“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about,” wrote Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “and that is not being talked about.”
That need to be noticed would resonate with Rob Gitelis, co-owner of the high-end Factor brand of bikes, as ridden by the Ag2R team with advice provided by Britain’s David Millar.
Factor is owned by Gitelis, an American, and fellow former pro rider Baden Cooke of Australia. Gitelis, now domiciled in Taiwan, has a "cream"-level carbon factory that, for some years, has made bikes for Cervélo, Canyon and other high-end brands. The company was established in 2007 in Norfolk, and was originally an offshoot of Bf1systems, an F1 engineering firm. Gitelis and Cooke acquired the brand in 2014 and moved it to Asia.
Unusually, Factor provided bikes to Ag2R team before they were available commercially, and the brand’s bikes were also faked quickly.
"We are probably the world’s fastest (bike) brand to be counterfeited," Gitelis told BikeBiz.
"We have addressed [the problem] but, for a few months, [there were counterfeit bikes] advertised as “World Tour” bikes that, when you clicked on them, were fake Factor bikes."
He added: "We have attorneys and intellectual property protection specialists but [being faked so quickly] is a bit of a compliment. Had they not copied us I would have been like ‘well, what’s wrong with us?’"
The interview with Gitalis can be heard on the Spokesmen Cycling Industry Podcast, available on iTunes. Want to learn more about cycle industry counterfeiting? A lot more? BikeBiz has produced "Faking It", a series of 20 articles.