As well as Go Ride Racing, youth riders can take part in British Cycling races.

These races take part on closed circuits, and national ranking points are awarded – usually to the top 3 riders in each category.

To take part and win points a British Cycling Race License is required (free with British Cycling Membership for Youth category riders), but a day license can be bought at most events – though points would not be awarded.

Youth Racing Requirements

Age Categories & Gear Restrictions

Youth riders ride with restricted gearing as set out by British Cycling, these restrictions vary with age group and are as follows.

  • YOUTH A:

(Under 16 – from 1st January in year of 15th Birthday until 31st December in year of 16th birthday)
Maximum Gear = 6.93 metres (e.g. 39×12 / 42×13 / 47×15 / 52×16 assuming 700x23c)

  • YOUTH B:

(Under 14 – from 1st January in year of 13th Birthday until 31st December in year of 14th birthday)
Maximum Gear = 6.45 metres (e.g. 39×13 / 42×14 / 45×15 / 51×17 assuming 700x23c)

  • YOUTH C:

(Under 12 – from 1st January in year of 11th Birthday until 31st December in year of 12th birthday)
Maximum Gear = 6.05 metres (e.g. 39×14 / 42×15 / 45×16 / 48×17 assuming 700x23c)

  • YOUTH D:

(Under 10 – from 1st January in year of 9th Birthday until 31st December in year of 10th birthday)
Maximum Gear = 5.40 metres varies with wheel size

  • YOUTH E:

(Under 8 – until 31st December in year of 8th birthday)
Maximum Gear = 5.10 metres – varies with wheel size


Note: The metre length is the distance covered by one complete pedal revolution.


Pre race the bikes are checked to ensure they fall within the limits set. If you need help or advice on setting your bike up for racing, please ask your coach.


If you are planning on racing in any youth category races you need to make sure that your bike has the correct gearing for your age category. That means understanding how to restrict your gears so that they comply with the British Cycling regulations for youth riders.

There are some good reasons why gears are restricted for youth races:

  • It ensures all riders compete together on a fair and equal standing

  • It helps to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and avoid strength imbalances in young riders; it may also help riders to develop good pedalling technique

  • It encourages young riders to race using tactics as opposed to using bigger gears to go faster. This will help to support the riders in learning new techniques which they will need throughout their competitive career

How to check your gears

A roll out is the technique used to check whether a bike is within the regulations. The maximum gear restriction is the distance the bike travels in a straight line through one full revolution of the cranks, when in the biggest gear available on the bike. It is always best to have a go at the roll out rather than just relying on the charts as tyres and wheels do vary.

How to perform a roll out:


  • A metal tape measure 

  • Bike

  • Marker pen 

  • Flat surface of at least 8m or length relative to the distance shown for road racing for your riders age category.

  • Narrow marking tape

Performing a roll out:

  • Lay a straight line of tape out to 8m 

  • Mark the distance for the relevant categories out and make sure they are easily distinguishable

  • Ensure your bike is in its highest configuration and that the gears are engaged correctly

  • Make sure the chain is engaged in the smallest possible rear sprocket and take all the slack out of the bike – parent’s might ask what this means 

  • Inflate the tyres to racing pressure – Parent’s might ask what pressure is this?

  • Position the bike at the starting point on the rollout, ensure that the crank is in bottom dead centre position and aligned with the zero point on the measure

  • Roll the bike backwards, ensuring to stay in a straight line, following the marked area

  • Stop the bike once the crank has completed a full revolution and the crank is back at bottom dead centre

  • Assess whether the crank is within or over the gear restrictions relative to the distances marked out.

Things to consider:

All bikes should be checked prior to the event and the first three riders plus any picked at random in addition to those using gear locking should be rechecked as soon as the event finishes. If a bike does not meet the regulations the rider will be disqualified. Please note that the sprocket and chain ring combination cannot be used in isolation to assess gear size. The absolute measure for gear restriction is the distance travelled in one complete revolution of the cranks.

Tyre dimensions; please be aware that although the manufacturer may detail their tyres as a standard dimensions, there will be variations from brand to brand. For example because it says “23” on the side does not mean it’s the same as another tyre with “23” on the side.

How to restrict your gears:

Bikes can be restricted to a lower gear. To do this you need to adjust the limit screw on the rear derailleur as shown in the picture below. This will prevent the chain dropping onto the smaller sprockets; this can also be done with the front derailleur to restrict the big chain ring if required.