UCI weight2
  • I can see the merit in not overly lowering (or even removing) the weight limit rule.
    The weight cannot be so low that some manufacturers can’t currently produce a bike at the new weight minimum, as I think that this would add another element of performance differences as a result of the bike and not the rider.
    The flip side of this is that the Pro Peloton should be able to showcase the current forefront of cycling technology.

    I believe that a modest reduction of say 300g, with the door left open for further reductions in the near future, would be the best way to proceed.
    It sets the tone to manufacturers of “Get your R&D teams briefed, there is a new arms race on the horizon and weight savings are relevant in the pro ranks again”, without disadvantaging teams with bike sponsors who are currently a little behind the weight curve with their non-UCI offerings.

    • Arfy

      The problem is that weight has nothing to do with safety. You can make a 5kg bike and with the right design it will be safe, you can also make a 10kg bike that is not safe. I think what the UCI are moving towards is a safety standard that has a testing regime to prove the safety of the bikes, and those that pass will bear the UCI sticker. Think car safety testing, or bike helmet testing in Australia. To do this they need the bike manufacturers on board, as they’re the ones who will bear the costs of the certification.

      • Asaf

        One can argue that if safety was on their mind (UCI), then races wouldn’t be so dangerous at the first place (Just think about the course characteristics).

      • You are probably right that a standard with wording along the lines of “All wheels and frames must be able to withstand shearing forces of xN and twisting forces of yN…” with no mention of weight is a perfectly reasonable way to go.

        It may even be the best way, now that I think about it.

      • velocite

        I would be interested to know how many cases there have been of unsafe bikes. Any? What would unsafe mean? I recall an incident in the TdF in recent years in which a front wheel shattered on a dog. Dog test?

      • Craig

        Actually, ultimately the consumer will bear the cost of the certification and the the UCI will have a nice little earner.

      • winkybiker

        Simply not true that it has “nothing to do with safety”. Sure you can build a safe 5kg bike, but at a cost. Light, strong, cheap…pick any two. Removal of a weight limit will lead to compromises between costs and strength. I favour lowering it a bit, maybe 500g. It’s also interesting that the TT bikes generally can’t/don’t meet the limit yet, and many aero bikes struggle to do so without serious $$ on wheels and other bits.

        • jules

          Youve contradicted yourself. If that were true aero bikes would be 6.8 kg and failing. Manufacturers won’t build unsafe bikes it’s not good for business.

          • winkybiker

            I see your point, but TT and aero bikes have another compromise. Because they want the tubes to be narrow, they need to be thicker walled to get adequate lateral stiffness. It is hard to build them to the current limits and get enough stiffness. The safety aspect is effectively covered by this need for stiffness. Build them stiff enough and they will also be strong. Just not light. (Or cheap.) The deeper-dish wheels also add weight. They seem to be mostly built with enough safety factor.

            I’m not saying bikes will be necessarily unsafe, but to get a light, safe 5kg bike will remain expensive. And a bit pointless, really.

    • echidna_sg

      I thought the current forefront was disc brakes? am I wrong? aka add 400 grams to your bike…

  • velocite

    If you can’t clearly and convincingly state the purpose of a restrictive rule it should be removed, so say I. Level saddles? Why? As for the weight limit, that was always a fairly oblique approach to safety. Maybe there should be a bicycle equivalent to the ANCAP car safety testing, just to check that the frame can stand Kittel at full power and Cancellara on a bumpy descent. But imposing a minimum weight inhibits progress and distorts design. As was pointed out in the article, because of the weight minimum you can have heavier brakes with no weight penalty. Do away with it.

  • Dave

    Four things need to happen:

    1. Make a reduction in the weight limit to something like 6.5kg or even 6kg.
    2. Include in the rule text stating the rule is there to be a line around the court, not a safety measure.
    3. Introduce other more appropriate safety tests.
    4. Allow national and sub-national bodies to set their own weight limits for lower categories of racing. The thing crippling cycling in Australia is that it’s an expensive equipment sport that 99% of parents rule off the list of options. It should be possible for kids to have a go at cycling in an environment where costs are controlled and the parents don’t have to buy into an arms race.

