Update: In case you hadn’t noticed (and believe me, some of you scrolled for a long time before checking your calendars), we were having you on this morning with our story about British Cycling and Shell offering petrol discounts to cyclists – an oil and gas giant teaming up with a cycling organisation? Never! – and our brand new, completely fake, round-up show.
Though, to be honest, I’m still a fan of that holey Madone.
So, in the spirit of the day, here’s a few of our favourite April Fool’s stories from the bike industry and beyond that we spotted this morning, plus a recap of our fake news special…
First up, British bike manufacturer Ribble proved it’s keeping up to speed with the latest trends, by ‘launching’ a new bespoke and personalised bike design and building process, using – what else? – Artificial Intelligence.
RibbleGPT – which features its own, rather impressive webpage – will, if it existed, “bring your wildest ideas to life” through a “human-like” conversation with a robot about your frame and componentry preferences, 3D printing, and a custom paint process (involving, of all things, humans), resulting in a “unique, one-of-a-kind” bike.
“RibbleGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that allows you to have human-like conversations. We have developed a language model that can take a conversation right through to a bespoke bike that's perfect for your needs using our AI Powered BikeBuilder,” Ribble’s Chief Digital Officer, Matthew Lawson, said in a ‘statement’.
The way things are going with AI and ChatGPT, I wouldn’t be surprised if this kind of thing pops up in the next few years.
For example, try to prove that this article wasn’t written using AI…
While Ribble is so 2022 with their 3D printing malarkey, Prologo proved this 1st April that they’re way ahead of the curve, designing the lightest, most aero, and – in this writer’s humble opinion – best looking saddle currently on the market.
See, while all the other manufacturers are busy fussing over carbon and 3D printers, Prologo decided to skip all that nonsense and go for a production process that was “more innovative, faster and also less expensive” – and, handily, already available in all of their offices.
By going old school and reverting to 2D printing, they came up with the Flying F15H, a super aero saddle made of paper, weighing just 5g, and with a drag coefficient of almost zero.
“We had an ambitious goal, to design an ultra-light saddle that could defy the wind. We have not only succeeded, but we've outdone ourselves, making an innovative product that is affordable for everyone,” Prologo says, trying desperately to keep hold of their ground-breaking saddle on a windy Italian day.
In all seriousness, I’m sure more than a few scale-loving and aero-obsessed racers were a touch disappointed when they noticed the date at the top of that particular press release…
Speaking of new technological trends, Dan Walker will be all over this innovative design from Pearson – the “pioneering” Lighter Than Air safety gilet.
Designed to expand your road riding experience, the gilet uses Self-Augmenting Garment Inflation tech (that’s SAGI for those at the back), which was originally trialled, Pearson says, “not altogether successfully” in inflatable helmets.
“As any rider will tell you, cars that pass too close often mean that cycling on major roads isn’t always the safe and secure experience it should be,” Pearson says, alerting the road.cc news team, hungry for a story.
“That’s why Lighter Than Air also comes with a Width-Optimising-Bike-Barrier-Life-Enhancer (WOBBLE). Based on the sensors used for parking in most cars, should any vehicle cross into your specified riding ‘lane’ (pre-set by you and ranging from 30cm to 1m), then the gas-powered WOBBLE is activated, filling the SAGI parts of the gilet with air and effectively creating an all-body cushion.
“Simultaneously, an additional sensor then vibrates to alert you to the potential hazard; finally, a battery-powered light on the rear of the gilet flashes to warn the passing driver.”
And it’s sustainable too, as what’s more sustainable than air? Give me ten, please.
To continue on the unicycle theme from last year (another one courtesy of Ribble), bike subscription service Swapfiets has decided to double down on their failed penny-farthing service from 2022 by launching what they say is the “world’s first subscription E-unicycle”, the Solo Power 1.
From just £50.99 a month (bargain!), Swapfiets says “Londoners can whizz through the capital on one wheel, riding solo in true city style, and better yet, with no handlebars you are free to sip your coffee on the go and get that morning caffeine fix”.
I’ve seen the future, and its name is E-unicycles.
After last year’s invisible jersey shenanigans – the Daily Mail was not happy – Muc-Off have returned this April with a product designed for, ahem, when the bike’s tucked away safe and sound in the shed.
Inspired, apparently, by the popular Google search term, ‘Can I use Muc-Off lube for more than just my bike?’, the company teamed up with a “crack team” of sexologists to deliver a new adult form of lube designed for “smooth, long-lasting, and repeatable results”.
Right, that’s enough internet for one day…
Back in more family-friendly territory here, as GCN – the kennel of cycling – revealed its purr-fect new selection of cycling-themed pet wear:
The purr-fect selection of cycling gear! 🐾
With sleek jerseys, paw-some shorts, and accessories that’ll have you feline fine on the road, our kit is the cat’s meow. And it doesn’t hurt that our models are very cute, too!
