Bike makers seek easing of relations with UCI

The traditionally fractious relationship between bike equipment makers and cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), might just be about to take a smoother turn with the announcement at the Interbike show today of GOCEM, the Global Organisation of Cycling Equipment Manufacturers.

The first ever worldwide organisation of bike companies has been formed in reaction to the UCI’s enforcement of its 3:1 rule on aero equipment. Directors Phil White of Cervelo Cycles and Claudio Marra of Full Speed Ahead (FSA) are keen to stress that the objective is to work with the UCI to clarify and document the rules, not to fight it.

“We have made it clear that we want to make the process of interpreting the rules work better,” White told Cyclingnews. The idea is to avoid situations where commissaries and teams are fighting over the interpretation of rules as the clock ticks toward the start of a race.

“Nobody wants pre-race drama,” said White. “It makes us all look un-professional. We can all do without that stress two minutes before the start. So one objective is to have a list of gear that is and isn’t legal, so that it’s clear at any race.”

That would avoid the biggest problem that the 3:1 rule has thrown up for manufacturers, having to rework components and bikes if the interpretation of a rule changes.

“The situation right now is not good for manufacturers,” said White. “We put 100 million Euros into the sport and if we have to spend money retooling it comes out of that pot.

“We want to see an approval process [as equipment is developed] and we want to help document the interpretation of the rules,” said White.

The unanswered question is who would do homologation and certification of equipment. Except for approval of low-spoke-count wheels, the UCI has steered clear of the homologation business.

“We want to set up a process where teams can turn up with the paperwork and know their equipment is legal,” said White. “We could just submit drawings to the UCI for approval. We think the UCI should be doing homologation, but if they don’t, then we have to find a way to make it easy for everyone.”

While White said he’d like GOCEM to have a consulting role as the UCI develops technical rules, that’s not the primary aim. “We’re not trying to rewrite the UCI rules, we’re trying to work with them to clarify them,” he said.

Marra has bigger aims for the organisation, though. “The mission is to do more for cycling down the track,” he said. “It starts with working with the UCI, but this is the first worldwide bike manufacturer body and that allows us to do other things together that are good for cycling.”

White admits to enlightened self-interest. “If the sport is successful, people will buy things,” he said, so anything that promotes cycling is good for manufacturers. “The UCI was concerned we were trying to ‘take over’ but we’re trying to be cooperative. We all want to see the sport prosper.”

So far 50-odd companies involved in racing have signed up to GOCEM, according to White and Marra. The only major hold-out at the moment is Trek.

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