    • Will

      You said three and wrote four. Point 4, between a ‘high end’ road bike and a ‘cheap’ road bike is maybe MAX 5 kilos. That’s not very much and in the scheme of things is hardly a deal breaker between winning and coming dead last… And really, what is it that makes the sport expensive? You spent £3000 on a bike, safety gear, race entries a year, body enrollment, league affiliation. Buy yourself a cheap bike and the cost is still £2000… Your solution would solve very little.

      • Robert Merkel

        5kg is worth several minutes on a HC climb.

        • Will

          Because juniors regularly race up HC climbs around your way?

          • James

            Some races can add up to that in total elevation and get split up in an “every man for himself” battle.

            • Will

              But then that’s a completely different race. a 2 minute power effort is not the same as a 60 minute HC climb. The bike has little effect on a 2 minute power climb…

              • James

                Little effect, maybe, but lots of them add up.

          • Robert Merkel

            They don’t race HC climbs very often (though there is the Victorian junior mountain climbing championship) but club racing (where juniors race most of the time) has plenty of hilly courses with lots of shorter climbs and hilltop finishes – same principle applies.

      • Matt

        5kg for a 45kg junior would be fucking huge!

        My view is it’s less about the performance issue and more about developing a sport that kids want to keep doing. If you’re from a low to middle socioeconomic family and take up cycling on a low end bike, to turn up to a race with some private school kids running $5,000 bikes is disheartening and can actually be embarrassing for the child. I’ve been there and can confirm this.

        Cycling is full of enough wankers as it is. It would be good to keep that aspect out of the junior ranks at least.

    • jules

      I agree only with your last point. There is value in juniors being competitive on a budget,, or even at club level.

  • Legstrong

    There must be universal standards in testing and certifications. For example, helmet design. As long as frames meet x, y, z tests per UCI standards, they would be deemed meeting safety standards. Of course, UCI must work together with bike manufacturers and independent safety engineers to develop the standards just like what Barfield has been doing in the article.

    • Ross

      Modern cars are actually substantially heavier than earlier ones. A XP Falcon from 1966 weighs nearly 1200kg, a 1982 XE Falcon weighs a bit under 1400kg and the latest FG Falcon weighs over 1700kg. This is partly due to safety equipment such as airbags being included in late model cars.

      • Legstrong

        True. My bad as I was generalizing it too much. I was thinking of 1960 Chevy Impala with 3800lbs vs 2000 Impala with 3380lbs video where they showed the crash test result. It was pretty gnarly. Also, I was thinking of Mazda’s skyactiv design concept where they reduce weight by using stronger and lighter materials and proper reinforcement a.k.a. good engineering. In the end, I still stand by my statement that weight limit is not relevant anymore. Light and safe racing machines can be produced with proper design and control.

        Also, I agree with another commenter that pro peloton should be the pinnacle of bike technology.

        • Dave

          The modern Impala is a rare case of an older name being reused for a car in a smaller class than the original.

          The examples of the Falcon are much more applicable, that is a car which has stayed in the same class over that whole period. The Toyota Corolla is probably the best example for a global audience.

    • Lyrebird_Cycles

      There is such a standard, it’s ISO 4210, recently promulgated: seehttp://www.bike-eu.com/laws-regulations/nieuws/2015/1/new-iso-standard-for-bicycles-implemented-1018946.

      I believe that is the standard to which Barfield refers when he says “What we are looking at are the standards that are currently in place and seeing if they are fit for purpose”

      • Legstrong

        Good find. Whatever the standard is, they (UCI, bike manufacturers, safety engineers, etc) must work on it to make sure they cover all the critical design criteria. It is possible UCI!

