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This is the 'hidden motor' everyone's been talking about since cycling's 'mechanical doping' scandal

Bradley Wiggins thinks its been going on a while.
Feb 3rd 2016, 9:44 AM 15,003 10

PROFESSIONAL CYCLING WAS rocked over the weekend when 19-year-old Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche, competing in the cyclocross world championships, was caught with a bicycle that had a motor hidden in the frame, and since then many have been talking about one Austrian company’s product: the Vivax Assist.

The sport’s governing body, the UCI, told Business Insider on Tuesday that it wouldn’t comment at this time on what type of motor was actually found in the bike, stating that “the procedure must now follow its course until the UCI Disciplinary Commission renders its decision.”

For her part, Van den Driessche said it wasn’t her bike and insisted she was “totally unaware” it was fitted with a hidden motor.

In the meantime, curious observers are talking about the Vivax Assist, a small motor that’s inserted into a bike frame and activated by pushing a button that’s installed on the handlebar. It weighs about four pounds, can produce up to 110 watts of power, and costs $3,000.

Company condemns those who would race with a motor

Business Insider spoke on Tuesday with Vivax’s Ulrike Treichl, who’s in charge of the company’s marketing and PR. She said she was shocked upon hearing the news over the weekend that a competitive cyclist had been caught with a hidden motor in her bike, but made it clear that Vivax has no idea whether or not the motor used was one of its own.

“We can’t say if she used our motor, but of course maybe she used it,” Treichl said. “We don’t know. For us it is very disappointing when a product that can bring great benefit to many customers is used for other intents, for that is really unacceptable.

“The system is not intended for use in competition,” she added. “This was not in the mind of the inventor. And we’d like to say we condemn the use of the Vivax Assist system in competition.”

vivax-hidden-motor-cycling-bike

Treichl said Vivax sells 1,200 motors a year and is the only company in Europe that makes such a product. Vivax does not deliver to private persons but works strictly through distributors.

No one connected to the cyclist had purchased products from Vivax, Treichl added.

The GIF below shows how the Vivax Assist works. (This is a mountain bike, but the system works roughly the same way on a road or cyclocross bike.)

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“We also welcome the inspection of the UCI, and hope that a rethink in competitive sport takes place, and that fairness is first and forward again,” Treichl said. “We’d like to sell the Vivax only to cyclists who use additional assistance if needed, and not to people who are going to competition.”

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