PinarellNO: Our take on the controversial e-bike ad

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Update! Pinarello has pulled its controversial advertisement from social media and issued an apology stating: “Our recent advertisement failed to reflect the values of diversity and equality that are core to Pinarello.The Nytro is designed to make cycling accessible to more people and our advertisement clearly failed to convey that message. We sincerely apologize and have pulled the ad.”

High-end bike manufacturer, Pinarello, today announced the debut of the Nytro, an electric-assist carbon fibre road bike, and it was met with a lot of negative reactions.

Electric bikes are wildly popular across the globe, and there’s much to be said in favour of a little assist for when the loads get heavy, the terrain steep and elements challenging.

It wasn’t the bike’s e-capabilities that got people talking, however, but rather the marketing surrounding the new bike.

Marketed at a sporting crowd of weekend warriors, recreationalists and women, this is what the Italian company had to say about the bike:

“Nytro aims at a wide target, from the one that has no time to train but would never miss a weekend ride with friends, to women who would like to follow easily the men’s pace, or even the ones who desire to experience cycling as a new way of life, climbing easily and going downhill safely, enjoying every single minute on the bike.”

Making their aim at the women’s market even clearer, Pinarello used the story of a 24-year-old “couple rider” who’s quoted saying:

“I’ve always wanted to go cycling with my boyfriend but it seemed impossible. Soon everything will become possible.”

The internet reacted in force. Some in disgust, some with parody, and all recognising that Pinarello completely missed the mark.

And it wasn’t long before this became the topic du jour at the CyclingTips virtual office as well. Our two Ella editor come from very different points-of-view, but ultimately agreed that Pinarello missed the mark. Here our thoughts and we’d love to hear yours in the comment section as well.

I can keep up with the men just fine, thank you

Anne-Marije Rook, Ella Editor, elite bike racer and lifestyle cyclist.

Upon seeing the ad, my initial reaction was half exasperation and half disgust.

The cycling industry has a long history of sexist advertising —remember Colnago’s massive faux pas, SixSixOne’s knee-pad-gate#Sockgate at Interbike, the Maxxis Babes and anything Assos before 2016? — and representation of women in the cycling media is still hard to come by.

Pinarello is one of the most visible brands in men’s cycling yet when it comes to the women’s market, it has done next to nothing — neither in sponsorship nor in their line of products.

So when the company’s first stab at the women’s market is through an innuendo that women need an engine to keep up with the bike-pedalling men in their life, it’s plain insulting.

They may as well have said, ‘Hey women, we have a bike for you now, too! And it’s got a motor so you won’t slow us down.’

In my experience, the women buying and riding 6000-dollar road bikes are more than capable of holding their own, and they’d appreciate a Dogma as much as anyone else. Furthermore, their self-worth is not measured by how they stack up against men or any other person for that matter. And lastly, what kind of jerk insists on riding his pace and only his pace when riding with his significant other?!

Now to be clear, I am not in any way arguing the validity of e-bikes; there’s a great demand for them. But women as a market are just as diverse as the male market —there are those who would indeed appreciate a little assist as well as those who can ride just about any local Cat 2 dude into the ground.

When it comes down to it, my biggest issue here is the lack of visibility of women in any of their other marketing materials. Therefore insinuating that women are slower, less capable than their male counterparts.

Luckily, the internet agrees. And while the Instagram ad remains posted, I’d actually, for once, encourage you to read the comments.

Valid market, bad execution

Simone Giuliani, Ella Australia Editor, Recreational cyclist and occasional racer.

I actually don’t have a problem with any bike brand recognising that women wanting to use a motor to keep up with faster riding partners could be a potential market. I unashamedly fit the stereotype of being the slower rider trying to keep up with the blokes in her life.

I personally found it a relief when I was able to recognise that at times (and no I’m certainly not saying in all cases) men have a natural advantage when it comes to speed on the bike. When I was growing up it was always a matter of trying to keep up with my brothers, then I added a cycling husband to the mix to chase after. I often felt inadequate, like I just had to try harder, train harder, push myself more.  Then when we started sometimes having a crack at the same mixed start races, I looked at who their competition was.

They were by no means the fastest guys out there, but often they were coming across the line close to the women that were standing on the podium. These were women I admired immensely, and as a fairly relaxed rider wouldn’t even think of trying to ride at the same pace as. So why should I keep beating myself up and feeling inferior because I couldn’t keep pace with the blokes in my life that were going at that speed. Being a bit slower didn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t pushing as hard. It just meant my body was different.

And I’m OK with that, it means I have a natural advantage in other areas.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m OK with that ad nor does it make me want a motor.

For a start, I think the woman mentioned in the ad needs a new boyfriend more than she needs a motor! Is it really “impossible” for that boyfriend to slow down on the odd occasion so he can ride with that special person in his life. The inference that its her fault that they can’t ride together ever doesn’t go down too well. This is an ad for the boyfriend who doesn’t want to consider the needs of other people in his life, not the female rider.

The second issue I have is the context. I’m okay with the female rider being portrayed as the weaker rider at times, as long as that is not the only way they are portrayed. Throw in some variety and recognise that while some women may be slower, some may be faster.

That’s our take, what do you think?

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