Riders in the professional peloton voted against the use of extreme inward brake lever position, realising that the possible marginal aerodynamic gains were not worth the risk of crashing and serious injury.
In late December the UCI announced that so-called ‘extreme inward inclination’ would be restricted in 2024, with new regulations coming into force in 2025 after consultation with component manufacturers.
At the Tour Down Under UCI officials used a 3D printed tool to ensure riders had a maximum of 10 degrees of inward rotation on their levers, with teams forcing their riders to return to a more traditional position during the winter.
In recent years it has become fashionable to use narrower bars and turn the levers inwards to improve aerodynamics. However, that sparked a number of crashes and near crashes, with young riders emulating the professional despite not having the same level of bike skills.
“The riders are against the really extreme positions,” CPA president Adam Hansen explained to Rob Arnold of Ride Media in a video interview during the recent Tour Down Under.
“I did a survey with the riders at the Giro d’Italia where they think the brake levers should be. I gave them options of straight, five degrees, ten degrees and extreme. Only three per cent voted for the extreme position.
“Riders identified the problem and commented on it. There were a lot of crashes or close crashes.”
In his role as president of the CPA, Hansen speaks frequently to riders. He was also part of the new SafeR commission at the Tour Down Under that is working to improve safety at races. He described SafeR as a ‘kind of like anti-doping for race organiser’, with the major stakeholders from the sport studying why major crashes occurred and what can be done to improve race safety.
Hansen is fully aware of the dangers of extreme lever positions.
“I have eyes in the peloton, who see the crashes that almost happen and that’s really useful info,” he said.
“It’s not because of the lever position per se, it’s when the riders have to brake. On the hoods (with levers in an extreme position) you can’t reach the brakes properly. You have to rotate your wrist and by the time you do that, it’s too late.”
Hansen is also part of the UCI Equipment Commission, representing the riders, and so understands that ‘extreme inward inclination’ levers can lead to damage to carbon handlebars and so potential crashes.