Some exciting news to share today.
You’re hearing it here first, but very shortly, there will be press releases from a host of major bike industry manufacturers, announcing the results of the first-ever Manufacturers Alliance for Development, Equality, Unity and Professionalism conference. The conference, held largely in secret to permit open and honest discussion across the bike industry, was focused on developing some industry-wide tenets that could be broadly adopted and supported, to improve the quality of cycling for all, while allowing technological progress and product diversity. More specific details will be announced in their official press releases later this month, but here are the high points:
- Adoption of Unified Standards: By type, bike manufacturers will adopt unified development standards. Road bikes will be using a unified tapered steerer design, BB90 bottom brackets, and consistent dropout width. 27.5″ and 29″ mountain bikes are going to Boost front and rear, with consistent disc brake mounting standards and hardware sizing. The fatbike standard is yet to be agreed upon, but everyone does agree that it will be uniform. Across the spectrum, dropout spacing, BB standards, fork standards and similar issues will be standardized by bike type, to favor consumer interests.
- Distribution Networks: Major manufacturers are agreeing that their distribution will be consistent throughout the marketplace, with equal purchase terms for all of their dealers and distributors (instead of engaging in practices that drive local bike shops out of business).
- Helmet Recycling Program: Acknowledging the need to regularly replace helmets, manufacturers will announce a helmet replacement program wherein helmets that are a few years old and in need of replacement can be traded-in to be recycled, and new (replacement) helmets will be sold at a significant discount to encourage safe riding.
- Gender Equality: Professional riding teams will be sponsored on a gender-neutral basis, with even investment in technology and support, equal sponsorship, equal payouts, and equal media coverage. Major stage races will include mens’ and womens’ divisions, with racing on the same courses on the same days to ensure equal treatment.
- Advertising/Editorial Standards: Manufacturers have agreed that they will not attempt to pressure industry publications to change their reviews or editorial positions by exerting influence through advertising dollars. Publications have agreed that they will not attempt to extort demo products by suggesting that giving their employees free kit will result in greater coverage and more favorable reviews.
- Zero Tolerance for Doping: Rather than relying on individual countries for doping controls relating to their riders, in whom they have a clear interest, a uniform set of doping standards will be enforced by an international anti-doping commission, with neutral testing agencies. Those caught cheating through the use of performance enhancing drugs will face bans that render the practice untenable and unattractive. Those who inadvertently and in good faith run afoul of drug prohibitions relating to medications that do not truly offer any performance advantage will not be penalized, but rather will be educated and given an opportunity to conform to the universal standards. Changes in the standards will be clearly broadcast, and athletes who wish to participate can obtain a free review of any medications that they propose to take, to ensure compliance with doping standards.
- Fair Business Practices: Major manufacturers have agreed to adopt reasonable approaches to intellectual property, and have agreed to both commit to avoiding unnecessarily punitive approaches to small businesses, and also to mediation of major disputes to reduce costs and allow for a more equitable outcome.
These are exciting days, and I look forward to more information to be forthcoming in the next few weeks. For now, the MADEUP initiatives represent a rational, common sense approach to the bike industry that advances the interests of all cyclists.