Are electric bikes our future everywhere?
It’s got to be the easiest thing in the world to detect. It’s not like drugs where you have to do sophisticated blood tests at random times, and monitor each individual athlete’s performance. All you have to do is check the frame, at the race.
It does pose a valid question for friendly/unregulated competitions like brevets and fondos, such as Crush the Comm.
Personally, I’m just surprised that battery technology can finally contribute a meaningful supply of power. We’ve come a long way from D-cells to Tesla Motors.
I have no horse in this race, so to speak, but if technology has given us this level of subterfuge, it can also give the suburban commuter a lot more leverage in getting to work or even the bus stop.
For those who don’t know me well, I face a 7% grade on a shoulder-less road with 10-foot lanes, both directions getting out of my neighborhood. If I had a bit more oomph to get that first half mile — or rather, if all my neighbors had that equipment — we could probably take a few more cars off the road. On the rare occasion that I can get non-cycling people near me to talk sensibly about cycling, one of the big hurdles is that it’s too tough to climb hills around here, so they don’t even try.
Short version, I don’t give a crap about racing, less still about cheating in racing, but I do want to get more people using bikes instead of cars for routine travel.
I borrowed an electic assist bike from my sister for one of our 40 mile rides last summer. It was awesome! The bikes were heavy, but very mobile when under human power. But, with a little bit of headwind, or hill, easing on the power assist was a treat!
While riding, she posed this question of me (when talking about e-bike naysayers): “What would YOU call a bike that makes it possible to worry less about riding in inclement weather (because you could shorten the amount of time it takes to complete your trip) and flattens hills?” My response was “the perfect machine.”
I can definitely say that the long, not so gradual hill that separates my home from the 6 or so miles that separates my home from my office is a factor in deciding whether I want to bike commute on a given day. Remove that hill, and I suspect my bike commuting would increase by 30%.
I do think that electric bikes have the potential to more drivers off the road and onto a bike on a regular basis which in turn would 1) decrease angst towards cyclists and cycling infrastructure and 2) have environmental and societal benefits. In general, I support them for on-road use.
However, e-bikes do pose a threat to the mountain biking community and threaten to undo decades of mountain biking advocacy work. So I am strongly opposed to the use of e-mtbs. You can read more about the cons of e-mtbs here http://www.nemba.org/news/open-letter-imba-about-wilderness-sustainable-trails-coalition-and-e-mtbs . Unfortunately, many mountain bike manufacturers don’t seem to be concerned about this threat and are selling e-mtbs. It is all about the $$$.
E-bikes also threaten the integrity of races, especially races that aren’t regulated by a governing cycling body and grassroots events like the Dirty Dozen. Within a few years (if that), the technology used by the Belgian racer will be readily available to everyone and not be detectable just by looking at a bike. I believe they currently detect it by using heat sensors.
Really, it’s the easiest thing in the world to detect this — much easier than drug doping, where you have to monitor each individual athlete’s blood over time with random tests. For motor doping, all you need to do is make sure the seat tube is hollow at race time. I would imagine a stud detector would work fine to screen them (since these bikes are carbon so any significant amount of metal suggests something’s up).
I certainly hope that it is easy to detect but this will put an extra burden on race directors and require inspections of all bikes.
When it comes to mountain biking, the fear is that mountain bikes will just be banned outright from parks/forests or not allowed in the first place because it will be too difficult for park rangers (if the park even has a ranger) to keep out e-mtbs while allowing mtbs. So many places already don’t want mtbs for no good reason and this will just be the nail in the coffin.
They would really only have to check the winning bikes, right?
I think e-bikes for recreation purposes wouldn’t be built with concealed motors and power supplies since that must make maintenance harder and limit the power and range of the e-bike.
The real test for any e-bike is to do my old FedEx commute. McCandless to Bellevue to McKees Rocks Bridge, Stowe Tunnel, Pine Hollow Rd (a long steady uphill), Fairhaven (a significant hill), then Clever (a few ups and downs), to Montour Trail to FedEx driveway, a half-mile monster of a hill.
If the motor cannot get me up that 250-foot climb at the end of 17 miles of rolling terrain, there is no point in having it. Design something that can. I am _not_ pushing all that extra weight up a monster hill after biking 17 miles.
Someone near and dear to me may be moving to Oakland or Squirrel Hill this summer. If he does, 17 miles of rolling terrain is far beyond the range he’d need for most everything that would be of interest to him in Pittsburgh. It would even be somewhat more capacity than he’d need for without an opportunity to recharge before the trip home.
They are fantastic made better each new year.I sell them and can ride one from B.H to Ben Avon with no problem .The only thing is they can make you lazy,,,
Info on the seat-tube motor, the Vivax Assist: http://www.businessinsider.com/vivax-motor-bike-doping-scandal-2016-2
Weighs 4 pounds, adds 110 watts. Of course that much weight would be impossible for a pro cyclist to be unaware of.
