ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Bicycle Standards Leading the Tour de France


New York, Jul 16, 2003

This year’s Tour de France marks the 100th anniversary of the world’s premiere cycling event. The three-week, 2,130 mile race began July 5 with four-time winner Lance Armstrong off to a strong start in pursuit of a fifth straight victory.

Armstrong and his team, U.S. Postal, are counting on technical improvements in the new Trek time trial bikes, made of carbon fiber and aerodynamically crafted, to shave off crucial seconds in the time trials. But while the high-tech Trek bicycles are specifically designed for the professional cyclist, every-day recreational bicycles are manufactured according to certain American National Standards that help keep consumers, bicycles and related equipment safe.

ASTM International, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has developed several American National Standards in the interest of consumer [bicycle] safety. One basic standard, ANSI/ASTM F2043-00, Standard Classification for Bicycle Usage, defines terms used within the bicycle industry and specifies bike usage conditions from regular paved surfaces in which the tires do not lose ground contact to downhill conditions in which speeds can reach an excess of 25 mph.

Helmets are essential to the safety of cyclists – both professional and recreational. ANSI/ASTM F1446-01a, Standard Test Methods for Equipment and Procedure Used in Evaluating the Performance Characteristics of Protective Headgear, tests the equipment under specified environmental conditions, but it is up to the users of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices. ANSI/ASTM F1447-99*, Standard Specification for Helmets used in Recreational Bicycling or Roller Skating, addresses performance requirements for helmets while recognizing the desirability of lightweight construction and ventilation.

There are even specialized standards for helmets depending on the conditions they are to be used in. ANSI/ASTM F1952-00, Standard Specification for Helmets Used for Down Hill Mountain Bicycle Racing, recognizes the fact that there is a higher risk of injury to the head and face for down hill bicycle racers as compared to recreational riding and therefore they require greater impact protection. Even helmets for BMX Cycling have their own standards: ANSI/ASTM F2032-00, Standard Specification for Helmets Used for BMX Cycling.

The U.S. Postal team used their new Trek bikes and Nike skin suits at the July 9 team trial and won for the first time since the event was reinstated in 2000, further evidence that the carefully crafted and meticulously designed bicycles were a smart purchase for the team. But, as in all races, the best-laid plans and most advanced technology can only go so far. The rest is up to the cyclist.

“One should not forget that the Tour de France is three weeks and there are opponents there. It’s not a free ride to Paris,” added Jogi Muller, a spokesman for Armstrong’s US Postal Service team. “It needs one little crash, one little stomach problem or it needs one little bad day and the Tour is lost.”

*NOTE: A later version, ASTM F1447-02, is not yet approved as an American National Standard.

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