More than a month after a meeting with bike companies in Aigle, Switzerland, the Union Cycliste International has issued a communique which states its position on making its homologation process cheaper.
The UCI has said the reduced prices which were the result of the stormy meetings on 13th and 14th of January could be reduced even further. Again, this raises the obvious point: if the prices can be reduced and reduced, why were they set so high in the first place?
Originally, monocoque time trial frames were to have cost $12,400 to put through the measurement procedure. This "comprehensive procedure" was halved by the UCI, with the testing procedure for standard tubed bicycle frames also coming down in price.
Many companies in the bicycle business welcomed the chance to get their frames pre-approved rather than risk them being refused to race on starting lines, but spending so much money on a UCI homologation process to meet rules created by the UCI was seen as a step too far by many companies, especially smaller ones more likely to be impacted by high homologation fees.
Now the UCI has said the ‘Approved by UCI’ program was not created to financially benefit the UCI.
"It is important to note that the amounts..are to cover the costs of approval," said a statement from the UCI.
"The UCI will not make any benefit from this process. The price to be paid by the manufacturers could be adapted in the future depending on the evolution of the project’s finances."
The approvals process was to have been carried by EPFL, a lab in Lausanne, Switzerland. The approvals process is an accurate angles and dimensions measurement service. It is not, and never has been, a safety testing service.
It’s also clear from today’s communique that the UCI underestimated the number of approval requests it would get, and this would have a knock-on effect on the length of time pre-approval would take, which could impact on product marketability.
The UCI simplified its own procedure because "a much higher number of approval requests [were expected] than envisaged by the UCI."
No homologation process is free: the measuring lab would have to be paid by the UCI and the UCI needed to recoup these costs but bike companies fear that the ‘Approved by UCI’ seal of approval could be later used on products that do not need costly measurements. The UCI has already said it wishes to certify cycle clothing.
The ‘Approved by UCI’ sticking program was meant to have come into force on 1st January. This was later put back to mid-February. The UCI has not revealed whether the program is still in operation and that new frames now have to carry the ‘Approved by UCI’ stickers.