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Granny Gear Announces Power Assisted Bike Races

(Laird's note: I was premature in releasing this. As it stands now, this press release represents a statement of my interest in seeing the application of forthcoming "appropriate" or "soft path" technologies to cycling and my understanding of how competition will ultimately hone and perfect those cycling applications. I have presented the idea of an exibition race to several companies that are currently developing e-bikes and, with the publishing of this press release in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, several more manufacturers have contacted me. There is definitely interest among these companies. However, many e-bike designs aren't yet up to off-road riding, let alone racing. I expect that this will be changing soon. When it does, we'll run the exibition race in the manner described below.)

DAVIS, WV - With recent advances in battery, micro-electronic, super-efficient electric motor and solar energy technologies, the advent of power-assisted bicycles is on the horizon.

According to Laird Knight, President of Granny Gear Productions, Inc., "The development and application of these technologies will have significant positive impacts on the bicycle industry and will expand cycling opportunities for both recreation and commuting applications. It's important for people to understand that the emphasis is being placed on power assistance. I am not interested in promoting sit-on-top, no-effort electric motorcycles, but there is a synergy that can be created between man and machine with these power assist technologies that will make the bicycle an even more practical machine while maintaining the aesthetics of silence, efficiency and low-impact that bicycling represents."

In 1999, Granny Gear Productions will be organizing exhibition races for power-assisted mountain bikes on the Friday prior to each of its popular 24 hour mountain bike team relay races, The 24 Hours of Canaan, 24 Hours of Donner Pass, and The 24 Hours of Moab. The races will be based on a four lap format with one pit stop allowed during the race. Total mileage for each race will be 40 to 50 miles.

Certain criteria will be set, defining power assistance, although the exact values for these criteria have not been set at this time. Power output will be limited so that the total power output of the bicycle and rider will be equivalent to one horse-power or less (a human being can produce between 1/4 to 1/3 of a horse-power). A cut-out speed may be applied, limiting the top speed at which the power assistance will engage. No internal combustion engines will be allowed. Operation of the power-assist motor must be silent or nearly so. Batteries or fuel cells must be made of non-toxic materials. Solar cells will be allowed.

Under current laws, these machines will be classified as motorized vehicles and would not be allowed on many public lands. But Knight believes that there are reasons to consider their use on a case-by-case basis. "To the extent that these bikes will not weigh much more than a standard bicycle nor produce a significant increase in the mechanical impacts to the trail, and considering the commuting applications and potential recreational value, I do think that they could be allowed on some of the more resilient and under-used public lands that currently would not allow them. Realistically, I don't see this happening anytime soon, but as power-assisted bikes become more widely accepted, I think land managers may see some legitimate applications for them. Meanwhile, there are lots of areas- both public and private-where these bikes can be used. All of the races that we will be conducting will be held on either private lands or public lands that allow motorized vehicles," Knight said.

Invitations are being made to all companies currently involved in developing this new technology. In addition to fielding entries in the races, companies will also be able attend the product expos throughout the weekend at each of the 24 hour races. Independent homegrown designers are also being encouraged to enter their own designs. Knight sees off-road racing as the perfect testing grounds for these new machines. "In racing, ease of use, durability, efficiency and light weight, will be key factors in producing a winning design. These same qualities will drive the market at the retail level," Knight said.

The dates for next years series of 24 hour races are as follows: The 24 Hours of Canaan - June, 5th & 6th, The 24 Hours of Donner Pass - August, 7th & 8th, and The 24 Hours of Moab - October, 9th & 10th. The Power-assisted Mountain Bike Race Series dates are June 4th, August 6th, and October 8th, respectively.

For questions regarding the 1999 24 Hour Race Series and/or the Power-assisted Mountain Bike Race Series, contact: Granny Gear Productions, Inc. P.O. Box 189, Davis, WV 26260, Phone or Fax: 304-259-5533.

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Granny Gear Productions, Inc.
127 Springfield Ave
Morgantown, WV 26505
Phone: 304-259-5533
Fax: 435-608-1699

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