Opinion of the UCI on “unconventionals” in MTB ?

A little background on the question. I have entered a local annual MTB race taking place on the 2nd Aug 2008 after speaking to the race organisers who agreed to allow me to take part on my MUni. The people doing the publicity for the race have approached me to highlight my participation to various media and apparently there is a fair amount of interest.

They have been asked this question by some journalist, “what is the opinion of the UCI on “unconventionals” in MTB where mass starts are common?”. I’ve had a look at the UCI website and have tried to search on Unconventionals and have found nothing. Does anyone have an idea of either, where I could find the answer, or know the answer.

In standard road races they generally have an unconventional section who usually start earlier than the rest of the field. In my opinion it would be a step forward to have an “unconventional” section in MTB races to allow MUni’s to take part.

Never heard of “Unconventionals”, but I think most start at the back of their wave, and start passing the slower riders when the pack thins out a bit.

i guess an unconventional in a bike race might be a single speed, a fixie or a recumbant, something of that nature. Whether they go before or after the main pack would seem to be based of whether their unconventinoality makes them slower or faster. As an exmaple, in the race across america thread it was noted that fixie riders were allowed to start earyl, as they were going to be slower. A recumbant however, would have to go last else it would win outright due to the higher speed.

Another definition for Unconventionals could be a cycle that is allowed to enter the race but does not qualify for UCI-sanctioned prizes/championships, such as a World Champion title. Basically anything that doesn’t meet the UCI spec., whatever that is.

So in answer to your question, you could take two possible approaches. Answer on behalf of the UCI (which means make something up): They seem to think unicycles are cool, and someday they may have their own category. Or be more accurate, and refer them directly to the UCI because you (and we) don’t know.

There has been some talk of bringing the IUF (or international unicycle competition in general) under the UCI umbrella, but so far we don’t know much about what that would involve, and whether we would lose control over our sport. The upside is possible funding. :slight_smile:

Whilst that’s true of the RAAM, for a normal mass start race, it makes sense to allow recumbents and other advantageous vehicles off first, as they will go faster than the main race, and slow people like unicyclists off later, as they won’t get in the way of the main race. It’d be a nightmare in an mtb race if you got to the first singletrack or other bottleneck in front of any of the fast riders, kind of unfair on them too.

Obviously laps may mean people can still get in the way, but by the point that starts happening in most lap races, the field has spread out a lot.

Although having said that, I’d be surprised if any serious road race let recumbents ride in front, as even a good recumbent rider might have trouble in front of a pack of bikes all drafting each other?

When I’ve ridden in running races that let other people in, I’ve started in front with rollerbladers. When I ride in mass start mountain bike races, I start back a bit so as not to be in the way of the fast guys.

Many mountain bike races aren’t UCI sanctioned. I think the Mountain Mayhem is the only one I’ve done that is, I believe the various other ones I’ve done have been non British Cycling.


Thanks for the replies guys, much appreciated. In replying to the mail I was sent to took John’s advice and pointed out that I could not comment on what the UCI opinion was, but gave my own opinion instead. Seemed the right thing to do.

Weird to address that question to you. Maybe he tought there was such as an outspoken opinion, or maybe it was a fact-check on his research.

In bicycle racing you use to have “wild riders”, cyclists not connected to any organization. Who usually create many problems and excidents, and -in general- had an more a-social style or competing.
Therefor only very few organizers (certainly less than a promille) were willing to organize for both. Also national police organizations were unwilling to do motor-escorte, crowd-control and other support at events of wild-riders.

unicycling was under the FICP and/or FIAC (before the "I"UF was founded).

Because the "I"UF is too stupid (or scared?) to go for a dialog or even just a monologue! Communication is pretty essential to reach such a goal. But maybe I’m too positive by implicating the "I"UF truly has a goal. Now that the UCI had an enthousiast president who’s roots were in indoor-cycling, it was a great moment to start this dialog.

That’s just one of the upsides, and only in case the money was well invested, otherwise the money is a potential danger. With an appearant increase of sponsorships, I think it’s safe to state that slowly money comes into unicycling. So to name just (the next) upside: what about experience in how to invest this possible funding or sponsorships best, based on succes/failures over more than 100 years of evolution in the many other cycling diciplines that they do support?

But also; there are so much more things than money that can build a sport. So I think sharing that experience -even without any formal ligation- is a benefit if you are willing to learn of someone elses succes and mistakes.

Over on the bicycle forums, I’ve seen quite a bit of discussion about the advantages that recumbents have in terms of speed. From all I can gather, some recumbents have some advantage, but it’s not just a given thing that recumbents in general will be the faster of the two. Particularly as recumbents tend to attract slower riders, rather than the opposite.

COUGHAndy Wilkinson.

It’s true that recumbents tend to attract older riders, partly because they’re more interested in comfort and partly because they’re more likely to have the money to pay for it. Older riders are likely to be slower riders.

It’s also true that riding a recumbent encourages one to relax and enjoy the scenery, which might slow things down a bit.

It’s important to compare like with like. A lightweight racing recumbent ridden by a rider used to riding recumbents will perform well against a lightweight racing upright, because of the improved aerodynamics. A heavy touring recumbent (like mine) won’t perform so well against a lightweight upright audax bike, but will compare favourably to an upright touring bike (as long as there’s not too much stopping and starting - my 43lb beast doesn’t accelerate well, because of the weight, but makes up for it once she’s up to cruising speed).

Then you get something like the old BikeE, or the Flevobike OkeJa, which were very popular but also really slow. They’re city bikes, and actually upright city bikes aren’t exactly speed machines either.

I remember reading a letter years ago in a bike mag from a cycle tourist who had bought a Peer Gynt touring recumbent, expecting it to be faster than his upright tourer, and had been greatly disappointed to find that it was quite a bit slower. That’s because he chose a really heavy bike that was designed primarily for comfort and load carrying capacity, without much thought for speed.

These are some good bikes for speed:


It’s been a while since I’ve seen any decent recumbents, and clearly didn’t realise how far the technology had progressed. Suitably impressed by the types and styles.

Tangent: I’d love to see a recumbent doing singletrack…

And then you have this guy, Derk Thys, with his machine:

I’m with you on this one. Any of the recumbent riders care to give it a go and film it ? :smiley:

if that’s meant to be rowing he’s doing it wrong

Other than there being no water around, it does seem very effective.

arms-body-legs, legs-body-arms. He’s not getting his hands away fast enough, and having to lift them over his knees as a result.


That would overly complicate the mechanism, I think.

His hands cannot move linear anyway; they’re holding on to a lever that also needs to be able to be used to steer.

Very funny. There’s more recumbent-mountain-biking coverage on there too. (Not that I understand why anyone would want to do that. The concept sounds like using your shoe to hammer in a nail. Yeah, it’ll work, just not very well)

Here’s one on 2 wheels (not the one I was looking for, but this might well be better):

I agree, though, a recumbent is not the right tool for off-roading. As we all know, the best machine for off-roading is one where you sit upright and don’t have to worry about multiple wheels.