La Vuelta 2015 stage-6
  • velocite

    ‘Trawling the archives’ was required to find out why the weight limit was introduced. Why was the saddle tilt prohibition introduced? Having established that the level saddle leads to injury, why restrict the tilt at all?

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      You can find that in the old searches as well – there were some ridiculous situations where some saddle designs provided a “back” against which to push (especially on TTs). With the UCI’s propensity of throwing the baby out with the bathwater they banned these but extended to tilted saddles with the allegation that they provided hip support to push in similar manner.

      My guess is that the limit in angle currently revised keeps an eye on this as well.

  • Robert Merkel

    Thanks for this interview.

    On the off chance that Mark reads this, could I put in a plea – don’t just think of the World Tour and the bike manufacturers who want to sell more stuff when deciding on equipment regulations. Keep in mind the clubbie who pays for his or her own gear – and their kids’ own gear – and think about what effect changing the rules might have on the grassroots of the sport.

    That’s not to suggest for a moment that we have to carve the present ruleset in stone. But getting rid of the weight limit could have the unfortunate side effect of drastically putting up the cost of competitive equipment. Not only does getting rid of a limit make it possible to gain an advantage from very expensive weight weenie bikes, it makes having two, three, or four bikes (with different combinations of weight, aero, ride/stiffness tradeoff, and brake design) advantageous for those who can afford more than one race bike.

    It also might have the effect of encouraging the use of fragile and even ineffective weight weenie componentry, like “race cassettes” and ultralight brakes that don’t actually slow the bike effectively. At the moment, the reason why these aren’t used is that there’s no advantage to doing so; if you get rid of the weight limit they become potentially valuable again. Heck, riders might start using “ultralight tyres” that compromise on grip and last exactly one Tour mountain stage. Is that the kind of thing we really want to encourage throughout the cycling world?

    • Sean parker

      That’s a great point. I’m firmly of the belief that any innovation or rule change involving pro racing should be for the main benefit of the consumer, not the racer.

      We’re the ones buying, training and sometimes racing on equipment that trickles down from the pro ranks. This equipment should be for the 99.9 % of riders that use the equipment. Not the .1% that get paid to ride free equipment.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      We are already there. Given you’re willing to buy top-of-the-line, a Cervelo RCa (or equivalent), SRAM Red and Zipp 200’s are well below the weight limit. Which is in turn addressed by adding weights, to no one’s benefit.

      As for fragile equipment – this is exactly why safety and stress testing are much more meaningful than weight for permitting a bicycle to be raced. Remember Tony Martin’s exploding clinchers on a TT? Bjarne’s flying frame?

      I have no problem with the pros riding top of the line equipment. It’s a cool showcase and proving ground. But despite racing in a modest capacity (not sponsored) all the bikes are well below World Tour spec. And nothing wrong with that – I assure you they have cost me no podiums :)

      If you like standardized racing under strict design and building restrictions, Keirin might be the way to look.

      • Robert Merkel

        With respect, did you read my comment?
        The benefit of people buying top of the line bikes and adding lead weight to them to race is that those who have $2000 bikes rather than $10,000 bikes are not too disadvantaged by their more modest equipment. My contention is getting rid of the weight limit entirely could well mean that, at lest for hilly stages, riders with modest budgets will have a significant disadvantage over those with lots of money to spend.
        Safety and stress testing as fine as far as it goes, but I haven’t heard a proposal to incorporate a brake effectiveness test (and if such a thing existed and incorporated wet braking, would carbon/carbon wheels ever have been approved?) and doesn’t address the cost control concerns I’ve raised.
        For what it’s worth, I think there is scope for a modest and possibly ongoing reduction on minimum bike weights. But I reckon eliminating it entirely and replacing it with safety tests is likely to make an expensive sport even pricier.

        • Rodrigo Diaz

          Cost control is already out of whack. Even for track. At the time (3 or so years ago) I emailed the UCI tech contact regarding the GB track superbikes that you allegedly can “order” but otherwise aren’t available. I also complained that Sky and GB had access to the Kask helmets 1+ years before any punter like me could have one. I did not receive a satisfactory answer.

          So how do you rate then the differences between an aero wheel and a box rim? The former is heavier. I don’t think anyone would claim it is faster. In addition, should the weight of the bicycle be proportional to the size/weight of the rider? It doesn’t make any sense that an XS bikefor a 1.55 m rider weight the same as for Magnus Backstedt.

