They are, they aren't, they are. When the UCI first announced their frame approval system there was understandable indignation from the cycling industry, many of whom saw the new regime as nothing more than another revenue stream for the governing body. Following a heated two-day meeting with bike companies on 13-14 January, the UCI wrote to suppliers to say that it would 'modify certain points of the procedure'. And one of the points it has quite significantly modified is the cost of the approval process.
As a result in part of negotiations between the UCI and the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industries (WFSGI), the price of homologation for a TT frame has dropped from 12,000 Swiss Francs to just 5,000 (£3,300). A traditional road frame will now cost just 500 Swiss Francs (£334) to approve, down from 800. There will also be an 'intermediate' process costing 3,000 Swiss Francs (£2,000) for 'mono-block fames used in mass-start events'. All prices apply to eight sizes per model, with extra sizes costing more.
The other change is to the label, which will now be coded instead of displaying the approval date. The time limits – one month for drawing approval and two for built frames – remain the same.
WFSGI Secretary General Robbert De Kock said, “It shows that the UCI has taken inputs of the industry seriously and I am convinced that the constructive dialog from the Aigle meeting will continue. 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.”
It also shows that the UCI either vastly overestimated how much the approval process would cost, or tacked on a pretty healthy 'contingency' margin when they originally announced it. The new prices seem a lot more realistic and will probably go some way to getting the manufacturers on board, but we expect that there'll still be plenty of anger directed at the UCI for pushing through the process with very little consultation in the first instance, and artificially inflating the prices when it was launched.
The price drop doesn't address some of the bike companies' major concerns with the process as a whole, either; most of the major bike makers use races as a way of honing their prototype bikes for years to come, and the long wait for confirmation and additional cost that the approval process will add to the development loop will, they say, stifle innovation. Not a criticism that's been levelled against the UCI before, then...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.