Hugs and Kisses, The Big S and Cafe Roubaix Make Up

Last week, Specialized found itself in the middle of a proverbial shit storm after their outside lawyers threatened to sue a small LBS owner over the shops name. Hammered from every social media angle imaginable, the company many of you seem to have a love-hate relationship with was oddly silent until today, when they tweeted:

In addition to the tweet, Specialized Founder and CEO Mike Sinyard took a trip over the border to have a heart to heart with Cafe Roubaix owner Dan Richter. It’s been a trying couple of days for both parties involved (and Fuji) but it seems #RoubaixGate is finally coming to an amicable resolution. Hit play to learn more about how the meeting went.


68 thoughts on “Hugs and Kisses, The Big S and Cafe Roubaix Make Up

  1. sinyard doesnt seem like THAT much of a dickhead. We can all go back to looking at picture of cats and hating trek again. god speed

  2. Wait, so finding out that they cannot sue the shop because they don’t own the rights to the name counts as “we found a solution” – nice marketing.

  3. @CXisfun

    I had some issues getting the facebook video to embed. If it’s not working properly on your browser, you should still see a link that takes you to the Cafe Roubaix Facebook page where the video is hosted.

  4. Sinyard back tracked and apologized because the owners of the trademark that he uses forced him to do so. I won’t believe that Sinyard has had any change of heart or has any concern for the small businessman until his company abandons its aggressive legal actions against small businesses.

  5. Baby steps, for sure, but good on ya Sinyard!

    Maybe time for some new outside lawyers. I’ve heard you can still find one with a heart, if you REALLY look hard.

  6. So Sinyard is gonna get a time-machine and apologize to all the people he sent his lawyers after and also stop bullying shops to carry his brand or else.

  7. I didn’t even know what Mike Sinyard looked like until this.

    Video too awkward to watch. I honestly didn’t consider any of this to be any more than tabloid level news.

  8. Was it when Sinyard said ” really I just want to say a big apology and I take full responsibility for this whole thing” that was not much of an apology?

  9. “Weak Apology”??? What more do you guys want? In my opinion this was the real deal and I have a lot of respect for Mike Sinyard for going up there and working things out.

  10. He just trying to smooth things over for the camera rolling, at least until the next PR s**tstorm hits the fan. Mike S. establishes the bullying policy for the lawyers, but he can’t control our opinions on the matter. Show him what you really think when you buy a bike, clothing or accessories.

  11. Not many CEOs have the strength of will to say “I’m sorry, we screwed up.” Very glad to see he came around to doing the right thing. Would have been yet another brand I’d avoid otherwise.

  12. _”Hi, this is Dan Richter of Cafe Roubaix bicycles …(err, uh) bicycle studio”. (blink blink)

    _ Nice of Mike Sinyard to withdraw all claims against the owner seeing as he legally had none, or so we were led to believe from ASI’s statements.

  13. The talk of counterfeit product is completely unrelated, misdirection. Are any of you daft enough to bight? Its silly to think its anything but an attempt to soften their image. There’s no rug big enough to sweep this mess under.

  14. There’s plenty of big companies who don’t sue and don’t hire legal “help” to do so on their part in the first place.

    Maybe Specialized should focus less on legal shenanigans and more on making awesome bieks.

  15. They did the right thing, that apology was fine, especially in person. Sore, it was a PR opportunity as well, to face the issue and make up looking good.

    It was a very modern and fair way to handle the thing. What’s most interesting to me is the weight that the cycling community put on this issue via social media, comments, etc. I have to wonder how things would be if there were no internet.

  16. “Maybe Specialized should focus less on legal shenanigans and more on making awesome bieks.”

    bieks… I like it! Can I trademark that?

  17. without internet, nobody would have known the roubaix shop. neither did specialized. clumsy video, but sinyard did the right thing by heading up there. hope his company (and others!) gets some common sense now in these kind of subjects, and focus on engineering better bikes.

