UCI Approval Labels Shelved?

Reports are in that the UCI will “modify” their approval label program that would have required labels issued on bike frames used in competition and introduced to the market after 2011 January 1. Apparently there was tense meeting between manufacturing representatives and members of the UCI technical committee; the result of which is a promise by the UCI to return with an amended program in a couple weeks.

On the one hand, an approval label program could guarantee that a bike would be legal in any UCI event, which would be a good thing for time trialists who tend to buy the latest carbon fibre incarnation of a windtunnel’s wet dream, always pushing the rulebook to within a millimeter of the limits. On the other hand, there are tons of TT bikes out there built by smaller companies for whom the testing fee for the approval label would not be affordable…and that’s just talking about TT bikes. What about road and cyclocross?

Additionally, though I can see how the label would make sense for a moulded, monocoque carbon bike frame which represents thousands of dollars of development costs, a label would be largely meaningless for bikes made of a joined sub-frame methods, such as welded tubes. For instance, it wouldn’t take much effort to create a welded aluminium one-off frame that technically violated the UCI rules, and then paint it exactly like a production model. A UCI commissaire would need to know both the UCI rulebook to the letter AND know the manufacturer’s production spec’s to the millimeter to catch that one, though it should be noted that riding a demi-freak bike does not necessarily (or even typically) yield a competitive advantage.

So for the UCI it’s back to the drawing board…a drawing board behind closed doors apparently.