Friday, December 23, 2011

OMG - UCI to enforce saddle tilt rule in 2012?

In 2011, we took real time measurements of saddle while a person rode their choice of saddle. We found many things that could hurt you, or get you off the bike.

This is crazy? People really have different shape sit bones and have different volumes of soft tissues! What's next, a MRI to make sure your bones are normal?

UCI to enforce saddle tilt rule in 2012.
Governing body to introduce allowable incline limit to allow for individual rider comfort

uciThe International Cycling Union (UCI) is to enforce its saddle tilt rule in 2012, BikeBiz reports. The regulation, as part of the raft of rules that govern the shape of frames, and riders’ positions, does not allow for saddles to be tilted; while the rule was generally ignored by riders, mechanics, and the UCI for many years, the governing body began to enforce it during this year’s Tour de France; mostly concentrating on time trial bikes.

UCI technical coordinator Julien Carron announced the decision in a letter to bike manufacturers yesterday; but stated that, instead of the draconian enforcement of the existing rule, the UCI would introduce an allowable incline limit.

UCI rule 1.3.014 simply states: “The saddle support shall be horizontal. The length of the saddle shall be 24 cm minimum and 30 cm maximum.”

The simple rule does not appear to allow any room for interpretation but, since it was a rarely enforced regulation, riders have ignored it and been allowed to do so for many years.

Many riders like to tip their saddle forward slightly, to aid comfort, while a few like to tilt it backwards. The late Frank Vandenbroucke used to have his saddle nose pointing upwards quite prominently, with the Belgian’s team mechanic once remarking that: “Frank likes to hurt his balls.”

To allow for riders to keep their comfortable positions – and to allow for the occasional Vandenbroucke-style masochist – the UCI is to amend the rule to allow for a tilt of up to 2.5 degrees, with a tolerance of 0.5 degrees, in either direction.

"As a result of many discussions and comments concerning Article 1.3.014 on the horizontality of the saddle, the UCI has decided to clarify the situation by introducing a tolerance to the measurement of the saddle angle,” Carron wrote. To determine the value of this tolerance, the UCI has taken into account many measurements recorded in competition, numerous scientific articles published on the subject describing biomechanical issues as well as discussions with several saddle manufacturers.

“The concept is to grant the rider sufficient freedom to allow a comfortable position to be adopted,” he added, “reducing the pressure on the perineum, while avoiding any deviation through an excessively sloping saddle that could improve sporting performance to an unacceptable degree by the addition of a lumbar support."

As with the majority of the UCI’s regulations of this kind, the saddle tilt rule will mostly affect time trial bikes, and this is likely where it will be enforced the most. Bikes are already scrutinised by technical commissaires before riders are allowed to start, and this will be just one more check for them to make.

Unless a rider turns up to the start line with an obviously sloping saddle however, bikes are unlikely to be scrutinised on anything more than a random basis in road races; the prospect of checking up to 200 bikes at once is surely enough to make even the most zealous commissaire baulk.

A forward-tilting saddle on a time trial bike allows a rider to make the lower positions more comfortable, thus allowing them to get more aerodynamic. If they are forced to bring their saddles closer to the horizontal – if, under the revised regulation, not actually to it – many will find themselves forced to bring their frontal position a little higher or risk losing power.

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