News round-up: London-Milano, Straitline, SRAM, Pearl Izumi, Colnago

Fresh products and races for the first of the month

We've been inundated with news today here at BikeRadar towers – must be the time of month or something – so here's a quick round-up of the latest product and race stories to hit our inboxes.

London-Milano

Grupetto Italia, the people behind the re-introduction of Ciocc in the UK, have announced today, 1 April, that they will be supporting the world's longest single day bike race, the London-Milano.

At nearly 882 miles, the route will pay homage to all the great Continental races, including the cobbles of Flanders, Roubaix, the Ardennes followed by the Alps, entering Italy from Nice via San Remo, and finally finishing at the legendary cyclists' chapel on top of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

Race director Peter Rizzi said: “I’m happy to be working with Ciocc and believe such a historic name in cycling will truly reflect the scale of this epic race." First run in 2007, the event attracts a field of some of the best long-distance specialists in the world – but so far no one has managed to legally complete the course before the time cut of 24 hours.

“We thought we had a winner last year,” said Rizzi. “But it turned out Piccardo Picco had had a little assistance from a Slovakian truck driver. Speed cameras showed him doing nearly 67km in his slipstream on the N19 near Brussels."

The race is open to composite teams and this year Ciocc have a French tandem team entered, although the stokers' contract states clearly that the use of power gels over such a long distance will be forbidden. With the exact route a closely guarded secret the organisers are giving little away, only saying it will be a “little tougher this year in order to try to add some excitement for the viewing public”.

Grupetto Italias's managing director, Giulio Conti, said the race was the perfect vehicle for his vintage range of bikes, and in fact he was "tempted himself to get the Bic out and get back in the saddle for one last try at stardom – but this soon passed”.

Instead he will be sending his very own “Squadra” equipped with fully specced-up Syluro time trial bikes (pictured above) under strict instructions to “get the TGV at Troyes and not show their faces until they reach Milan's central station”.

There are still a limited number of places on the start sheet for this years event, so you'll have to be quick if you want to take part. For details, visit www.grupettoitalia.co.uk.

Straitline Components launch quick-release downhill stem

Canadian-based Straitline Components have launched the world's first quick-release downhill stem, the Quickie. The innovative design was inspired by the demands of two Canadian champions – two-time national champ Andrew Mitchell and current junior national champ Kyle Marshall – and will be seen all over the race circuit in the coming months.

The Straitline Quickie is the world's first quick-release downhill stem

Designed to be ridden on the infamous West Coast terrain found in British Columbia, Canada, the Quickie stem has already been a huge hit with the locals, with pre-orders hitting just shy of double digits. To see it in action, check out the video at http://vimeo.com/10424857. For more information, visit www.straitline.blogspot.com.

The new stem was developed with help from Canadian junior downhill champ Kyle Marshall

SRAM go for the tackle box

Hot on the heels of their latest 10-speed groups for both road and mountain, SRAM announced today that they will enter the angling market. “We started thinking about what other outdoor activities brought us the same passion as when we were children and, unanimously here at SRAM, it was love and memories of fishing,” said John Dawson, SRAM’s North American event manager.

“Nothing makes us more pleased today than to announce the newly formed SRAM Fishing Development Department. Based in the heart of North American fishing country, our new facility will work on ways to improve enjoyment during fishing and bringing their customers closer to nature."

Bike component makers SRAM have turned their attention to the fishing market

He continued: “Having a clean slate, we looked at all the current (or as we like to say, 'old fashioned') technology and decided that to improve on the experience we’d have to forgo what has become traditional methods. We knew that this meant leaving the old rod and reel in the garage to find new techniques that brought us back to the true roots of fishing.”

SRAM engineers experimented with explosives, which proved fun and effective but extremely loud. Prototype testing resulted in a severe communication problem among the test team due to ear ringing. Those products also struggled to gain ASTM and CPSC approval.

SRAM's Tyler Moreland was integral in prototype testing

Next, SRAM prototyped a modified form of fish wrestling, which was found depicted in hieroglyphs found in Mayan ruins. It consists of jumping off a boat and tackling a fish. Preliminary results of this technique were less than satisfactory – nobody caught anything but a chill. Testers also felt this approach would traumatise children and decided to forgo future development.

After numerous failed attempts at finding a new way to make catching fish more fun, SRAM stumbled upon ‘Noodling’, a practice that had yet to be patented. “We checked out the Interweb and stumbled across a technique that could land an 80lb catfish using only a bare arm and a hot dog for bait,” said Dawson. “After concentrated YouTube video study, we noticed the intense fun these 'Noodling' fisherpeople were having, and it reminded us of childhood and the true spirit of catching a fish.”

