It's called the FIM E-XBike World Cup, and the first race will be 30 minutes plus one lap on the Motocross Grand Prix
racetrack in front of an estimated 20,000 fans in Imola, Italy, August 17. Sponsor and E-XBike producer Youthstream will also broadcast the event across its media channels to another 2.5 million potential viewers. The series was announced at a press conference
this weekend by FIM President Jorge Viegas and the Youthstream President Giuseppe Luongo, and marks the first official sanctioning of an e-bike competition by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme.
Youthstream also has the broadcasting and marketing rights to prestigious FIM events, like the FIM Motocross World Championship, the FIM Motocross of Nations, so their move to include e-bike racing should be taken seriously. The plan is that initial events will be open to any competitor with a conventional class-1 eMTB (pedal assist, 250 watts continuous). Male and female riders will be combined for a mass-start multi-lap race on the motocross track at MXGP venues. The format is 30 minutes plus one lap, with male and female competitors scored separately.
The venue is reminiscent of the Shimano Grand Prix - a mountain bike race staged as half-time entertainment at the Carlsbad U.S. Grand Prix of Motocross back in 1985 in front of similar sized crowds.
The news comes on the heels of a handful of rival eMTB venues, most of which claim World Cup-esque status, and an announcement late last year that the UCI would sanction e-bike racing officially as an offshoot of conventional bicycle competition. Depending upon the flavor of Kool Aid you drink, FIM-sanctioned eMTB races could be a welcome guest to the e-bike party, or a wake up call to the cycling industry that these things actually have motors.
FIM President Jorge Viegas said, "For the FIM, it is a reoccurring story because the first motorcycles were based on a bike frame, with the addition of a motor. In recent years the electric technology has evolved considerably, and we are convinced that the FIM E-XBike World Cup will offer the manufacturers a great platform for further development."
It's no secret that there is a significant cross-over between MTB and moto, which Youthstream no doubt plans to exploit by staging e-bike races at prestigious motocross venues. How fans will react to a much more quiet and slower paced competition format is an unanswered question. Youthstream says the FIM E-XBike World Cup will be a work in progress as they pair up with manufacturers and international federations to shape the venues to be an exciting product for both viewers and competitors.
David Luongo, Youthstream CEO Talks About the FIM E-XBike World Cup
We assume that E-XBike World Cup venues will be televised, is that true? How will they be aired?
Youthstream will put all of its TV and Media resources to promote this new competition as much as possible. The first E-XBike FIM World Cup will be taking place in Imola, Italy, during the FIM Motocross World Championship on the evening of Saturday the 17th of August. The event will broadcasted live on our OTT Platforms, MXGP-TV.com, and our Facebook MXGP Page that has more than 2.5 million followers.
What type of e-bikes will be legal for racing?
Our idea is to use the e-bikes that you would find in the retail market to touch as many fans as possible who are passionate about this sport. The detailed regulations will come out very soon and we will communicate them in a second step.
Are there plans for a more powerful closed course racing formula?
The concept of the E-XBike FIM World Cup is a closed course, as we will be using the motocross track. Regarding the capacity of the e-bikes, it depends on the demand of the market.
Has the FIM drafted rules for e-bike competition? Where can they be accessed?
Youthstream is working closely with FIM and manufactures to understand, then draft the new regulations. They will be accessible very soon.
World Cup e-bike racing is a large proposition. How many venues will there be and where will they be located?
As we are in year one of a long-term project, and the mission of our company is to deliver a very premium experience to the riders, we will concentrate on one event in 2019 and it will be in Imola, Italy, on the 17th of August. The riders will have access to all the facilities, including the paddock of the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship. We will also organize many combined activities related to both e-bikes and motocross.
Please describe the format. How will the courses be laid out to showcase e-bikes and provide excitement for viewers?
The competition will be taking place on the motocross circuit built for the occasion of the MXGP Grand Prix of Italy in Imola and at the end of the Saturday program, our track designers will adapt the motocross track to the a very simple e-bike principle. It will be a mass start race of 30 minutes plus 1 Lap. As we are starting from scratch, the idea is to give the opportunity to participating in the event to the maximum number of riders. A complete lap will be around 1,500 meters. It will be a very punchy competition where the riders will have to manage their battery to finish the race. They will race live on TV and in front of more than 20,000 spectators. The winner of the race will also be an FIM World Champion. We want to bring a compact yet very demanding and dynamic competition to a closed course.
How do athletes qualify for World Cup competition?
As for now, it will be open for everyone, but in a more long-term view, we will work with the e-bike industry and the different national federations to implement qualifications throughout the various countries.
Do you see any conflicts with the UCI's e-bike racing program?
We don’t see any conflict, and we are working closely to the FIM to develop this project.