Electric Bikes at the Giro????

It’s the stupidest thing. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.

This is what Ryder Hesjedal said after officials seized his bike at the finish line of today’s stage of the Giro d’Italia to check for any hidden electric motors. The full story can be found here at Velonews.

There have been rumors of some riders using electrically assisted bikes for a while. I think it started after the 2010 Ronde van Vlaanderen when Fabian Cancellara rode away from Tom Boonen on the Kapelmuur. (round about 2:40 on the video clip)

Strangely this is not the first time that Ryder has been suspected of having a motor in his bike

Electric assisted bikes exist. My wife Grace has one, and it works well. It also weighs 22 kg, of which the battery accounts for about 3 kg and the motor probably about another 3 kg. In other words the motor and the battery weigh about as much as the average pro’s race bike.The maximum power boost is probably about 120 to 150 watts, using it at that level the battery would last about two hours.

An Electric Bike
A Cannondale Race bike as ridden by Ryder Hesjedal

I think the important part of the bike to focus on is the bottom bracket area (where the cranks are) If you look closely at the E-Bike you will see a grey rhomboid shape just in front and above the front chainring. This is the motor housing. Do you see anything remotely like this on the Cannondale – no. Electric motors produce power roughly in proportion to their size, so to get a significant power boost you need a reasonably sized motor, something which I don’t think could be hidden in the seat tube. Another thing worth noticing is that grey box on the lower tier of the rack, that is the battery. It is conceivable that you could fashion a battery that would fit into the down tube, but I’m not quite sure how you get it in and out without cutting the frame nor can I see how you would charge the thing without leaving evidence of a charging port. Also note the wires everywhere on the E-bike and not so much on the Cannondale.

On top of that why would a professional cyclist want the penalty of the extra weight of a battery and motor on a mountain stage for a five or ten minute boost?

However some professional cyclists, in particular the Dutch female rider Marjin de Vries think that all electric bikes, especially the type ridden by my wife should be banned completely.

A similar incident last summer was even more traumatic. I was training in Zuid-Limburg, in the Dutch hills, doing efforts on a climb. Efforts mean riding up a hill as fast as possible. Again. And again and again. When I did the effort for the fifth time, gasping for oxygen and with legs about to explode, I suddenly saw an aged couple two corners above me. They were pedaling up as well.I should have realised immediately that only Super Granny would be capable of riding up a climb like that. For ordinary-aged people it was far too hard. But doing efforts blurs ones vision. I could just notice that this aged couple’s pace was pretty high. Actually, they seemed to be flying up. I was giving it all and I hardly came any closer. WTF?, I thought. WTF, OMG, BBQ?!?! I squeezed out every bit of energy I had left in my body and found myself back in the slipstream of the couple. And there I saw what I should have realised minutes before: electric bikes.

Having tried to follow Grace in full boost mode up a hill, I tend to agree with her.

5 thoughts on “Electric Bikes at the Giro????”

  1. Interesting. I agree that a cyclist in a race would not want to jeopardize his win by cheating with a motor. The world we live in!?

    Banning electric bikes? Are they a serious threat to the environment? I think they sound very practical for hill climbing, especially if you are older or have a bum knee. I wish I had a motor 🙂


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