  • Larry @CycleItalia

    I hate to see the UCI go down this road. The bike industry cares little about SPORT, selling more bikes (mostly to people who already have plenty of ’em) is their main focus. “The UCI Regulations assert the primacy of man over machine” is supposed to be their view. Who benefits (other than the bike industry) from rules allowing 5 kg bikes? Back-in-the-day the bikes guys like Merckx rode were great bikes for everyone, bikes that could be ridden on all surfaces. Increasing costs and specialization = turning the sport into human-powered F1 (or MOTOGP) …sports that struggle with increasing costs and dwindling participation, not to mention dwindling audiences.

    • awesometown

      No one care about back in the day. Back in the day people smoked mid race… back in they day you had to put your bike career on hold to go fight the nazis… back in the day you had to carry your spare tubes tied around your chest. The fear of the new is one of cycling’s biggest problems and I have little patience for this retro-grouch attitude.

      • Larry @CycleItalia

        Nobody cares about back-in-the-day? Guess you’ve never heard of l’Eroica? Events all over the world nowadays with thousands of participants and now Bianchi produces a brand-new, Eroica-ready bike. All the history from back-in-the-day is why people are still passionate about bike racing. If unchecked “improvement” is allowed, the result might as well be motorcycle racing, as are motorcycles not the logical “improvement” and “evolution” of the bicycle? Where do we draw that line? How ’bout fully faired recumbents? Would you tune in the TdF on your TV to see “two wheeled hotdogs” being pedaled around France?

        • awesometown

          A niche group of thousands, does not represent the millions who engage in this sport everyday. One bike produced by one manufacturer doesn’t either, especially when it’s meant specifically as a charmingly out-of-date bike. The history of racers past is all well and wonderful, but it’s not the universal driver of pro-cycling fandom. But that’s an entirely separate issue to technological innovation.

          And the idea of “unchecked innovation” is laughable at best. You think they’ll just let anyone ride any bike up to the start line? No they will continue to expand the frame safety testing standards that benefit us all. Seems like your issue is that you don’t like motorsports, and motorsports are all about technology. Two wheels doesn’t make a bike, like 4 legs doesn’t make a horse. You’re just slapping together various backward facing retro ideologies because you want to explain the reasons you use thumbshifters.

          If people want to ride recumbents in the TTT, sure go ahead. Is it going to make them faster? Maybe, who knows… but part of the fun of involving a machine in any sport is seeing how far it can go. If you can’t explain how it ruins bike racing then there’s nothing to complain about.

        • donncha

          There’s a difference between appreciating the history of the sport and demanding that the sport does not progress. I hope to do L’Eroica one day but my current steed is a fully aero roadie. You can appreciate both.

          Recumbents and motorbikes are strawmen. That’s not what’s being discussed at all, nor is “unchecked” improvement. All that’s being discussed is adjustment of an existing rule which was only ever put in place for safety reasons.

          • Larry @CycleItalia

            I guess it’s how you define progress. A lot of this is little more than marketing hype. On the other hand, due to “progress” F1 cars have become too fast for most of the traditional circuits. The loss of these storied venues isn’t progress to me. Regarding the weight issue – I thought some of the reasoning was not just safety, but to control costs of equipment so poorer athletes could compete. If the minimum weight limit is reduced, explain to me how this will do anything but INCREASE the cost of a competitive racing machine. Opposing the bike industry’s increasing influence on pro cycling doesn’t mean I think they should go back to 30 lb machines with fixed gears and wooden rims..but that “progress” be looked at as more than just making more money for the bike industry via instant obsolescence of the machines used.

            • awesometown

              If pro’s don’t race bikes in order to make bike companies money are they doing it for the …history?

              The cost argument made sense in the late 90s when Div 1 teams were having parlee & litespeed make secret frames at 10k a pop. Now even the most budget trade team can buy a bunch of 6 kg fujis for a fraction of that price.

              As for amateurs, we can only benefit from bike companies pushing the limits. This is how it’s always worked. As the highest end gets more advance last years top end stuff starts to move down through the price points. When carbon bike showed up did all bikes suddenly cost $5000? No and it’s not going to happen now.

