Only trouble is, the truth is stranger than fiction

It’s April Fool’s Day and that can mean only one thing: japes and tomfoolery. Two things, then. Anyway, the bike world is awash with jokes today. And what they go to prove is that cycling is pretty much unspoofable, because the reality is actually far weirder than anything you could make up.

Fair play to Rapha for an admirable piece of self-parody with the launched of their new Climbing Lead which they describe as “a discreet, lightweight and highly effective training tool… designed to help less able climbers ride with more accomplished ones.”

“The Rapha Climbing Lead is made from an advanced blend of silk and kevlar fibres, to create a fabric that has minimal stretch and a translucent finish. It can withstand up to 200kg of load and is connected between the lead rider’s seatpost and the following rider’s handlebars using a patented hook-and-mount system. Both couplings are made from a transparent carbon, making them less visible to the naked eye, and both are lined with double-density tricot fleece to prevent damage to either bike.”

It’s pink, naturally. And £170. The Rapha write up continues:
“According to research conducted by the University of Leichtglaubig in southern Germany, resistance techniques work by improving the static strength of the following rider, at the same time developing the explosiveness of the lead rider, an invaluable asset for climbers.”

Leichtglaubig? You might want to Google that. Actually, we'll save you the bother. It's 'gullible' in German.

The only trouble is, Rapha’s spoof has actually been done for real. As we reported earlier in the year, New Zealand company Bungeebike is producing a bungee cord that enables one rider to tow another along. The price tag isn’t far out either.

The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) are reporting that a new cycle helmet is going on sale that incorporates a long, flowing blonde wig.

ETA say, “The Helmet Hair design, which is intended to be worn by both men and women, was inspired by cycle helmet research carried out by Bath University. The study revealed that car drivers leave less room when overtaking a cyclist wearing a helmet, but a much wider berth when passing a female rider with long hair. Drivers pass an average of 8.5 cm closer to cyclists with a conventional helmet than without.”

That bit is true. Not the helmet with a wig bit, the long hair bit. Dr Ian Walker of Bath Uni did wear a wig as part of his research into how much room motorists gave cyclists when overtaking. He looked a right idiot too.

Firebox.com are offering a Re-Cycle Cardboard bike at £14.99, including free delivery.

They say, “It has to be seen to be believed, but riding on the success of their award-winning Paper-Pulp Canoe, German engineers Zeug and Unsinn have created the Re-Cycle Cardboard Bike – set to revolutionise the way we get around city spaces forever!”

Zeug and Unsinn translates into English as ‘stuff and nonsense’.

They continue: “Made from the equivalent of two hundred red-top tabloids, the Re-Cycle is light, easy to carry and simple to assemble. In the time it would take you to flag down a cab, just follow the step-by-step instructions* to pop, fold, score and tear the pieces you need to assemble your bike in a flash. No glue, tape or staples required.”

A cardboard bike? Yep, it's been done before – for real. Back in 2008, design student Phil Bridge unveiled his "Ultimate Green Machine" made of cardboard with a frame cost of £3 and the complete bikes costing £15 to build. You could ride it too, although Phil did admit that while, "The prototype does work but it is still quite limited and there are a few problems" one of those limitations being that you had to be under 12st. That was back in 2008. Things have been quiet on the Ultimate Green Machine front since.

Cyclosport are reporting that the UK Anti Doping Organisation (UKADO, a body that doesn’t actually exist - although UKAD does, cunning) has announced that an amateur cyclosportive participant has failed a random drugs test.

According to the article, “A 34-year-old male, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is said to have been part of a targeted crackdown in amateur athletes using potentially dangerous performance enhancing drugs. We can confirm that the test took place in an UCI Golden Bike Event in the summer of 2010.”

Cyclosport quote a certain Richard Coin of UKADO as saying, “After two independent tests, it is confirmed that tetrahydrogestrinone has been detected.”

Richard Coin? A bit like Dick Pound, former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, then. And that's a name that's not easy to parody.

Okay, no one has ever been drug tested in a sportive, but British amateur rider Dan Staite tested positive for EPO last year after a National B event in Buckinghamshire. He wasn’t exactly a Tour de France contender.

Metro tell us that tickets for the London 2012 Olympics will smell of the sport people have paid to watch.

The story says, “It means people who apply for cycling events will receive tickets that smell of the rubber used in bicycle tyres, spectators at the beach volleyball will have tickets fragranced with suntan lotion and football fans will receive a ticket giving off the perfume of freshly mown grass.”

We don’t like to think what the weightlifting tickets will smell of, but it’s not going to be pleasant. Okay, as far as we know, that one has never happened. Good idea though. At road.cc we’re looking into doing something similar with our product reviews. If we can just work out the programming code required to give you a whiff of the latest embrocation we’ve got in…

Over at the Nursing Times an exclusive news story by Flora Spilo (are you any good at anagrams? April fools, if you can’t be arsed) states that, “Community nurses have reacted with fury to the news that they are to be forced to travel to patients’ homes by bicycle.”

Apparently, plans are afoot to abolish petrol allowances, to be replaced with vouchers to be spent in cycle shops. Seems like an idea with a bit of mileage in it (oh dear! We’ve started to join in) to us.

They quote Josie Kita (another anagram: it is a joke), and Rita Feyal (fairy tale – that one took us a minute). The nurses are going to get reflective red crosses and blue-light helmets for emergencies. We like that a lot. They should do it.

Bike Biz have a story about the new AA Pothole Assist service which we'd like to be true but sadly isn't - it even has a nice bit of video (see below)  too and is larded with plenty of real facts about cycling's involvement in the history of the AA.

Finally, Bike Biz report that Audi are launching a range of wooden bikes: the Duo range.

Audi say, “While Quattro refers to the revolutionary permanent four-wheel-drive system Audi developed over 30 years ago, the name Duo refers to versatility of this amazing bicycle – to its ability to serve as both a work of art and a mode of transportation – and to its ability to blend beauty and craftsmanship with performance and technology. The four rings; available soon on two wheels.”

Ah, hang on! That one appears to be entirely true. Oh well, in the bike world truth is definitely stranger than fiction.



Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.


ir_bandito [58 posts] 6 years ago

The sad thing with that nursing times spoof is that my mate who's a GP isn't allowed to ride his bike on house-calls, even though he wants to! Means he has to drive 5 miles to work, rather than ride in, as he needs his car at work.

DaveP [412 posts] 6 years ago

I quite fancied the firebox bike:

http://www.firebox.com/product/3512/Re-Cycle-Cardboard-Bike  26

Then I spotted the 'chain'..

cowspassage [43 posts] 6 years ago

That New Zealand bike bungee was a spoof as well, right? Something as astoundingly dangerous as that could not be sold as a real product.


JJ the Flying D... [64 posts] 6 years ago

Like it how they use German names  16

handlebarcam [1075 posts] 6 years ago

Typical Rapha. Their April Fool was an "epic" version of something someone has already done, just with a trendy veneer of classic old-timey-ness supplied by faux grainy photography. Personally, I'll wait for the Torm version next year. It'll be half as funny, but a quarter of the price.

ride4 [3 posts] 6 years ago
Blackadder [6 posts] 6 years ago

Adventure racers have been using home made versions of this for years. Shock cord is used to tow bikes and used between pairs of runners, the cord is only attached to the lead bike and held by the second rider.