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Cycling clothing brand Mamnick accuses Rapha of "stealing brand message" by using term first popularised during the Falklands War

Mamnick has accused Rapha's 'Yomp Rally' bikepacking event of copying its "cycling philosophy" – however Rapha says "we don't believe the term yomp is owned by anyone" and insists there is "enough separation to coexist peacefully"...

"Seriously — how would you feel? If a company that is worth approximately $260,540,000 stole your brand message and cycling ethos, that you've spent over 10 years creating and refining?" 

That is the question Thom Barnett, founder of Sheffield-based "fine products" and cycling clothing manufacturer Mamnick, was left asking on social media after Rapha, the self-professed "world's finest cycling clothing and accessories" brand and one of the biggest names in the cycling industry, announced, promoted and ran a new bikepacking event in Southern California — the Yomp Rally.

Mamnick's issue, Barnett explained to road.cc, is with the 'yomp' branding. And while he openly admits Mamnick has no trademark on the word — which originates outside of cycling, notably in a military context and made famous by the Royal Marines in the early 1980s when referring to a march with heavy equipment over difficult terrain during the Falklands War — for Barnett, as the culmination of a decade producing clothing bearing the word, numerous written pieces exploring the concept of yomping in cycling, social media posts, and organised yomp rides, its origin in a cycling context is clear.

Mamnick yomping

"I've not come up with a word but I've put it into a cycling context. I would argue that most people who have heard that in the cycling context, it's originally come from us," he said.

One such article on the subject from 2018, titled 'Contemplating Yomp' on Mamnick's website, drills down into the brand's "cycling philosophy". Another published a year earlier suggests in a cycling context a yomp (sometimes referring to the acronym 'Your Own Marching Pace') is a form of riding "that reflects the Mamnick ethos to do things your own way" and involves: dressing your own way, riding your own way, regardless of if your bike is old or new, riding alone or with a group. In short, riding "a reliable steed that will take them over varying terrain on their epic adventures" and leaving everything else to personal preference.

But what has any of this got to do with Rapha? 

The Mamnick founder has been in communication with the clothing brand since it announced a new venture — the Yomp Rally — a multi-day bikepacking event in California which prompted friends, customers, and even a professional rider who has raced for a team that uses Rapha kit to point out similarities.

Rapha's website promotion for the event, which debuted on the scene last May, states: "Embody the Yomp Rally ethos: ride with your friends or alone, hop on a wheel, share your snacks, help someone with a broken spoke, ride for each other.

"The concept is simple: complete the course in five days or fewer at your own pace, on your own or with your friends. Rapha provides the route, a celebratory send off, one checkpoint, a bag transfer and a warm welcome when you arrive in Los Angeles. The rest is up to you."

"I've not got yomp trademarks or anything like that. There's not much we can do about it. It feels like a David and Goliath situation and we're just getting flicked a bit.

"Rapha is the market. We're trying to build something ethically and correctly, we're 11 years into this as a project and we don't want it to look as though we're following them when ultimately they're following us. I'm quite proud of that as a cycling philosophy, it's something that I've developed myself in a time when everything in cycling is about emulating the pros — what they eat and drink, what miles they do — to sell that whole yomp idea that actually it's just about doing it your own way and riding your bike.

"That's something that gives us, in quite a saturated market, a bit of a unique selling point but now suddenly it's like, well, Rapha has incorporated it into marketing and it feels slightly unfair."

Rapha rejected the accusations and insisted the project was created by US-based staff who "never came across Mamnick and their use of the word".

"The Yomp Rally was created as a passion project by our US team," a Rapha spokesperson told us. "They started with the concept for the experience first, which was to create a multi-day bikepacking event without the rules that have typically defined bikepacking races in the US. They wanted to create a ride that allowed riders the freedom to shape their own ride, but with enough structure to create a shared experience. From there, the US team set out to find a name that felt true and aligned to the experience.

 "YOMP — 'Your Own Marching Pace' — is a term dating back to 1982 and has been used in many different contexts across the decades. It fits perfectly with the ethos of bikepacking across long distances and carrying your own kit; approaching your ride with a certain amount of freedom, and pursuing your own way, which is how we used it.

"The US Rapha team never came across Mamnick and their use of the word. We don't believe the term Yomp is owned by anyone, and we believe that there is enough separation between the use of it by Mamnick and Rapha's US event to coexist peacefully."

"It's something I'm extremely protective and proud of"

"It's strange because I did at one time have a great relationship with Rapha," Barnett explained, pointing out the two brands have even collaborated on producing a bottle opener in the past and, ironically, in a few of his yomp write-ups you can even spot photos of him sporting Rapha kit.

