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Muc-Off "bike porn" advert attracts accusations of "inappropriate" and "oversexualised" content; "Behold, the UK's largest bike retailer": Customers unimpressed by Halfords' bike racks; Plapp taps out due to horrific road rash + more on the live blog

Happy Friday everyone! One more live blog until the weekend, Dan Alexander is in the (still very chilly) hotseat for all your updates
19 January 2024, 14:08
Muc-Off "bike porn" advert attracts accusations of "inappropriate" and "oversexualised" content

Muc-Off's advert for the Scrubber Gloves, the bike cleaning products brand's aptly named gloves for scrubbing bikes clean using your hands, has got lots of attention in the last week, attracting double the likes of any other post on its Instagram this year. Titled 'Hands On Cleaning' the vid shows a gloved-up user, wearing a jumper with the word 'filth' on it, making a series of suggestive cleaning motions to rid a grime-covered bike of its dirt...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Muc-Off (@mucoff)

 It has attracted criticism from some, with accusations of "oversexualising" content and it being "widely inappropriate, uninclusive and unnecessary".

One comment on the video said: "Tell us your marketing team is all men without telling us your marketing team is all men... seriously?"

Muc-Off "bike porn" advert (Muc-Off/Instagram)

Another commenter added: "Way to go making cycling inclusive. You can do better than this @mucoff there are lots of ways to be funny without making 50 per cent of your audience feel grossed out and unsafe."

"Here we go again with with the heteronormative, masculine, and sexualised narrative that rips apart any notion of cycling being a space for everyone," a third wrote.

Muc-Off "bike porn" advert (Muc-Off/Instagram)

"It's 2024, surely you could come up with a marketing plan that was more inclusive to anyone other than basic men who like to over sexualise everything. Yes it may get the likes and engagement but is this really the target audience that you want your brand to only attract, because it definitely repulses a lot of other audiences who also need to clean their bikes," another suggested.

We've contacted Muc-Off to see if the brand has any reflections on the advert one week on, but hadn't heard back at the time of publication.

Of course, with 9,000 likes, not everyone who commented on the video agreed with the critics, some expressing support for the "bike porn" concept and one comment even suggesting the ad had "sold me on them".

Lancashire-based e-bike manufacturer Static Bikes also got in on the action, saying its bikes are "wet and ready".

Away from the "bike porn" comments, a couple of people were innocently more concerned by the lack of pre-wash to remove grit and dirt from the frame... "all that dirt just sanding the paint down" and another... "imagine just wet sanding your carbon frame"...

Whatever you or I make of the clip, someone at Muc-Off clearly sees the funny side, as we've been reliably informed it's over two years old and has been posted to Muc-Off's Instagram account at least once before. 

In April, we also featured Muc-Off's effort in our April Fool's round-up. No guesses for working out what the bike lube-selling company went for...

> Muc-Off's new lube… for when the bike's tucked up safely in the shed

19 January 2024, 16:36
Near Miss of the Day 887: Bus company launches investigation after driver hits cyclist’s handlebars during overtake
19 January 2024, 14:52
"They just don't make them like Mick Ives anymore": Tributes pour in for British cycling legend who dies aged 84
19 January 2024, 14:44
Seven out of ten people say they never ride a bike, as safer roads – not more cycle lanes – viewed as key to encouraging cycling, new national travel study finds
19 January 2024, 09:00
"Behold, the UK's largest bike retailer... you really are spoiling us": Customers unimpressed by 'wheel-bender' bike racks at major Halfords store

For the uninitiated, this type of bike rack is commonly dubbed the 'wheel-bender' because... well... I'm sure you can work that part out. No support for the frame, hard to lock to, potentially the easiest rack to be removed? I'm willing to die on the 'just give us nice, practical, well-fitted Sheffield Stands' hill.

Unsurprisingly the introduction of a 'wheel-bender' does not go down well...

> "Are you happy to lose customers?": Dismay as Co-op replaces popular bike parking with "two useless wheel benders"

But outside a branch of the UK's largest cycling retailer? You'd be forgiven for expecting something a little bit more inspiring. 

And no, apparently it's not even a leftover relic from past decades that has never been upgraded and everyone's forgotten about it, but a relatively recent addition...

One wheel torture device replaced by another. As Bike Rogers explained in another post "it strikes of doing the bare minimum". Anyway, not Halfords' only live blog appearance in recent times, click here for another cracker...

> "All the right parts, but not necessarily in the right places": Halfords' questionable bike set-up ridiculed 

Or, if you're craving your next dodgy bike rack fix...

