UCI may scrap 6.8kg weight limit for race bikes
Component approval process may take the place of blanket limits
Julien Carron, the UCI's technical coordinator, has intimated today that the sport's governing body may be prepared to relax the 6.8kg weight limit currently imposed on race bikes.
The news comes from Carlton Reid, editor of UK bike trade magazine BikeBiz, who has been over at the UCI's HQ in Switzerland and reported on the comments, made in a presentation to journalists. The main issue for the UCI would appear to be one of safety, with lighter kit more prone to failure. But the UCI appear to be softening their line, suggesting that with independent testing over and above the current CEN standards, lighter components could be accepted. From Carron's comments it's not clear whether he's advocating dropping the weight limit altogether and allowing any bike composed of approved components (possibly the more likely scenario) or just setting a new, lower limit.
Given that the UCI have recently started up their own testing and approval scheme, that would presumably be the process by which the testing and approval of lighter weight kit was carried out. There's always a price to pay for equipment testing, and we're sure that the UCI would like to see as much of that testing revenue as possible, given their current tack.
Interestingly, it appears that it's the marketing side of the bike business, as opposed to the race teams, that have been pushing hardest for the weight limit to be scrapped. "Bike companies would like to use lightness to sell more race bikes", was Carlton's take on the news in a comment to a piece on the Inner Ring blog.
That's got a ring of truth about it, although it would be surprising if bike companies weren't also looking to push the envelope from a technological point of view. Cannondale's new Supersix Evo weighs in at 695g for the frame but when we saw the bike for the first time they said that the frame was much lighter than that – 630g – in development. So the big companies are certainly looking to go lighter.
And the teams? Well, probably it's not so much of an issue most of the time. On the mountaintop finishes every gram counts, but take a look at a Pro's bike and you'll likely see power cranks, steel-axled pedals and a favourite saddle, all of which will be adding weight. There's a limit to how much comfort and component integrity pro riders will sacrifice for weight reductions, and the 6.8kg mark is about where most of the pro bikes currently end up in race build. But if lighter, rigourously-tested components were available, there's no doubt the teams would use them.