"Even if they'd have said 'we understand, is it something that we could collaborate on? Is it something that we could organise from our Manchester store?' I'm not saying that I'd have gone for that but that was kind of the worst case scenario in my head [when first approaching Rapha] whether they were just going to still want to use it but we'll get you involved," Barnett said.

"The internet makes the world a small place. It doesn't matter if you're in LA or bloody Doncaster... everyone's looking at smartphones so that's my argument, I'm still getting my mates in Rotherham telling me that Rapha is using yomp. In that world of marketing it travels around, the internet has made the world a small place so it doesn't matter if you did it in Timbuktu... it's still Rapha as a brand using yomp.

"I have to try and stand up for myself."

Barnett points to Mamnick's extensive yomp-branded back catalogue and, having saved one of every product the brand has ever manufactured, as a memento, he can quite reliably report there is enough yomp merchandise to "do an exhibition".

Mamnick 'yomp' clothing

He also said communication with the brand was frustrating and accused individuals of being "ignorant of our project" despite a decade of merchandise, marketing, writing and events based on the concept of yomping in cycling.

"You would still think that at that point they would show some respect and back away from that now, but it doesn't seem like they do want to," he continued. "I've always said that I've appropriated it into a cycling context, I've not come up with a word but I've put it into a cycling context and I would argue that most people who have heard that in the cycling context it's originally come from us.

"I know it might sound daft but I have philosophised the idea, it's become a kind of cycling culture, I've thought about it and written pieces, published them on our journal and on Strava's website. All about the essence and the philosophy of cycling and yomping and so, yeah, I believe that I've been kind of cultivating it as an idea for eight to ten years."

As far as Rapha is concerned "there is enough separation" between the use of it by Mamnick and its US event to "coexist peacefully", and the brand's website states the Yomp Rally will be returning in May 2024. 

Meanwhile, Mamnick is hoping to run even more organised yomp rides, the first of 2024 coming on 17 February, especially once its new coffee shop and bar opens underneath its 'Loft' concept store in Sheffield.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Mamnick (@mamnick_mood)

"We've got big hopes and aspirations for this yomping community that we're trying to build around our around our new coffee shop," Barnett concluded, promising this is just the beginning of this particular yomp.

This isn't the first time Mamnick have made headlines: in 2022, an advert from the brand featuring a man in cycling gear holding a gun breached the UK's advertising code, according to the ASA. 

In response to a critical comment on Twitter, Mamnick replied it would "not cower or by summoned by the Twitter-mobs of the eternally offended."

Update, 10/02/2024: The original article included claims that Rapha had ceased communication with Mr Barnett. road.cc now understands that Rapha was in communication with Mr Barnett via email, so references to "radio silence" and Mr Barnett "[trying] to reach out to [Rapha] again but to no avail" have been removed. 

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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33 comments

Avatar
SecretSam | 5 months ago
0 likes

"Yomp" is a word in common use when I was in the Army Cadets in the mid-80s. And I've heard of Rapha, but not the other brand. So...

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Tom_77 | 5 months ago
1 like

If you liked it then you should've put a Trademark on it...

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wycombewheeler | 5 months ago
2 likes

"That's something that gives us, in quite a saturated market, a bit of a unique selling point but now suddenly it's like, well, Rapha has incorporated it into marketing and it feels slightly unfair."

except that almost no one has heard of manmick, so he can't really suggest Rapha is standing on the shoulders of the brand he has built up.

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BBB | 5 months ago
3 likes

So Rapha is mimnicking them?

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jaymack | 5 months ago
3 likes

This is simply a story of a brand with 77 instgrammywhatsitappy followers generating attention by claiming a much better known brand's use of an every day word has copied the complainant's intellectual property. There's nothing to see here, time to move on.

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mark1a | 5 months ago
2 likes

Wait until everyone finds out that Rapha have based their entire branding around a French aperitif that once sponsored a team that Jaques Anquetil rode for. 

oh hold on...

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quiff replied to mark1a | 5 months ago
0 likes

They're quite open about it (though I suppose this collab could have been borne of some dispute between them): https://content.rapha.cc/eu/en/story/st-raphael

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mark1a replied to quiff | 5 months ago
0 likes

Yeah, I was just being flippant, not much is original really.

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brackley88 replied to mark1a | 5 months ago
2 likes

Rapha got the rights to use the name when they set up. Their earliest offices had a massive St Raphael on the wall. There are many articles referencing and acknowledging the rationale for the name. They did a capsule collection based on it about a year ago. 

