Big news coming from the UCI for cyclocross racing this week as they made several changes to the competitive rules to take effect for the 2010-2011 season, including allowing the use of disc brakes and narrowing the maximum tire width.
In a statement posted on USA Cyclingâ€™s website Friday morning, nine rule changes were outlined for the 2010-2011 season, with the addition of disc brakes by far being the most shocking and significant. An amendment to Title 1, section 1.3.025 reads;
â€œFreewheels, multiple gears and brakes are not permitted for use on the track during competition or training. Disc brakes are allowed in cyclo-cross training and competition. For races on the road and cyclo-cross, the use of fixed sprocket is forbidden: a braking system that acts on both wheels is required.â€
Following the announcement, frame and component manufacturers alike have started scrambling to get â€˜cross specific disc brakes and compatible frames to the market, although both Shimano and SRAM already had designs in the works prior to the announcement, and frame builders should be able to manufacture a carbon fork with tabs for disc brakes fairly easily.
The UCI shook things up further by limiting the maximum tire width to 33 mm in section 1.3.018 of their amendment to Title 1, which now readsâ€¦
Wheels of the bicycle may vary in diameter between 70 cm maximum and 55 cm minimum, including the tyre. For the cyclo-cross bicycle the width of the tyre (measured between the widest parts) shall not exceed 33 mm and it may not incorporate any form of spike or stud.
The new tire rules leave some manufactures out in the cold, like Hutchinson, whose two â€˜cross offerings, the Piranha and Bulldog, both come in at 34 mm, making them illegal for competition in UCI and consequently USA Cycling sanctioned cyclocross races. Most other manufacturers will be stuck with at least some stock of now obsolete 34mm tires, and product research and development will now have to be shifted to stay inside the 33 mm limit from now on.
The new rule amendments also included seven other major changes. Effective immediately;
– Continental Cyclocross Championships have been established.
– The â€œ6 obstacle limitâ€ has been changed to a â€œ6 man-made obstacle limit.â€
– The height of barriers is now a maximum of 40 cm instead of a defined height of 40 cm.
– Man-made sand pits are now allowed and the dimensions for them have been established.
– The distance between planks has been changed to a range of 4 to 6 meters between.
– Commissaires may now authorize feeding if the temperature is above 20 degrees C. This feeding takes place in the pit lane, but not during the first two or the last two laps.
– The commissaires may now invoke the â€œ80% ruleâ€ and remove a rider who is behind the leader by 80% of the leaderâ€™s lap time. Thus, riders can be pulled before they are lapped.
Tons of new cyclocross technology is now headed to the market, although realistically, full-scale deployment probably wonâ€™t happen until at least 2013, even though the rules take effect immediately. Cyclocross racers will have to stick with whatever 33 mm or narrower tires they have in their quiver for now, until manufacturers can catch up and deploy design, production, and distribution.