From Café To Roubaix

Frank's favorite-ever wheels, the Café Roubaix Arenbergs.
Frank’s favorite-ever wheels, the Café Roubaix Arenbergs.

Assuming you ride somewhere outside the borders of Antarctica, you have likely already heard about the injustice being imposed on our friend and fellow Velominatus, Dan Richter who goes around these parts as @Dan_R.

I’ve been riding Dan’s wheels for a bit over a year, and they are the best I’ve ever had. After hearing about the suit a few months back, I was proud to help him brainstorm some ways he might be able to salvage his brand or come up with a new one while admitting the court battle was out of reach.

But when the article broke in the Calgary Herald this weekend, all hell broke loose. It goes without saying the pride I feel whenever our community here at Velominati comes together for a good cause, but what went on over the last 48 hours was an unbelievable coming-together of not just us, but the Cycling community as a whole. Regardless of the final result, this past weekend made me proud to call myself a Cyclist more than ever, for we proved we not only love riding our bikes, but that we as a worldwide community have each other’s collective backs.

I had an article planned for today, one taking the piss out of ourselves and everyone else as we usually do. But it just didn’t feel right. Instead, I thought we’d post the Packfiller podcast from Bulger Media. This is my fourth time on the show, but this time Patrick (@packfiller) was able to get Dan on the call with us. It was fantastic to hear Dan still has his sense of humor and it was a pleasure share a good laugh with him.

Here’s hoping Specialized comes to their senses, observes Rule #43, and drops the suit. If not, we’ll stand in solidarity, never buying another Specialized product again. The good news is that either way, Dan will rebuild his brand and his shop will live on, stronger than ever. (Insert Shakespeare quote about names here.)

Its a long listen, but we cover the important Café Roubaix stuff early on. Enjoy. And Vive La Vie Velominatus.

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153 Replies to “From Café To Roubaix”

  1. placed an order over the weekend for clothing. Waiting to hear back on a 38 wheel set. Going to need stickers for the new wheels. Thanks for posting as I would not have known. G

  2. @Dan_R @Frank         Under my disclaimer that I am not a lawyer and per my post elsewhere (and based on having registered a trademark myself for my business).  A TradeMark is registered in a category by line of business and subcategory, someone else looked up the registration for Roubaix in Canada and it was under the category of “bikes and bike components”.  On this basis I can’t see any validity for a claim against the name of your business but only against that name on the wheels.  So if Cafe Roubaix and your logo was registered as a TradeMark within a suitable retail category your business name would be protected – though the timeline of doing it would potentially be an issue and whether the registration was challenged. Registering a trademark is not expensive and the devil in me would try to register it if I was in your shoes.  Roubaix is such a common word that I’d have thought that you could claim Cafe Roubaix as unique usage in your marketplace category.

    So to me the only issue really is the wheels where maybe they could claim confusion.  As their argument seems pretty tenuous then naming the wheel something else and adding “Made By” and your logo would (to me) make it clear there was no linkage to naming a “bicycle component” against their trademark.

    Would need a lawyer involved in TradeMarks to tell if I am correct and I can’t comment on whether what applies in the UK would apply in Canada.

  3. In fact the devil in me is such that I’m tempted to see if I can register it in the UK.  Maybe we should try to register Cafe Roubaix in every country where the community has presence (leaving Canada to @Dan_R of course.  If nothing that would cause them a headache.  I must look up what my TradeMark cost me.

  4. Aren’t they pulling some similar bullshit on a bike builder who has “stump…” in his bikes name?

    perhaps the city of Roubaix should sue Specialized

  5. It’s always a good feeling when a community pulls together. I am at the point that I don’t care how Specialized takes care of this issue. I will still not purchase any of their products. This is just another fine example of how they do not understand the cycling community or the spirit of cycling.

  6. @DCR

    It’s always a good feeling when a community pulls together. I am at the point that I don’t care how Specialized takes care of this issue. I will still not purchase any of their products. This is just another fine example of how they do not understand the cycling community or the spirit of cycling.

