Saddle length and saddle tilt restrictions might be the most senseless rules in professional cycling. And that’s saying a lot when there is another rule that limits just how tall riders can wear their socks. But as reported by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News earlier this week, with pressure from the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI), the UCI recently relented on saddle regulations, allowing for changes within this arcane set of rules.
First up, the UCI is providing a 5mm extension to the 300mm saddle length limit. This isn’t actually a change of the rulebook but it’s an allowance for a 5mm margin of error on either the front or back of the saddle. Minimum saddle length remains at 240mm, however.
The more interesting and important change to the saddle rules comes with updates to the tilt or “flatness rule.” Originally, saddles were not allowed to tilt more than 2.5 degrees and included a 0.5 degree margin of error. But the new rule extends the passable tilt angles to nine degrees with one degree margin of error either up or down.
These changes are thanks to the WFSGI’s saddle committee that includes many of the top saddle manufactures including ISM, Selle Italia, Selle SMP, Giant, and Scott. After meeting at Eurobike this August, the committee submitted a proposal to the UCI and it was surprised by the quick turnaround from the notoriously slow and calculating UCI. “From the time we created the recommendations and submitted them, and to have the UCI vote on them, is pretty speedy in the world of the UCI,” said Schindler, technical commander at ISM Saddles.
Going into effect January 1, 2016, the rule change will be a relief to time trial riders, who have often chafed at the rule — riding a flat saddle in the TT position can be painful. “This allows riders to find their preferred optimal angle based on reason and data,” Schindler added.
These saddle changes were released along with the UCI’s decision to allow disc brakes throughout the 2016 season. Is the UCI on its way toward a more permissive stance toward technological progress? Maybe. But there’s still that silly sock rule to deal with.