Industry heaps scorn on 'Approved by UCI' labels. Only the top three bike makers could hope to benefit from the "extortion".
While some in the bike trade believe the UCI's new labelling scheme is a "storm in a teacup" and once spread out over a number of frames the cost will be "peanuts", others see the UCI's move into labelling of products as a deeply worrying development.
The UCI's new labelling scheme is initially aimed mostly at time trial frames but the UCI has indicated it will seek to certify components and clothing, too.
BikeBiz spoke to industry figures in the UK and US. The big bike brands refused to comment, a possible indication that the UCI labelling process will be most costly (in time and money) for smaller bike companies.
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SPLASH THE CASH
“Sounds very much to me that UCI is working in a special little vacuum, only communicating with parties who pay extra to work with them or who are “sponsors” of UCI programs.
"UCI continues to ignore and abuse smaller companies. There will be deep fallout and it is not good for the business or the sport- it only benefits the UCI.“It will lead to more more consolidation for bigger brands. It’s sad that the UCI has to resort to extortion simply because they can't write rules that can be applied uniformly.
"When they have the blood on their hands of products and brands going away, it will be sickening. There will be bikes that never see the light of day now. I know of at least one not likely to. This UCI extortion will squash innovation and bankrupt smaller companies into extinction. Smaller companies have it hard enough already, this new rule will drive them out of race support altogether. It's a travesty.”
Tim ‘Masiguy’ Jackson
Brand manager, Masi Bicycles, USA
TIME FOR A BREAKAWAY GOVERNING BODY?
“This will be unworkable on so many levels from the consumer up through the supply chain right to the UCI. Administration, testing and development time will make the process a nonsense.
"Getting products EN tested in a timely manner and to market is difficult enough, add this into the mix and planning can go out of the window.
"If the price of products are so inflated to prevent any volume, then consumers simply won't buy. A bit of a vicious circle and will discourage new or smaller brands with fresh ideas coming to market. If a certain number of brands are the only ones rich enough to make products used at the highest level they'll take on an F1 status and will only be available to the richest. This may be good for them, but it will mean the common man will not be able afford to compete (something the UCI regulations of 2000 were introduced to prevent) let alone record official times at basic competition level.
“We all like to get nice shiny bits for our bike but that's been down to the choice of the individual, not a prerequisite to race. That's not the kind of inclusive sport I recognize and, let’s be honest, even the highest level bike is not so technical to worthy such a self righteous stamp of authority.
“Like other popular sports with the headquarters in Switzerland, it's probably time for a breakaway governing body to form.”
Product and marketing manager, Dawes Cycles, UK
“It’s crazy to expect manufacturers to react to rule changes with short notice, if you look at other Olympic sports with equipment, for example sailing, the rules are fixed before the start of the next four year Olympic cycle, this gives the boat and sail makers time to work through their design to make sure it complies with the rules and gives maximum performance within them and the competitors time to adjust to the new equipment. The 4 year period then gives every country the equal opportunity to buy boats that comply with the rules, tweak them within the limits and not incur huge additional equipment / development costs, they can spend that on the athletes.
“The problem is that cycling moves on so quickly and if we adopt a four year rule it does limit development but cycling does need development. The one thing the UCI seem to fail to recognise is that for the manufacturers to continue to finance the sport we all need to sell product, that product needs to be new and exciting to the customers who pay the $$$ for it not restricted in design for a handful of race teams who get it for free.
“Development costs are high enough without adding another $14,000 to them. It all adds to the cost of a bike to the end consumer, and for what?
“Geometry certfication penalises riders who need equipment made to their body shape, most designs are a compromise, designed to fit the majority not one specific rider. They are headed into the same problems motorbikes suffered in World Superbike where production bikes were homologated but then race teams were allowed to make individual modifications to compensate for the better riders that actually raced those production bikes. The rule book then ends up getting rewritten as teams push the rules to the limits then beyond. The only winners from that are sport lawyers, not racer, not sponsors, not manufacturers.“I’m glad that the area of mountain biking we focus on has no need for the UCI, until they see it as another revenue stream of course.”
Product manager, Orange, UK
FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE ROADIES AND I DID NOTHING...
“[We] do not manufacturer road race or TT frames, and as the ruling does not apply yet to MTB this issue really won't cross our path.”
MTB parts manufacturer, UK
Additional reporting by Mark Sutton