LAUSANNE, Switzerland - The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has announced it will reduce the fees for the testing and approval of frames and forks and change the process by which manufacturers have their products approved for competition. Meetings held on January 13-14 2011, between the UCI and 45 participants representing 33 bike companies belonging to the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) resulted in a re-evaluation and optimization of the procedures.
The testing of Mono Block frames in the “Comprehensive procedure” will be reduced from CHF12,000 (€9,170) to CHF5,000 (€3,820). The “Simplified procedure” for tubular frames will now cost CHF500 (€380) instead of CHF800 (€611), as previously proposed. In addition and at the industry’s request, a third procedure, the so-called Mono Block “Intermediate procedure” costing CHF3,000 (€2,290), will be created.
In setting up the procedures the UCI based its costs on the expected number of frames to qualify for homologation. This prompted the Union to set the homologation costs per frame at €12,000 for carbon fibre and €800 for tubular models. Apparently the UCI miscalculated the number of frames that would be brought forward by the industry. The International Cycling Union had planned to test all frame sizes and all frame variations.
At the meetings the 45 bike industry participants argued that each frame model comes in 7 to 8 sizes and that about 115 different frames would be brought forward to qualify for homologation. It would mean that the UCI would have to test close to one thousand frames. With homologation costs of €12,000 euro for each carbon fibre frame manufacturers would have incurred huge costs. As well, the handling and time required for the homologation procedure would have become a major issue.
These arguments were recognized by the UCI and it expressed a willingness to re-evaluate the homologation procedure. They will take into account further proposals from the bike industry participants who said that testing one frame size - randomly picked by the UCI - could offer a solution to the problem.
For the WFSGI the outcome is a very positive step, and reflects a welcome spirit of cooperation. “We are very pleased that the costs for the bicycle brands and manufacturers have been adapted to a more reasonable level”, says WFSGI Secretary General Robbert de Kock. “It shows that the UCI has taken the inputs of the industry seriously and I am convinced that the constructive dialogue from the Aigle meeting will continue. In the end we have several common interests where a major goal is the growth of the bicycle activities (market) and the positive identity of the sport. I wish to thank and congratulate the WFSGI bicycle members for their collective efforts and active involvement for this result. It shows here a new dimension for the bicycle industry where joined efforts are better structured and have, in this particular situation, resulted in major cost savings.”
In a press statement commenting on the mid January meeting, WFSGI secretary general Robbert de Kock said, “The meeting was very successful even when we have not been able to solve all points that have been brought to the table yet. The discussion was very open and questions have been put forward and drawings have been exchanged where after the UCI asked for a few weeks to come back.”
De Kock is also glad about the evolution of communication between UCI and the industry stating, “This is an absolute positive development as before there was no real exchange between the UCI and the industry other than on occasional, individual basis. Several supporting documents have been supplied to the UCI for further internal discussion and a letter from the UCI this week showed that our comments are taken very seriously and will be further evaluated”.
Level playing field
In his speech to the industry UCI President Pat McQuaid affirmed the necessity of a closer collaboration. “The rules used to have a more philosophical approach that needed to be explained in a more technical, engineering way.”
Until now, the UCI did not have a controlling procedure other then the commissioners at the races. During the last two years more and more equipement became an issue at races, which led to a decision to create a homologation for bike frames.
Philippe Chevallier, Sport & Technical Director at UCI, said: “The rules were put into place on January 1, 2000 and have been unchanged until today. In Beijing 2008 we saw that two-thirds of the bikes were not conforming. That is why in 2009 we started to look for a solution to create a level playing field.”
Dirk Bruynseraede, Chief Information Officer at NV Race Productions/Ridley Bikes, stated after the meeting, “It is a good thing that UCI is taking steps to make things more clear. It will be a challenge for manufacturers to adapt to a new system of control but the costs involved must become more transparent.”
After hearing all the arguments brought forward by the industry participants at the January meetings, the UCI promised to respond in about 3 weeks. And it did, as explained at the beginning of this report with the announcement of the reduction of the fees for the testing and approval of frames and forks and the changes in the process by which manufacturers have their products approved for competition.