— GlobalCyclingNetwork (@gcntweet) April 1, 2023
That duck sure looks aero…
For the last of our round-up of cycling’s April Fool’s tomfoolery, we turn to one of the crueller tricks played this morning – as everyone’s third-favourite swashbuckling French pro cyclist, Pierre Rolland, attacked all of us, straight to the heart, by appearing to announce his comeback to the sport, months after retiring in the wake of the B&B Hotels collapse.
Après 3 mois de réflexion, malgré beaucoup de projets, j’ai décidé de tout mettre entre parenthèses pour redevenir cycliste professionnel.
Reprise prévue au #RégionTour Pays de la Loire.
Je vous communique ma nouvelle team dans la journée…
— Rolland Pierre (@PierroooRolland) April 1, 2023
“After three months of reflection, despite many projects, I decided to put everything on hold to become a professional cyclist again,” the Alpe d’Huez slayer tweeted this morning.
“I plan to resume racing at [this week’s] Région Pays de la Loire Tour. I'll let you know my new team during the day...”
Don’t play with our emotions like that, Pierre!
And finally, here’s the inaugural – and only – edition of the new ‘road.cc roundup’, complete with all our one-day-only scoops from Trek, Bianchi, British Cycling, and more.
And don’t worry, there’s an obligatory reference to L-shaped cranks…
Welcome to the brand new road.cc roundup, a feature where we take a look at some of the latest and greatest news stories from the world of cycling. Think of it like the news but on roids (Most likely Methylhexaneamine).
This week, as we enter April, we’ve got some wacky new tech, the latest racing news and London City Council's latest idea for Britain's youngest cycle race!
First up, we have a brand new road bike from Trek. This time last year we brought you a world exclusive of Trek’s aero road bike, the Madone, and now it’s the Emonda’s turn, the brand’s lightweight climbing bike.
These spy shots indicate that Trek is doubling down on the hole, removing more material, this time from the headtube. We can expect Trek to site aero benefits as the hole will likely help to reduce drag by giving the stagnant air in this area somewhere to go, just like it does at the seat tube.
Given the pattern of previous Trek releases, we can expect to see the new Emonda first used in earnest at the Giro D’Italia under the likes of climbers such as Ciccone and Bauke Mollema who will be gunning for the young rider's jersey.
British Cycling ruffled plenty of oil-slicked feathers when it signed a long-term partnership deal with Shell that runs until 2030. To try and boost membership British Cycling has announced its latest initiative to recruit new members as it tries to bounce back.
Starting today, April the 1st, any cyclist to purchase a silver membership or above will receive a 5% off Shell fuel voucher that can be redeemed at any one of Shell’s 1,100 UK fuel stations.
A spokesperson for British Cycling said, “we’re very thankful for Shell’s support and this new initiative should allow money-pressed bike riders to stay dry and enjoy more commutes by car”
We’ve seen plenty of wacky aero tech recently, and we included plenty of the ones that we thought were most over the top in our ridiculous aero video. In 2023, its handlebars that have been the talk of the town as far as aero is concerned since the UCI introduced their 35cm rule for this season.
However, rather than turn in the shifters, like we’ve seen other riders doing, Bianchi has come up with a more radical solution. These folding handlebars claim to satisfy the pre-race UCI checks and then fold in to reduce drag in the heat of the race.
Hugo Hofstetter of Arkea Samsic has already been seen using these in earnest, deploying the folding bars not once, but twice during the early season Grand Prix de Denain (although weirdly only one side at a time). This isn’t the first time we’ve seen folding bars; Canyon released their folding bars in 2020, but sited this was for transportation rather than performance.
Sticking with aero, Alpecin, title sponsor of Mathieu Van der Poel and his team Alpecin-Deceuninck, have launched a new shampoo that claims to make your hair more aero.
Alpecin is currently Germany's best-selling shampoo for men, and this new aero iteration claims to save 1.5 watts at 45kph. Alpecin says that it works in a similar way to Pogacar’s tuft, and by making your hair more voluminous creates a boundary layer of air that reduces the wake behind the rider's head.
We’re told that each bottle will come with an instruction manual with application instructions. We have a bottle on its way in to review.
Lotto Dstny was one of the biggest losers of the new UCI points-based system in 2022 and hence has dropped down to ProTeam level for the 2023 season. In a bid to reclaim Worldtour status, star riders such as Caleb Ewan will soon be using L-shaped cranks.
Z Torque, who has been working with Lotto Dstny to develop a new set of L-shaped cranks, claims that compared to conventional crank arms these offer smoother pedalling, more power to climb hills, less perceived effort to pedal, faster acceleration, are less affected by headwinds and gives the rider the ability to turn higher gearing.
The bike industry is often slated for its rather loose use of the word 'standard' and I do have to agree when there are quite so many it is indeed hard to call it a standard at all. Well, the big market players have finally got together and claim to have solved the issue of varying bottom bracket sizes, headset bearings and thru-axle thread pitches.