Early tests of the Mayan fish wrestling techniques proved unsatisfactory

SRAM’s marketing department is already behind the company’s Noodling efforts, and the brand’s race department has purchased a new boat and truck, which set out on the national Noodling circuit after Sea Otter.

"The plan for year one is to assemble the strongest team of Noodling athletes in the industry to fulfil our love of competition and to show SRAM’s road and mountain bike racing programmes that we can dominate fishing too,” said Tyler Moreland, from SRAM’s FDD team.

SRAM's Greg Herbold loves Noodling

“Right now we don’t have a clue what we’ll make to improve on current equipment, but after a year of competition we should start making some amazing products (of course Zipp’s roots in triathlon technology will give us an obvious advantage). We also just heard through the Noodling forums that there will be an announcement by the newly formed Subaru-Gary Fishin Team. We say: bring it ON!”

Keeps an eye out for SRAM Noodling Equipment arriving soon to your local Bass Pro Shop. SRAM ask that you remember to Noodle safely and always eat what you catch.

Pearl Izumi unveil top-secret Project Uranus

Pearl Izumi have unveiled a top-secret development programme that aims to increase bottom-line performance for cyclists worldwide. Working with pro cyclist Dave Zabriskie (aka DZ, creator of DZnuts chamois cream) and astronomer Peter Bosacker, they're aiming to put their new Anatomic P.R.O. 4D Chamois Technology on one of the harshest environments in the solar system – Uranus.

The clothing company have spent years and millions of dollars in research and development to create the new chamois technology, which has been built with the potential of providing lasting comfort up to 1,607,000,000 miles – coincidently, the distance from Earth to Uranus.

Features include strategically placed padding to relieve pressure and dampen vibration; built-in stretch to move with the body without uncomfortable seams; advanced transfer fabric technology to better regulate temperature while controlling odour and bacteria; and three-dimensional precision anatomic shaping to conform perfectly to the rider's anatomy and the shape of the saddle. 

“We used computer pressure map testing to pinpoint the exact location, thickness and density of our chamois padding technology to key contact points for optimal short- and long-distance riding comfort,” said Cache Mundy, lead director of Project Uranus.

“This technology will dampen vibrations which can lead to rider fatigue and numbness, and will allow riding enthusiasts of all skill levels to reach their riding goals, whether it’s an epic ride with your local bike club or long-distance treks to Uranus.”

The dramatic efforts behind Pearl Izumi’s top-secret Project Uranus program have been captured on a new video, which you can check out below. For more information, visit www.pearlonuranus.com.

Colnago developing Da Vinci's flying bike

Colnago founder and managing director Ernesto Colnago sensationally revealed today that the Italian bike manufacturers have spent the past few years working towards the production of a prototype of a flying bicycle that is partly based on drawings done by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th century. Colnago confirmed his development team has been working on this incredible innovation after rumours started to circulate during the recent Taipei bike show in Taiwan.

Initial designs for the machine, which is likely to revolutionise transport planning across the world, were based on Da Vinci's plans for a human-powered ornithopter, an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings like a bird. Drawn up in the 1480s, Da Vinci's drawings sketched out a machine in which the pilot lies down on a plank and works two large, membranous wings using hand levers, foot pedals and a system of pulleys.

Over the subsequent five centuries many attempts have been made to produce a working model of Da Vinci's designs. All have ultimately failed due to over-reliance on human muscle power, primarily in the arms. However, Colnago's team of expert engineers have hit upon a simple modification to the Da Vinci's original design that, they say, makes their version of the ornithopter a viable mode of transport.

An artist's impression of the Colnago ColnaGo-Up, based on a design by Da Vinci

For the moment, they are refusing to give precise details of this modification but it is rumoured to stem from developments made during recent years in recumbent/human-powered vehicles. In other words, Colnago's engineers are producing a machine based on leg rather than arm power. Colnago was tight-lipped about when the machine will receive its first public airing but did not deny reports that it would be used during a stage of the Giro d'Italia.

Indeed, a number of Italian riders have admitted to taking part in training sessions with the almost silent craft tracking and filming them from above. "Unlike race helicopters, you can completely forget it's there," said one Colnago-CSF rider. "I think the riders will welcome its introduction because it will get rid of the constant clatter of helicopters and we'll be able to hear ourselves think again."

One key problem that Ernesto Colnago did admit needs to be resolved is the question of what to call the new prototype. At the moment its working title is the ColnaGo-Up. Fans are encouraged to post their own suggestions in the comments box below, with a free flight in the ColnaGo-Up on offer for the best suggestion.

Ernesto Colnago shows the only way for the 'ColnaGo-Up' to head – skywards

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