Lagos de Covadonga - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Gesink Robert (Netherlands / Team Lotto Nl - Jumbo), Froome Christopher - Chris (GBR / Team Sky)  pictured during stage 10 from Lugones to Lagos de Covadonga - Vuelta Espana 2016 - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2016
  • When electronic shifting systems were wholeheartedly embraced, pro cycling started on the slippery slope to the point where some hide electric motors in their seatpost or wheels. I propose that ANYTHING using a battery or other electrical energy storage device be banned. Electronic shifting systems offer no improvement over their mechanical counterparts, radio-controlled athletes add nothing to the value of sport while power-meters and the like turn riders into robots fixated on readouts from handlebar mounted screens. Before everyone starts screaming (ala Froome) that this requires a return to single-speeds and wooden wheels, keep in mind what is the real evolution of the bicycle. It’s called a motorcycle and began with a simple, internal-combustion engine bolted onto a standard bicycle. Sport is defined by inefficiencies, so the idea that we must allow all technological advances and improvements championed by the bike industry is simply wrong…unless you want to turn pro cycling into merely entertainment and forget about sport. Look where runaway technology and costs have taken F1 and MOTOGP – dwindling fan interest, costs-to-compete equal to the GDP of small countries and worse (by far) only a few competitors (with the largest budgets) have any chance to win a race.

    • winkybiker

      “Dwindling fan interest” is a sure way to control these out-of-control budgets. The money needs to come from somewhere. Isn’t it self limiting?

      (No money limits here, apparently – )

    • Adam Fuller

      So no Garmins, even without power meters?

    • AMK3072

      One of the most ‘angry old man yelling at a cloud posts I’ve ever seen here.

      Frankly it’s ridiculous. Electronic shifting is better and offers a marked improvement over mechanical.

      Removing race radio makes the biggest difference to racing. Taking away PM will make none. If someone can’t win with a PM what makes you think that they’ll win without it.

      Quintana’s problem is not that Froome has a PM it’s his tactics and/or ability to accelerate and attack rather than just ride a steady tempo.

      • “Electronic shifting is better and offers a marked improvement over mechanical. ” which explains why guys like Vincenzo Nibali continue to use the mechanical setup, but I’m sure he’s not as smart and knowledgeable as you or he’d realize this. Frankly, I don’t think you have any idea of what you’re talking about.

        • AMK3072

          Alberto and Cancellara also continue to use mechanical. Perhaps they just like the ‘feel’ they get from it more. Perhaps they trade the weight saving for slightly less clean shifting.

          Either way, it does nothing to back up your assertion that electronic shifting is a waste of time.

          • Yes, it was. My fantasy was related to rumors of Segafredo taking over the title sponsorship as Trek has whined about the costs involved for a few years now….but of course you already knew that.
            Electronic shifting is like an electric toothbrush – no real, objective evidence of superior performance vs a manual brush – but for some reason they have lots of rabid fans.

        • Alex

          If they do nothing why ban them? Whether or not you agree with banning power meters or other pacing devices (HR monitors, Garmins, etc) saying “no batteries” is ridiculous.

          • Why is “NO BATTERIES” ridiculous? The rules can be anything – they ALL are totally arbitrary. Why are recumbent bicycles banned for example?

            • Alex

              Because riding recumbents in a peloton and down twisty descents is dangerous. Not to mention you say that electronic shifting has no advantage, so why ban it?

      • MD

        I’m not even sure the argument that race radios make racing more boring holds water – sometimes it does and sometimes it has the exact opposite effect. Anyone who watched the two epic Vuelta stages where Orica-BE got riders up the road and then bridged to them can’t disagree that those were very exciting stages – IMO some of the best racing we have seen all year. Yet, it was all orchestrated by using the race radio to coordinate the team. So no, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying race radio = boring racing, rather, like anything that has an impact on a race, riders performance, etc, it can be used in ways that result in more or less exciting racing.

    • Luke Bartlett

      good luck powering a motor with a CR2032

      • Cliff Nichols

        the cr2032s don’t power the motor…just the switch in the shifters that transmit a signal to the FD ….which is connected to the battery proper in the seat tube for the mechanical bit of the process. I initially had the same WTF moment.

        • Luke Bartlett

          yeh of course, but just because now we have electronic shifting doesn’t mean that mechanical doping could not be done before, was my main point. essentially i don’t accept that the use of electronic shifting provides a slippery slope to sticking a motor in a tube?

          we want to see athletes on the best equipment, we want to see a rouleur-like climber in competition with a full grimpeur, one going as diesel as possible and the other accelerating and recovering etc.

