'Approved by UCI' suits the big suppliers, it's the little guys who lose out, says The Inner Ring blog

UCI labels: blogger/twitter reactions

The UCI’s expensive labelling scheme – which came into force on 1st January with minimal trade consultation – has been getting a roasting online. Bloggers and posters to Twitter.com have been overwhelmingly opposed to the plans announced from the UCI HQ in Switzerland.


"The scheme looks like the answer for a question that few were asking. Worse, it appears to pose several serious issues for the sport and the manufacturers. It could thwart small companies and penalise racers from poor countries.

"Far from levelling the playing field, the scheme risks handing power to big business at the expense of artisans and start-ups. Why? The bigger the company, the more it afford the costs associated, the more likely it has in-house lawyers, designers and CAD design teams who will be able to walk the frame through the UCI approval process. A smaller producer wanting to supply an U-23 team will find the hurdles to hard to overcome. Would an early-stage Cervélo or Cannondale have succeeded?

"The rule here is specific to road, track and cyclo cross. But there are others relating to MTB, I’d expect them to follow.
"If this spreads to clothing then it goes beyond safety and level-playing field aerodynamics. We start to see "official merchandise" and licencing royalties, no?

The Inner Ring, Monaco



“$14K to measure a frame? Man, that is nice work if you can get it. I have a set of calipers. Think I’m qualified?”

Joe Lindsey, USA

Writer for Bicycling, Outside, and other titles, US



 “[This is] such an obvious cash grab that will have a detrimential effect on the industry. In no way does this extortion bring anything beneficial to the industry or sport.”

Cam MacKenzie 

Triathlete, BikeBiz.com comments section, UK


“If there are to be rules, someone needs to decide what they are and just as importantly, someone needs to apply them.

“The problem has been that athletes have been stepping up to starting gates with equipment that the officials have never seen before. The officials are obligated to apply the rules consistently to all competitors, but that’s really hard to do on the spot.

"The technical rules might seem arbitrary to many, but some of that has been in an attempt to make them easier to implement (not always successful). The new approval labels will be issued on new equipment (ie the labels will not be necessary on models introduced prior to 2011) to enable race commissaires in the field to quickly and consistently approve bike frames for participation.

"With the system in place, race officials should be able to find a label on the bike with a code on it that can be referenced and verified. The rub is that the UCI is pushing the approval labels into play with very little warning, but the need has been necessary for a while.

“Manufacturers receive certain marketing benefits from introducing product during big races… a long-drawn out approval process robs them of marketing punch as well as gives competing manufacturers longer to respond. So the rule doesn’t really help manufacturers who are looking to have an edge on their industry competition, but once in place the new rule does give manufacturers reassurance that their product will get entry into sporting competition.

“What about the potential customers, the athletes? Well, after the dust settles, I can’t see how this will hurt them. Sure, athletes are always looking for some advantage, but the new rule should go a long way to reducing the chance that an athlete might show up to the start of a race only to be denied participation at the last moment. Keep in mind that the label system alone will not guarantee participation. The frame will still need to be set up properly in regards to areas such as wheel gap distance (the infamous Cervelo incident) and aerobar extensions, but a rider with an approved frame won’t need to worry if the frame rules will be interpreted differently in Quebec vs California."

Mark Villegas

BikeHugger.com, USA



“Really? Is this where we are as a sport and industry? In some places this is called extortion.”

Joao Correia, former associate publisher of Bicycling magazine, now riding for the Cervelo TestTeam 


Not approved by UCI sticker on Flickr, by Brant Richards of Shedfire.

Where Graeme Obree went wrong…He didn’t splash the cash, on Flickr

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