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It’s been in place since 2000, it’s been discussed ever since then and now it might be on the way out. According to the UCI’s technical manager Mark Barfield, the 6.8kg minimum weight limit for bikes could soon become a thing of the past.
“The weight limit rule is in our sights,” Barfield told CyclingTips’ David Everett this week, speaking at the inaugural bike technology conference Cyclitech in Brussels, Belgium.
“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.”
When introduced, the weight limit was justified by the UCI on the reasoning that a push to make bikes lighter and lighter was also pushing the envelope of safety. The feeling was that with the technology at the time, there was a limit to how low bike weight could go before frames, wheels and other components would be weakened.
That’s a decade and a half ago, however, and much progress has been made. In fact, manufacturers and teams have had to deliberately add weight to bikes, leading to the situation where non-UCI riders have been able to ride machines lighter than those utilised by the professionals.
Barfield recognises the situation doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“Now, 6.8kg doesn’t make a bike that is safe. Ten kg doesn’t mean a bike is safe, nor does five kg make a bike unsafe,” he said. “There is a project planned to alter this.
“I speak of this slightly nervously and I don’t think it’s a huge secret that we plan to change this, but I’m working very closely with the industry. I’ve learnt a lot from the disc brake project. Teams are interested, manufacturers are interested, riders and fans and organisers are interested in this.
“For some manufacturers it provides some reassurance. They think that they can build aero bikes, that they can add electronic gearing or they can do whatever they like around the bike and it’ll still be 6.8kg. It is going to change, it won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen unless we take the industry with us.”
Barfield stressed that safety concerns will remain forefront. He knows that any accidents that are subsequently traced back to a too-rapid relaxation of rules would be disastrous, and said that any change will be well thought out.
“What we are looking at are the standards that are currently in place and seeing if they are fit for purpose,” he underlined. “If they are fit for purpose then that might be a very simple and elegant solution.
“If they are not, then we need to see what has to be added to ensure what is fit for purpose. I think it would be foolish of me to say it would be anything but a safety standard.”
CyclingTips will publish a full interview with Barfield soon.