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Friends beating you up hills? Maybe you need a Gruber Assist

What would have been a bigger story doing the rounds during the Giro d'Italia was rather spoiled by the Landis doping accusations but nevertheless the issue of "bike doping" had us scratching our heads wondering if the whole thing was an elaborate if belated April Fool or just maybe the biggest scandal to hit cycling ever. Indeed, Lance Armstrong tweeted in exasperation words to the effect, "huh? bike doping - that's all we need!"

Today the mashup video below has hit the interwebs partly featuring Davide Cassani, an Italian former top professional turned cycling commentator, ripped off Italian TV. Partly showing the design and installation of an electric motor in a standard bicycle. And finally the really scandalous part where video from this year's Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders races are  superimposed with 'evidence' that a World Champion cyclist was using just such a  'doped' bike.

Essentially, what we have is a little electric motor that fits down the seat tube and engages its little pinion with a corresponding gear on the bottom bracket axle - or pedal hub as it's described in the shaky on-screen translation.

A battery is concealed somewhere unspecifically out of sight around the bottom bracket area and discrete on-off buttons attached beneath the brake levers. Et voila, a potential Classic Road Race winning machine.

Of course, we're hoping that the whole thing is viral mischief whipped up over a beer by the marketing geniuses behind Gruber Assist an Austrian product from the Tyrolean mountains where taking the sting out of leisure and exercise cycling is a high priority. If it is, we're happy to assist in the spirit it's intended not least because it shows how things are progressing with electric-assist bikes.

Quite how happy a certain Swiss champion will be about all this, remains to be seen.
 

16 comments

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therevokid [972 posts] 6 years ago
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well my money's on the "world time trial champion"
side of things rather than little electric motors - I
hope I'm not wrong !!

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mr_stru [25 posts] 6 years ago
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Not that the Belgian's are bitter about not winning either Roubaix or Flanders

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Jon Burrage [998 posts] 6 years ago
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was cancellara's bike running di2?

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michophull [139 posts] 6 years ago
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Interesting, particularly the bit about "A battery is concealed somewhere unspecifically out of sight around the bottom bracket area".

If Cancellara was using a concealed motor, I'd like to know how he concealed the battery. It'd have to be bigger than a mobile phone one to be any use.  39

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headfirst [82 posts] 6 years ago
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"A battery is concealed somewhere unspecifically out of sight around the bottom bracket area..."

It's obvious, he's got a uranium rod in his down tube.

shhhhh.....

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billyam998 [34 posts] 6 years ago
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looking at the battery life on the gruber website I do not see how this could have been used for any length of time.
Publicity stunt I think.

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nick_rearden [436 posts] 6 years ago
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Jon Burrage wrote:

was cancellara's bike running di2?

No, Saxo's bikes use SRAM. Mmmm

What we're intrigued to know is whether the Gruber Assist causes drag when it's 'off' assuming the little pinion is permanently engaged with the bb axle. We're trying for more info.

Makes you wonder about mounting a dynamo generator 'down there'......

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Fringe [1047 posts] 6 years ago
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has anyone contacted Gruber Assist to see if you can get one in for a road test, would like to know just how fast you can go with one of there contraptions..?

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simonmb [353 posts] 6 years ago
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Long ago it occurred to me what an untapped accessory my bike's hollow frame was, so I converted it to carry gin in the down tube, tonic in the seat tube, and chicken noodle soup in the top tube. Two small taps under the bottom bracket allow for the perfectly mixed g&t at the top of a climb, and I can suck my soup through a straw whilst keeping my head down in an Ironman. Never thought of fitting a motor though! That just sounds ridiculous.

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dave atkinson [6262 posts] 6 years ago
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We've asked for one in the past, but they do have a dealer in the UK now so it's one we were looking at.

to be honest i'm doubtful whether that particular system is a good bet here. okay it's well concealed but it's pretty noisy, it's not like your fellow pros aren't going to notice. also it's designed as a fully fledged electric bike system for leisure. a pro looking for an advantage doesn't need 100w of power at their disposal, a half or even a quarter of that will be advantage enough, and you can run a less powerful motor much more quietly.

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dave atkinson [6262 posts] 6 years ago
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this from the very mouth of the Gruber horse:

"our manager Mrs. Monika Schweitzer, send a reply of this this week (in German and Italian). We didn’t sell a bicycle or the GRUBER Assist to Mr. Fabian Cancellara, or the team. Although this statement was a super promotion for us! In the meantime we get inquiries from the whole world, the access to our homepage rose rapidly (from 500 a day to 10,000).

"But we never sold the GRUBER Assist to these sportsmen. We can’t be sure, if one of our dealers did this, but we don’t think so.

"Please also note, that the GRUBER Assist can be stored from 30 up to 90 rpm/minute, but there are professionals who pedal faster than 90! You can also see the saddle bag, in which the battery is stored"

so if it is a Gruber system then 1) it didn't come from Gruber and 2) it's been heavily modified. and if it's a viral it's a very successful one  1

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handlebarcam [807 posts] 6 years ago
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The reason I don't buy this is not the technicalities of noise and battery storage, rather the lack of plausible deniability. An athlete caught doping can be kicked out by his "shocked" team. Even if a number of teammates are caught participating in a systematic doping programme, a doctor or soigneur can be cast in the role of scapegoat. But if a UCI official or journalist were to stumble upon a working example of this sort of mechanical cheating in the pro peloton, nobody would buy that it was installed by a lone mechanic without the knowledge of the DS. Nobody could claim they'd misread the label on some supplement bottle, or slowly been tempted into it over many years by unnamed older riders. It would be clear-cut fraud that would probably lead to actual criminal convictions, would destroy the entire team, and seriously hurt the bike supplier. And today there is too much money involved to risk the sort of Wacky Races style cheating that went on a century ago. In short, I doubt even Mr. 60% has the balls to try such a thing.

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handlebarcam [807 posts] 6 years ago
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It might explain this headline, although I'd hate to think what kind of freakish performance improvement programme it implies Quickstep is using...

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Chuck [572 posts] 6 years ago
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I agree with handlebarcam- assuming for a moment the technology was up to it (which seems to be a stretch) then I don't doubt that somebody would give it a go if they thought they could get away with it, but the risks would surely be far too great? There'd be countless opportunities for something to go wrong or somebody to see something, far too many people involved, and the merest sniff of suspicion and you'd be busted. I just can't see it.

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kittyfondue [56 posts] 6 years ago
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I wonder if Cancellara can sue for defamation of character because he's getting dragged through the mud with no proof whatsoever.

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 6 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:

this from the very mouth of the Gruber horse:

"Please also note, that the GRUBER Assist can be stored from 30 up to 90 rpm/minute, but there are professionals who pedal faster than 90!"

No good for me either. I pedal at 95 rpm.