Let's talk track bikes and equipment

Track racing is so much fun and with the vaccines rolling out, weeknight racing is probably coming back soon at a Velodrome near you. Plus the bikes are relatively cheap (except for the stratospherically expensive limited-run Olympic-level bikes that are like the Le Mans sports cars from back in the day) so the sport niche is accessible. And you learn the race craft quickly because on beginner night, you can do four or five races in one evening. It’s really dope.

For all you trackies out there, what’s your equipment choice? Any recommendations for carbon wheels with fixed hub that are not tubular? Or, recommendations for custom builders that you’ve used and liked?

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I race masters track endurance. Fuji Track Elite bike with Zipp Super 9 rear disc, Zipp 900 front disc or Zipp 808. Mavic Ellipse clinchers (alloys sorry not carbon) for training and spares. I run two completely different seatpost / seat and handlebar combinations depending on if it is a timed or a bunch event.

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Felt makes some track bikes and has been really supportive of our local youth program for the track. So they are my first choice. I am a relative novice on the track though.

If it’s an indoor velodrome then full disc wheels would seem to me to be ideal. Since there’s no brake track, I would think Chinese carbon with a reputable hub would be fine. Of course you do have to wonder if the hub is genuine or knockoff.

I found this disc wheel that comes in tubular and clincher versions.

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I’m a casual trackie, and finally bought myself my own track bike. Until recently I’d been using a borrowed bike from the women’s loaner program that a couple of women at my velodrome runs. The bike I bought was the Felt TK3, and it’s a pretty decent beginner bike. Their geometry fit me reasonably well, which is why I got it. The loaner bike I had was a Fuji, and it was fine too, but it’s kind of nice to have my own bike. I bought it last year and finally had the chance to get on the track last weekend with it, and it was great to ride, although I’m not thrilled with the stock handlebars… I may need to figure out some other bars for it.

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yeah i’ve only ever done it on a loaner bike, but i did a bunch of track sessions back in the day and racked up the required upgrade points from cats 5 and 4 fairly quickly. I’m not huge, don’t have amazing pointy-end power but short repeated efforts suit me pretty well (in track in high school, i was never the best of the best but i was pretty dece at the 800).

So now i am thinking about building up a track bike but it is hard to find something in the middle between the ultra affordable messenger bikes and the $10k super bikes. I’m therefore looking to build up my own, maybe on something like a Cinelli Vigorelli or along those lines, and wheels seem to be the thing with fewest off the shelf options.

As nobody else has mentioned it yet, the Planet X pro carbon frameset is a solid budget choice. You see a lot of them around because as you say, there is nothing else in the price bracket. I think I paid $700 for mine in 2010 and got 10 seasons of racing out of it with no major problems. I broke the seat clamp at one point, but a new one was $20 or something, and I think they have redesigned it on newer models. They have a new and improved version badged as a Holdsworth which is even UCI approved if that matters to you (and you like orange).

The next step up from Px is a Dolan DF4 at around $1500, and after that you are into the super bikes pretty quickly. RA Cycles in Brooklyn has a good selection if you have the $$$.

I finally upgraded to a Felt TK1 in 2019. Until Covid I was still racing on my c.1990 Zipp 950 disk wheel, and a Corima 4-spoke wheel I bought used in 2004. Carbon lasts a long time if you look after it :slight_smile:. I did finally treat myself to a new(er) disk last year, but I haven’t even tried it yet - hopefully in the next few weeks…

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Thanks! This is super helpful.

I’ve also been looking at this lil guy right here: https://www.retro-gression.com/products/affinity-kissena-frameset-hunter-green?variant=13207351689277

Stylish and similarly won’t break the bank

The closest velodromes to me are 4 hours in either east or west :weary: or else I might have kept my fixed gear bike. It was a well built State Black Label that I rode a couple of seasons on the road. I rode brakeless in a very conscious manner, mostly open road rides, solo, but decided I didn’t want to continue brakeless but at the same time didn’t want to put a brake on it so I just sold it.

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BMC Trackmachines (comes in CF and Al) always caught my eye for the price. Same with the Argon 18. I haven’t ridden either one however.

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here’s one other question about all this: what’s the advantage of carbon, if you don’t need its vibration-damping qualities and weight is less an issue because you’re not going uphill? Does it still have a livelier ride or livelier flex that people find beneficial?

I also understand you can form it into more aero shapes, but leaving that aside for now.

Composites are easier than metal to put stiffness or compliance where they are needed.

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Exactly. Layup direction, etc can be stiff in the correct planes and more complaint in others. That’s why it is so popular in motorsports and aerospace. Aluminum would be pretty bulky to be stiff enough in certain dimensions, especially for the power some of the elite sprinters can put out

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Weight isn’t an issue for fighting gravity on the track (you get that speed right back when come down the banking) but it is a slight concern from an acceleration point of view. Almost every track event requires one or more hard accelerations. Since acceleration is force times mass, you can get faster acceleration with reduced mass. On the track you generally benefit from higher muscle mass, so lower bike mass helps counter that.

Also, the track is one of the places that aero matters most because the speeds are so high. Since power lost to aero drag is proportional to the cube of speed when you are going so fast on the track it’s critical to be aero. You can generally make better aero shapes with carbon than with other materials.

And as the others said, tuning and increasing stiffness in certain areas is done easier with carbon, especially while keeping weight in check.

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this is a good point about weight. I weigh about 155 lbs soaking wet. When i (i) start lifting, (ii) change all my endurance to very easy and (iii) start doing anaerobic intervals, i’ll “balloon” up to about 160 but that’s it. Given i’ll never be the strongest, maybe bike weight’s even more of a factor

Depending on what kind of racing you are doing, don’t forget the UCI 6.8kg minimum weight applies to track bikes too. The one time I raced in the Ontario cup at Mattamy, the officials had their jigs and scales out (I think they were in training to host a world cup event). My large planet X with disc and 4 spoke wheels was 50g under the limit!

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I know folks who are happy with the Al one, but the carbon one, while very aero, is finnicky in both its seatpost (slipping issues) and stem setup.

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All good fallouts. I’m currently between the Planet X and a more competition type build of this lil guy:

This is pretty much my problem too. Memphis to Atlanta is about 6 hours, and it’s my closest track. :-1:

yeah the inverse of this is literally why i started this thread. I have a lovely outdoor velodrome less than 30 mins away across the lake at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The ospreys that nest in the lights drop dead fish onto the track but they are easy to sweep away and the summers are gorgeous, almost 100% good weather, low humidity and at the peak, light out until 10 PM.

In other words, it would be a crime NOT to have a track bike under these circumstances

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OK now you’re just bragging. LOL. I am quite jealous! I keep my fixie around just because it’s fun, but I dream of getting to a track one of these days.

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