              • Larry @CycleItalia

                Sorry, I thought it was SPORT we were talking about rather than business. Spare me the tired, old, “but the sport was created to sell newspapers…” claptrap as if people wanted to watch business being done, there would be a huge TV audience to watch hedge-fund managers at work. I fully understand your pro-industry viewpoint and arguments as they’re certainly not new or original, but I just don’t buy them. The single thing that makes pro cycling interesting to me over any other sport, is that it (at least used to be) is about the legs, lungs and heart of the athletes, NOT the machines they use. Making the machines lighter, more expensive and less adaptable to varied terrain does NOTHING to improve the SPORT though it may do wonders for bike company profits.

                • Legstrong

                  This is BS. The invention of carbon aero wheels did nothing to the sport? Lighter frames with high rigidity did nothing on some of the steepest climbs? Also since when spez or giant or any manufacturer put disclaimers on their bike line ups that say “do not use this on the cobbles”? As far as I know, I can use any bike I want in the market, including the lightest ones, and hit the cobbles. I can list many advancements that benefit the sport and making it more fun to watch. Don’t be so naive. There must be a balance between corporate goals and the sport itself. Are there successful sports out there that exist without strong business interest? Soccer? Basketball? None.

            • jules

              It’s the law of diminishing returns. Sure you can spend a fortune on a lighter bike, but you don’t need t. There are already people racing D grade with 15k bikes. Doesn’t mean they’re winning. Cycling as a sport is quite equitable in that way.

  • I am not sure why everyone is still obsessed over the weight limit. Having a light weight bike only helps in one situation and that is climbing, and not all members of teams are climbers. Having a lighter bike will not help you descend faster, it will not help keep momentum in a head or cross wind. Wheels are a slightly different story as they are rotational mass so light weight will help for acceleration but that is it. We still don’t know where they are going with this except that it will not change over night and that there are many factors that effect the safety of bikes. Maybe they should consider rider weight and power output of the rider and then also factor in the size of the frame. I am no expert on motor bikes but isn’t that how they limit motor bikes for “L” and “P” platers “Power to Weight ratio” seems to be more relevant to me. A sprinter has a large power output so needs a stiffer therefore heaver frame, and vice versa for a climber. Ask a sprinter if he cares about weight or stiffness.
    The UCI did confirm at the Cyclitech conference that the 3:1 rule on the tube shapes will change next year. Now that is interesting as Aerodynamics has a larger effect on our speed and power output to maintain speed.
    The frames are already so light, 700 – 800 grams there isn’t much room left to shave weight off a frame and if you do it will be at the sacrifice of durability.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      We’ve already shaven weight past the current standard. Many bikes need weights to pass.

      It’s not just the frames, it’s the whole package. In the name of safety, we should get rid of the stupid practice of adding weights to saddles/seat tubes/bottom brackets to comply with an outdated standard.

      Make the bike pass tests against fatigue, stress and impacts. Make sure they fail in a non-catastrophic manner (spinergy?). And so on. But these are only partially correlated to weight. I can build a totally unsafe bike from plumbing tubing that weighs 15 kg. or more.

    • Well Chuffed Comms

      Not all team members are climbers, but all team members have to get over the climbs. If I was a hefty sprinter, every gram that I don’t have to haul over a mountain is a watt saved for the finale.

      • Sprinters aren’t there at the end of a mountain stage, so no sprint. Cycling makes races inside races to account for different types of riders. Other sports use a handicap system i.e that is how a large yacht races against a small yacht. But usually the public/ TV viewer only really care who crosses the line first as that looks like winning. So I guess this a broad subject. The UCI needs to look at all the rules not just change one. How about a development class to show case and drive innovation and a one design class to really make things a race, or maybe this is why we all love the one day classic races. Very broad debate.

        • Well Chuffed Comms

          Doesn’t matter if there’s a sprint at the end or not. If you were grovelling along in the autobus trying to beat the cut-off, wouldn’t you like a slightly lighter bike?

