Riding is Life


Remco Evenepoel races the time trial at the Volta ao Algarve.

The UCI is banning the ‘head sock’ and conducting a review of TT helmet rules

Goodbye, head sock.

Dane Cash
by Dane Cash 05.03.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos
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It has been a busy week for aero innovations in the pro peloton. A day after Visma-Lease a Bike debuted an eye-catching new helmet design from Giro, the UCI has announced that the so-called “head sock” of the Specialized TT5 helmet will be banned from April 2, and that the governing body is more broadly undertaking an “in-depth analysis” of time trial helmet rules.

In a statement, the UCI said that the use of the head sock, which debuted in 2022, underwent “a thorough process, which included consultation with Specialized, as well as examination of documentation linked to the helmet’s certification, safety instructions, and information from public sources.” Despite allowing it for two seasons, the result of the governing body’s review process was a conclusion that the head sock is “a ‘non-essential’ component,” making specific reference to language in the UCI rules.

UCI regulations (1.3.033 specifically) state that “Items of clothing may not modify the morphology of the rider and any non-essential element or device, of which the purpose is not exclusively that of clothing or protection, is forbidden.”

As such, the head sock will be officially disallowed in UCI races starting on April 2. Specialized was clearly nonplussed by the decision. Alex Jerome, the brand’s head of helmets, told Escape Collective, “After 18 months of racing, the UCI has informed us of their decision to ban the headsock feature that is manufactured on the current TT5. Specialized is disappointed in this decision as it greatly impacts our riders and teams that have spent a significant amount of time preparing with the equipment that was UCI approved. We’ll continue pushing the boundaries of innovation to support our athletes with the highest performing product possible.”

Giro’s new Aerohead 2.0 helmet was also mentioned, along with Rudy Project’s Windgream HL 85 and Poc’s Tempor, as “rais[ing] a significant issue concerning the current and wider trend in time trial helmet design, which focuses more on performance than the primary function of a helmet, namely to ensure the safety of the wearer in the event of a fall.”

Those concerns have driven the UCI to announce a review on its own rules surrounding helmets in an effort to ensure that the regulations “set a clear framework that is consistent with the objectives targeted.”

How that review impacts the rules surrounding helmets remains to be seen, but the UCI said that it intended to communicate any changes “rapidly” following the review process, although it did not say how quickly that review might conclude.

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