  18. I was sort of expecting Sinyard to give him a concept store or somehow offset the damage he has caused. He also looks in pretty poor health. Interesting time in the world of social media backlash.

  19. Having been an employee for a number of years on the inside (and quit because of BS like this), I have to say this whole ordeal is completely typical of Specialized, and the attitude that is imbued into it’s employees and corporate culture. In the same way they treat employees to react fearfully about keeping their jobs and push them into submission, they place scare tactics against the rest of the industry, regardless of if it’s competition or not.

    Between this, Volagi, and a number of other incidents, I can wholeheartedly say that this sort of culture isn’t going to change until the company implodes. The only reason Mike and their short-leashed lawyers are backing down is because they realized they have no ground to stand on and the negative consumer reaction.

    Sorry Specialized/Sinyard, Your weak attempt at an apology can’t and won’t wash the bitter taste from the public’s mouths.

  20. As I read this I keep thinking of what would have transpired if they were successful in their lawsuit…Just kept on throwing around weight and money.. Total bullsh*t that Specialized is trying to spin this as “working it out” and “finding other options”. The deal is they got called on sh*tty big company actions and now that we have outlets to express our discontent hopefully we’ll read fewer about things like this. I planned on a Stumpjumper this year, think I’ll go for the Niner instead…And just for good measure I’ve stopped saying “Epic” and moved back to saying “BRUTAL”.

  21. So can we expect Sinyard to make a trip to Anchorage next to tell Eric he can change the name of his framebag-making business back to Epic Designs? I doubt it. This doesn’t appear to be a wholesale shift by the big S, just putting out one small fire.

  22. The links provided here in the original article clearly indicated that the trademark pertained specifically to bike related items: frame, handlebars etc, not a shop. There was no case.

    The law, which requires defense of the trademark or lose it, is designed to reduce frivolous use of the tm process. It becomes very expensive to defend a poorly designed tm.

    The legal team representing Specialized will likely have some pink slips, which they richly deserve in this instance.

  23. What a PR nightmare. Good luck Spesh, it used to be that just industry insiders knew that your business model centered around stealing/co-opting others ideas and using your lawyers to beat the little guy into submission. Now it looks like social media has revealed your true colors to the world.

  24. Trek isn’t privy to what’s going on here apparently. I guess they made enough money during the Lance Armstrong years that they don’t have to worry about how tarnished their reputation is as a brand.

    Good on Specialized for sorta making an apology I guess.

  25. No one outside of a handful of nerds who already hated the brand, care about Trek’s relationship to Lance. NO ONE.

    Also, if you think Specialized, or any other bike brand, wouldn’t have given their left nut (pun intended) to sponsor Lance through seven tour victories, you’re just diluting yourself. They didn’t take some moral high-road, they just missed the opportunity. And I have no doubt that, behind the scenes, Sinyard attempted to steal Lance away. He would have been an idiot not to at least try.

  26. @Zap? What does Trek have to do with this story? They are not the ones who didn’t know how to handle a simple trademark dispute with a small business, nevermind ASI owns the trademark and not Spesh. Yeah, Trek sues companies for trademark like Spesh does (Trek Winery, Subaru), but they don’t seem as heavy handed or show up in the press as frequently as Spesh does (Epic, Stumptown, Volagi).

    Every brand in the US made off like bandits during the LA times and LA wasn’t the only one doping. In fact, name me a bicycle brand that hasn’t sponsored a doper. Are you going to say Pinarello’s and Giant’s brand is tarnished bc of Ullrich and Zabel? Or Bianchi’s bc of Pantani? What about Contador?

    Sinyard personally visiting Dan was a good move, but personally I think it was too little too late. Also the “apology” seemed half assed, like it was forced out of him. What does counterfeiting have to do with this anyhow? The wheels? One look and you know they aren’t Spesh wheels!

    I think they realized (a little late) that this was not going away and that it was going to impact the bottomline. Either way, Spesh made the best out of the mess they made.

