Track Bike Setup Within the UCI Rules

Track Bike Setup Within the UCI Rules

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This article is current as at the 1 June 2016.

Many riders who have ridden a championship event will know that it can be difficult to set up their bike within the UCI rules. For taller riders this can be challenging because as they currently stand the rules work fairly well for riders of average height yet for riders who are either short or tall they simply don’t work.

The reason the rules are so difficult to work with is that they do not adequately account for the proportional differences between the limbs of different riders. As a body shape increases in size, joint angles will change when a bike is at the out limits of the rules. With this in mind, it may be difficult for a tall rider to achieve the same joint angles as an average sized rider.

This article explains how to set up your bike within Articles 1.3.001 to 1.3.034 of the UCI regulations. It is assumed your frame is UCI approved which negates the need to cover the majority of the rules.

The first thing to understand is that the bottom bracket and front wheel axle are important reference points with respect to setting up your cockpit. In this article we will call the vertical plane running up through the centre of the bottom bracket the “vertical BB plane”. The vertical plane running up through the centre of the front axle will be called  the “vertical axle plane”.

Right Angle Edge - UCI Regulations

This article has made use of a special bike jig (shown below) designed for helping to correctly measure a bike during competition. If you do not have a bike jig, an alternative is to use a measuring tape and a door frame (or another solid object with a perfectly vertical straight edge) to perform your measurements. If you would like to build a frame jig, the UCI has provided a document to help get you started. This document can be downloaded here.

Bike Jig - UCI Regulations

Note: The rules make reference to exceptions due to “morphological” reasons. In layman’s terms this simple means to accommodate “overly” tall or short riders.

Saddle Fore/Aft

According to the rules saddle fore/aft is measured relative to the vertical BB plane where the front tip of the saddle must be greater than 50mm behind this plane. However, there are two exceptions to this rule. Riders can move the saddle forward up so the vertical BB plane lines up with the front tip of the saddle (0mm behind) in the following circumstances:

  1. For sprint events (flying 200 m, flying lap, sprint, team sprint, keirin) where aero bars are not permitted and for the 500m and 1km time trial where the rider has elected to use standard drop bars over aero bars.
  2. For morphological reasons.

There are no circumstances where the front tip of the saddle can extend past the vertical BB plane.

Saddle Fore Aft - UCI Regulations

In the images above, image A) shows the point from which the vertical BB plane is measured. Image B) shows the saddle setback at the position 50mm behind the vertical BB plane. Image C) makes use of the morphological exemption with the set back set to line up with the vertical BB plane.

Aero Bar Setup

For the setup of an individual and team pursuit position there are rules relating to aero bars. The outer limit (the tip) of the aero bars can be no further than 750mm in front of the vertical BB plane. Again, there are two morphological exemptions:

  1. 750mm may be increased to 800mm for morphological reasons.
  2. For riders 190 cm or taller, the 750mm may be increased to 850mm.

Aero Bar Reach Setup - UCI Regulations

In these images above, image A) shows the bars 750mm in front of the vertical BB plane, B) shows the bars 800mm in front of the vertical BB plane, and C) shows an illegal position for any rider shorter than 190cm.

Bar Pad Height - UCI Regulations

You will also need to consider the height of aero bars. From distance between the elbow pads (measured from the point on the pads that supports the forearms/elbow) to the upper limit of the tips of the aero bars must not be higher (lower) 100mm.

Morphological Exemption – Choose One

Here’s the tricky bit, you can only use one morphological exemption for your pursuit or time trial position. That is, you can move your seat forward OR you can move your aero bars forward.

Drop bars

The regulations surrounding drop bars can be difficult to accommodate. This is due to the steep head geometry of many track bikes which causes the front wheel to move backwards. Use the vertical axle plane as the reference point.

To accomodate smaller frames, for both endurance and sprint events the bottom edge of the handlebar can be positioned up to 100mm below the horizontal plane passing along the top edge of the front wheel. “Top edge” means the top of the tyre and not the rim.

Endurance Events

For endurance events the rules are fairly simple. The rules state that the distance between the forward most tip of the drop bars and the vertical axle plane must not exceed 50mm.

Drop Bar Setup - UCI Regulations

Sprint Events

For sprint events (flying 200 m, flying lap, sprint, team sprint, keirin and 500m/1km time trial) the rules state that the distance between the forward most tip of the drop bars and the vertical axle plane must not exceed 100mm.