  • jules

    I agree that the impact of PMs in racing is overstated.

    I play out the same(!) scenarios at a much slower speed in lower grade club racing. If I attack, I may watch the PM. But you get better feedback from the lactic buildup in your legs. You may need to recover or raise your power, such as when swapping turns. You can’t just look at your PM.

    Climbing is a bit different. Some people are diesels when climbing. I’m one of them. A PM is useful for that, but it’s not scripture. You take a risk, such as Froome did, when you let competitors surge away from you. You’re hoping your pacing strategy will pay off, but you can’t know. If Quintana and Bertie had stayed away from Froome, everyone would have been hailing their panache. As Froome managed to claw his way back (I didn’t watch it, I think that’s what happened), suddenly everyone is bowing down to the almighty PM. classic Monday morning quarter-backing.

    • Andy B

      you beat me to it!
      I agree, froomey has to know his body and exactly how he is feeling, the power meter doesn’t mean much if you are spent and cant make the power
      Some days 200w feels so easy, other days its hard

      Froomey is just one of the best at knowing how to measure his effort and when to conserve, the power meter just assists this

      • jules

        they do have a role. on a climb, I might look down and see my power is way above threshold as I try and hold others’ wheels. in that circumstance, I am likely to back off and hope that the others are over-doing it. without a PM I’d probably feel compelled to try and keep pace. but they’re just a tool, like gearing or a HRM.

        • Andy B

          All the racing I do only contains short sharp punchy climbs, if you don’t hold a wheel you are likely going to be spat off the back
          I agree the most use they would have is longer/gradual climbs

          Most of the time im looking at it thinking “im going to pay for this” but if I don’t pay now, I wont be there to play later

          • jules

            100% agree. on punchy climbs or other accelerations you must hold the wheel. go into the red, whatever it takes. you don’t bother even looking at the PM.

      • Bex

        This is the exact point though “some days 200w feels so easy, other days it’s hard”, without the instant clarification of how hard you’re actually going your pacing strategry might be much different. Froomey might have felt like it was easy and gone with them and then blown up as well. It just means the rider has to decide rather than rely on the numbers in front of them

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  • Andy B

    Personally I only find them useful during certain situations i.e time trials or breakaway efforts
    Theres no good watching my power meter when the race is riding away from me measuring my efforts
    obviously different for the pros dishing out measured efforts on long climbs

    I guess Sky are taking the gamble in assuming a certain rider can only ride at xxx watts for xxx time
    probably works better in the more gradual climbs we see in the tour
    the climbs at the vuelta I cant see it changing too much

  • exemplary1

    Radios, laptops, power meters, lead out trains – it’s been boring for awhile.

  • Rodrigo Diaz

    Surely that power meter told Froome exactly how much to pedal in that downhill attack, and how much to exert himself to join the breakaway with Sagan.

  • George Darroch

    Turn down for watts?

  • Alex McGregor

    Get power meters and radios out of the sport. Radios for race commissaries for safety should stay, though

    • Dave

      Or you go for the approach which will be used for the upcoming cyclocross season – riders having one way radio only, so they can talk to the team to request service but the team can’t talk back.

  • Nik Martin

    Want to make racing more exciting? Teams of 5 riders. That will have a far greater impact than getting rid of power meters.

    • jules

      would increase costs though. economies of scale bringing 200 riders on 22 teams of 9 over 40 teams of 5.

      I suppose you could have 110 riders with 22 teams of 5, but that’s another prospect altogether.

    • James_Casper

      Good luck finding the extra sponsors to back the increase in WT teams.

      • Nik Martin

        points on money are valid, but maybe the reduced cost of fielding smaller teams would encourage more timid sponsors. or maybe not, just an idea. no denying that the racing would be more interesting though.

  • roddders

    Contador and Quintana are proper bike riders. Froome is the biggest fraud since Armstrong. Get rid of radios and power meters, leave the racing to the riders and let them race naturally and not without a computer tellling them how hard they are doing.
    Maybe ban performance enhancing drugs too while they are at it.

    • Nik Martin


  • James_Casper

    At the 2012 TdF, Evans went for a long-range Hail Mary attack to try and get back in the GC race.

    Mick Rogers was captain of Sky at the time. He calculated – perhaps with some help from the team car – that if he rode at just under 400 watts (can’t recall exact figure) for 30 mins than Evans would be doomed.

