Sir Bradley Wiggins says that e-bikes are “brilliant” because they allow people to cycle who otherwise wouldn’t. “It has its place in society and I don’t think it’s cheating at all,” he told the Pocket Lint podcast.
"I think it's brilliant because a lot people enjoy the benefits of cycling, and the outdoors and freedom it gives them, but they just aren't able to do it for heath reason sometimes,” he said.
"It's a shame if someone’s got heart problems or are obese through illness and they simply can't get up a hill or anything. For those people, they still enjoy the outdoors and the freedom and the sense of freedom that a bike gives you without the health risks.”
According to Wiggins: “Half the reason a lot of people maybe won’t go on a bike – you know, ‘I can’t stand going up hills, bloody size of me’ and all that – with these e-bikes it starts you off and you can get into it.
“You’re still active by riding an e-bike. It's not like you’re sat on a moped. You can choose when you use the power.
“Rather than having to walk up a hill and feel terrible because you can't get up a hill, there is still a sense of achievement for someone who can’t get out of the house maybe."
As far as accusations that e-bike riders are somehow ‘cheating’, he said: "If you want to go out and beat blokes round Richmond Park and that, then fair enough, yeah, but not everyone wants to do that. Some people just want to get out of the house and feel active."
Elsewhere in the podcast, Wiggins talks about the need to expand London’s cycle infrastructure – "If every one of these people on bikes got in cars then no-one would be moving anywhere" – and also about his own cycling habits since retirement.
He says he runs more than cycles these days. “I just go out on my bike when I want to go out on my bike really,” he said. “For the pleasure.”
Despite riding much less frequently – or quite possibly because of this – he feels that he has recently rediscovered his love for cycling.
“It became such a chore towards the end of my career and I’ve rekindled my love of it, so I just enjoy going out on my bike.
“I don’t want to be raced by anyone. I don’t want to go out in a group and have someone getting a kick out of beating me up a hill now. I’ve just got no ego as a cyclist any more. I’m not competitive on a bike, but I just love riding my bike and I reconnected with that sense of freedom it gave me.”
It doesn’t sound like he’s become totally laid-back however, admitting that he still pays close attention to his bike computer.
“I’m a bit institutionalised with technology because it was my training tool daily. I’ve always not been able to fly blind, as it were. I’ve always needed a guide in front of me.
“So even on my road bike, I’ll have a little Garmin or something. Things like, if I go out for two hours, I do two hours. You know, I don’t just say, ‘What time did I leave? Oh five, I’ve done about two hours’
“I have to do two hours. I can’t do 1h55. I’m quite… Two hours is two hours, you know?”