What is Youth Gearing?
Enthusiastic youths and even parents can sometimes arrive at their first race, nervous, excited and eager to compete. Only to be told that their bike doesn’t meet regulations… This can be confusing to say the least!
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 pedalling and help prevent injury. They also encourage good race tactics and level the playing field when children are developing at different rates.
So 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 quickest.
• Young bodies repair quickly but are vulnerable to overuse injuries, restricting gears helps to avoid injuries due to 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 young riders in learning the techniques, which they will need throughout their competitive career.
What gears are allowed in races?
The test to see if a bike is correctly geared is done by rolling the bike to check the distance that the bike travels in a straight line, with one full pedal revolution (when in top gear). Don’t worry you won’t have to do this yourself on race day, it will be done as part of the bike check before your child is allow to ride.
Over geared what do I do?
If your child is riding a track bike, then you have no choice, you have to buy the correct gearing before you arrive at the event. If it’s a road bike then there are two options open to you… Obviously you can go out and buy a new rear cassette or front chain rings (depending how far they are out). BBB do a cassette with the youth gear ratios, if you are considering changing the rear cassette. If not and you aren’t too far out, then you can restrict the gears. This is simpler than it sounds – there are a number of videos on YouTube that tell you how to adjust Front and Rear derailleurs.
What are the allowed maximum gears?
For track racing events where an exceptionally talented Youth A, B or C rider has received dispensation from British Cycling to compete against riders of an older category, then that rider shall be restricted in gearing to that of the older category.
Still confused… don’t worry
Here’s a link to the Sheldon Brown website that calculates gearing distance for you. All you have to do is feed in your max front/rear gear sizes, wheel and tyre sizes and it will give you the distance in meters.
If you are still lost don’t panic… We would recommend joining the Colchester Rovers Youth page on Facebook, you can always post something to the page and someone is bound to help. Remember you are not alone, we’ve all been through this before and have been in the same position you are right now…