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How e-bikes helped me get my life back

Stu Bowers Sponsored
5 Jan 2021

Alistair McLean's story is a truly remarkable one. In association with Fatcreations, supported by Cannondale

Imagine having been a competitive cyclist since you were 16 years old, competing for Great Britain in downhill mountain biking, winning countless races across various other cycling disciplines, only to be told, aged 42, you have a serious heart condition.

What’s more, the only treatment is for a defibrillator to be permanently mounted in your chest and as such your heart rate can never again climb much above sedentary levels without a shock being automatically administered to keep your heart beat from straying into a life threatening arrhythmia.

That was exactly the situation Alistair McLean – founder of Fatcreations, a custom paint shop of international renown based in Chichester – was faced with back in 2014.

Ali was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy, and as the man himself explains, ‘Long story short, it means that if my heart rate goes above 120 beats per minute, I am at serious risk of my heart going into ventricular tachycardia, which means irregular electrical impulses make it beat exceptionally fast, possibly up to 250 bpm,’ he says.

‘This will almost certainly lead to fatal cardiac arrest if the ICD I have implanted in my chest doesn’t succeed at getting my heart to go back into rhythm.’

But cycling’s loss was custom bike painting’s gain, as while McLean sorely missed participating in the sport he loved, he was able to positively redirect his passion for bikes into painting them, something which seemed like a natural progression from the custom helmet designs he already worked on in his spare time.

The reputation he has built for himself, working with long term partner Becca, at Fatcreations, speaks volumes of his hard work, dedication and positive outlook which makes his story, captured in our short film, a truly inspiring one.

As the film reveals, another significant turning point in Ali’s life occurred only recently, this time a far more positive one: e-road bikes have enabled him to revisit a part of his life he thought he’d said goodbye to forever.

How e-bikes helped Alistair McLean ride again

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Neo e-road bike

Ali’s Cannondale SuperSix Evo Neo e-road bike has put him back in the saddle, feeling the wind in his face and training alongside Becca once more.

The e-road version of Cannondale’s top of the line race bike, the SuperSix Evo, is not your typical e-bike. With the whole e-bike motor system weighing just 3.7kg and the battery small enough to be housed in the down tube, the subtle ‘iWoc’ control button on the top tube is the only clue the Neo is something more than a conventional road bike.

The complete bike weighs just 11.3kg and benefits from many of the same proven aero benefits as its WorldTour-raced brethren. It uses ebikemotion’s X35 rear hub-based motor, delivering up to 250 extra watts over a range as far as 100km.

‘Even after just one ride on it, it became apparent immediately that this bike would change everything for me,’ Ali says. ‘I could actually go out on a ride with my partner and instead of her having to take it easy, she could hit the climbs in a proper training zone.

‘I could keep pace with her and she could get in a proper workout even though I was having to keep my heart rate relatively low. I never ever thought that would happen again on a road bike.’

‘What is even better,’ Ali continues, ‘is that so many of my friends have been round and seen this bike and assumed it was a normal SuperSix Evo.

‘Instead of feeling like a classic e-bike, to me the Neo feels more like a modern, aero road bike that just happens to have that motor in the rear hub. It does everything I need it to do. It picks up the slack when you are not feeling good, or if you aren’t capable, and for me that makes all the difference in the world.’

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Photographer: Geoff Waugh  
Director, DP and editor: Carlos Torres  
Second camera operator: Greg Dowswell  
Second camera operator: Sam Norton  
Film co-ordinator: Liliana Dias

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