  • L_Space

    Keep in mind that these rules affect all UCI races and most amateur Nationals, not just the upper end professionals. Here in the U.S., our amateur track Nationals enforce this rule. I always have to drop many lengths of chain down my seat tube of my steel track bike with aluminum components to bring it up to the minimum weight.

    Frames already require a UCI sticker that certifies their safety for UCI races, which means I can’t race my one off steel bike without the sticker at the UCI Masters Track Worlds.

  • Robert Merkel

    The problem with removing the weight limit is that it’s an opportunity to buy results.

    If you do the maths, the difference between a 4kg and 7kg bike on the Hotham stage of the Tour of Bright is over a minute. That’s huge, and it’s real, and it’s available, and it costs a fortune.

    • Arfy

      I get your point on current costs, but I also think the price discrepancy is partially due to the UCI’s minimum weight rule in the first place. The rule has meant that other than for niche market, bike OEMs and their component suppliers have not been developing lighter products, rather they’ve been looking at other means of “adding value” with things like electronic groupsets, disc brakes, and aero frames. Yes there will always be a cost penalty for having the leading-edge bike, but I’d suspect that within 12 months of the UCI doing away with minimum weight that the difference will be much smaller in both weight difference and cost.

      Probably the bigger issue is how many bikes you’d need to be a serious competitor. You may need to consider a TT bike, an aero road bike, a disc-brake bike, and a climbing bike.

      • Strydz

        I don’t think that’s how the market works, the lighter the bike the more expensive it will be as the chase for super light will take off, Rob’s correct on this one.

        • Robert Merkel

          Another point to consider is what effect removing weight limits is going to have on component durability and functionality.

          Weight weenie components are often fragile, don’t last long, and some just don’t work very well. Consider this review of KCNC lightweight brakes, in which the reviewer states “…we found ourselves braking earlier than normal and occasionally scrubbing off speed ‘just in case’ when we wouldn’t have bothered if we’d had the confidence of more braking strength at our disposal.”, or this aluminium “race day” cassette – a 200 USD cassette that you’d barely get a race weekend out of.

          The weight limit takes away the incentive to put this kind of crap on race bikes.

          • Strydz

            Some very good points Rob, some lightweight components are quality and do last but the KCNC brakes are a great example of sacrificing weight for quality. I’m not against the weight limit being dropped but am against the complete removal of it, drop it down to 6.4 or even 6 but I can’t really understand why people are so against a weight limit for race bikes

    • Brendan Byatt

      As rider who is no chance of ever getting a bike to weigh in as less than 8kgs due to being 6’7″ – 95kgs I’m not liking the idea off the mountain goats climbing any faster than they already do!
      Would have love to have seen a commissionaire at the top of Hotham with some bike scales on hand though! I might have moved up a few places. Not enough to make a difference for me though but maybe for others? Believe there are already enough riders out there competing in CA events with sub 6.8kg bikes.
      Seriously though why does the bike have to be lighter? 6.8kgs is still light!

  • Lyrebird_Cycles

    The 6.8 kg limit should go, it doesn’t serve its intended purpose as is demonstrated by the routine addition of weights. Although as I’ve said above I think application of ISO4210 or something similar is probably where this is heading, an interesting alternative would be a ban on the use of very brittle materials like UHM carbon. This could be generalised by banning any material with a strain to failure of less than say 1.5%, which would allow the higher strength forms of carbon and even Boron fibres to continue in use.

    I’ll admit to some self interest here: I can’t use UHM carbon as it doesn’t play nice with wood. It’s also an environmental disaster, the GHG equivalence is even worse than titanium.

  • Steve S

    I think there are benefits to the UCI’s strict control of the bike – minimum weight, brake types etc. On one hand, yes, it would be nice to watch an event and see the latest and greatest bikes. But on the other hand cycling is currently all about the cyclist – no one says “Froome only won because he rides a Pinarello and Contador rides an SWorks”. Sure, rules have to evolve, but make it slow and keep the playing field level. Otherwise you have another Formula 1 where the result is a combination of skill and the equipment the driver is contracted to use, or swimming when the swimmer with the best shark suit won.

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