Technology

How hidden motors can dope the bikes at the Tour de France

Just for cyclists at the 103rd Tour de France over the Pyrenees. Always accompanied by motorcycles with thermal imaging cameras on the trail to the small, hidden in the frame electric motors. You will help to carry the rider over the mountains. They are traced with German technology.

You can dope not only the driver, but also the wheels of the racer. Technical doping is called secret styling of road bikes. End of January 2016 Driesschen from Belgium was found in the box of the 19 year old cross cyclist Femke van den a wheel at the World Championships in the Belgian Zolder, an electric motor was stuck in the carbon braid.

Tour de France 2016
While driving, the wheels at the tour de France with thermal imaging cameras captured to get hidden motors to the bottom. Photo: Tour de France

The racer was visually identical to the actual race machine, the Belgian champion. The World Cycling Federation UCI locked the athlete shortly thereafter for six years. “It is absolutely clear that there is a technical fraud,” UCI President Brian Cookson said. And French Secretary of State for sport, Thierry Braillard, seconded: “this problem is worse than doping, the future of cycling is on the line here.”

Now, the fear bypasses that even at the most important bike race in the world, used the Tour de France, with technical tricks. Because the engines which provide additional tailwind, are tiny.

Technology called “Transrapid”

It’s about an electromagnetic drive that dopes the rear rim with strategically placed magnets. The drive takes advantage of the polarity that same pole magnets repel. This technique is similar to the drive that the Transrapid also moved the so-called cross flow engine.

technical doping
The X-ray image brings it to the day: an electric motor inside the frame of the bicycle. Looks like technical doping. Photo: Fraunhofer IZFP

There sit the coils that produce an electromagnetic field in the frame on the Chainstays on height of the brakes, the battery can be hidden easily in the seat tube. This very low-noise motor can start, for example, from the driver’s heart rate monitor.

500 Watts in order to hide

The company of lightweight, known has proven for noble lightweight wheels made of carbon, with a prototype a such cross flow engine can be as powerful. Incredible 100 km/h, the model Velocité speeds up the driver.

180 magnetic tiles per rim ensure the enormous drive. Six copper coils are hidden in the frame. So, it is not to recognize that sit on the wheel a 500 watt powerful drive under the carbon fibres of the frame from the outside.

Safely detect cycling doping

The Fraunhofer Institute for non-destructive testing (IZFP) in Saarbrücken would like to contribute with its technical capabilities optimized for industrial applications, to identify this bicycle doping and has developed appropriate devices. “I is also measuring and monitring ensuring fair racing technology”, says Prof. Dr. ing. Bernd Valeske, head of Department components and component testing, and Deputy Director of the Fraunhofer IZFP.

Electric motor generates heat

A first approach is an acoustic monitoring of the driving field, because the hidden mini engines emit noises that while driving past on measuring stations capture itself. Also the Thermographic inspection with infrared cameras is an option.

These cameras are able to capture differences in temperature by 0.05° C, as they arise to the frame by electric motor or battery. “A reliable detection of the characteristic should be complemented here by a smart test signal evaluation and trained personnel”, so Valesk.

How hidden motors can dope bikes
The X-ray image brings it to the day: an electric motor inside the frame of the bicycle. Looks like technical doping. Photo: Fraunhofer IZFP

Also with magnetic probes IZFP researchers want to match wits with the bicycle doping. It’s a technology Cascade, which should put a stop to the doping with electric motors.

Suspicious bicycles can undergo a further nondestructive testing then, to dispel the suspicion or confirm.

This test is then a scan with a modern digital X-ray technology. So can be very safe and even three-dimensional mapped hidden auxiliary engines initially inaccessible inside the wheels. It can be easily installed in a mobile measuring vehicle and deployed along the route of the tour.

Vivax
An electric motor integrated in the seat tube is connected directly to the crank. The whole thing is not to watch from outside. Photo: Vivax

Who his bike later and not hidden wants to retrofit as a privateer with an electric motor, which can try that with a mating drive.