Italian newspaper, Gazzetta dello Sport claims that motors in bikes are antiquated and the most sophisticated form of mechanical doping is coils of wire in 200,000 Euro wheels


Until this week, when the UCI confirmed they had discovered the first ever case of ‘technological fraud,’ many people in the cycling community thought that mechanical doping was ridiculous and akin to conspiracy theories like the royal family being alien lizards and David Icke is the son of God.

>>> Everything you need to know about mechanical doping

Well now something even more ridiculous has emerged. The Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has described hidden motors located in the seat tube and bottom bracket as ‘old doping’ proposing instead that special electromagnetic wheels costing 200,000 Euros (£152,000) are actually the most sophisticated form of mechanical doping.

Gazzetta's electromagnetic wheel diagram

Gazzetta’s electromagnetic wheel diagram

The suggestion is that these wheels use electromagnetic coils hidden within a deep section wheel and are able to produce 20-60 watts. The Italian paper makes no attempt to explain the exact workings of the system, or how it is turned on or activated, but their anonymous source claims it could “transform an average level professional rider into a phenomenon.”

There is not attempt to explain the location of the magnets either, just that wire is in the wheel rim. If GCSE physics taught us anything, it is that electromagnetic induction requires magnets (the clue is in the name).

>>> I cheated on Strava with an electric bike and got an amazing KOM

Perhaps this system requires an accomplice (Wile E Cayote) to sit at the top of Alpe D’Huez with a huge horseshoe shaped magnet pulling you up from the bottom.

The newspaper’s anonymous ‘Mr X’ source claimed he has sold over 1,200 units of the ‘old’ system, saying “I can only laugh when I read the Gran Fondo results, I could rewrite almost all of them,” and describes the new system as “perfect.”

Even if these wheels do exist and somehow work, with a price of 200,000 Euros, you are going to have win a lot of women’s cyclocross races to pay for the initial investment of your wheels.

Mr X also went on to suggest that riders had been using mechanical doping for some time, before the initial rumours in 2010, and that he had previously spoken to authorities at the UCI about it.

“Some time ago, I also spoke to people in Aigle,” he is reported as saying. “I think you only need to study the exploits of some riders to see who uses a motor. That’s why I suggested inserting power data in the Biological Passport.”

  • Robert Koritnik

    You’re correct when you say that crank power meter doesn’t include added power of these wheels but that may be rather obsolete if data is compared among top 10 riders. Their “work” should be pretty much equal as they’d all be riding the same climb. Their timing would be different but output should be right about there for all of them… If someone was climbing with same average power of X watts but got up there much faster than some other bloke it would automatically mean that some power was added after the point of power measurement. You could even deduct “engine” power from it.

  • Robert Koritnik

    Cyclingweekly you should at least give Google a try to translate what’s written on the image before claiming “…or how it is turned on or activated”. It says on the image itself. It can be activated automatically according to rider’s heart rate or with a remote switch.

  • Sutton Atkins

    Wait, WHAT!? David Icke is not the son of God?

  • Chuck6421

    Meet the Fisher MT-6330 turntable with linear direct drive. I bought one around 1980 or so and it was great. This is what they’re talking about.
    it’s also the concept behind mag-lev trains. It’s most definitely not fantasy.

  • ummm…

    uh oh, we are getting into semantics. Anyway, I hope there are like 60 people doing this already. The most exciting thing in cycling is the cheating.

  • ridein

    It is only science when the concept has been proved, not a fantasied snippet of a dream.

  • ummm…

    simple science is fantasy to you?

  • Billy

    Cloaking technology? My god,that’s it! Klingons with cloaking technology have been winning races for years! I bet Cobo is a Klingon. No way he won the 2011 Vuelta fair!

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    My guess (sixpence worth): The power meters would indicate rider’s power X, but if his ascension rate indicates he and his bike are putting out a different value, then the difference has to come from mechanical assistance, or a tailwind.

  • Samuel Clemens

    ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ – Arthur C Clarke.

  • Still Pop

    The battery could also sealed inside the forks and charged by induction loop – so no access is required.

  • ridein

    When exactly did we go through the science fiction looking glass?

  • blemcooper

    The trouble with hiding things with “a bit of foil”, other simple shields, Faraday cage, or jamming etc. is that you can easily detect the presence of the shield itself, which in and of itself is suspicious. To avoid that, they’d have to come up with active cloaking technology.

  • Howmanyjackos

    You could have a stationary coil hidden in the fork which would drive the moving coils within the wheel.
    You still need a power source but it is do able

  • Andrew Bairsto

    The testers are lucky could get an empty bottle with a bit of foil .

  • blemcooper

    Mr. X says “That’s why I suggested inserting power data in the Biological Passport.”

    But a crank based power meter wouldn’t capture power added by these magic wheels, and a hub based power meter wouldn’t capture power added by a bottom bracket motor if the cheater is using it to save their own energy rather than getting a higher peak power.

    I suppose if the power or work measured is too consistent during varying terrain or speeds or too low for what was accomplished (accounting for wind, drafting, super-duper-aero-ness of the bike, helmet, skinsuit, etc.), then further target their bikes beyond external scanning with a tablet, but full power x-raying and disassembling and 360 degree video in team cars, high power transponders in all bikes including spares, tamper seals, etc. to reduce tampering?