I’ve just received this press release from the UCI. It’s certainly a major innovation, and I can’t wait to see how it changes the tactics used in races!
The UCI hasn’t said so, but I suspect this is partly a response to bike industry pressure: e-bikes are a fast-growing segment of the market, but they’re definitely not sexy, and manufacturers need professionals adopting them to add some bling and take sales to the next level with the cafe racer segment.
Personally, I can’t wait to hit my favourite Strava segments with a UCI-legal 200 Watt motor on board.
|UCI Technical Committee meeting: introduction of electric bicycles in 2015|
|The UCI Technical Committee (PCC) met in Aigle (Switzerland) on March 31st to confirm the introduction of electric motors to UCI road racing events for the 2015 season. The new regulations require teams to install small electric motors within the frames of racing bicycles, to provide power assistance up to 200 Watts during road races, or 250 Watts in time trials, to be used at the rider’s discretion.The Technical Committee decided that the new regulations, which all UCI World Tour and Pro Continental teams will eventually have to adhere to, shall go through a test phase in 2014 before being adopted permanently. This is an important step in the reform of professional road cycling, and follows the example of Formula 1 motor racing in its commitment to ongoing technical innovation in the sport.
The teams’ terms of reference contain a certain number of rules that aim to change the culture of professional cycling in order to guarantee spectator interest.
The committee indicated that the introduction of electric motors is a response to fan objections that recent racing has “lacked panache” and that the new, cleaner cycling movement has damaged the spectacle of cycling for TV audiences. In particular, it is a question of maintaining the ability of riders to perform at extraordinary levels without pharmacological assistance.
Taking its lead from Formula 1, the new motors will incorporate energy recovery technology (KERS) and riders will be able to deploy a power boost in a short burst or in a sustained release, as required.
During the 2014 season, the teams and manufacturers will be provided with a UCI standardised motor and battery specification to be implemented by the beginning of 2015.
A UCI spokesperson said,
“The UCI views the introduction of electric motors to cycling as the natural evolution of racing, and is excited to bring a new element to the World Tour in 2015. Fans will love seeing riders climbing Hors catégorie mountains at the equivalent of 10W/kg, and can you imagine how good these things will be on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix?
Everyone loves it when Formula 1 messes around with its engines, and we really love the sound of their new cars, so why not add some of that excitement to bike racing? We’ve been holding back innovation for so long it’s definitely time to do something drastic.”
“Besides, Fabian Cancellara has been using a motor for years, and it’s only made him look like a complete badass.”