Dimitris Katsanis, the UCI’s new consultant to its Equipment Commission, is at the Taipei show at the invitation of the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry. The WFSGI represents 50+ bicycle industry suppliers.
“This is the first time I’ve been as part of the UCI to speak to the industry and it looks like the industry have a good reaction to that,” Katsanis told the Taipei Show Daily.
“All these years I was on the other side banging on the UCI’s door; now I have the chance to actually try and do things better.”
Robbert de Kock, secretary general of the WFSGI, said a talk by Katsanis to industry executives was the "kick-off of a new era of making progress with the UCI, and we’re really looking forward as an industry to seeing how we can be part of that progress.”
Katsanis said he would use the show to "initiate direct discussions with the cycling industry and start building a communications channel.”
Katsanis is a composites expert and worked on aerospace projects before returning to the sport he loved. He produced British Cycling’s "secret squirrel club" bicycles used in the past two Olympics and he also designed the Boardman AiR/TT/1 time trial frame. In January, he was appointed to be the UCI’s Equipment Commission consultant thanks to his prior working with British Cycling’s Brian Cookson, now the new president of the UCI. Katsanis helped the UCI select other members of the new Equipment Commission.
“The advancement of technology has accelerated a lot since the mid-90s, as modern design and manufacturing methods gradually filtered out of the aerospace and motorsport sectors,” said Katsanis.
“This is an irreversible process. Instead of trying to suppress it, we should find a way of harnessing it for the good of the sport, as well as promoting the well-being of everyday riders.”
Katsanis will find it tough to repair the relationship between the industry and the UCI, which, for some years, has been famously "anti-technology", in comparison to a bicycle industry that is highly innovative.
In the short term, there are two sticking points: wheel certification and road discs.
The wheel certification program is still in flux. Last year, the UCI announced it would begin certifying wheels for racing — but refused to accept outside help in defining the tests that the wheels would undergo. The WFSGI has submitted a formal request for the UCI to approve the use of disc brakes in road racing.
In the longer term, many in the industry feel the UCI should revisit its weight rule on bicycles. Producing ultra-strong bikes weighing under 6.8kg is now easily achievable, say insiders.