    They had progressively lost their cachet for me over the last few years and this is the final straw.  Just sorry that my favourite LBS has them as the main brand but they do my favourite Italian road brand (Pinarello) so I am OK there and have other options for my next MTB leaning towards a Fondriest/Torpado hardtail.

  7. @frank @Dan_R you guys come across so well in that interview.  Here’s hoping it stirs even greater support that bolsters your will, Dan.

  8. Wow…all this from what started as post in my local paper.  It has been unbelievable to watch the support pour in from all corners of the globe.  Greg Lemond reached out, Alex Steida is tweeting, Defeet has offered support.  Almost every cycling website, blog, and countless LBS’s have gotten behind Cafe Roubaix.  The war cry of Roubaix reaches from twitter handles to old school letter writing campaigns and it shows no sign of slowing down.  I sure hope the silence today by both parties is that they are coming to an amicable agreement.  It would be nice to know that Sinyard and co. finally learn something from this so we don’t see anymore issues like Mountain Cycles, Epic Wheel Works, and Cafe Roubaix.

  9. Fascinating podcast, and really brought home how vile Specialized lawyers have been. That Dan, he’s definitely Canadian.

  10. I refuse to buy Specialized product.

    Except for their saddles. Sigh. Can’t live without my Toupe, regrettably.

  11. So I started working at a bike shop back in the late ’80s and we sold the usual, Trek, Specialized, etc.  When I found out that Specialized didn’t really “make” anything that it was all just subbed out and branded for them I thought “Well what the hell kind of company is that?”  Since then I’ve never really been a big Specialized fan.  But I have the problem that it seems that Specialized shoes are the only ones that don’t give my feet issues so I own some S-Works road shoes, Defrosters for the CX season, Stumpys for the podium and a couple other pairs that fall in-between those.  I own an S-works helmet too.  It seems that my feet have conspired against me to force my hand as far as my dislike for the Big S goes.  However, when it came to buying a new bike a couple of years ago I drew a line in the sand.  As much as my LBS (which sponsored the team I raced for) tried to jam an S-Works Tarmac SL4 down my throat I held firm.  I was not going to ride around on the same bike that everybody in southeast Idaho and northeast Utah was on and I purchased a LOOK 586.

    I know a few things about how Specialized works (as compared to others like Trek).  The guy that got me my first jog at a bike shop in Portland now works for Trek in Waterloo.  He says that it is a great family company to work for and that they are all about the bike.  Likewise, I have a friend that while he doesn’t work for Specialized he has attended their training classes and stuff and he said that a Specialized employee told him (when queried about the palpable workplace stress down at Morgan Hill) “Around here we operate on the ‘3M’ principle – Make Mike Money”.

    So all that is to say that regardless of whether or not they sort things out with Dan they will never get another dime from me.

    Keep up the faith, Dan.  The cycling community does, indeed, have your back.

  12. Thanks for the post, Frank, and thanks for the listen everyone. Things just seemed to work out right after finding out about Dan’s situation from this very site. Hope the attention changes some minds, and puts some more LBS’ in the right light.

  13. There are some thoughts on the interwebz about whether this thing is some sort of an advertising campaign of Specialized. Seems legit, but Specialized has also gained many enemies and lost many friends, including hardcore Specialized fanboys.

    The best case now is Specialized wins in court and gets some compensation money(will they?), and maybe a few tens of people who have coincidentally read about the story and leaving with the big S flashing in their mind. In return, they lost a huge chunk of reputation and united many cyclists against themselves.

    I can’t see how Specialized is going to benefit in any way from this.
    You just kicked your own butt, Spesh.

  14. @Cyclops I’ve been meaning to buy one for a few months now, just never got around to it.  I just visited Dan’s online store, and I’ll be damned that they’re sold out.

