Strava, E-Bikes and the Rules

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If you’re a regular Strava user – and you ride a mountain bike powered purely by your legs – you might be increasingly suspicious of the leaderboards. As Mark investigated in April, e-bikes are a potential problem for Strava. Even though most only assist the rider rather than having a throttle, someone who’s normally trailing up the climbs can use one to blast upward faster than most.

The ‘Uh-Oh’ email from Strava that tells you your KOM/QOM is gone was once met with a fierce determination to get out there and find those few extra seconds necessary to get it back. When the top five riders are divided by a few seconds and the new KOM/QOM boldly posts a time that is thirty seconds ahead of that though… well, it’s difficult to not be a little suspicious.

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If people are posting e-bike rides, is it a genuine mistake or a cunning plan? Do e-bike users come to the site intent on wiping the smiles off the faces of the smugly fit who they’ve never been able to keep up with? Or do they simply want to join in and find out what all the fuss is about, with no idea that their taking part will be filed under ‘cheating’? Are Strava doing anything to address this?

To that last question: Yes. It turns out they already did, way back in 2012. According to this help page from their site, using a non conventional bicycle “conflicts with the fairness and integrity of the Segment Leaderboards”. E-Bike users are instructed to list their ride under ‘E-Bike Ride’ sport type. This removes the activity from normal segment leaderboards and instead lists them on an E-Bike only board. Who knew? Not many people, it would seem.

Strava has dozens of activity types, but neither the mobile app or the website make much obvious beyond “ride” or “run”. You need to be deep into the Training page, or editing a ride later in the app, to spot the aforementioned Activity Type dropdown. Time to for Strava to find an accessible, inclusive way to explain the rules for E-Bikes, and E-Bike riders: spare a thought for our legs please.

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Comments (3)

    Nothing wrong, per se, about using an e-bike on Strava. Well, as long as you tell every one it was an e-bike, surely? Otherwise, you’re just a plain old liar.

    Is using faster-rolling 29″ wheels cheating?? 🙂

    Sadly (both because I a bit sad doing it and because someone was taking hard earnt KOM’s off local riders) I got in touch with them about this. It took a bit of explaining to point out this lad was posting his e-bike rides but they agreed to get in touch with him to have a quiet word!

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