Could pro teams be riding disc brakes within the next few years?

Will we see a new co-operative UCI when it comes to bike innovation?

The World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) held a summit meeting at the Taipei International Cycle Show. Recent years have seen the group at loggerheads with the UCI – particularly over the controversial introduction of a frame validation programme where bikes had to carry a UCI sticker before they could be used in sanctioned races.

With the new president of the UCI, Britain’s Brian Cookson, taking over, the federation has made significant changes – perhaps the most important being the appointment of Dimitri Katsanis to position of consultant technical advisor. Katsanis' name will be familiar to some - he was one of the team behind British Cycling’s state-of-the-art track bikes and helped Chris Boardman develop his award winning bike brand.

Katsanis has promised to work closer with the industry and collaborate on safety tests and ratification of new technologies.

In Taipei, Katsanis said: "All these years I was on the other side banging on the UCI’s door; now I have the chance to actually try and do things better."

It’s a sentiment echoed by Jeroen Snijders Blok, the representative for bicycles at WFGSI and chief of operations for the Accell group, which owns the brands Ghost, Lapierre, Van Nicholas, Haibike and Diamond Back, among others.

When BikeRadar asked how he saw the relationship now with the UCI, Blok said: "Previously we saw the UCI like a castle. We were knocking and banging on the door constantly but it was never opened. Now they have opened it from the inside: welcome!

"We have a great hope now to continue working with him (Katsanis), to support him, and that there will be a collaboration between the two sides in the future about existing rules and also about new rules."

The first issue the UCI and WFSGI-led manufacturers' group have started to resolved is the UCI’s introduction of a wheel test – similar to the approved frame standard – that was set in motion under the Pat McQuaid administration. The manufacturers agreed in principle to a test but were taken aback by the UCI’s refusal to accept any outside help in defining the tests.

Obviously major wheel manufacturers who’ve had decades of design development, engineering and production behind them didn’t favour a test put together by an organisation that they saw as having no experience of what makes a safe, strong wheelset. The introduction of the standard was supposed to be enforced from 1 January.  

The five new wheel tests that were introduced are now in the process of reconsideration, with a WFSGI wheel committee supporting the UCI and supplying all of their current data and providing new test proposals.

However the big question on everyone's lips, was the potential introduction of disc brakes into road racing.

When we asked Yves Mori, communications manager at the WFSGI, about the progress of disc brakes law, he said: "This is a new era at the UCI – they are open to it. There is now a disc brake group with the UCI, with the lookout to a ‘possible’ introduction to road racing ‘within the next few years’."

It’s the clearest indication we've had yet of a real step towards discs brake used in the pro peloton and certainly backs up claims on both sides of embracing new technologies for a new era.

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