No one likes a bully.
That’s a message that’s held true in society as long as there has been a society. The oldest examples of human writing include a list of harmful acts that could be committed by someone and the punishment ascribed to those act.
As the glaciers of the ice age receded from the planet and humans shifted from hunter-gatherering to farming, it became necessary to stop taking things from other humanoids and to start working together. So ingrained is our sense of fairness that infants possess a clear understanding of what is just and what is not.
There is a secondary and related human trait that was probed in depth on a brilliant RadioLab episode but boils down to this: people root for the underdog. It doesn’t matter the context (big company vs. small company, famous artist vs. undiscovered talent, big rock vs. small rock…), people root for the scrappy contender instead of the oppressor.
This is why we all cringe in sympathy with Charlie Brown as he brings back a teeny Christmas tree and gets berated for his stupidity. We all feel like Charlie Brown sometimes. It’s why we all gleefully watch someone kick the ass of a thug trying to knock them out with a single punch and it’s why we get so happy when we see kids dressing like someone they love to keep them from getting picked on.
This is the context into which Specialized stepped last week when the Internet learned of the company’s decision to send a cease and desist letter to bicycle shop owner Dan Richter, and the subsequent rush to support him from every corner of the cycling world.
A’ight, how ‘bout an interlude of sweet bike tricks while we wait for Sinyard to say something and we’re assembling Issue 07 of our Magazine. The theme is #bikewishlists and we’ve got contributions from Matt Haughey and Patrick Brady I think you’re going to love…you can subscribe now and see what we had to say last month about riding in it, like cyclists just did in Bend.
When I wrote this post on Medium, I was mad about quality control in the bike industry and now the Interwebs are fired up about business practices. Recalls, defects, and the biz had me talking all weekend with insiders who also wondered if the aging boomer leadership of this industry is capable of taking it further, like to the next level. As if Burke and Trek’s dealings with Lance and company are and were any less ethical than a trademark battle. Or offshoring manufacturing, gray marketing yourself with mail order, and paint jobs that’d never pass the most lenient EPA inspections in the States. People are mad at Spesh, sure, shake your fists, but welling consumer anger would grow much fiercer if more daylight showed them how bikes are sold worldwide. Remember the sport’s greatest hero is a world-class bully and was funded by a bankster with support from big bike companies.
While editors and ad departments are yelling at each other about running the Spesh story and risking ad dollars, I’ve held the 7th issue of our Magazine to add late-breaking reports on this topic and another about hydro. Expect the Mag later this week.
The reporter from the Calgary Herald who heard about Spesh v. Cafe Roubaix story convinced a reluctant shop owner to tell him about it, updated his report today, and we’re waiting for an email from Spesh with a response.
Heading out for a ride and expect a collective Spartacus, "I AM ROUBAIX" moment by the time we get back.— byron@bikehugger (@bikehugger) December 7, 2013
After noting a Spartacus moment was coming on this, I’ll add the bike industry has not seen anything like it before. This type of reaction is normally reserved for companies like Amazon, Intel, Monsanto, or Walmart.
The good guy in this story is ASI who last night told BRAIN that they own the Roubaix trademark, licensed it to Specialized, and did not permit its use in Canada, and will allow Cafe Roubaix to use it. This maybe why Spesh still hasn’t responded because of legal wrangling over the matter and despite an even angrier mob that’s shaking pitchforks at them.
Like many trademark owners, ASI does not register its trademarks in every country and never tried to register the mark in Canada. ASI only recently learned of Specialized’s registration of the Roubaix trademark in Canada and ASI’s position is that Specialized’s registration of the mark in Canada was inappropriate under the terms of their license agreement. ASI has used the mark in Canada for well over 10 years, giving it first-use trademark rights in Canada.
The Calgary Herald also updated their story with this quote from Richter, the owner of Cafe Roubaix
We have received over 3500 emails, hundreds of phone calls and messages, how many #s and @s? Tweets? Do numbers go that high?” he wrote. “Our little studio is just barely 900 sqft and cycling fans, cyclists, Velomintus, industry leaders & big shots, pro riders, and icons have all made their voice heard. Thank you.
King of the Snotcicle has a Suffer Face
The conditions in Bend this weekend are best described by this photo Matt sent us of a Suffer Face Snotcicle. How cold is it at the Deschutes CX? Too cold for clever catchphrases describing how cold it is.
Mahan, who’s comforting Russie in the photo, pulled me off my bike. He then dragged me to the Redline tent to get warm and a few minutes later handed me a cup of Espresso. In the tent, Tim Rutledge checked on me, made sure I wasn’t hypothermic, and handed me a plastic rain cape. The propane heater steamed the cold and wet perspiration off of my kit and I felt at home.
Back to racing next weekend for us and today it’s riding in the cold with embro’d legs. When Matt gets back to Seattle and warms up, he’ll have a report; including how well Di2 worked, staying upright, and hydraulic fluid clotting.