As predicted by BikeBiz.com, bicycle retailers have experienced a surge in sales of e-bikes and road-bike motors since the publicity surrounding the "motor-doping" of Belgian CX racer Femke Van den Driessche. In February we carried the headline "Motor-doping bust could boost e-bike sales, say experts" – and now a Dutch TV network has reported by bicycle dealers in the Netherlands are selling more e-bikes, including bikes equipped with the kind of bottom-bracket motors suspected to have been used by Driessche in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships staged in Belgium in January.
NOS reports that Dutch bike shops are doing "brisk business" thanks to what the UCI calls "technological fraud" and the TV network calls the "Femke effect".
The Dutch TV network reported that "sales of mechanical power assistance have increased significantly."
The owner of the Van der Eijk bike shop in Serooskerke said:
"Femke was really good advertising."
Another reported that sales of Vivax road-bike motors had gone up from one per week to five per week.
Proving that there's no such thing as bad publicity Vivax reports that it has sold several hundred of its concealed bottom bracket motors thanks to the "Femke effect".
"Since [Femke] was caught, demand has soared," a spokesperson for Vivax told NOS.
Back in February BikeBiz reported that electric-bike experts predicted there would be a spike in sales because the mainstream market was largely ignorant of the existence of hidden motors for road bikes. US magazine Popular Mechanics described the lightweight motor in Driessche's Wilier CX bike as “nifty”.
“This can be used as a positive,” said US industry veteran Jay Townley in our February story.
“Motor doping may seem ridiculous [to us], but in the bigger picture it’s promoting e-bikes. It broadens the topic.”
Pete Prebus, chief marketing officer of the Electric Bike Expo, a big-budget six-month, six-city e-bike road show in the US, had told BikeBiz: “Any press is good press!”
Prebus is a former pro mountain biker, and is now the publisher and editor of ElectricBikeReport.com. He told BikeBiz: “It is unfortunate to see any kind of cheating in bicycle racing and I hope the governing bodies enforce the rules to fullest extent, but fact that this 'motor doping' story was posted in a lot of media outside of the traditional cycling press is a good way to raise awareness about how electric bike technology has progressed to become relatively lightweight and well integrated into the look of a bicycle.”
He added: “Most of the people that buy an electric bike will never get into competitive bicycle racing but with an e-bike they can get the sensation of what it would be like to ride at that level.”
E-bikes are commonly perceived to be heavy, ugly and aimed at older people so the fact that a 19-year-old athlete was caught racing with a hidden motor on a lightweight bicycle will have done the e-bike sector the power of good, said Prebus, presciently.