with-f-words-2013-12#!

    Maybe a cogal should stop here for some recovery ales!

  25. Looks like Specialized weren’t content with trying to appropriate the Roubaix name, this time they’ve annexed all of the Spring Classics.

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