Lowering or scraping the 6.8kg minimum weight limit that all professional race bikes must adhere to is something that has been talked about for many years, but there are fresh rumours doing the rounds that suggest the UCI might be closer to updating the rule book.
The Inner Ring reported some industry gossip by matosvelo.fr (the website is currently down) that the “UCI is certain to lower the 6.8kg minimum weight for bikes, but some brands lobbying for it not to be too low for fear of disc brake models look too heavy in comparison.”
Some bike industry gossip https://t.co/eJ9Cjf2gwG via @matosvelo ...including UCI certain to lower the 6.8kg minimum weight for bikes, but some brands lobbying for it not to be too low for fear their disc-brake models look too heavy in comparison.— the Inner Ring (@inrng) July 12, 2018
The rumour likely come from a recent meeting of the WFSGI (World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry) at Eurobike. A press release revealed the technical meeting touched on subjects including the bicycle weight limit, as well as rim and tyre interaction, frame and design regulations and e-bike competition. Sadly we don’t know the outcome of any of those discussions.
Discussing the outcome of the meeting, Robbert de Kock, CEO and President WFSGI said: ”These meetings are the cornerstone of our annual structure within our bicycle section. A face to face update meeting provides an invaluable opportunity to share with our members the progress we have made in the time since our last meeting and renew our focus in the areas we have highlighted as priorities in the coming months. We also enjoy the opportunity to listen to our members concerns and form consensus wherever possible on the issues and challenges we face”.
First introduced in 2000, the rule was brought in at a time when bike manufacturers found it quite difficult to get a bike below 6.8kg, and the failure rate of frames and components was much higher than it is now. The UCI’s intention was to ensure rider safety but it’s fair to say the advances of the last decade have seen bikes become much lighter and for the most part incredibly safe and reliable.
For the past few years, it has been possible to build a bike much lighter than 6.8kg and also with dependable durability - we’ve tested many bikes that would be illegal in a UCI race. That has led to team mechanics often having to add ballast to the bike to ensure they comply with the rules. But it means consumers can ride a bike lighter than the pros race.
We've regularly seen sub-5kg production bikes. The Canyon Ultimate CF Evo 10.0 LTD, Trek Emonda SLR 9, Merida Scultura Superlite Ltd and AX Lightness Vial Evo Ultra all make a mockery of the UCI weight limit. They're not cheap bikes mind, while it's easier than ever to go seriously light you need to have deep pockets to afford these bikes.
Would a lower weight limit spell the end for disc brake bikes in the pro peloton? It’s taken a few years for bike manufacturers to get the weight of disc-equipped bikes down to the UCI weight limit, but they are slowly getting there. The new Trek Emonda SLR Disc is 6.7kg and the Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc with a power meter is 6.6kg.
A lower, or completely removed weight limit, could mean a U-turn for disc brakes as rim brake bikes are still the lighter choice. Who wants to ride a 6.6kg disc brake bike if you could ride a 4.6kg rim brake bike?
Could the UCI scrap (unlikely) or lower (most likely) the minimum weight limit then? We don’t have an inside line to the UCI so your guess is as good as ours, but we can’t see them removing it completely, lowering it as the most likely outcome would be our prediction.
But by how much? 6.5kg? 6kg? 5kg? Do they pick an arbitrary figure or average out all the lightest bikes by the WorldTour bike sponsors? How light would you set the limit? Could lowering the weight limit have a negative impact as it leads to a new arms race, or would it stimulate healthy development and competition?
Is weight even really that important to the pros though? Weight has always been an easier sell, but recent developments have focused on aerodynamics as at typical race speeds there’s enough evidence that wind resistance is the biggest force a cyclist faces, weight only really comes into it on climbs above about 8%.
What do you think? Have your say in our poll below.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.