The recent controversy over Fabian Cancellara’s alleged use of an electric motor in the Paris-Roubaix has got me thinking about the whole subject of e-Bikes. Barely a week goes by without large scale manufacturers announcing new and innovative plans to build electric bikes so it seems inevitable that at some point this technology will crossover from commuting to recreational and sports use.
The question is, do we want it?
Cancellara’s rivals claim that the Paris-Roubaix rider had electrical assistance for his sprint work in the form of an electric motor hidden in the seat-tube delivering additional drive to the bottom bracket.
Far fetched as this may seem in the weight conscious world of Pro cycling, where carrying an extra pound or two of largely dead weight for much of the ride would be seen as suicide, the claims persist. Mechanical doping it’s called but it remains to be seen who the dopes really are. You can read a decent argument against it on the BikeHugger site.
The basic technology though is pretty simple. An external battery and some additional pedalling assistance for when things are really hurting. I think we can all imagine times when that would be helpful; and let’s not overlook the unpalatable truth of the years catching up on us (eventually). Would it allow us to enjoy our hobby for longer?
Is that something we want to see permeate our weekend warrior efforts? Would you be upset if your best efforts were undermined by someone turning up and leaving you in the dust through mechanical assistance? Or is it just an extension of the ‘more money buys more performance’ trend that’s been apparent for years? Is it just, well, cheating?
I can’t say I’m particularly taken by the idea of what would be effectively electric scooters clogging up our trails, they’re bad enough (and dangerous enough) round the shops these days!
Even so, like it or not, electric bikes are being pushed very heavily as companies try desperately for a quick wipe with the cooling moistness of the Eco/Green flannel. Where do we go from here?