The UCI today announced their “Approved by UCI” sticker program to make official the pre-approval process they announced at Eurobike earlier this year.
Initially targeting bicycle frames and forks and, oddly enough, clothing made for aerodynamic performance, the pre-approval process will be offered to any product still in the conceptual phase as of January 1, 2011. This lets manufacturers take production-ready blueprints for products to the UCI to get approval before they invest a ton of cash in strength, fatigue and other research and development type testing only to have individual UCI representatives tell a team they have to remove that part on the start line.
That last bit has been the real problem: Inconsistent enforcement and interpretation of their 2009 Lugano Charter based on the UCI commissaires overseeing a particular race. Most recently, you may recall Specialized sponsored teams scrambling to get Transitions fit and prepped when the Shiv was suddenly banned, and other examples abound.
In 2009, many of the largest brands* formed GOCEM (Global Organization of Cycling Equipment Manufacturers) and met at last year’s Eurobike. The goal was to present a unified front to the UCI, and the group has since been absorbed by the WFSGI (World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry). On the surface, the new program, which is to be headed by composites expert Professor Manson – the same guy that has banned swimsuit materials for being too fast – should be a drastic improvement for manufacturers seeking to ensure that R&D dollars aren’t wasted and for consumers wanting to be sure they can race what they brung. Despite a few early complaints from some suppliers saying they’re already being left out of the loop, the UCI claims the collaboration will be easier (presumably they mean easier than guessing).
For a more technical look down the rabbit hole, check out BikeBiz.
The manufacturers that formed GOCEM are: BH; Bianchi; BMC; Cannondale; Canyon; Cervélo; Cinelli; COLIPED; Felt; Focus; FSA; Fuji; Giant; GT; Hed; Look; Mavic; Orbea; Oval; Prologo; Quark; Ritchey; Rotor; Specialized; SRAM; Teschner; Time; 3T; Zipp and A-Team firms from Taiwan.