UCI bicycle frame approval protocal and stickerIf you’re gunning for a UCI cyclocross point, or hoping to just measure up against the big boys this cyclocross season and not get lapped, you probably already know you have to pay attention to your tire width, wheels and clothing among other equipment. But starting this season, in case you haven’t already heard, you now have to also pay special attention to your frame’s stickers.

Starting with January 1, 2011, bikes in UCI road, track and cyclocross races need to be approved if manufactured and purchased in 2011. So if you’re holding out on upgrading and waiting for this summer’s “2012″ models that weren’t already in manufacturing before 2011, be careful to look for the UCI approved sticker. And don’t confuse the UCI sticker with this one.

The UCI has now approved a handful of bicycle frames, including Richard Sachs’ steel cyclocross frames. Long-time cyclocross supporter Redline has been rumored to be working on a new, high-end cyclocross frame likely in full carbon. As part of this process, the company is looking into the UCI approval process, but has calculated the application process for carbon monocoque frames will cost the company well over $10,000, not exactly encouraging to small and medium bike companies to develop, test and approve a carbon cyclocross frame. These fees are now part of the cost of sponsoring UCI racers or selling UCI race-worthy bikes, but in this economy, the one thing that is certain is that these fees will eventually be passed on to you, the consumer, whether you race UCI events or not.

The UCI bicycle frame approval process is designed to encourage safety and fairness in racing, but also might encourage racers to avoid upgrading frames due to uncertainty of the legality of new frames that aren’t yet on the list, and an unknown exact manufacturing date.

It’s a complex, confusing rule for many, including many of the bike companies and frame builders we reached out to. So in attempt to clarify the rules, here’s some FAQs in attempt to make sense of it all, as answered by the UCI:

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FAQ : Approval Protocol for Frames and Forks

1. What is the approval procedure for frames and forks?

The approval procedure is a service that the UCI has set up not only for manufacturers, but also for license holders, teams, commissaires and the sport of cycling in general. The essential objectives of the labeling of frames and forks are to ensure that UCI Regulations are properly respected in an equitable manner, facilitate checks by commissaires and offer assurance to future purchasers that they are buying products that comply with the regulations.

2. What are the advantages of the approval procedure?

  • Manufacturers get better information on the prevailing UCI Regulations before commencing mass production,
  • The procedure facilitates the exchange of information between manufacturers and the UCI. The confidentiality of data is guaranteed by the OpenTrust® system,
  • Avoiding equipment being rejected on the start line of an event and averting arguments on whether new equipment conforms or not,
  • Reducing the number of checks conducted by commissaires at the start of an event and making these checks easier,
  • Ensuring that the UCI’s technical regulations are respected, in this way improving the safety and fairness of events,
  • Assuring riders and future purchasers of equipment that they are acquiring models that conform to the UCI Regulations for cycle sport,
  • Authorisation for licence holders to participate in all road, track and cyclocross events.

3. When will the approval procedure enter into effect?

The Approval Protocol for Frames and Forks applies from 1 January 2011. This deadline may seem premature, but several manufacturers waited for several months in order to embark on the procedure and have their equipment approved. It was not possible to make them wait any longer. The procedure will be implemented progressively as new models appear.

4. Does the approval procedure apply to all frames and forks from 1 January 2011?

No, frames and forks that are already manufactured, available on the market or already at the production stage do not have to be approved, although they will be subject to UCI Regulations when they are checked by commissaires. Only models that are at the design stage and new generations of products are affected. Frames and forks purchased before January 2011 do not need approval.

5. What UCI disciplines are affected by the approval procedure?

If license holders want to participate in road, track or cyclo-cross events they must use models produced before 2011 or, for the new generation of frames and forks, models that have been approved. In any case, the UCI regulation is the same for everybody.

6. Can new models of frames and forks be approved on the start line of an event?

The models used in competition by license holders must be approved in advance by the UCI, unless the model in question dates back to before 2011. Approval will only be issued after a meticulous inspection to ensure that the prevailing regulations have been respected and for this reason approval cannot be arbitrarily issued on the start line. The UCI wants everyone to respect the technical regulations and for these regulations to be applied equally to all. It is important that all manufacturers follow the same process and that there are no exceptions.

7. Will all frames be subject to the same approval procedure?

No, a distinction is made between “one-piece” molded type models used during the time trial (road) events and on the track submitted to the full procedure, “one-piece” molded type models used during massed start road races and cyclo-cross submitted to the intermediate procedure and “tubular” assembled type models submitted to the simplified procedure. The simplified procedure only requires the submission of an Application Form, the check of sizes on drawings and labeling. The full procedure also includes checks of a full-size prototype, while the intermediate procedure may necessitate or not the dimensional check of a prototype.

8. Can a manufacturer apply for approval for existing frames and forks, i.e. prior 2011?

Yes, this is possible for models available on the market in 2009 in 2010, upon request by the manufacturer. These models will follow the intermediate approval procedure.

9. What is the maximum number of sizes that can be submitted for the approval of a model?

The maximum number of sizes defined in the approval procedure for a specific model is eight. However, additional sizes can also be approved during the same procedure, but they require an increase in the cost of the procedure per additional size.

10. Is there a list of approved models of frames and forks?

Yes, this list gives the model names, manufacturers and dates of approval as well as the identification codes and sizes that have been approved. It will be available, together with all documentation relating to the approval procedure, via a new Equipment page on the UCI website.

