The UCI is set to ban the “extreme inward inclination of brake levers” next season, announced as part of the agenda of its annual Women’s WorldTour and UCI WorldTour stakeholders seminar.
The UCI is still establishing its exact plans, but a news article published on UCI.org included one paragraph highlighting ongoing work with manufacturers in a process that will ultimately see the popular trend prohibited in UCI events:
Still on the topic of safety, an explanation was given on the UCI’s work with the cycling industry to create a clear regulation concerning the extreme inward inclination of brake levers. Positioning the levers with an extreme inclination limits the braking capacity of the riders and constitutes a modification of the product beyond its intended use. Such positioning will be restricted in 2024. In 2025, new regulations will come into force requiring compliance with the installation guidelines established by brake lever manufacturers.
Although short, the paragraph highlights the potential safety issues the UCI has identified when brake levers are angled excessively inward, specifically mentioning limited braking capacity and product modifications beyond their intended use.
Furthermore, Escape Collective has obtained a UCI document titled UCI Technical Regulations Update. The document references work with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) and the cycling industry, which shows “an increased number of handlebar stress points as a result of extreme brake lever inclinations.” In other words, because most drop handlebars aren’t designed to accommodate such extreme mounting angles, such installations can potentially result in bar failures since the mating surfaces aren’t as closely matched as they’re meant to be.
The paragraph concludes by highlighting that the UCI shall “restrict” such extreme inward inclination from 2024, with new regulations set to come into force in 2025 mandating brake levers are installed in keeping with installation guidelines established by brake lever manufacturers. The Regulations Update document references “prohibiting the use of extreme inclination in UCI events” and a 3D printed tool commissaires will use to inspect lever angle.
The past few seasons have seen many riders adopting the inward-pointed levers as they sought new ways to adopt aerodynamic positions after the “puppy paws” ban. It is a divisive topic, though. For every rider chasing an aero gain, you’ll find another claiming greatly improved comfort. And for every rider adopting the setup, be that for aero, comfort or otherwise, you’ll find others citing safety concerns.
Ultimately, how the UCI determines “extreme” is perhaps the most interesting aspect of these plans. The use of the word “extreme” suggests the UCI will allow some freedom for riders to add a little comfort-improving angle, although those details were not explicitly outlined in the documents.
It is unclear if the planned regulation will apply only to road racing events or all drop bar disciplines, including cyclocross and gravel. Many eyes will be on how the UCI approaches the gravel question, where the flared drops on many gravel-specific handlebars promote the inward inclination of the brake lever. The lever is still straight relative to the drops, but excessive flare (read: future loophole) could put the lever back into the “extreme inclination” position.
Escape Collective has contacted the UCI requesting further details on the pointy in lever ban. More to come as we have it.
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