Some of you, maybe most of you, have heard of the UCI's decision to implement a "pre-approval" sticker program. Simply, the UCI wants frame and fork manufacturers to apply stickers to their frames and forks, indicating the that pieces of equipment in question are legal under UCI measurement protocol. This will help avoid situations like a TT bike being ruled illegal on the start line of the Tour de France.
Unfortunately, nothing is that simple. First of all, the cost to get a molded frame authorized is about $14,000. Per model - up tp 8 sizes per model. Second, this rule is in place, despite being announced in mid-December (about a month ago). Does anyone have any faith that it's actually being executed in all venues where it's required in such a short time? Third, it's vague. Is the Wheelhouse even affected by this program? Let's look at it as deeply as I care to on the blog, and probably deeper than you care to read. From the FAQs on the UCI web site:
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.
So the Wheelhouse was "already manufactured, available on the market or already at the production stage" long before this program had been publicly announced. Many of you rode the bike before this initiative was announced publicly. I would say that obviates the issue. The Wheelhouse is also compliant to the UCI Regulations so you don't have to sweat that.
The last sentence is the one that makes me sweat a little. What does it mean? Does a production run count as a generation? In sailing, there's a phrase "mold shape" that is used to describe the shape of a boat or part. In other words, you can change the carbon layup, you can fill it with rocks, whatever you want to do, if it is still an exact fit to the mold, it's the same mold shape. This would logically apply to this rule. The UCI regs have nothing to do with laminate schedules, nothing to do with frame weight (it's only the complete bike that's weighed) - it's only the mold shape that's measured. Our mold shape was established long before this rule was, and our intention is to never use model years and to keep the same mold shape for as long as it is relevant to where in the market we want it to line up. Which, to me, means that everything about the Wheelhouse pre-dates this rule and everything is all clear.
We have contacted USA Cycling to get their clarification on how they will enforce this protocol. I really don't want to see a would-be NRC debut for our bikes squashed by not having a sticker that wasn't even in existence when the frame was molded. Manufacturing records will give a clear trail as to when each individual frame was measured, but the rule doesn't SEEM to make manufacturing date an issue. Design is the thing. If manufacturing date were the delineator, then the UCI should just send an invoice for $14,000 (per model - up to 8 sizes per model) to any company selling bikes that might be raced and call it a day.
I'm not convinced that that isn't their intent.
Here we are at the end of this post (but not at the end of the issue) and I have been a lot more politically aware than I would usually have been. You know I've got a bag full of rant on this issue, and at some point it will be time to deploy same, but that time is not now.