Yesterday the UCI informed bicycle manufacturers that it would be enforcing Article 1.3.014 from the UCI rulebook. This specifies the angle from horizontal of bicycle saddles. In the same "Dear sir, madam' letter (does the UCI not have a personalised database?), the UCI's technical coordinator informed recipients that the shape, size and placement of bidons would also be enforced.
Julien Carron wrote: "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. 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."
Carron said "the concept is to grant the rider sufficient freedom to allow a comfortable position to be adopted, 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."
Citing safety concerns, Carron added: "If the saddle is inclined too severely, this reduces the quality of the rider’s position on the saddle, thus reducing its intrinsic function of providing a basic support for the rider on the bicycle."
The UCI will be enforcing saddle inclination from 1st March 2012. Checks on the horizontality of saddles will be conducted at WorldTour events, World Cup events and World Championships for road, track and cyclocross events. A measuring device will be issued to UCI commissaires.
Carron said the device would measure "the angle of incline of the saddle, considering the plane passing through the highest points at the front and rear of the saddle. This angle must be less than 2.5 degrees with an error tolerance of 0.5 degree. This means that if the measurement taken during the check exceeds ±3 degrees, the saddle must be adjusted."
He concluded: "The measurement of the horizontality of saddles must be a simple, fair and repeatable process. The tolerance of 3 degrees gives the rider a lot more freedom to adjust his or her position on the bike compared to the previous interpretation of the rule."
In the same letter, Carron said the UCI will henceforth check bidons.
He said: "The positioning and dimensions of bottles used during competition are the subject of a change of the regulations that was approved by the Management Committee in September."
The new rule (article 1.3.024) states:
“Bottles shall not be integrated to the frame and may only be located on the down and seat tubes on the inside of the frame. The maximum dimensions of the cross-section of a bottle used in competition must not exceed 10 cm or be less than 4 cm and their capacity must be a minimum of 400 ml and a maximum of 800 ml.”
Carron claimed: "Bottles have been increasingly moving away from their original function of allowing riders to rehydrate towards an alternative use as aerodynamic elements which are integrated into the design of frames in order to improve riders' performances. It has become essential to regulate the positioning and dimensions of bottles in order to avoid any future deviations and to return bottles to their principal function."
Article 1.3.024 bis will come into effect on 1st January 2013. From that date, bottles will only be allowed to be positioned on the down tube and seat tube. Locating bottles behind the saddle, on the stem, or in any other position will then be prohibited. And it will not be allowed to integrate bottles with frames, meaning that there must be a space between the bottle and the tube to which it is attached.
The rule specifies the bottle dimensions in order to avoid empty bottles being added for aerodynamic reasons.
"The rule also improves the rider's ability to access and grasp the bottle," said Carron.
"The capacity is also specified in order to guarantee that bottles are used for rehydration purposes and to prevent any deviations."