How to do e-bike racing wrong

The motorcycle federation's version of e-bike racing cuts out the best parts of both motocross and bike racing.

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E-bikes are here to stay, and because humans are human, we’re going to race them. There’s no way around it, it’s what we do.

That fact has led to a bit of a tiff between cycling’s governing body, the UCI, and the International Motorcycle Federation (FIM), over who gets to control the future of e-bike racing.

We wrote about this back in April, but now we have a real look at a FIM version of e-bike racing. These races, called E-XBike, are designed to sit in line with motocross race weekends.

I’m not sure how else to put it. It’s ridiculous. Just watch for yourself:

Our sister site Pinkbike dug up that little gem this morning.

FIM allows e-bikes with more power and more speed than what has been proposed by the UCI. The UCI limits e-bikes to 25kph, while FIM sets the cap at 45kph for the highest class. FIM also allows throttles, which were used by some competitors in the video above. In other words, FIM e-bikes are more like motorcycles.

Obviously, they still aren’t motorcycles. A couple of things are quickly and abundantly clear about FIM’s approach: Motocross tracks are too big for bicycles that are speed-limited. They’re too bumpy for two-to-three-inch tires, because they’re churned up by massive moto rubber. The jumps are more like climbs, because the bikes aren’t powerful enough to hold any speed. And all of these things combine into a sport that, when put up next to motocross, looks like one of those scoot bike races for three-year-olds. Very quaint.

E-bike racing has already been added to major cycling events like the Giro d’Italia, which pitted amateurs and former pros against each other ahead of the pedal-powered Giro. It’s not quite as exciting as the Giro itself, but you can see the potential. The machines seem slightly better suited to getting retired pros up the Mortirolo than across a motocross course. Next week, the first E-Mountain Bike World Championships will be held in Mont Saint Anne, Quebec, ahead of the regular World Championships. Winners will get rainbow stripes and everything.

Maybe the UCI’s version will catch on. It’s pretty clear that FIM’s won’t.

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