Sun, Apr 07, 2019 - Page 11 News List

World motorcycling and cycling bodies clash over e-bikes

Reuters, LONDON

Electric bicycles are already a divisive topic in cycling clubs worldwide and many a Sunday morning warrior has cursed at the sight of one gliding effortlessly past on a lung-burning climb.

Now cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), and its motorcycling counterpart have become embroiled in a row over which organization holds jurisdiction over e-bike competitions.

The huge rise in popularity of pedal bicycles with small motors, especially electric mounting bikes, led to the UCI integrating them into its competition regulations in January.

The first UCI E-Mountain Bike World Championships is to be held in Canada later this year, while several e-bike events have been registered on the UCI’s mountain bike calendar for next year.

However, the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) last month potentially threw a wrench in the works by announcing a rival series, the inaugural FIM E-Bike Enduro World Cup, which is to take place in France in June.

In a statement on Friday, the UCI said that it was “surprised and disappointed” by the move, insisting that e-bikes are one of the disciplines under its auspices, along with road, track and BMX.

“The UCI had already notified the FIM in September 2017 that it considered e-mountain bike events to come exclusively under its jurisdiction and that the respective roles of the two international federations were clear and would not be called into question,” it said.

Riders who take part in FIM-organized events could face disciplinary measures, the UCI said.

“The UCI means to develop this activity, which, as with other forms of cycling, comes under its exclusive jurisdiction,” UCI president David Lappartient said.

The UCI has strict regulations regarding the electric motors on e-mountain bikes, which must not exceed 250 watts. Pedaling assistance is only permitted up to a maximum speed of 25kph.

FIM’s Enduro 1 events allow motors to produce more than 250 watts, with pedaling assistance allowed up to 45kph.

Five-time world mountain bike champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Julien Absalon is a convert to e-bikes, winning the French national championships.

“Electrically assisted mountain bike is a new challenge for me,” Absalon said.

“It’s good that bodies such as the UCI take new practices seriously. The manufacturers, athletes and public are there. The electric bike is a social phenomenon that contributes to the development of our sport. It is great that it is also recognized at the highest level,” he added.

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