  27. I had no idea that the world contained so many Trademark/Patent/IP lawyers, and that they all hang out on Bikerumor.

    Armchair upholsterers retreat!

  28. @John V: “bieks… I like it! Can I trademark that?”

    Sorry, no, I made a one word poem, here it is:


    There. Now it is copyright (c) 2013, me. Use it again w/o permission and I’ll sic Mike Sinyard’s lawyers on you.

  29. This has been fun. Last year it was Sam Hill and Aaron Gwin drama from Specialized and this year we get Cafe Roubaix. I can’t wait for next year’s year end drama from Specialized!

  30. @SheepKiller Niner? Talk about a LBS killer. They bootleg niners all over. Your doing the same thing as Specialized was doing to Dan.

  31. Now, I’m sure the logical step would be for some food company to sue him over the use of the term “Cafe”.

    It would be something like that:

    “Dear Mr. Richter,
    It has come to our mind that your shop uses the term “Cafe”, which is a registered trademark of our company under the Absurd Trademark Registeration act. Moreover, our legal department has noted that you are selling wheels under this trademark. This could lead both to a serious infringment of our rights, and a regrettable health damage as people may try to roast their “Cafe” wheels over fire or in a microwave (TM). This could lead to damage, death or worse – horrible taste and a significant damage to the public image or our firm. We therefore require you to stop using “Cafe” immidiately, grind the existing wheels and send the carbon chips to our closest factory for re-use”.

  32. I wish you could see the gun pointed at Dan’s head just off screen. He looks scared to death. That or Special Ed wrote him a HUGE check and said don’t F#@K this up!

  33. People do steal specialized designs. From fake venges and tarmacs and on. Seemed like this was a misunderstanding and Sinyard manned up and apologized. Kudos. Sinyard was probably out riding his bike in the first place when this stuff started happening, which made him late for the ball. Dude has done a lot for the sport, and for designs of bikes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to run a company that size. Maybe the lawyers f’d up. Maybe Sinyard did. Apologizing takes balls. And as a bonus, cafe roubaix has seen more web traffic in the last week than they would have all year had this not happened. I bet the owner can’t believe his good fortune once it’s all said and done.

    Let’s go ride bikes now.

  34. The awkwardness of this conversation goes toward how genuine the apology is: No script written out by the Public Relations group, no take after take to make everything “look” perfect.

    Good on Mike to not rely on the PR group’s presentation and take the reins of the apology my himself.

  35. Dear Specialized,
    May I use the term Epic to describe my ride? Please list acceptable work that Specialize will allow the Cycling community to use.


  36. “You know Dan, let bygones be bygones. In fact, we’re going to shudder our Legal department because, as we all know, the bicycle industry is a big kumbaya fest, where everyone gathers ’round the campfires, drinks IPAs, and donates all they make to charity. We’re not like every other business enterprise in the world. Let the Apples and Googles and Samsungs sue each other. I should have never patented FSR or Brain or anything else, and just relied on handshakes from competitors, and their word, that they wouldn’t borrow our technology. In fact, all of our engineers have been asked to work for free, because, you know, we’re in the bicycle industry, which people expect to act in ways different than any other industry in the world. I see douches with iPhones who could care less that Apple pumps out 100 C&D letter per hour; I see jackasses driving Fords who could care less that they put hundreds of small vendors out of business every year simply because their custom suspension swing arms resembles the ones on the new-defunct Fiesta. But no, I compete, like everyone else, got out of the gate just like everyone else, but we all should just hug, delete our patent portfolio, and go for a ride. I am going to ask Trek, Cannondale, Giant, and all other bicycle companies that made more than $1 last year to surrender their legal departments. Because that’s what everyone wants. Because we’re the bicycle industry. And I am the only one who acts in this predatory manner. The ONLY ONE. Now give me a hug, you big Canadian lug…”

  37. I wonder what would happen if Fuji revoked Specialized’s use of the Roubaix trademark, hmmm…
    The only reason this guy didn’t get annihilated is because he was very lucky that “the internets” picked up on it. Phew!

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