06 June 2018

If You Get A Bike Named After You....

I suppose most of us want to be immortalized.  The problem is that, if we are, we probably don't have a say in why or how someone is perpetuating our memory.

So it is with the newest Trek model.  Now, I could understand why the company wouldn't name any of its products after Lance.  Yes, he's alive, but as we know, there are other reasons why a "Lance-strong" bike would be a public relations fiasco for the company.  I also see why they wouldn't want to name their bikes after any number of other cyclists--or celebrities-- living or dead.  

On the other hand, I can understand why Trek, or any other company, would name one of its wares after someone who never got anywhere near a bicycle.  I mean, there was even a whole bike brand--Hercules--named for a mythological hero.  The last person who actually believed in his existence died, probably, about two milennia before the first bicycle--however you define it--saw the light of day.  

Some Trek marketing genius probably figured that if bikes called Hercules could evoke images of that character's strength and fortitude, then a line of its bikes could surely trade on some other famous person's most notable physical trait--one that essentially became his metier.

And so we have Trek "Farley" bikes, named for the late comedian and actor Chris Farley.   His stock-in-trade was "fat guy" humor, which is not surprising given that he weighed about 400 pounds when he died in 1997.  Trek's new machines are--you guessed it--"fat" (i.e., fat-tire) bikes.  

Not surprisingly, his family is not happy about this.  They're not upset that he's still known as "the fat guy"--that will most likely remain his claim to fame--but that the company "misappropriated" his image.  According to a lawsuit the family filed, even though he turned his girth into his art, if you will, he "carefully guarded and policed his brand" and often rejected overtures from companies whom wanted to use it to sell their products.

Now, Trek might not be Apple or Microsoft, but I imagine they can hire some high-priced lawyers.  I am guessing they did:  Who else could challenge the lawsuit because it was filed in California, where Make Him Smile, the company his family formed to protect his rights and images is based.   That would subject the claim to California law.   Trek is trying to invalidate the family's claim by saying that it's invalid because Farley was a resident of Illinois, where he died of a drug overdose in Chicago.  

An irony of this case is that Trek could have named bikes after Farley for another, and possibly better (public-relations wise, anyway) reason:  He was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin--about 30 miles from Trek's headquarters in The Badger State. 

Hmm...What if Trek decided to name its bikes for famous people from Wisconsin?  What would the Rod Blagojevich bike look like? 


  1. "We... don't have a say in why or how someone is perpetuating our memory". The most catastrophic example coming to mind is Thomas Crapper, who, according to many, was the inventor of the flush toilet.

    As for a "Lance" bike, my humble suggestion would be for Trek to put out a series of Lance Bikes. There would the "Lance Tripper", the "Lance Wiredup", and the "Lance HighFlyer", in order of increasingly higher performance levels.

  2. i might ride a Blagojevich... Why not? When he was our governor, he plastered his name over just about everything else.

    Hmm... mythical heroes' names for a bike? How about a Trek mountain bike named the Sisyphus?

  3. Leo--I love your Lance bike suggestion, especially the Lance HighFlyer. "Over every mountain" could be its motto.

    Poor Thomas Crapper. Oh well.

    Mike--All right, I confess. I put Rod in the wrong state. He was the governor, ironically, of the Land of Lincoln, i.e., your state. I think of him as the Midwestern Trump.

    Then again, I guess it would be better than a Jeffrey Dahmer bike!

  4. Funny, I never thought of Chris Farley when I read about Trek's fat bike. Maybe they should have just called it the Gordo. No way I would ever ride a Blagojevich. You know the frame will be crooked, the wheels out of true.

  5. MT--I think Gordo would be a great name. It could be, though, that some other company is offering a fat bike with that name.