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Rolf and Trek: What happened?(7 posts)

Rolf and Trek: What happened?NeedSpeed
Aug 7, 2001 2:06 AM
Does anyone know what happened between Rolf and Trek? I talked to my LBS owner who said that Trek had a contract with Rolf for the design of his wheelsets. Apparently, he wanted to change the distribution deal and Trek just copied the Vector Comp design under its Bontrager label. Plus, Shimano makes a similar style to the Vector Pros, but with reversed nipples.

Anyone know what's up? Rolf's site even forwards to Trek's.
re: Rolf and Trek: What happened?Mel Erickson
Aug 7, 2001 6:39 AM
As I understand it Rolf had an agreement to produce wheelsets for Trek. Trek decided to bring the operation in house under Bontrager and withdrew from their arrangement with Rolf. Because of Rolf's patent on the paired spoke design they could not copy the design and produce the same product themselves. They changed the design slightly, moving the paired spokes slightly apart (enough to avoid patent infringement), and will produce them under the Bontrager label. Whether Rolf will continue as a company is a good question.
Rolf problemsDog
Aug 7, 2001 7:04 AM
Everyone single person I've known personally using Rolf wheels has had problems with them. Creaking, going way out of true, breaking spokes... (I know there must be many people who have not had problems, too, but nonetheless I think too many people have had problems). This is speculation, but the quality control issues may do in the company. The reputation just seems to be sliding down hill. USPS doesn't use them in the Tour, but there well could be other sponsorship issues at play there.

Doug
Rolf problemsTJeanloz
Aug 7, 2001 7:22 AM
The Vector Pros, the wheel that Rolf really designed well and put a lot of thought into, worked almost flawlessly. It was the attempt to make the design cheaper, and cheaper, and cheaper that caused so many problems. The Vector Comp seemed to be the most problematic- but I think that was more Trek's fault than Rolf's.
Do you think Rolf will sue Bontrager and Trek?ET
Aug 7, 2001 8:24 AM
Bontrager for effective, if not outright, patent violation; Trek for replacing Rolf with the copycat. And will it win? Against which one? And should it? :-)
No ideaDog
Aug 7, 2001 8:54 AM
Patent litigation is a specialty, and I've done very little of it, working together with a patent lawyer. The description of the patent vs. the item claimed to be infringing is important. The new item may not fall within the patent description. Couldn't speculate here. Anyone can see a patent, though. They are not secret, but just the opposite. Don't know what rights Trek may have purchased, too. I thought that Rolf was now owned by Trek, in which case the patent *may* have been purchased, depending upon the agreements and who the real owner of the patent rights is.

As for other litigation, again I could not speculate as to what the various agreements and positions on performance could be among the companies. I imagine it's fairly complex and disputed.

Doug
Going separate waysDCP
Aug 7, 2001 7:15 AM
The Rolf web site started just pointing to Trek some months ago. If you look at http://www.freewheel.com/rolf/ it suggests to me that Rolf Detrich is out of the wheel business until 2002. Smells of some type of parting of the ways and a non-compete through the end of the year. Only my speculation, of course.