1km/500m Time Trial – Choose your Position

Riders competing in the 500m and 1km time trial events will need to choose between adopting either a sprint position (drop bars) or a pursuit position (aero bars). For example, riders are unable to push the saddle position right up to the vertical BB plane whilst also setting the handlebar extension to 800mm ahead of the vertical BB plane. In other words, if a rider uses aero bars in these events the pursuit position applies. On the other hand, riders who opt for drop bars can push the saddle up to the vertical BB plane and use a stem that allows the drop bars to be 100mm in front of the vertical axle plane. The sprint position applies. It’s either one or the other.

Saddle Length & Angle

Previously there was very little room to move with respect to the angle of the saddle. In fact, the rules stated that the plane passing through the highest points at the front and rear of the saddle should be horizontal.

As of December 2015, the UCI regulations have now been relaxed so that the plane passing through the highest points at the front and rear of the saddle can now be at 9 degrees.

Bike Weight

This is probably the most simple regulation to get right. Simply, the minimum bike weight is 6.8 kg not including any accessories such as a bike computer.

The Weigh In - UCI Regulations

Wheels

A rear disc wheel can be used in any event however a front disc wheel however a front disc can only be used in timed events. For mass start events spoked wheels must be used.

Spoked wheels must have at least 12 spokes or the wheel designs must have prior approval by the UCI. Carbon wheel designs such as the Mavic IO, Pro 5 Spoke, Corima 4 Spoke, etc have been used extensively in international competition and it can be inferred that these wheels have been approved.

Bike Computer & Other Accessories

For safety reasons, bikes (and riders) can not carry any object which could drop onto the track. If a rider wishes to use a bike computer, it must not be visible during the course of competition and it must be securely fastened to the bike.

Setup Table

Note: All saddle setback and aero bar distances are relative to the vertical BB plane. For events where drop bars are used the distance is relative to the vertical axle line.

Handlebar Discipline Saddle Setback Handlebar
Standard Drop Handlebar Sprint 0mm 100mm
Team Sprint 0mm 100mm
Keirin 0mm 100mm
Flying 200m 0mm 100mm
Flying Lap 0mm 100mm
Points Race 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 50mm
Elimination 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 50mm
Scratch 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 50mm
Madison 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 50mm
Time Trial 0mm 100mm
Aero Bars 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 750mm or 800mm for morphological reasons.
Individual Pursuit 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 750mm or 800mm for morphological reasons.
Team Pursuit 50mm or 0mm for morphological reasons. 750mm or 800mm for morphological reasons.

Rules

The specific rules covered by this article are:

  • Saddle fore/aft – rule 1.3.013
  • Aero bar setup – rule 1.3.023
  • Drop bars setup – rule 1.3.022
  • Morphological exemptions – rules 1.3.013 & 1.3.023
  • Time trial position – rules 1.3.013 & 1.3.023
  • Saddle length/angle – rule 1.3.014
  • Bike weight – rule 1.3.019
  • Wheels – rule 1.3.018

Conclusion

The onus is on riders to arrive at the start line with a compliant bike and setup. This means there are a lot of rules to consider however after reading this article you should have the basic information required to correctly setup a UCI compliant track bike.

It is important to note that this document has been put together on the understanding that your bike has a frame with a “UCI Compliant” sticker. All new bikes should have one. On this assumption and to keep it simple, the rules surrounding bike frames have not been covered in this article. With the UCI sticker on your frame, there is ordinarily no reason to concern yourself with these particular rules.

Many thanks to the Mark Barfield – the UCI’s Technical Manager – for clarifying some of the UCI’s rules.

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  • Michał Ślusarski

    You forgot to talk about the handelbars drop under tire level. It has to be precised it’s allowed for small riders but in this case drop handelbars tip can not exced vercital axle plane.

  • This was the old rule and it is not mentioned in the current rules.

    The 5cm (10cm for “sprint” setup) tolerance with respect to the vertical axle plan still stands even when the bars are 10cm below the wheel. Basically they set out a “box” that the bars must be within. Below the saddle, infront of the steering axis, behind the vertical axle plane (with 5cm tolerance) and above the line which is 10cm below the top of the tire. If you get pulled up simply refer to rule 1.3.022.

    FYI, the clarification document published by the UCI is not consistent with the rule book. It is important to mention that the clarification document is not the rule book so the rule book take precedence.

    Hope this helps.

    JT

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