Featured Stories

60 Minutes Investigates Hidden Motors and Pro Cycling

release by CBS News

January 30, 2017 – The following script is from “Enhancing the Bike,” which aired on Jan. 29, 2017 and can be viewed as well. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Michael Rey and Oriana Zill de Granados, producers.

Enhancing the Bike  ©  CBS News
The sport of cycling is notorious for its culture of cheating—made most famous by the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong and his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Now when cycling hopes to be cleansed of the dopers there’s a surprising new twist—riders enhancing the bike’s performance. Some professional racers aren’t putting steroids and blood boosters in their veins they’re hiding motors in their bike frames. We followed a lead to Budapest, Hungary, and met an engineer who said he built the first secret bike motor back in 1998. And he told us motors have been used in the Tour de France. Our story tonight is not about the latest drugs the riders are using to cheat…it’s all about enhancing the bike.

Engineer Istvan “Stefano” Varjas and 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker  ©  CBS News
Bill Whitaker: Where is the motor in here?

Stefano Varjas: It’s in here.

In a bike shop in Budapest, Hungary, we met Istvan Varjas. Stefano, as he’s known, is a former cyclist, a businessman and a scientist. His most important invention he placed inside this bike. The frame is fitted with a small motor he designed. Add to it a lithium battery that powers it and a secret button that he installed.

Stefano Varjas: This is first speed.

Bill Whitaker: Uh. Huh.

Stefano Varjas: Try to keep the pace.

Bill Whitaker: Wow!

The sound is mostly the chain and the wheels.  He said you can’t hear it on the road and all of his motor designs use brushless motors and military-grade metal alloys.

Bill Whitaker: And how does this work?

This is now the latest version of his hidden motor design.

Bill Whitaker: Unbelievable…

It can be connected to a heart rate monitor by remote control. When a riders heart beat gets too high it sends a signal for the motor to kick in.

We took his hidden motors for some test rides up in the hills above Budapest.

Bill Whitaker: This is like I’m on flat ground.

Bill Whitaker rides a bike with a hidden motor in the hills above Budapest, Hungary  ©  CBS News
It was hard to believe it’s real until I put my feet on the pedals. Harder to believe when I took them off the pedals…

For the fulll transcript and video, visit here.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.