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Reader Letter: What Pants Are Legal for Worlds?

April 26, 2017 by  

What Pants are Legal for Worlds
**UPDATED with UCI Response** There’s a lot of talk on social media on what pants are and are not legal for worlds. Do you know anything about this?

—RP, Midwest

There are a lot of theories about what, exactly, constitutes “legal” in the eyes of the UCI rulebook when it comes to BMX racing pants. Much of it revolves around the definition of the phrase “stretch material.”

Section 6.1.085 of the UCI rulebook covers BMX Racing pants. It states:

6.1.085 The aim of BMX leg wear is to provide protection and reduce the risk of injury. This can be achieved either with long pants, or with short pants combined with suitable knee and shin protection. Such long or short pants must be of a type that is specifically designed, and sold to provide protection in BMX, Motocross or Downhill Mountain Bike events. Custom produced pants or shorts of this type and matching the requirements outlined in this article are permitted.

Long pants. Long pants of the type described above must be loose fitting, of one-piece construction, and made of tear-resistant material. They must cover the entire length of both legs until just above the shoe or ankle.

OK, so far, so good. But later on, it states:

Pants or shorts composed of tight fitting stretch material are not permitted, as such material is not considered as tear resistant.

Without calling out specific brands, many of the custom BMX pants out there these days are made of a stretchable material. Material that tears easily in the slightest wreck. This is at the heart of your question as to “legality” of one pant over another.

So what does UCI mean by “stretch material?” Do they mean “Spandex-style” stretch, like compression hose? Or any material that form fits and is stretchable? They don’t specify.

This matters, because, if you run a product that is not clearly legal for UCI competition, and someone protests you—causing a review by one of the UCI officials (commissaires), that commissaire will use this rule to interpret the validity of the protest.

If there is no specific ruling on whether or not a product using stretch material (of any kind) is legal, anyone running it is potentially opening themselves up to disqualification, based on the commissaire’s interpretation of “stretch material.” It might not happen…it PROBABLY won’t happen. But IF it did, your worlds finish could be overturned.

There was some talk on social media saying that USA BMX secured confirmation from UCI to declare certain custom pants as legal.

This is partially true, and partially unresolved.

USA BMX did reach out to UCI officials to clarify whether certain custom pants were legal. Unfortunately there was no definite yes or no answer given, so the fact of whether “stretch material” is legal in BMX pants remains unresolved.

Repeat: the fact of whether “stretch material” is legal in BMX pants remains unresolved.

USA BMX told News:
“We cannot make any assertion of whether a specific product is or is not legal for UCI Worlds Competition.”

We are not trying to encourage or discourage you from taking one action or another. But in answering the question “What Pants Are Legal for Worlds?,” we can say that widely-available, commercially-manufactured pants (think Fly, TLD, Faith, etc) have been used for years and do not seem to have any problem in this regard. On the other hand, the custom pants look…well… custom, and are made to match the jersey, but their status is not entirely clear, so it may be a gamble to run them.

If/when there is an update or clarification in the regulations by UCI, we will update this article, so bookmark it and watch our social media for the latest.

**UPDATE – APRIL 28**
UCI BMX Coordinator, Kevin MacCuish, responded with the following clarification to Doug Potter of Potter Plates:


Based upon your description, I see no reason why your product would not comply with the UCI regulations. The intent of the rule is to ensure that riders use clothing appropriate for BMX racing, and not jeans, track pants, et cetera. Also, the rule is written in this way to make it clear that if the pants in question look like BMX pants, they should be accepted as such.

To be clear, the UCI does not require any specific approval process for clothing, nor do we test or certify clothing – we have no expertise in this, nor the capacity to do so. If you as the manufacturer contest that the materials you use are tear-resistant, then we will accept these materials as such. In any case, all responsibility and liability for compliance of clothing and equipment with our rules belongs to the manufacturers and ultimately to the riders who choose to use it.

So – you should not fear that the commissaires will refuse these pants during the world championships in Rock Hill. They are clearly BMX pants. We have informed the UCI Commissaires of this change in the rules.

Without issuing a straight-up endorsement (which he cannot do), this is about as close as we can get to a green light for those making custom BMX pants who want to sell to Worlds riders.

Thank you to Kevin and Doug Potter, as well as Shannon, Chris and Cody at USA BMX for help in this article, and getting the most current info out to Team USA families. See y’all in Rock Hill. Keep your eyes on the Dan’s Comp Countdown clock above!

Top photo by Dave Haygarth, via Flickr. Changes made: Cropping

Note: This article is an opinion editorial, and is not recommending any specific course of action over another. You need to make your own decision on the proper action to take for your specific circumstance.


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Top photo by Dave Haygarth, via Flickr. Changes made: Cropping

What Pants are Legal for Worlds

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