Professional Cycling Killed - Culprit, Electric Motors

It is slightly ironic that the death knell for professional cycling would be the electric motor.

For those not following the incredibly bizarre story of the accusations that pro cyclist Fabian Cancellara has been using a bike “doped” with an electric assist motor, the rumor goes thusly–top-of-his-game cyclist, capable of blowing competitors out of the water in events like Paris Roubaix, has been doing so not on his own strength, not thanks to blood doping or EPO but because of a small powerplant inside his bicycle.

The video, grainy and more than a touch poorly edited proposes that Cancellara’s recent, storied accelerations coincide with odd touches of his shifters. He must, according to the logic, be using a motor.

I’m not going to debate the possibility of this (our own Mark V already has a posting with numerous comments on the topic) instead I’m going to propose an alternate take, pro cycling is dead. At least, for the foreseeable future.

Bill’s Broken Bones

Bill Zimmerman, local fast bike racer and badass, broke his collarbone over the weekend. As it was told to us,

coming out of a corner at the Woodinville crit too fast, two guys go down in front of me, tried to squeeze between them and the metal barriers - didn’t quite make it. Send all recovery alcohol to the really hot home care nurse monitoring me.

bills_bones.jpg   We will NOT send him alcohol, as he’s likely on Oxycondone and those two do not mix. We will wish him well and welcome him back soon.

Cyclocross bikes: For those about to tinker, we salute you

front in trainer.jpg


p> I finally got my new cyclocross frame painted and assembled. It’s another Davidson frameset, this time in steel. As usual, I designed the bike down to the millimeter and chose the tubes and fittings (but I don’t do fabrication or painting). A cyclocross bike is in its very nature the bastard child of the mountainbike and road bike, and as such no truly integrated component group exists to hang on those frames harmoniously. I’ve had 2 other cyclocross bikes in the past 15 years, and each one has involved a lot of fiddling with components. This time around I’ll be trying out a number of new bits

Cancellara Conspiracy doubter

The Cancellara motor is in his legs

So it seems that the idea that Fabian Cancellara has used an electric motor to aid in winning Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders is so fantastical that we cannot dismiss the controversy. We originally linked to the issue in mere passing, but now even Cancellara and the UCI are making statements.

It has to be said that the claims are at least plausible, given that the technology for a nigh invisible electric-assist system exists. Marketed by a European company called Gruber, the system consists of an electric motor housed in a cylinder that inserts into the seat tube. A shaft extends into the bottom bracket shell where a gear engages onto a modified crank spindle.


p> Gruber Assist.jpg


p> There is some interesting video that samples an Italian former pro, who now works as a sports commentator, speculating about the use of electric motors in the pro peloton plus some footage of Cancellara’s hand movements allegedly activating the motor during his 2 biggest 2010 victories. A few people asked me if I think if he’s using…

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