Specialized E-Bike Advertisement Debunks Proponents’ Low-Speed Claim

The Specialized advertisement that pits their Turbo e-bike against a bicycle has got to be the weirdest advertisement Specialized has produced since their high-speed police pursuit video. It sends a message that must have e-bike proponents gnashing their teeth.

The bicycle is piloted by Peter Sagan, one of the fastest bicycle racers on earth. The Turbo e-bike is ridden by a rider identified only as Grandma Joan. The ad, that does not reveal Joan’s age, explains that her heart requires a pacemaker and she has had two knee replacements. The ad goes on to claim that Grandma Joan beats Sagan in an uphill drag race. While that result seems implausible, I assume Specialized would be guilty of deceptive advertising if the reverse was true. So why should this fun ad have e-bike proponents so upset?

A narrative used by e-bike sellers (especially when trying to gain access to multi-user, natural-surface trails) is that their products are “a little bit faster” than a bicycle. The result of this comparison reveals how erroneous that statement is.

Another claim the ad indirectly implies is that e-bikes are a viable tool for a patient’s rehabilitation. In this case, Joan’s knee and heart therapy. That might be true, but it is a patient’s doctor who should make that call, not a company trying to sell e-bikes.

I’ve never believed that e-bikes are appropriate for multi-user, natural-surface trails. I did feel they had a place on paved bicycle paths. After watching Specialized’s ad (and reading this article on reckless riding), I’m not so sure.

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