  15. @Teocalli Like yours, my LBS carries Specialized as their primary brand plus Pinarello. After the events of this weekend and your endorsment, I’m liking my new Pinarello even more today.

    Too much other stuff available to need to buy Specialized ever again.

  16. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  They’ve only gone and ripped of the Molteni team colours.  They’ll be done around here now.

  17. Damn it….Specialized was supposed to be crossed out…..Needless to say, they will not be getting any of my money now, or into the future.

  18. Just bought a pair of Dan’s T-Shirts – get ’em while they’re hot.  Looks like the jerseys are out of stock – this would be a good time for him to line up a seriously huge pre-order.  I’m good for one.  And I’m sure as fuck good for never buying Specialized again.

    Vive La Vie Velominatus.

  19. The extent of my S-equipped gear is the water bottle cage and saddle on my mountain bike. Since I have been planning to swap the saddle for a Fizik anyway it looks like I may have to up my schedule on making it happen.

    I feel bad for those around here who roll on the big S. Until this dies down there’ll be some sheepish folks out there on the tarmac.

  20. No more Specialized for me, have a carbon stumpjumper but would sell it if you want it!! Maybe we should all start a CAFE ROUBAIX in our home towns. Franchise opportunity?

  21. Oh, wait, I forgot to add this: it would appear to me, from the recent actions of the corporation of which he is founder and chairman, that Mike Sinyard might conceivably suck donkey dicks. This is only my opinion and in no way expresses the point of view of or any other entity that may or may not have ever been reported as a terrorist organization.

  22. This is only making me like Canadians (but not Canadiens) more, which is a challenge, as I feel the general mindset and energy of our cousins to the north suit me better than that of Americans. Lacrosse, hockey, cold weather…

    Anyway, good luck Dan and definitely hope this has a good resolution.

    Why those corporate titans care about a cycling shop above an ice cream shop in western Canada is beyond me. Weekend warriors will continue to buy their stuff, and that should be all that matters to them.

    Now I wait for the video of Boonen burning his frameset in a showing of solidarity!

  23. @RoubaixInTwoYears

    Oh, wait, I forgot to add this: it would appear to me, from the recent actions of the corporation of which he is founder and chairman, that Mike Sinyard might conceivably suck donkey dicks. This is only my opinion and in no way expresses the point of view of or any other entity that may or may not have ever been reported as a terrorist organization.

    Nipple lube!

  24. Always thought the Roubaix was shite…but now I find out that shite is the “S” in S-works. Take’em down Dan!

  25. I ordered a women’s medium T this afternoon – still in stock! So even if you can’t have one for yourself, treat your VMH and show your support!!

  26. I’d love to know if the board of aware of this or it’s just their law firm forfilling it’s breif (poorly) and if they are aware of the damage it’s doing to their brand name. If they do know, I’d like to know WTF were they thinking!

  27. Sounds like Spesh likes spending time in court.  In 2011 they sued a one-woman wheel building shop in Oregon (hope Dan has contacted her).  This Sinyard sound like a real Douche!

  28. @DerHoggz

    @The Pressure

    (BTW) she lost.

    I think it was more a case of not being able to do anything against the oversized bully, not quite losing.

    This. She never fought. (No criticism implied, whatsoever.)

  29. @sthilzy ha, pick the Aussies doing some worktime web browsing. Was about to come & post the exact same thing…

  30. Wow. So the corporation from which Douchealized licensed the name in the first place told us all that Douchealized had no business fucking with Dan in the first place, and that they can make that stick with Douchealized? Is that what I’m supposed to understand?

  31. Looks like I picked the wrong week to go internet free.  I completely missed all the buzz.  Go, Dan!  Way to represent, Velominati!

  32. Nice if @Dan_R doesn’t have to worry about The Company to no longer be named, but still ridiculous that ASI or anyone else can trademark Roubaix.

    Talk about first use rights, you’d think the French might have some claim.

    Not that I’d want the rights for every cycling associated use of the title would need approval from Amaury Sport Organisation.

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