(Also the article points out that you don’t need a special tool to detect the motor — the compass in a smartphone is enough, using a special app.)
Regarding pro cyclists and weight, the UCI currently has a bike weight limit of (I think) 6.7 kg (14.7 lbs). However, you can build a pro-caliber bike for under that and then have to add small weights to comply with the UCI minimum. Depending on frame size, you might be able to build an 11 lb bike and then add the motor and be OK.
110 extra watts make an enormous difference in a race.
I am reconciled to my eventual fate of being elderly and riding a trike with an electric assist. 110 watts would make a helluva difference on Greenfield Ave and Bates St, too.
On a separate note: This motorized-doping story is being widely misreported. What we know so far is that a bike containing a motor was found in a team area. It isn’t known who it belongs to, knew of it, or if it was used in any races. This isn’t an accusation or a defense of anyone, just a round-up of the known facts.
Here is the explanation from the accused rider:
“That bike belongs to a friend of mine. He trains along with us. He joined my brothers and my father. That friend joined my brother at the reconnaissance and he placed the bike against the truck but it’s identical to mine. Last year he bought it from me. My mechanics have cleaned the bike and put it in the truck. They must’ve thought that it was my bike. I don’t know how it happened.”
I thought it was established she’d used the bike during the race. People reported seeing wires dangling from it.
I’m pretty sure the bikes used in the races are marked in some way. Even in PBP they had us put cards on our bikes. I’d be surprised if they didn’t know what bike she was using in the race.
Note also that on a previous race, she did better than expected, in particular riding up a hill in a seated position (which is the best position to use the motor) while others were standing.
The story is so juicy that lots of news outlets are jumping on it and running headlines that are incorrect. I admit to really enjoying the entire scandal.
Keep in mind that nobody has come forward claiming to have evidence that she actually rode the bike. No wires were seen hanging from the bike she was riding. And now there’s an angry mob piling on.
The bike was found in the pit area 1 lap into the race. In this format of race the transponder and number plate is on the rider, not the bike, because riders routinely change bikes mid-race.
It will be interesting to see if her friend comes forward and claims ownership of the motorized bike. This scandal is going to get more interesting as it goes along. Either way, it’s interesting. Either this girl cheated or she has suffered publicly without having done anything wrong.
There are very few people who are allowed to be in the PIT. And bikes that are allowed there should pass control.
If you have a bike in the pit, then you had every intention of riding it should something have gone wrong during your race. However, I’m not sure what the UCI rule is – does mechanical doping only count if you actually rode the bike? I would guess not… if you fail a blood doping test the day before a race, you would still be punished even though you didn’t actually race, right?
On a different note, are e-bikes allowed on rail trails that have ‘no motorized vehicles’ signs posted?
Nobody is arguing that an illegal bike should be allowed in the pit area.
A friend has claimed the bike as his own and said she didn’t know about it. We probably won’t ever have more evidence than: the bike was found in her pit area and another guy claims it as his own.
That’s all we have to go on. I’m fine with a few year suspension even if she may not be guilty. That makes the racer and their crew responsible for controlling their own pit area.
I think it matters if the bike was hers or if she had knowledge of it. Perhaps not in terms of sanctions but at least in regard to her reputation.
You know, it makes a whole lot more sense that it was her bike than it does it was formerly hers, modified by the friend she sold it to to add a motor, then somehow found its way back in with her bikes and was cleaned up and prepared by her crew without them noticing the extra weight (unless it was somehow modified by her friend to make the weight match an unmotorized bike), then found its way into her pit, after she had displayed remarkably good performance climbing a hill in the seated position in a previous race. It’s just a much simpler explanation. Defending her is like the people who defended Lance Armstrong or Floyd Landis even though all the evidence was pointing in the direction that they were taking drugs.
On the other hand I’m willing to let the investigation which is I hope still ongoing proceed.
Actually, it is quite common for sponsored racers to sell their bike every year, frequently to friends. And when friends go to races, it is normal to ride their bike to where all the action is at and hang out. In this case, that’s the friend’s pit area. That part of the story is not only normal, but to be expected. I have personally seen that exact scenario at many times.
Beyond that, I completely agree it is suspect. Why would this guy install an invisible motor?
I’ve watched the video that people claim shows her climbing too easily when seated and others are standing. In my opinion, seeing that in the video is just the power of suggestion. There’s over an hour of coverage and hundreds of similar instances where riders attack hills differently.
While advocating against a witch hunt and jumping to conclusions, I do believe it was her bike. There isn’t absolute proof but enough to justify banning her from UCI races for a few years. Either it was her bike or she didn’t secure her pit area. It’s not the UCI’s job to figure out who’s illegal bike is in your pit area.
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