> Worst bike racks — from the useless to utterly unusable places to park your bicycle

19 January 2024, 11:51
Altrincham's the place to be...

road.cc reader Bob got in touch to share the good news from Altrincham... "Proper Sheffield bike racks, near the front door, protected from cars." No wonder the Sunday Times awarded it best place to live 2022...

Halfords Altrincham (Google Maps)

There's hope...

19 January 2024, 11:13
"Ethical bike thief" re-steals nicked hire bikes and returns them to docking stations

An undercover vigilante, dubbed 'Batman', is re-stealing stolen bike share bicycles and returning them to docking stations in Toronto, blogTo reports.

The "ethical bike thief" is fed up with spotting stolen hire bikes all over the city, key signs being the lights not flashing, a "chewed up" appearance, and it being stashed in a strange place, such as one he spotted in some bushes, swooping in and returning it to a docking station.

"I can't save them all because they're either in use or locked up," the ethical bike thief said. "Like anything, once you keep an eye out for it, you'll start to notice them."

Thoughts? 

19 January 2024, 10:31
"We have been fighting so many headwinds for the last three or four years, that it's come to the point where we really can't carry on": Women's Tour owner and Tour of Britain organiser SweetSpot goes into liquidation
The Women's Tour climbs Black Mountain in 2022 (SWpix.com)

Yet another blow for British-based pro races as the owner of the Women's Tour and organiser of the Tour of Britain, SweetSpot, has entered liquidation. The news reported in the Guardian by Jeremy Whittle via an interview with chief executive Hugh Roberts is that the promoter has appointed KRE corporate recovery to deal with its creditors after entering voluntary liquidation, with liabilities likely to extend significantly past £1m.

2023 Tour of Britain stage seven (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

[Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com]

British Cycling had rescinded the group's naming rights to the Tour of Britain due to a dispute over unpaid fees, claimed to be in the region of £750,000, while there has also been a suggestion of legal action from the Isle of Wight's council following the cancellation of the final stages in 2022 due to the death of the Queen.

Chief exec Roberts also admitted the estimated £1m outstanding debt could be higher, with a creditors list including local police forces and in-race service suppliers.

2023 Tour of Britain stage three, Olav Kooij wins again (SWpix.com/Simon Wilkinson)

[Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com]

"Liquidation started to become a possibility back in July," Roberts said, suggesting that spiralling costs, the impact of Covid cancelling races, the Queen's death cancelling stages, and British Cycling's stance on the fees dispute had all contributed.

"Because we were already under a lot of pressure financially with the Tour of Britain. There was a potential title sponsor keen to be involved, with the men's Tour and the women's Tour, so we went ahead with the race, because that encouraged other sponsors to get involved."

Nothing came from those negotiations, creating a "real struggle".

"The reality of us having to decide to do what has actually ­happened came into focus," he said. "It's the end of an era. It's 20 years of hard work that have come to this. We have been fighting so many headwinds for the last three or four years, that it's come to the point where we really can't carry on in the current climate and the current business environment that we find ourselves in.

"The conditions that were set for us to extract ourselves from the position with British Cycling were too onerous. British Cycling wanted to still receive the full licence fee that they felt they were due in 2022. Despite the Queen dying in the middle of the race and all our other partners showing a little bit of financial sympathy to us they were insisting that the fee they felt they were owed should be paid in full.

"That, along with Covid, with not having a race from September 2019 to September 2021, the debt taken on board to keep the whole thing afloat. Local council bankruptcies, belt-tightening all over the place – that does not augur well for events that rely on government support.

"British Cycling say they have a plan [for the men's Tour of Britain] but I don’t know what it is. There was no room to negotiate. We were not even given the grounds to appeal."

British Cycling said it is "making every possible effort to  ensure that the Tour of Britain and a UCI Women's World Tour stage race take place in 2024 and beyond, and will be in a position to provide further details in the coming weeks". 

19 January 2024, 10:25
A winter ascent of Mont Ventoux
19 January 2024, 10:20
Tour Down Under any other business: Luke Plapp abandons due to horrendous road rash

Before the stage Luke Plapp's team put out this update...

Translation: It f-ing hurts and have you tried sleeping in Australia during summer missing half the skin off your back? Can feel those sheets sticking from here, Luke, rest up... 

> "That's going to sting for a while": Jayco-AlUla's Luke Plapp with some of the worst road rash we've seen... but still manages to complete stage three of Tour Down Under

19 January 2024, 09:55
Pro cycling's new dominant sprinter? Tougher tests ahead but Sam Welsford and Bora-Hansgrohe showing promise in Oz

Sam Welsford. 2024 couldn't have started much better for Bora's flying Aussie. Home race. Three sprints. Three wins, the third of which coming today on his 28th birthday. A lead-out working like clockwork. Happy days. 

