COMMENT: Go get ‘em, GOCEM

I start this editorial where last month’s polemic left off. The UCI is no longer all-powerful. I’m amazed and pleased that the bike industry has had the gumption – and good sense – to heed my warnings about the gnomes of Aigle.
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I’m kidding: Nothing I wrote influenced those high-end companies that formed an alliance to stand up against the UCI. In fact, by the time the mag was published, the formation of GOCEM – Global Organization of Cycling Equipment Manufacturers – was almost ready to be announced.

Last month I had complained about the lack of collectivism shown by the industry when Cinelli’s Spinaci bars were outlawed by the UCI. By not acting en masse, the UCI could pick off innovations at will.

Cinelli had argued for collective action but no other companies joined in and Cinelli was left to count the cost of a product –go-faster aero bar extensions –doomed to commercial failure.

CAD design – and 15 years of advanced knowledge of what makes carbon tick –allows frames today to be amazingly light yet super-tough in all the right places.

Now, why should a bike shop that doesn’t retail £8,000 machines care about such an organisation as GOCEM, formed by companies that supply Tour de France teams? Stifling innovation is bad news for all sectors of the bike biz. As in F1, innovations start at the high-end and trickle down.

The UCI seems to have some notion that bikes were perfect in the 1960s and so anything that tampers with this ideal is suspect. Road bikes, that is. The UCI is strangely quiet about MTBs. Many of mountain biking’s biggest innovations –suspension, for instance –were set in stone by the time the UCI became the official governing body of this new sport. You could descend a DH course on a pogo-stick with a weather balloon as your front forks and the UCI wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But should a road bike dare to have an aero element a millimetre too round as defined by the road-obsessive UCI and all hell is let loose.

The UCI needs to understand that bike racing is, in large part, a shop-front for shiny new bikes. It always has been.

Since the 1880s, racing was a way of advertising one bike’s prowess over another. The Tour de France was created to sell more copies of a Parisian newspaper.

Take away the commercial aspect of cycling and the UCI would have nothing to rail against because there would be no cycle sport.

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