The British team has been told by the UCI that as of Monday, March 29, their track bikes will be banned from competition unless they are available for sale to the general public.

All the nations competing in Copenhagen received a letter reminding them that any bike, and all equipment used in competition must also be for sale. The Brits, Australians and Germans are the main nations affected.

Under UCI regulations, bikes ‘must be marketed (i.e. available for sale on the market) or marketable (i.e. available for sale directly from the manufacturer, by subscription or through an alternative distribution network). Prototypes and the use of equipment specially designed for a particular athlete, event or performance is prohibited.’

The British bikes were originally designed and built by Dimitris Katsanis with funding from British Cycling lottery funding and the English Institute of sport. Since their initial use in 2002 they have been refined, largely by the work Chris Boardman did in the wind tunnel before the Beijing Olympics.

The British squad have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds developing and then building their own equipment and it has undoubtedly given them an advantage.

They have also introduced their own handlebars, both sprint and pursuiting, and cranks. They also use their own helmets and, for the Olympics, specific, one-off skinsuits. A UCI spokesman confirmed to Cycling Weekly that the rule applied to all products used by the teams.

The German team uses FES bikes while the Australian team use BT, a brand common in Australia, but seemingly one that falls foul of the very vague UCI regulations.

British Cycling now have a loose plan to put a Pinarello sticker on the down tube and sell one bike at an exorbitant cost. And they might get away with it. The UCI have said that it is not their problem what price the bike is, or how many are available, just that the product is for sale.

There was annoyance in the British camp, saying that the investment they’ve brought to the sport has forced other nations to up their game and thus improve the state of track cycling. “What if we wanted to fly to a world cup first class and another smaller nation couldn’t afford to?” our source said. “Will they ban us from doing that too?”

Without any international competition before the end of October, BC will have until then to come up with a plan. If you do fancy riding on the same bike as Chris Hoy, and with a similar pair of handlebars, the chances are it’ll cost you somewhere in the region of £200,000.

victoria pendleton bike, british track bike, uci, ban, 2010 world track championships
Victoria Pendleton’s track bike with standard cranks and handlebars on.

german bike, fes bike, uci, ban, 2010 world track championships

The FES bike the German compete on, complete with illegal faring on the front of the head tube. Something they’ve been using for years.

  • dontcoast

    Either do what NJS does with Keirin and regulate EVERYTHING at the international level and have everyone on 110mm spaced 36 spoke wheels on steel (or at least identical spec) frames from licensed manufacturers etc. etc. (I’m sure the bike companies would loooove that)…and like NJS, also keep the athletes in barracks for three days before the races to avoid the risk doping and fixing races…

    Or let innovation go crazy and stop breathing down everyone’s neck.

    It’s in the minds and legs of the athletes that the events are truly decided anyways.

  • Gunnar

    This regulation is a joke. Bike must be marketed? What’s the point?

    If the intention is to avoid the technology (therefore $$) competition, you need only one rule: all riders should use the same bike, exactly the same. End of story.

  • neil duerden

    Another own goal for the UCI.

    I was under the impression competitve cycling involved man(or woman) in perfect harmony with their machine.The logical conclusion of this would be to revert back to hobby-horse type machines or maybe no bike at all as it may infer unfair advantage on one competitor.

    McQuaid&his fellow flat earthers at the UCI should clear their desks&make way for fresh blood.

    Actions are symptomatic of an organisation with an inferiority complex wishing to appear all powerful……..

  • Frans Rutten

    Cycling Weekly: “A balance between making everyone riding the same bike and kit at one extreme and allowing a free-for-all where money counts for everything at the other”.

    In case of the World Cycling Hour Record the choice ultimately was made close to the first mentioned extreme. I do agree since by altering the bike quite substantially for allowing the Superman Position did change track cycling in time-trial alike events dramatically.

    Picture this. Two absolute world-class pursuiters clash in a final. One rider already advances after two laps with more than two full seconds, but then the other rider slowly closes the gap to 0,2s after 7 laps. Then he accelerates like hell and almost catches the other rider!
    The difference at the finish is almost 5 seconds. So a full 7 seconds faster in the last 3,5km.
    This is the virtual result between Chris Boardman’s WR and Phinney’s qualification ride.

    Suppose Chris Hoy today would have been able to do his 200m ride on all available bikes (just for arguing’s sake of cause): would the qualification times be so much different??
    I doubt this. Even youngsters today ride on rather quality bikes.

    But what about (the shredded) one-off skin suits?
    Fact is, that the British Team as a whole but also quite a few individuals performed in the 2008 Olympics at an astronomical scale. In the gap of 0,249s between Chris Hoy 200m qualification time and the non-British best rider in Beijing, today 11 riders are placed between Gregory Bauge as the winner in 9,896s and Förstemann (11th in 10,142s).
    Of cause the only scientific valid result would have been allowing every sprinter the special one-off skin suit. But I doubt if an insider would bet his fair amount of money to the result of an investigation, that the on-off skin suit wouldn’t have any positive effect at all.

    This is basicly the dilemma, what governing bodies in particularly speed oriented sports face.
    What is fair? If a sprinter decides to wear a woollen jersey instead of a skin suit, he/she is not very professional, not to say foolish. But in the case, when skin suits would only be available to certain teams, cycling would have a problem, with which a governing body has to deal.

  • Mark Cooke

    Its getting like F1. The technology is becoming too much of a factor. Everyone should be using the same equipment. One way of ensuring that is to use commercially available ie affordable bikes and clothing only. It was telling that BC destroyed all their special Olympic skinsuits recently.

  • anthony gough

    the uci are a joke i would rather see the technological boundaries pushed as far as you can go with equipment cause we all know that its the athletes that matter

  • Dave

    Good old UCI, ban everything in sight but Valverde, obviously certain bikes must be better than EPO and its many derivatives.

    So the bike must be on sale to the general public, then the good old UCI whose head is so well up its own backside come up with ” UCI do not care how much it costs ” OH great lets all rush out as members of the general public and pay £200,000 or more for a track bike to go for the messages

    Message to the UCI idiots ” Get real or quit ” and as I suspect there is no chance of them getting real they know the honourable thing to do- QUIT

  • Dave Marsh

    This is surely a chance for Great Btitain to recover some of the cost of producing the bikes. They can offer the bikes at a reasonable price of £1 Million pounds each.

  • neil duerden

    Good to see the luddites/flat earthers of the UCI are still active.

    This is more a demonstration of power from the UCI&the next to useless president Pat McQuaid.Imagine if this nonsense were implemented in F1!!

    Plus jealousy too from other nations….

    Resign McQuaid-you are a fool!!