New EBK World Cup e-bike racing series to stage first event in UK

5 Apr 2023

The new FIM EBK World Cup, a bold new format featuring high-powered e-bikes racing in tight city centre locations, will hold its first event in the UK this summer.

The new category will race at an as-yet undisclosed location in London. It will be the first in a series of exhibition races in the UK and various international cities ahead of a full series running in 2024. It is then planned to become an FIM-sanctioned world championship in 2025.

Although few details of the London have been revealed, new EBK ambassador Ed Clancy claimed that "it'll be spectacular. It's a perfect course for it, with long straights, a tight technical section, a power zone and a big artificial ramp."

The ultimate plan is for a ten-round series of one-hour, criterium-style races, each taking place on circuits carved out on public roads within the host cities.

Swiss bike manufacturer BMC will provide the bikes, although few details of what they might look like or the technological aspects are yet to be announced. All we know is that the machines will have a top speed of 55mph, and the bike frame, motor and battery specifications will be the same for every rider. It will be up to the teams to decide on the other components.

Notably, the machine will offer substantially more electric assist than a standard road-legal e-bike. As a result, the series will actually be sanctioned by the FIM, which is the governing body of motorbikes. The FIM and the UCI, cycling's governing body, have reached an agreement where the divide is between self-powered and electrically-powered bikes.

Each race taking place on public roads within host cities, including Dubai. Between six teams will battle it out to become the inaugural series winners, with each team to have a female and male team in an attempt to promote equality from the get-go. Organisers are expecting between 30 and 50 riders in each event.

The series has also appointed Alexandra Molina as its chief executive. Molina has spent three decades working for Formula 1, most recently as events director.

Similarly, the athletes, the ones powering the show, are also yet to be announced. EBK promises 'world-class athletes' and suggests World Tour teams might find this a curious proposition, but it will be interesting to see what kind of riders these races attract and whether they would be willing to extend or re-organise their seasons to race this series towards the back end of the year. 

It's not just sheer power that will determine the winners of these races. With the addition of the electric bike element, data-driven tactics will be at the forefront of the strategies, with the potential for some seriously exciting bike racing. Criterium racing is already fast, and yes, furious, so the inclusion of motor-powered bikes will be an intriguing concept, particularly if the city centre courses are tight and technical. 

When originally announced, EBK planned to use a two-day format including a team time trial (TTT) on day one, the results of which will decide the starting groups for the Grand Prix on day two. The Grand Prix will be a one-hour-plus-one-lap criterium race, on a 2.5-5km long city centre circuit. Within this circuit, there will be the addition of specially designed inclines, or 'Power Zones', as well as intermediate sprints and eliminations. Interestingly, the organisers have stipulated that no recharging of the batteries will be allowed between the TTT and the Grand Prix. 

However, in a similar way to Extreme E, the EBK series isn't just about racing, instead, the organisers hope to promote a legacy of a 'Sustainable Transformative Mobility programme'. This is something the cities will have to agree to and aim to help to deliver local urban transport projects to promote a greener and more sustainable way of living.


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