    So for next 30 mins that’s exactly what he and his team mates did. He and his team were almost Froome clones in their constant PM glancing.

    Very boring too.

    Not going to pretend to say I know the answer. For example, if we make ALL rider info available to public live, than DS will be able to use that info to always make decisions like this.

    Reality is cycling – sport in general – is stuffed.

    30 years from now, riders will be nothing more than robotic extensions of the steeds they ride. What made cycling so appealing (in Europe at least), will be long gone.

    The sport will suck. Good thing I will be gone by then.

  • TomG

    Mick Roger’s comment in 2012 has a lot to answer for. He was just trying to illustrate in practical terms what anyone who has ever ridden hard on a bike would know – everyone has level of intensity above which they are on borrowed time and will have to pay back their metabolism later.

    Power meters are credited with mystical properties in races by the very same set of people who are at pains to declare they are unnecessary for training or that they intrinsically spoil the experience of riding a bike. Get a grip! They don’t even begin to replace feel and there is no way they have a significant influence on tactics.

    If you really feel that pro cycling is impossibly boring these days then you need to look at race radios and the large budgets of the leading teams that allow the likes of Sky to start a Grand Tour with two or three bona fide GC contenders riding in the service of their main man. The former won’t happen given the recurrent safety issues with motos and street furniture. The latter is an issue of perspective – there are richer and poorer teams in all sports and not that many globally have a mechanism to correct that e.g. the NBA draft or similar.

    • James_Casper

      It was more than just “illustrating”.

      He quoted specific wattages and time gaps. It wasn’t a gut feel thing.

      Go re-read his quotes.

    • Dave

      I believe a luxury tax would be a better mechanism than a salary cap, and that both would be better than a draft which simply wouldn’t be sustainable without the work of many decades to get cycling to that point.

  • Simon

    Wouldn’t the ban have to be applied on all levels, so amateur racers would also need a racing and a training setup?

    • Dave

      Not necessarily, for a couple of reasons.

      First – the application of the ban could be left to the discretion of race organisers to apply through race regulations rather than UCI rules, or have the text applying to only certain classes of race as in the current rules for rider-team radio.

      Second – the ban would only be in place for domestic races if the national governing body updated the local version of the rules to include the ban. A good example of this is disc brakes – Cycling Australia didn’t allow them in domestic racing at the time the UCI was allowing a trial in UCI races, while USA Cycling went the other way and decided to continue allowing them even when the trial in UCI races was suspended.

      The simplest way to ban them would be to simply ban the head units or require they be fixed under the saddle for only post-race analysis as they are in track cycling. Under one of those scenarios, a rider could keep their power meter crankset if they preferred not to swap it out for a standard crankset.

  • Alan Doughty

    Maybe we should start on the debate whether riders should be allowed to watch their blood lactate on their Garmin during a race. I will only be a few years until this technology (already developed) trickles into commercial devices.

  • Eden Walker

    So i have and use a Stages just because i’m a numbers nerd, i ride for myself and don’t compete but there’s nothing quite as encouraging while riding up hill has looking down quickly seeing your wattage and thinking “keep it there” I do ride better with one but i was never that great to begin with. Anyway i had an extended thought on Power Meters

  • Wakatel Lu’um

    Forget the power meters…piss off the radios and then we’ll see which riders have the know how…

    • ebbe

      I’d agree. However with one caveat: Communication from rider to car does provide a real safety benefit. But we could at least ban communication from the DS back to the riders. Let the (active) riders adjust their own tactics to the race situation. Let the team/race leader determine whether and when he wants to chase the break away.Let the attackers themselves determine how their rivals are looking on the bike. Etc. That would, IMHO, be more effective than banning power meters in bringing back ‘excitement’ to the race. This is, by the way exactly what will be done in cyclocross will starting the upcoming season, and I see no reasons why it couldn’t be done on the road.

      Also, another measure that would do a more good: Please scrap the bike weight limit asap! There is no need for it in this day and age. Moreover: Scraping the bike weight limit would put a weight penalty on using power meters (and other electronics, such as electronic shifting, Garmins, etc.. and motors/batteries!). But the decision would still be with the teams/riders. Still want to use various electronics? Go ahead, but you’ll have to carry the extra weight up yourself. Don’t want the weight? Fine, but you’ll not have the data.

      Generally, scrapping rules is preferable over adding new ones, I’d say.


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