Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The BSNYC April Fools' Day Round-Up

Today is April 1st. Rest assured I have no intention of engaging in any April Fools' Day-related tomfoolery, nor do I plan to observe its stupid French counterpart, Poisson d'Avril. Instead, I've decided to jump around the cycling world and take a look at some of the better pranks on offer elsewhere. So get ready to laugh--I promise you'll split your sides faster than a Conti Grand Prix 3000!

1) Cyclingnews

Cyclingnews is always good for an amusing April Fools' hoax, and this year was no exception. The "product" they're reviewing skirts the line between reality and absurdity pretty gracefully, and Huang wins the prime by mentioning lateral rigidity and vertical compliance.

2) NYVelocity

Local boys NYVelocity (a.k.a. Velocity Nation) come through for April Fools' in style with this entry, in which a man and his cat test a disc wheel's aerodynamic properties with what appears to be a Vornado house fan. Rumor has it the cat was working for The Great Trek Bicycle-Making Company before NYVelocity lured it over by loudly opening a can of cat food outside Trek's Waterloo headquarters.

3) Velonews

Remember Craig Calfee and his wacky bamboo bikes? Well, those wags at Velonews have images that purport to be from a "tour" of his "factory." Among some of the "photos" are bamboo bikes, piles of bamboo tubing, and someone joining them with what appears to be hemp twine. A+ for the photo shop job. Hilarious, guys!

4) Velonews (again)

It's a one-two punch from the guys over at Velonews! Just when you think the jokes are over and it's back to business, they throw another one at you. Yup, it's another "factory tour," only this time the factory belongs to the Big S. Check out the frame flex testing "photos": priceless.

5) Fixedgeargallery

By this point you probably don't have any more laughter left in you, but in case you do there are two classic ringer entries over on Fixedgeargallery. First is this "polo bike":

I admit I was taken in for a moment, but then I realized the bike was too goofy looking, even by FGG standards. Also, the whole "bike polo" thing is really funny, but is obviously made up. I mean, who would actually want to play polo on a bike? Cyclists don't enjoy chasing balls around with sticks in small areas--that's why they become cyclists! If there really was such a thing as "bike polo," then the people who played it would essentially just be frat boys in different clothing.

The next ringer was this one:

Yep, it's got all the hallmarks of a spoof: the gaudy color scheme; the chain guard; the tires that cost more than the entire bike. Then look closer and you'll be rewarded with the uber-kludgy threaded/threadless steerer setup and the spoke card. It's even got an epic-length intro. Awesome. And kudos to FGG for poking fun at itself.

6) Performance Bicycle

Hands down the best and most elaborate April Fools' joke this year came from the most unexpected source: mail-order giant Performance Bicycle.

Not only would you never figure Performance for the April Fools' types, but you certainly wouldn't expect a prank in their print catalogue. But there it is, right on page 52 of the latest one, a fake wheel from Mavic called the "R-Sys" with "TraComp" technology. For only $1,399.99! (As if anybody buys expensive wheels from Performance. That's like buying a wedding gown at the Gap.)

Just in case you're having trouble reading the copy (sorry, I had to scan it), it says:

Thanks to cutting edge technology from Mavic, the entire bicycle wheel market is about to change. TraComp(tm) technology uses tubular carbon spokes, which stretch less than other materials, because they're structurally stiffer AND resist compression, without any risk of unloaded spokes--what you get is a ride that's lightweight, amazingly responsive and incredibly comfortable.

Amazing. It sounds just like real marketing copy. For real laughs though you've got to check out the diagrams:

Again, clearly bogus, but still really funny. I mean, after years of touting the aero benefits of their flat Zicral bladed spokes, why would Mavic suddenly start selling a wheel with giant round carbon fiber drinking straws for spokes? The "clamped" spoke thing is also brilliant. A wheel like that would be totally non-serviceable. The finishing touch is the brilliant chart. What the hell does that even mean? I don't know, but it's really funny.

Performance deserves a lot of credit for making fun of a big manufacturer like Mavic. To imply that Mavic might design, manufacture and sell what is essentially a $1,400 wagon wheel is a pretty subversive joke. I know I'm laughing.