The cycling world was sent into a frenzy last week as a motor was discovered in the bike of Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche at the Cyclocross World Championships in Zolder.
However if you’ve spent much time on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, then you might not have been quite as surprised as some, with e-bikes and kits for converting your existing bikes into an e-bike, proving incredibly popular.
Search for “bike” on Indiegogo and seven of the top ten results are bikes with electric motors, all of which have either smashed or are on the way to smashing their funding target, and such projects have also proved popular on Kickstarter, with the Sondors e-fat bike, a product category which you might expect to have a pretty niche appeal, attracting an astonishing $1,350,000 (£935,000) of backing.
Probably the most interesting Indiegogo project for riders looking to add a motor to their existing bike is the add-e electric motor, which attaches to the frame underneath the bottom bracket, and uses a 600 watt motor to spin the rear wheel at up to 50km/h. The bad news is that this isn’t legal in many countries (including the UK), so there is also a lower powered 250-watt version available.
And the add-e project has proved incredibly popular, raising more than €400,000 (£310,000), which is 250 per cent of its original target, when it closed last summer.
A similar, but slightly less subtle add-on motor, is the ShareRoller, which has also smashed its funding target on Indiegogo. This drives the wheel in a similar manner, but attaches to the fork crown rather than underneath the bottom bracket. Its positioning and bulk means it’s going to be tough to sneak the ShareRoller past the UCI commissaires, while the massive 750-watt motor means it’s not legal to use in the UK, but at least the USB ports mean it can also be used to charge your phone.
These projects aside, there are a huge number of e-bike projects to choose from. Aside from the Sondors e-fat bike, the Wave electric bike has also raised more than $1,000,000 on Indiegogo, and a huge number of other similar projects have been successfully funded.
However, the popularity of motorised bikes on Kickstarter and Indiegogo is still largely limited to traditional e-bike territory, with a focus on hybrid and folding bikes for commuters, rather than taking aim at traditional road bikes. So while new innovations might benefit newer riders to the sport, we are unlikely to see crowdfunded technology playing a part in any future mechanical doping scandals.