There has been bullishness coming out of the Bora camp all week, Welsford praising the race-dominating leadout abilities of Danny van Poppel, Ryan Mullen and Co. 

"With those guys leading me out it’s almost hard not to get it right [...] with Danny and Ryan in front of you, you can turn your brain off, and they'll do the whole thing for you," the Aussie explained.

Sam Welsford Tour Down Under (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

Van Poppel also compared Welsford, in some quotes that made eye-catching headlines earlier this week, to Marcel Kittel or André Greipel... "a powerhouse", adding that: "He's a totally different type of sprinter to Bennett – I was waiting for a fast sprinter. Sam Bennett is a good friend of mine, but in the end it's business and we want to win." Ouch.

> "I was waiting for a fast sprinter": Lead-out supremo Danny van Poppel offers savage analysis of Sam Bennett as "New Sam" Welsford opens Bora account at Tour Down Under

Bora, Welsford and his leadout are saying, and more importantly doing, all the right things. Will 2024 be the year he takes a step forward and becomes pro cycling's dominant sprinter? Lorena Wiebes, Jasper Philipsen and a few others will have something to say about that, but the signs are positive, at least for some big wins, Welsford expected to head to the Giro in May (and mouth-watering potential clashes with Wout van Aert/Olav Kooij for Jumbo, Jonathan Milan, Fabio Jakobsen, Ewan and Juan Sebastián Molano), his second Grand Tour after a debut Tour de France last year that only brought one top-ten finish.

A seemingly off Caleb Ewan, Phil Bauhaus, Elia Viviani and Biniam Girmay probably isn't the toughest competition for a dialled in and firing Bora machine either. Tougher tests ahead, but a near perfect 2024 so far.

We're yet to decide if having four arms will help or hinder his chances...

Sam Welsford Tour Down Under (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)

[Zac Williams/SWpix.com]

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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49 comments

Avatar
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP | 2 months ago
3 likes

The Muc Off advert is really naff and cringe.  But those gloves look like a really good cleaning aid. 

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Hirsute | 2 months ago
6 likes

Gloucester the place where the best drivers are

Alternatively challenging Lancs police for the topspot

//pbs.twimg.com/media/GEMwqt4WAAEyYbj?format=jpg&name=medium)

 

(Isn't bungle_52 from there ?)

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
3 likes

Yes I am. I made my first Op Snap report just under a year ago. After the first confirmation email saying that they would definitely get back to me I contacted them having heard nothing. The reply was that this was a mistake and they would not give routine feedback. They did however tell me that a warning letter had been sent as a result of my first report.

I have heard nothing since despite around 20 reports. They say not to put videos on social media and keep the files for a year.   I assume that I can publish the video after this time so I'll send in some in when the year is up.

You will remember that I used to get immediate feedback for all my previous reports although it wasn't always encouraging.

Avatar
Bungle_52 replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
1 like

PS thanks for sending this in. I knew they had failed to meet the dedline for publishing the information but I hadn't seen that it's finally out.

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Hirsute replied to Bungle_52 | 2 months ago
1 like

Found it on twitterx (reposted by Mark Hodson).

Essex was in contrast

286 Extra Eyes reports to

in Dec 2023, 47 from cyclists Outcomes for cyclist reports - Notice of intended prosecution 35 (74%) - No further action 9 (19%) - Advice letter 1 (2%) - Other 2 (4%) 44 reports by cyclists were for close passes

 

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 2 months ago
3 likes

Muc-off add:
Shame the guy didn't stop every now and then and whisper - in an ASMR kinda way - Muc-Off*

* taking the piss out of the ASMR Bentley online videos of a woman in a very short dress tapping, rubbing and caressing various parts of the car, stopping on to whisper [almost inaudible and husky] ... Bentley.

Avatar
Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Oldfatgit | 2 months ago
1 like

Their April Fools last year was funny as f*ck. They missed a trick this time.

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Dnnnnnn | 2 months ago
6 likes

I did laugh at the Muc-Off ad - guess that makes me part of the problem...

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Oldfatgit | 2 months ago
2 likes

Can't you push your bike around Britain's biggest bike retailer like you can Decathlon?

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ktache replied to Oldfatgit | 2 months ago
0 likes

I do.

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Hirsute | 2 months ago
0 likes

 I waited for the sun to be up for a bit before venturing out. -1.7 according to the garmin. I have renamed my altura winter gloves to autumn gloves as my fingers were too cold. I did try 2 pairs of gloves, but the best I could achieve with various combos was fingers could only be straight !