Cannondale, Giant, Specialized, Scott and Merida have all agreed to use one new standard set of measurements across all of these components to improve the consumer experience, reduce manufacturing costs and help spare parts to be more readily available. The brands have dubbed the new standard' New BS', which stands for New Bearing Standard, and it will begin to roll out on new bikes this summer.
We’ve already shared some of our thoughts and predictions of the Specialized SL8 that we expect to hit the roads this June. However, the latest rumours indicate that we were wrong, and the SL8 will in fact be a rim brake and mechanical groupset-only frame.
Reports indicate that Specialized has used their WinTunnel to prove that “lightweight is king. This latest marketing slogan takes over from “Aero is everything”, but this is by no means the first time that Specialized has made a marketing U-turn. Just last year we saw the release of the Rapide CLX and CL ii added tubeless compatibility to a wheelset that bucked recent trends by being clincher only.
Specialized refused to comment on when we might expect to see a new bike, but did tell us that we can expect the new frame to make Mamils 98% faster, 5% poorer and 58% more likely to be asked about their bike on the Surrey club run...
Wahoo releases new routing feature
It really has been a chocka week for news and Wahoo continued their regular mapping updates with new features for Bolt V2 and Roam V2 users. The new feature is said to warn road cyclists when they’re getting too close to gravel, sounding an alarm and flashing the LEDs to alert the rider.
Wahoo says that this feature, which follows hot on the tails of Hammerhead’s new “distance to surface change”, will help traditional road cyclists resist the allure of gravel riding.
A spokesperson for Wahoo told us: “Road cyclists have been perfectly happy without gravel for decades and many just don’t want to ride offroad.
"However, in this day an age it’s all too easy to find yourself off the beaten track. This can have a seriously negative effect on cyclists, such as improving their bike handling skills and leaving them having to convince their families that they need yet another bike.”
According to Wahoo, this feature was extremely popular within focus groups made up entirely of husbands and wives that don’t cycle.
Bromptons are absolutely excellent machines. For example, this £1,650 C-Line that we reviewed back in February scored a 9 out of 10; however, this kind of quality does come at a cost. Even the cheapest A-Line Brompton starts at £899 and for many, this is a barrier to entry.
This is a fact that Brompton is well aware of, and to help overcome it at a time when the UK economy and population are struggling financially, it has launched a new subscription-based model. We’ve seen plenty of bike brands offer finance on their bikes, but the Brompton model differs by allowing you to purchase the bike in parts.
The subscription service starts at £250 per month, and Brompton claims that after just two months customers can expect to have the front half of the frame. A further two months will buy you some wheels and the final instalment after four months includes the rear half of the folding frame.
The new line will be appearing on the Brompton website soon under the new section headed ASS (A-Line, subscription service)
Most people will agree that we’re in a dark time for British Cycle racing. Ineos Grendaiers remains the only British WorldTour team and British Continental teams, the next tier down, have been dropping like flies.
2023 has seen the death of teams such as Ribble Weldtite, and AT85, formerly Wiv Sungod, following in the footsteps of Swift Cabronpro Cycling. In an attempt to prove that the British Racing scene is still alive and kicking, British Cycling has announced a new one-day event for all of its Continental teams. This is all we know about the race so far, but the press release does show a picture (above) of all the teams participating in a bunch sprint.
London is no stranger to big cycling events. Of course, 2012 was a highlight, but every year it also hosts other events such as Prudential Ride London. Well, in 2023 we expect to see a brand new event hit the city streets.
London city council has announced plans to imitate this year's Giro D’Italia (well, Stage 1 anyway). The opening stage of this year’s 2023 Giro is an ITT raced almost entirely along the Ciclovia dei Trabocchi – a cycle path that runs along the Italian coast. Not to be outdone, London plans to host its very own TT event also along a cycle path.
The route has been decided and a newly developed stretch of cycle path has been selected. This was in fact the same cycle path which broke the record for England’s longest unbroken cycle path - the race will be 150m long and riders can expect to avoid obstacles such as pedestrians walking five abreast, floating bus stops and parked delivery vans.
Times are changing, and the Hells Angels are looking to improve their green image by allowing riders on e-bikes at their club runs. Members can typically be seen riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but given the negative environmental image that is associated with this, the Hells Angels are becoming more inclusive and now allowing e-bikes of “all styles and sizes”.
And the final news of our inaugural road.cc roundup is that Nopinz has released a gravel skinsuit. The Pro-1 gravel suit claims to cope with the “arduous demands of gravel racing whilst providing an aerodynamic edge”.
This is the first gravel-specific product from Nopinz and has cargo pockets and will likely be used at this year's Gravel World Champs hosted in Scotland.
Oh wait.. this one's actually true! You can find out more about it here.
Let us know which is your favourite April Fool's idea down below. Did we convince you that any were legit?
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...