The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), a body representing many of cycling’s biggest manufacturers, is seeking to alter the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum weight rule for race bikes along with the regulations relating to aero shaping. Could this trigger a renewed interest in dropping bike weights for the rest of us?
“The WFSGI is looking to relax the UCI’s rules governing aerodynamic shaping on frames and other components, and to take a new look at minimum weight rules for complete bikes,” said the WFSGI.
We reported back in December that the UCI’s technical manager Mark Barfield had said in an interview with Cyclingtips that, “We know at the UCI that it’s a rule that best represents the past. There’s a desire to change this. Firstly, it’s a relic of the past. Secondly, it doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t do what it was set out to achieve.”
Robbert de Kock, the WFSGI’s secretary general, said the UCI has become much more co-operative with the industry since Brian Cookson took over as president two years ago.
“It’s been a very big change, it’s been very positive,” de Kock said.
Article 1.3.019 of the UCI’s Technical Regulations states, “The weight of the bicycle cannot be less than 6.8kg.”
The UCI’s Clarification Guide to the regulations says, “The minimum weight of the bicycle (in working order) is… considered without on-board accessories in place, that is to say those items that may be removed during the event. The bottles, on-board computers and all others removable accessories must be removed during the weight check.
“However, the bottle cages, fixture systems and clipped-on extensions are part of the bicycle and stay in place during the weighing.”
That rule was brought in at a time when manufacturers found it quite difficult to get a bike below 6.8kg. These days manufacturers can produce bikes much lighter than that, so the rule is seen as archaic by many, and stifling of development.
Non-racers are, of course, free to ride sub-6.8kg bikes, but many manufacturers haven’t been particularly focused on bringing weights down because pro racing provides the shop window for their top-end models.
The UCI has various regulations relating to the dimensions of elements of the frame but the one the WFSGI is targeting is the 3:1 rule: the depth of a tube’s profile cannot be more than three times its width.
Many bike manufacturers currently design aero tubes with the tails of the profiles chopped off square in order to save weight and improve handling as well as to stay within UCI rules. Trek does this with its Kammtail Virtual Foil shaping, for example, and Merida does something similar with its Scultura 6000 (above).
The WFSGI has recently worked with the UCI to alter the rules relating to carbon wheels.
“Under previous rules, the UCI had a destructive wheel test intended to prevent use of wheels that could lacerate racers in a crash,” said WFSGI. “But many wheel makers said the test was bad science. Worse, the UCI required the test be performed at only one lab, in Belgium. The WFSGI negotiated a new test that members see as more reasonable and most favourable.
“The next step? The WFSGI is working to have the international standards group ISO adopt a similar wheel test, [that] leads to the final goal of getting away from any additional UCI test.
“The UCI has also abandoned plans to develop a UCI Approved sticker programme for wheels, similar to the sticker programme for frames.”
For a while it seemed as if the UCI was working towards having a UCI Approved sticker programme for all bike components used in racing.
The WFSGI has also recently worked with the UCI to change the regulations relating to saddle length and tilt in road racing.
“The saddle tilt which was limited to a maximum of 2.5° (+/-0.5°) changed to a maximum of 8° (+/- 1°) and the saddle length regulations now includes a tolerance of 5mm,” said the WFSGI.
“Both changes were requested by the WFSGI in order to allow the rider to use the saddle in its original intention and for not penalising a saddle which grew in length due to weather or other conditions.”
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.