 

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mark1a replied to brackley88 | 5 months ago
0 likes

Yes, thank you, I know this, as I said, I was being flippant, they're still standing on the shoulders of someone/something else, it's not original. That was my point. 

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don simon fbpe | 5 months ago
1 like

I'm sure that there's more than one lesson here...

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chrisonabike replied to don simon fbpe | 5 months ago
2 likes

Boo / Nigel / whichever one(s) they are now has already learned it!

It's still working for Trump, and Liz Truss and Co. feel there's more milage in it for them (perhaps they actually believe some though?)...

Maybe I should give it a go?  "Yes I didn't invent socks and technically road.cc already do socks, but I've spent a lot of time and energy building up my original rod.cc Scks brand and it hurts that the powers that be are trying to steal my work..."  If I can only get enough put-downs maybe I can sell some?

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cyclisto | 5 months ago
2 likes

Seriously overpriced brands arguing about a word. Let me bring my popcorn.

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Secret_squirrel | 5 months ago
7 likes

Thom and Mamnick are attention seeking A-holes. 

Oxygen Thieves.

End of Story.

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Dogless | 5 months ago
9 likes

Oh poor thom, my heart bleeds. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke etc

Imagine setting up a cycling organisation 70 odd years ago based on fellowship and and then having your IP ripped off by an edgelord Instagram influencer. Sucks, right?

https://www.instagram.com/mamsnitch

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Simon E replied to Dogless | 5 months ago
7 likes

The 5 year old LFGSS thread linked from that IG page does not paint a pretty picture either.

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Dogless replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
4 likes

Quite. You could almost forgive the attention seeking nonsense if he wasn't also a big 'defender of free speech'.

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quiff replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
1 like

So (quite aside from the other nastiness on there) the yomping whinge has been going on for 5 years?

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Brauchsel replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
1 like

Wow. All that is astonishing. 

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Alf0nse | 5 months ago
10 likes

What goes around comes around I guess 

someone with previous for half-inching other people's IP gets his appropriation appropriated...oh dear 

never been a rapha fan, but suddenly I'm warming to them. 

 

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check12 | 5 months ago
1 like

learn lessons from this - "brand message and cycling ethos, that you've spent over 10 years creating and refining?" because it's all fun until someone else tm / c / r s your ideas 

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quiff | 5 months ago
5 likes

Rapha says "we don't believe the term yomp is owned by anyone" (and then scurried away to file an application).

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don simon fbpe | 5 months ago
1 like

I'm sure there's a lesson in here.

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stonojnr replied to don simon fbpe | 5 months ago
6 likes

Im sure the Royal Marines of 45 Commando could explain it.

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Simon E replied to don simon fbpe | 5 months ago
10 likes
don simon fbpe wrote:

I'm sure there's a lesson in here.

Yes - Mamnick could potentially get more publicity from this protracted whinge than anything they've done before!

'Yomp' is not a term I'd ever associate with cycling. I find it almost off-putting, certainly not humorous or endearing.

This is the same 'edgy' brand that proudly used firearms to advertise their clothing:

https://road.cc/content/news/cycling-live-blog-11-january-2022-289427

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brooksby replied to Simon E | 5 months ago
0 likes

I (think I ) remember first hearing the expression "yomp" back during the Falklands conflict in the early eighties.

I've never heard it used in connection with cycling (until now!) - Mamnick seem to be saying they've decided it's a similar thing to "party pace" from Path Less Pedalled or Rivendell's "Sub-24 hour-Overnight (S24O)".

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Spangly Shiny replied to brooksby | 5 months ago
1 like

It means Your Own Marching Pace and is used to describe a candidates speed when carrying out the final (heavily laden) march to earn the green beret on the RM course.

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brooksby replied to Spangly Shiny | 5 months ago
0 likes
Spangly Shiny wrote:

It … is used to describe a candidates speed when carrying out the final (heavily laden) march to earn the green beret on the RM course.

So its just the same as a lightly laden bicycle tour, then!  3

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Rendel Harris replied to Spangly Shiny | 5 months ago
1 like
Spangly Shiny wrote:

It means Your Own Marching Pace and is used to describe a candidates speed when carrying out the final (heavily laden) march to earn the green beret on the RM course.

Lest I appear to be claiming to be knowledgeable in this area, I happened to look this up yesterday because of this article; it seems that's a bit of a folk etymology (technically known in this case as a backronym). All the linguistic resources I have to hand classify the etymology as "Unknown; 1980s military origin."

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quiff replied to Rendel Harris | 5 months ago
1 like

Backronym, as in a post hoc acronymisation? Love it. Will use that ASAP. Possibly to brand some cycling gear.  

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