Italian outfit Doped Bikes claims to be selling hidden motors specifically “to win road races”, suggesting that you “give yourself a boost on climbs or add the power when you are about to attack or sprint.” The brand says that its systems have already been used in many professional cycle races.
“We invented the world's first completely hidden motor for bicycles and we are now making it available for the general public to use,” says Doped Bikes.
“Completely silent and undetectable, you can use it safe with the knowledge nobody else will realise. Featuring a remote control switch, the SuperDiscreto model has both the motor and the power source hidden in the frame with no wires anywhere on the bicycle, providing just the correct amount of energy push you need for climbs or sudden attacks in competition.”
At times the brand’s website reads like an elaborate spoof or perhaps an off-the-wall marketing exercise. If it is, fair play! Well done. But the balance of opinion seems to be that these guys are for real, just.
Here's what Doped Bikes has to say, so make your own minds up.
“If you have trained so hard for the season, why make the risk that you will not win? The motor will help you get your reward.”
Well, we can think of quite a few reasons not to.
“Get to the top of the [Strava] leaderboard with the help of an extra 50 watts on any climb,” it says.
You could get in your car and drive your way to a KOM or QOM if it means that much to you, but why would you want to?
“Stay in an aero position in the climbs [of a time trial] by adding power when you most need it. Keep your speed high and remain in an efficient position.”
You can’t fault the brand’s willingness to sell the benefits!
Doped Bikes says that the 12V pedal assist motor is 80 Watts input and 50 watts output, and it weighs just 740g. The battery fits inside the seat tube and seatpost.
The Superdiscreto is priced €2,800 (£2,225). That might sound like a lot but Doped Bikes explains, “If used correctly the prize money you will win will pay for the price of the motor in one year.”
The battery and motor come in two different diameters – 30.9mm and 31.6mm – and you need 460mm of space between the centre of the bottom bracket and the bottom of the seatpost. You also need to drill a 4mm hole in your bottom bracket axle to fit the splined gear.
“This system is much safer than [a] regular programme of AICAR or EPO,” says Doped Bikes.
Going down the welfare route doesn't really wash, does it? And what happens if someone finds the system in your bike?
“Having no wires the SuperDiscreto model is completely undetectable in most scenarios. Inspectors must have thermal cameras to discover it. This will not happen in national level events.
“You won't be discovered. Our earlier custom motors have won many important races with no problems. However if you are discovered do not disclose the remote control. This way you can deny knowledge and explain it is a borrowed bike.”
Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche was banned from cycling for six years following the discovery of a concealed motor in a bike prepared for her at the world championships in Zolder at the end of January. She had claimed that it wasn't her bike.
Like I said, we don’t think this is a spoof, but we can't be sure. We do find it strange that there are no photographs of the product on the Doped Bikes website. There is an animation to show how the system works, but no photos of the motor itself.
Maybe there are no photos because the commercial product is still a few weeks away from being available (although, as mentioned, Doped Bikes says that its systems have already been used in many pro races).
A message from Doped Bikes on Twitter yesterday said, “Too many people do not believe in our products. Six weeks...”
We have, of course, contacted Doped Bikes – which is listed as belonging to PiuBiciSport in Florence, Italy – with a whole bunch of questions. We’re awaiting a response.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.