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Why does the TdF have a minimum bicycle weight of 6.8kg? Does it act like the F-1 limit on engine specifications in an attempt to reduce the role of technology and cost expenditures? If this a UCI rule is it one specific to TdF, or does it apply to all UCI races?

Followup question: How has this weight limit changed over the years? I assume it gets reduced every couple of years as technology progresses.

  • Way too many questions bundled into one, but I didn't see a good way of breaking them out. – RoboKaren Jul 19 '17 at 6:42
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The 6.8 kg limit is due to UCI regulation 1.3.019, which you can find here, and thus applies to all races sanctioned by the UCI. It was originally instituted in 2000 in order to ensure that manufacturers didn't produce racing bikes that risked structural integrity, to promote rider safety. At the time, with the then-current technology, that was considered a low weight and was in response to riders and teams drilling out metal components and using custom CNC'd components. Even then, it was recognized as a stop-gap regulation to ensure safe standards rather than imposing a complicated strength test (as you can see elsewhere in that document for the strength tests that apply to wheels. Those regulations were in response to wheels that failed resulting in rider injuries).

For at least the last 10 years, unsuccessful attempts have been made to update the 6.8kg rule with a structural integrity rule. Current bicycle frames made from composites can easily drop below the 6.8kg limit, and some teams add weights to the frame to get above the minimum 6.8kg threshold. A side effect of this is that the use of power meters and other instruments have expanded in the pro peloton since they can sometimes be added without much penalty.

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    Isn't this somewhat mitigated by the fact that all parts used must be commercially available? I'm not sure when that rule was introduced, but with a few exceptions, the parts used in UCI races must be commercially available. Very few manufacturers would be willing to produce a product for the general public that isn't rigorously tested for durability and safety. – Kibbee Jul 19 '17 at 13:04
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    @Kibbee there's commercially available and commercially available. Put a price tag of $1000 on a single chainring that will last one race (and that only 99% of the time) and no shop will stock it. Very few customers will order it specially. The same applies in car racing. – Chris H Jul 19 '17 at 14:42
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    Along with power meters and other gadgets, the weight limit has also shifted focus onto aerodynamics, like deep-section wheels and oversize/non-round frame tubes, since there's very little tradeoff if you're bumping up agains the weight limit anyway (though tube shape has it's own UCI imposed limits) – Jamie A Jul 19 '17 at 15:05

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