I just spoke with Nic Sims, Specialized’s global marketing manager, about the UCI rulings and such, and here (heavily paraphrased because I couldn’t write my scribble shorthand fast enough) is what he had to say on the matter:
- Bicycle manufacturers have to submit their designs to the UCI for approval in the middle of the year for the following year’s race bikes. Ã‚Â due to the time frame and the manufacturing deadlines this is sometimes very hard to meet and can result in products that are already set for production my need to be retooled, which is more expense to the manufacturer.
- Their TT / Triathlon frame, the Transition (shown above), was submitted and approved for both UCI and ITU races.
- In the past, it was largely just the frames that were subjected to the rules, but now it seems components are getting the spotlight, too. Ã‚Â Apparently, components have always been subject to the rules, just not enforced upon very much.
- It makes it difficult for a manufacturer when a rule’s enforcements or interpretations change seemingly on a whim…especially midseason.
- The bicycle and component manufacturers should band together to work with the UCI to create a better system of enforcement and rule interpretation.
My next question was: Ã‚Â Hypothetically, could Specialized realistically get new, redesigned frames delivered for their pro teams in time for the Tour de France if it were ruled that their current frame was illegal?
Answer when you read ‘more’…
“If push came to shove, we could get a couple of frames done because we wouldn’t have to scale up to full production,” said Sims. Ã‚Â He continued, saying that the number of frames would be tight, and they’d be looking to make frames that worked for several riders of the same size, potentially even having to run the same bike from the finish line back to the start (and resetting all the measurements) if the riders were staged with enough time between them. And more than likely, the frames would be alloy.
Seriously? Ã‚Â Can you imagine? Ã‚Â Next Question: Ã‚Â Will Specialized be making any “contingency” frames in the event the UCI does rule your bike illegal?
Nic: No. Ã‚Â Our bikes meet the rules, so for our riders, it comes down to their component selection and if those parts meet the rules…we don’t make aero handlebars, so it’s up to companies like FSA and 3T for that.
Editor’s Note: Based on the “rectangular” width of the seat tube, as well as the curved shape, it would appear that this is outside of the 8cm limit, so I would have to side with Nic in saying that it seems odd that an “approved frame” would suddenly be subject to scrutiny midseason, and that it seems like the UCI makes arbitrary interpretations of the rules.
Maybe the UCI was tired of the French doping agency getting all the bad press…