New UCI Wheel Regulations

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If you race this may affect you. The new UCI wheel regulations weren’t widely communicated here in Australia and probably not anywhere else either.  The new wheel regulations are stated on Cycling Australia’s website but if you’re like me you probably don’t frequent there very often unless you’re looking for something specific. If you race in a country outside of Australia you may want to check with your own governing body.

The UCI states these new wheel regulations address safety issues rather than issues of equipment performance or advantage.  In order to be granted approval wheels must have passed a rupture test as prescribed by the UCI in a laboratory approved by the UCI. From what I understand the testing protocol has been a contentious issue.  The UCI is not as much concerned with the ability of the wheel to hold up under realistic conditions, but more about evaluating how the wheel behaves after it fails (i.e. sharp pieces that could harm other riders).

A few points that may not be obvious about these new regulations at first glance:

  • The new wheel regulations apply to mass start events only (e.g. Road races, Criteriums, (track???)).
  • Note the definition of a “Traditional Wheel”, as these wheels do not need to be tested and approved for mass start events. There are specific dimensional requirements that apply, however, the general reference implies: any wheel that has a rim with a very minimal aerodynamic profile (less than 2.5 cm) and at least 16 metal spokes (which can be bladed within dimensional standards). Under these parameters many wheel designs will meet the definition.
  • I’m assuming that Cycling Australia and most other organizations will be enforcing this regulation at all levels (including Club racing).  There are liability issues here and I’m sure CA and affiliated clubs do not want to jeopardize their insurance by knowingly allowing unapproved wheels.

You can find all approved wheels here.  Are yours on there?  If not, it’s best to contact your wheel manufacture to see if test approval is in progress before you make any hasty moves.

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