          I am not dismissing your concerns – I’m just stating that this state of affairs is currently very much already a de facto condition of bike racing. But it extends past equipment – Sky had a fancy bus for transfers and GT as a super-worker for Froome. We had a French TdF rider complaining the bike sponsor didn’t fork cash for wind tunnel testing. Tinkoff and other high-rolling teams have frequent altitude camps… The budget inequality is much more profound than a couple of kg worth of riding hardware. And I don’t think there is any appetite to issue a “funding cap” to cycling teams like in North American sport leagues.

          • Kevin

            I think the OP is referring to grassroots racing hike you’re arguing inequality at the WT level.

            I can put the kids I coach on a $500 road bike that is close to the UCI minimum, under the current rules my friend who puts his kid on a god knows how much pinarello dogma at the minimum gains little despite spending 10x more. Without the 6.8 kg rule or a similar floor cycling becomes a n arms race and families and non-traditional recruits find a new activity. The end result is a less populous and less diverse racing and riding community.

            Change has to happen but the grassroots and future of the sport must be considered.

            • Rodrigo Diaz

              I’m ok with this one – but not as a UCI World Tour rule. We already have a set of different rules for junior races (e.g. gear restrictions). Weight, again, is a proxy but not the real issue At 6.8 kg you allow Zipp 404s? Enves? Milensteins? What rules for TT’s?

              For budgetary conditions and developing riders, you need to restrict budget and expenditure costs. Not weight.

          • GT

            Exactly. But it’s the way of the world. F1 is the pinnacle open wheel motor racing, and even inside that elite circle there are the have’s and the have nots. The have nots just have to try harder. It’s the same in sailing – I’d argue probably in any sport that is equipment dependant unless the equipment is “one design”. Lets be honest – most of us like to see the constant innovation. Even if we cant afford it now, it will trickle down eventually.

            • Richard Bruton

              Even in one design sailing(and other sports) there are “haves” and “have nots”, there will always be some sort of imbalance. I read somewhere that “if it was completely fair, everyone would finish at the same time”

      • velocite

        Colin Clark, the founder of Lotus, said that the ideal racing car would win the grand prix and fall apart just after it crossed the line. Some of his drivers didn’t find that amusing, with good reason!

    • CC

      Rob, they say as we get older the more we like the way things to remain the same ! -:)

      • Robert Merkel

        I wasn’t saying all change is bad, I was just saying that aside from the factors that Mark has raised, I think there should be another one – keeping the costs of competitive equipment for amateurs under control.

        • CC

          Perhaps, but you’d think that regulation works against the health of the industry, which is determined by consumption of products.

          • Robert Merkel

            Even when talking about road bikes, the vast majority aren’t used for racing – and most clubbies find a way to spend most of their surplus cash on bikes under the current regulations anyway.

    • Arfy

      Good points. The safety standards should take care of the fragility issues for the Pros, but of course this is very hard to control at amateur level. Even if you test every component and certify them, then you need rigorous compliance checking at all amateur races. I wonder what scheme the UCI is considering to ensure compliance checking is easily and cheaply enforceable at club level?

  • awesometown

    That’s a lot of weight put behind the opinions of the IOC re: frame design. Why give so much power to an event that happens every 4 years? Is it simple because so many of the ancillary cycling events (the infinite number of track races) revolve almost entirely around build ups to the summer olympics?

  • Arfy

    Regarding disc brakes, I think they’re here to stay. But I’m not certain that the current “common agreed specification” won’t change by this time next year. If there’s a proven safety concern, or if there’s a proven wheel-change issue, or even some other issue, this will be taken up by the manufacturers as a challenge to get it right. The manufacturers aren’t about to walk away from a potential new revenue stream.

    • GT

      Does anybody share my curiosity ? Whenever I take a wheel off my MTB, I have to make small adjustments to the caliper to stop the disk rubbing when it goes back on. It never seems to seat in exactly the same place each time. Wont this be a problem for shared service? I cant believe that every frame and every wheel combo has exactly the same disk rotor offsets.

      • Richard Bruton

        I have two sets of disc wheels on my cx bike, after a little bit of adjustment and frustration when I first started to swap them over, it has all gone smoothly since.

      • Kalashnikov Vodka

        I’ve always had to adjust the brake caliper by re-shimming every time I change pads. Disc brakes require much more maintenance, and if tolerance is out of specs even a bit, the pads will rub, annoyingly!

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    Disk brakes – “The two really interested bodies were SRAM and Shimano”…..”manufacturers will then reinvest that money in the sport.” And how many World Tour teams are sponsored by SRAM at present? Henri Desgrange must be doing 360’s in his grave.

  • MadBlack

    Just googled Chris boardman’s Lotus bike! What uproar did it cause?? It looks magnificent!

  • MadBlack

    Also I would have to say what Mark has to say is the most sensible I heard from anyone at the uci ever! Respect!


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