Forget about motors, electromagnetic wheels are the new thing in mechanical doping

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has described a motor hidden in the seat tube and bottom bracket as ‘old doping’ suggesting that special wheels, able to produce 20-60 watts via electromagnetics and costing 200,000 Euro, are the most sophisticated form of mechanical doping currently in use in cycling.

Gazzetta dello Sport gave the story a full page in Monday’s newspaper, with a so-called ‘guru of the sector’ saying: “You can do more miracles with electricity than chemistry, it’s also less damaging to your health.”

Journalist Claudio Ghisalberti has an excellent understanding of bike technology and performance. His source explains in detail how motors are fitted to bikes. The newspaper describes the use of electromagnetic wheels as the ‘new frontier’ of technological doping.

“A motor hidden in the seat tube is old stuff, almost artisan. It’s been overtaken, it’s a poor man’s doping,” Ghisalberti writes. “The new frontier is far more technologically advanced and ten times as expensive. It’s in the rear wheel: it costs 200,000 Euros, and there’s a waiting list of six months. The first type uses a motor to turn the cranks; the second is electromagnetic.”

There have already been claims that motors have been used to win Italian sportive events, where former professionals and local amateurs often ride to secure media coverage, small sponsorship and bragging rights.

“I’ve sold 1,200 [of the old system] in Italy in the last few years. I can only laugh when I read the Gran Fondo results, I could rewrite almost all of them,” Gazzetta dello Sport quotes its ‘Mister X’ source as saying.

The source explains how clients buy complete bikes, often via an intermediary.

“The carbon fibre frame is opened, the motor fitted, and then the frame is closed up and repaired, painted and voila’… Of course there a risk a small defect can create a weak point and the frame opens up again leading to the rider crashing on their knees.”