Just prior to Christmas the UCI announced some very important changes to the regulations regarding the set up of time trial bikes. These rule changes affect anyone who races in a Cycling Australia affiliated club or national time trial event.
The rule changes affect the use of the morphological exemptions for the 5cm seat setback and the 75cm handlebar extension reach rules.
Up until 1 January 2014 all time trial bikes were required to be set up with the tip of the saddle no farther forward than 5cm behind the bottom bracket and the pivot point of the shifters (on the extensions) could be no farther forward than 75cm from the bottom bracket. There were morphological exemption options in place whereby the saddle could be placed between 0cm-5cm behind the bottom bracket (generally for short people) OR the extensions could reach to between 75cm-80cm (generally for taller people) in front of the bottom bracket. There were certain tests to determine qualification for these exemptions however it appears that 80% plus of riders at the UCI level have been using these exemptions and as such the UCI has decided that the old rules are no longer 'current'.
Interestingly they have decided to keep the basic structure of the rules (5cm or 75cm) but the most important thing is that there is now NO REQUIREMENT for an exemption.
Basically you can set your bike up with the saddle forward to a point directly above the bottom bracket (0cm setback) OR you can set your extensions up to no farther forward than 80cm from the bottom bracket.
It is very important to note the OR, in the above statement. From 2012 the UCI have stipulated you can only use one of the exemptions and this principle remains with the new changes, its just that you don't need to 'qualify' to use it. Bike checks with still focus on these two elements to ensure the set up is within the wider limits and that only one area (seat position or extension reach) is outside the normal set up regulations.
There are also two additional changes that are quite important.
- There are now more controlled limits on the height of the handlebar system. Essentially there is a 10cm height limit between the top and bottom of the bars.
- The measurement point for handlebar extension reach has changed. Previously the reach was measured to the pivot point in the shifter (mechanical system) or to the end of a DI2 shifter. The new rules require measurement to the tip of the shifter in all cases. For mechanical shifting systems this measurement is with the shifter in the horizontal position. IMPORTANT: This means if you use a mechanical shifter (i.e. non di2) and are currently over the 75cm reach then you need to recheck your reach measurement as this change is likely to add upwards of 6cm to the measurement to account for the length of the shift lever itself.
Note: CA published a brief news item on this just before Christmas (probably why it has slipped through the cracks). It's located at
A final note: The changes to the application of the 5cm setback rule are important for aerodynamic setup but simply pushing your saddle forward will have other consequences. If anyone is considering changing their setup to take advantage of the rule changes then I would recommend that you contact me regarding a possible bike fit to not only ensure the setup meets the new requirements but also that the new position is the best one for you as sometimes a more forward position results in a substantial drop in power.