Avatar
Oldfatgit replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
2 likes

I did a 12 mile commute yesterday wearing Galibier Barrier Winter gloves, and was just starting to feel slightly chilly in the fingers towards the end.

Temperature was -7 deg C

Avatar
Hirsute replied to Oldfatgit | 2 months ago
1 like

That's the one I was looking at on wednesday but out of stock until next week when it warms up !

But thanks for the info; I have just ordered a pair !

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Steve K replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
1 like

I wore three pairs of gloves for my -6 C commute yesterday morning.  It worked!

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Hirsute replied to Steve K | 2 months ago
2 likes

I'm trying the galibier gloves soon - double digits temps by the time they arrive !

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Oldfatgit replied to Steve K | 2 months ago
0 likes

They take some breaking in, but once you've got them ... they're grrreeeaaat.

[I had discomfort on the heels of my thumbs that nearly made me give up with them ... but I'm glad I stuck with them.

If you're interested, the feet were kept nice and toasty by Maddisons Waterproof socks and cheap winter boots [that you can't get hold of for love nor money]

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JohnP_SM7 replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
2 likes

I raided the cupboard where our ski gear is kept before going out on my commuting ride to the office yesterday.  A pair of ski gloves made a big difference with the temperature somewhere around -8 to -4 °C depending who you believe.  I used them again today, though it was slightly less chilly.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
5 likes

Let me get this right.  The primary organiser of Pro racing in this country goes bankrupt because British Cycling - the Shell teat sucking Pro racing licence monopoly holder - demands license fees to stage races?

How does demanding license fees for races improve racing in this country.  

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Velovoyeur replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
1 like

Its a common principle for organisations to sell the rights of events for other promoters to put them on. The fee from the sale of the rights is then used as income and recycled back into the purpose of the selling organisation. 

In this instance, BC sell the rights to generate income to service the sport and its members. If Sweetspot were not paying the fee they were effectively denying money to BC members. So chasing for the unpaid rights fee puts money in the kitty for the benefit of racing in the UK.

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stonojnr replied to Velovoyeur | 2 months ago
0 likes

Yep, BC were just chasing the fees Sweetspot had agreed to pay them when they signed their most recent 10 year deal to deliver the race, in 2019.

Id assume with the company liquidated they simply didn't have the money to pay, it was fairly obvious theyd been running on fumes for a while, so BC ends up roughly 750k out of pocket.

Which actually probably then impacts their ability to step in to organise the races inspite of their statement.

And we're back chasing sponsors who don't seem to exist for cycling in the UK anymore.

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Secret_squirrel replied to stonojnr | 2 months ago
0 likes

750k of revenue.  But not with any corresponding costs.  Wouldnt it have been better to come up with a payment plan, rather than pennies on the pound at best from a liquidation.

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Velovoyeur replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
0 likes

From what is in the press, there are plenty of others owed money by Sweetspot plus there is potential legal action from the Isle of Wight. So, setting up a payment plan with a company that has debts all over the place is never wise. It is likely that lots of other organisations will go unpaid too. 

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stonojnr replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
0 likes

only BC can truly answer that. Taking away the ToB contract ultimately triggered the liquidation, even if it took time to work through, as it took Sweetspots only source of revenue generation away.

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kil0ran replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 months ago
0 likes

More fallout from the Queen carking it. I lost a few hundred quid from the stage being cancelled and missed a truly iconic memory that's never likely to happen now

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mitsky | 2 months ago
3 likes

"Hammersmith Bridge: Cost of repairs more than doubles"

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-68024233

Tell us that motorists don't pay their fair share of the damage caused by vehicle use, without telling us.

"But cyclists don't pay road tax!"

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to mitsky | 2 months ago
16 likes

mitsky wrote:

"Hammersmith Bridge: Cost of repairs more than doubles"

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-68024233

Tell us that motorists don't pay their fair share of the damage caused by vehicle use, without telling us.

"But cyclists don't pay road tax!"

It'd be great if they gave up trying to find the money and just kept the bridge for walkers and cyclists etc.

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mitsky replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
4 likes

100%

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chrisonabike | 2 months ago
3 likes

One of the Edinburgh Halfords has this solid and enteraining one.  Albeit it might be nice to have a few more spaces.  OTOH this store one is next to a motor artery.

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marmotte27 replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
2 likes

They're crap...

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 2 months ago
3 likes

Well they're not Sheffield stands but when "crap" includes wheelbenders, toast racks and more generally ones that you can't fit your bike in or that the bike can be stolen from by undoing a couple of bolts I'll take these any day!  Note - right next to the front door...

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