Monday, February 01, 2016

Giving "Training With Power" New Meaning

Rendering of a motor bike with a seat tube mounted motor.
Unless you were living under a rock over the weekend, you probably got wind of the "mechanical doping" incident at the Cyclo Cross World Championships. If you want details, see this article on's site.

The offense has been confirmed by the UCI, so now this goes from fantasy land stuff to reality, and much like other forms of doping, (technical infractions, if you go by the UCI's terminology), one has to wonder, is this the first time it has happened? 

Uggh....... I don't want to be the one that speculates on that, but this device was found on a bike belonging to an under 23 class rider, and you have to think that some Pro level riders have at least tested this stuff if it has been found in the lower ranks. Anyway....... Consider the following Tweet fron Velo News editor, Caley Fretz:

Caley Fretz @CaleyFretz 23m23 minutes ago
"Last May, Greg LeMond told me it was only a matter of time before we found a motor. He said it with a conviction I should have recognized."

There are a lot of interesting comments about this from the innergoogles, and two of the most prominent ones are, "I wonder how powerful this would be?", and also, "This would make a great e-bike!". I have some thoughts on each of these comments, which, you probably are not too surprised by!

First off, something like this must not be an obvious advantage, or it would be a dead giveaway to something being "not right". So using that criteria, you could argue that the motor assist is not all that powerful. I've seen 100-ish watts as a figure given, and that makes sense. Thinking about how little separates the fast racers from each other, it wouldn't take much of a boost to get a break on the pack, or leaders. Having the boost/motor be controllable, as far as when you get that boost, would also make things a bit more believable. You can see the logic in that by thinking about how it would appear if the boost was used only on a climb, to gain a bit of separation.

You also have to figure that battery life is pretty limited, since it has to be small enough to be concealed and so it won't add a lot of weight. Again, that would lead me to believe that there would be some way to trigger the boost to occur only when you really need it. The rest of the time you might have a minimal output, only enough to overcome internal efficiency losses as you pedal under your own power, but not enough power to give you an advantage.

The second comment is mostly answered above. No- this would make a terrible e-bike. At least in this form factor. Think about how minimal the power and range of this would be. That ought to be enough right there to put this idea in the dust bin. But then you can compare it to contemporary e-bikes, (motorcycles), and you can see how this idea really isn't anything to crow about in a practical sense.

In the end, it becomes another "black eye" in the world of cycling. I'd be fine if we never hear or see of this stuff again in the future.

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