11. Have the Regulations been amended with the introduction of the approval procedure?

Not at all, there has been no change to the technical regulations except for the addition of Article 1.3.001bis that introduces the new approval procedures. For clarity, a Practical Guide to Implementing the Technical Regulations is available from the UCI website and will be regularly updated to respond to any technical questions that may arise.

12. How is the application of the new approval procedure going to improve communication between the UCI and manufacturers?

The Approval Protocol has been drafted taking into account the concerns, problems and requests of manufacturers presented to us at the Eurobike Show in Friedrichshafen, as well as more generally over recent years. The UCI recognizes that historically there has been a lack of contact with manufacturers. One of the purposes of the introduction of the approval procedure has been to improve communications between the UCI and manufacturers. The procedure will build up contacts with all manufacturers; they will now have a very straightforward way of putting their questions and requests to the UCI. Considering that this contact has been virtually non-existent up to the present and there has not been a comprehensive official list of manufacturers, we intend to rectify the situation to facilitate communications with all manufacturers.

13. Does the UCI have intellectual property rights for the drawings, designs, brands or any other documents sent by manufacturers?

No, all information that is exchanged remains confidential. The documents and files supplied by a manufacturer remain the manufacturer’s exclusive property.

14. What method will be used to ensure the complete confidentiality of exchanges of information between the UCI and manufacturers?

All exchanges of data will be conducted through an encrypted network using the OpenTrust® platform (see OpenTrust® Users’ Guide). OpenTrust® is a European leader in new generation data security software. Among OpenTrust’s® clients are some of Europe’s biggest companies, government departments handling sensitive issues and enterprises that want to implement an environment of trust in electronic data exchange. Every manufacturer applying under the full approval procedure will have its own OpenTrust® account. This account is opened upon receipt of the Application Form. Information will also be exchanged using OpenTrust® for simplified procedures, although individual accounts will not be required.

15. What is the cost to manufacturers for the approval procedure for frames and forks?

The fee depends on the service provided. The following scale of charges applies:

  • CHF 5,000 + VAT for each model of frame and fork submitted by the manufacturer for the full procedure for a maximum of 8 sizes.
  • CHF 3,000 + VAT for each model of frame and fork submitted by the manufacturer for the intermediate procedure for a maximum of 8 sizes.
  • CHF 500 + VAT for each model of frame and fork submitted by the manufacturer for the simplified procedure for a maximum of 8 sizes.

16. Why do manufacturers have to pay a fee to have their models of frames and forks approved for use in competition?

The implementation of the approval service gives rise to significant expenses that the UCI cannot take on without a contribution from manufacturers. For approval to be effective and perfectly equitable, qualified personnel and specialized equipment are required. The amounts requested for the service have been reduced to a minimum to cover just the costs arising from the approval procedure; these will be amended in the future with the rationalization of project costs.

17. What is the maximum time that an approval procedure can take?

For the procedure of a new model of frame and fork, the maximum time required by the UCI is three months – this comprises checking technical drawings (one month) and checking prototypes (two months). However, this is the worst-case scenario and the time taken will be reduced to a minimum as far as possible. Models produced in 2009 and 2010 can also receive the label, but the time limits mentioned above cannot be guaranteed. The models will be checked and approved according to availability, in the order in which the Application Forms are received. However the UCI will endeavour to respect the time limits as far as possible.

18. In what cases are models considered to be different?

Models from a given manufacturer are considered different if they are specific to different disciplines (road, time trial, track, cyclo-cross, etc.) or if the general geometry changes to the extent that it cannot be confused with a size difference.

19. What happens if the geometry of an approved product is changed?

The manufacturer must inform the UCI. The UCI then decides whether the changes are minor and do not require any additional checks or if a new approval procedure must be initiated.

20. At what moment does a model receive approval?

A model is approved after the manufacturer has passed through the approval procedure and obtained a positive response in Control Reports. As soon as the model is approved, the manufacturer receives an Approval Certificate and the model is added to the list of models approved by the UCI.

21. How will checks be conducted to ensure the compliance of labeled products?

The UCI reserves the right to carry out unannounced checks of the compliance of approved models at any road, track or cyclo-cross event as well as at international exhibitions and the premises of suppliers of cycling equipment The technical checks and examinations of models will be conducted using a three dimensional measuring machine with the cooperation of independent experts, in particular EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne).

22. What happens if an approved model is checked but does not comply, or in the event of the incorrect use of a label?

If the manufacturer is responsible, the approval of the model may be provisionally suspended or definitively withdrawn from the list and the manufacturer may be sanctioned by a fine of CHF 10,000 to 100,000. In the event that a model bearing a label is checked and does not comply, and this is not attributable to the manufacturer, the licence holder is immediately disqualified from the event and an investigation into the relevant team is opened. Furthermore, performances carried out using non-compliant equipment are not recognised.

23. Are there any restrictions on affixing a “UCI Frame” label to a frame?

Yes, the positioning of the label must fit inside the zones allowed for the label defined in the document concerning the applying of the label, which will be given to the manufacturer at the end of the approval procedure. Moreover, the label must be visible, indelible and inseparable from the frame. Only the manufacturer is permitted to re-enamel its frames and reapply the label in an identical manner and in the same location as that approved by the UCI. Concerning the models dated before 2011, the label can only be affixed by manufacturers who accept the responsibilities mentioned in the Approval Procedure for the pose of the label. It is forbidden for individual parties to fix a “UCI Frame”