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Some thoughts on UCI approved wheels

April 14, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s time for another general entry. Which you guys like and gets lots of traffic (even though I am sure your peruse my race reports too :-)).

So welcome to my sorta mini guide to UCI Approved Wheels.

This year I am taking the plunge into a few UCI rules races and the ones I have looked at have this warning.

“As per UCI/CCA Rule 1.3.018, new wheel regulations will be enforced. Only traditional wheels or approved non-traditional wheels are permitted. Consult the list of approved non-traditional wheels at www.uci.ch/english/about/wheels.htm. “

Some of these races are very local and even within the Ottawa area a bit obscure so I was wondering if the same is true of everywhere else must be thousands of these races with thousands of riders every week having to go through these rules. After a fairly exhaustive search I couldn’t find much evidence of folks who were thrown out of a race due to non-compliance but you never know.

So either folks are very compliant or nobody actually checks the wheels. Still I don’t want to travel to a race then get thrown out because of an obscure wheel rule. This rule also seems to be the one that is highlighted the most. As far as I can tell none of my existing wheels are either UCI compliant or are something I would want to race on.

As always, as being new to this, I found two big problems.

1- The rules as written are pretty crappy, especially in trying to define if the wheel you have already is compliant under the “traditional” rule.

2- The approved list doesn’t date the wheels  (can I use a Fulcrum racing 7 from 2008? 2014?) which makes it hard to really understand if you bought the right one. And few online stores actually say “UCI approved:””

Anyways let’s start with the traditional rule.

The rules for “traditional wheels” do seem to be fairly straight forward:

  1. can not have rims higher than 2.5 cm (25mm)
  2. can not have fewer than 16 spokes
  3. can not have spoke thicknesses of over 2.4 mm (bit of an odd one)

The big issue is that a lot of traditional wheels are really really bad so in essence the main reason for this (make sure folks have safe wheels) seems flawed as you can use a clapped out 1957 Mavic wheel I guess and be compliant.

Traditional Wheels that may fit the bill

So based on this if you were looking for a good UCI traditional wheel set really not that many will fit that bill. I do find it’s hard these days to source wheel sets under 25mm that aren’t really heavy and probably not up to the task.

A few cheaper Traditional wheels for example may be:

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Jenson USA has the Mavic Aksium S25 (24mm rims) wheel set for $329.00.

 

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I love my soul s4’s so the lighter soul s2’s are possible options. A pair will run you about $600. 23mm rim and claimed 1.3kg for the set.

I found some Vuelta Corsa SLRs over at bike nashbar which seem like they may do the trick. Nice and light at 1500g and lots of good reviews. 22mm Rim (check),  24 spokes (check), spoke width 2.0-1.6 mm (check). Right now at $350 for the set, but you know that if you wait there will be a sale. I pulled the trigger at around $225 and will blog about it later but just saying, you don’t have to spend a lot on a traditional wheel that may work.

UCI certified wheels

But folks like the bigger rims and for over 25mm UCI rules kick in.

In order to be UCI approved wheel manufacturers have to ship wheels to the testing lab in Belgium and hope they pass. Most do as the UCI rules are very close to other in place standards like CEN and ISO (yawn….when can I bike?)

Anyhow. That means that many wheels that would be UCI approved simply aren’t because they maker didn’t want to go thru the process. But that leaves a lot of wheels left.

So let’s say you do want an UCI certified wheel. The list is long enough with lots of the big names on it, albeit often with a limited number of actual wheels. And most naturally are the top end.

American Classic, Campagnolo, DT Swiss, FSA, Fulcrum, HED, Mavic, Reynolds, Shimano, Trek and Zipp have plenty of models on offer. Easton was one that stuck out as they only have a couple.

For a cheap UCI certified wheel one of the better ones seems to be the Fulcrum Racing 7 (you can find them around $250 pretty much anywhere on the web). Probably more of a training wheel and not light (at about 2000g) but if you get caught out and need a cheap wheel set fast these will do.

Once you get into the $500+ a lot more options. At $1000 the world is your oyster.

So that’s about it. Will use my Corsa SLRs and see if I get kicked out of any races. Will be interesting.

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