Equipment restrictions for young riders – General

The UCI and Cycling South Africa, the governing body for cycling in South Africa, define the rules under which the Western Province Cycling Association has to operate. As a result our races, and races operated by partner operators, has to comply with these rules.

Additional rules apply to youth riders, including, but not limited to, equipment restrictions.

WP Cycling has recently updated the specific guides for each of the disciplines, which can be found here;


Enthusiastic Youths & Juniors can sometimes arrive at their first race, nervous, excited, eager to compete – only to be told that their bike falls foul of the regulations, ‘because the gearing is not compliant with the rules.’ This can be confusing and frustrating, especially if a brand new bike was purchased in good faith and the shop said that the bike was ‘race-ready.’

Far from being over-zealous kill-joys, race officials must follow the regulations set by international and national cycling organisations, which limit the top gear for all youth and junior racers participating in road and track races. Gear restrictions teach good pedaling techniques that will be essential later in life, help prevent injury, encourage good race tactics and level the playing field when children are developing at different rates.

Why do we have gear restrictions?

  • Young riders develop at different rates, restricting gears helps put all riders on a fair and equal standing, rather than always favouring the strongest children who happen to develop early. (Such early developers might win lot’s to start with but then struggle later when it comes to Junior and Adult racing.)
  • Young bodies repair quickly but are vulnerable to overuse injuries, restricting gears helps to avoid injuries due strength imbalances in fast growing children.
  • To be successful as an adult in bike racing, you have to pedal big gears fast – not push big gears slowly. So you first have to teach your body to pedal restricted gears fast, ready for when the real strength comes later in life.
  • Restricted gears encourage young riders to succeed in races using tactics, as opposed to races being dominated to who can push the biggest gear in the group. This will help to support the riders in learning the techniques which they will need throughout their competitive career.

What are these restrictions?

WP Cycling has created specific guides for each of the disciplines, which can be found here;

The general rules and regulations governing cycling of all disciplines, which applies to all Western Province Sanctioned events, are defined as follows;

The youth related rules are described either as part of the general discipline rules, which is included in, but not limited to, the following documents;

How are these tests performed?

The UCI and CSA regulations gives clear guidance on how each regulation and restriction has to be evaluated. WP Cycling and our officials comply to these procedures as closely as possible.


The correct ratio of gears are determined using a “roll out test”, where the bicycle is pushed forward to measure the distance traveled for one full rotation of the cranks. This distance can then be looked up on a chart to determine if the correct gear ratio is being used.


Bike dimensions are typically checked using a dedicated, standardized jig, which uses various reference points to determine the collect dimensions of the equipment in line with the approved regulations and procedures.

It is also possible to measure dimensions using a measuring tape.


A digital scale, mounted to a fixed or temporary, overhead mounting point, is used to weigh equipment in line with the approved regulations and procedures.

When are these test performed?

Time and resources permitting selected tests are performed before the start for all youth participants at the request of the officials on duty.

Who performs these tests?

Qualified and approved officials under Cycling South Africa, or their affiliates, perform these tests in compliance with the agreed rules, regulations and procedures. The organisers and hosts of events typically do not get involved.


This document is a guide provided by WP Cycling through its team of volunteers and officials. We review the above rules at regular intervals and at the time of writing the details mentioned here are correct. However, changes to UCI and CSA regulations are made regularly and it is the responsibility of riders, parents and managers to keep abreast with these changes. When there are any doubt regarding regulations the official CSA and the UCI regulations will always apply.