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How to Choose a Track Bike (Buyers Guide)

The finest track bikes must be aerodynamic, since at the highest levels of the sport, thousandths of a second matter. Their strong riders’ enormous powers must likewise be effectively transmitted to their boards. There is also a single fixed gear, bolt-on wheels and smaller hubs and bottom brackets compared to road bikes in their design.

Simple is the best when it comes to the track bike. You can’t stop pedaling since it just has one gear. There are no brakes on a track bike, unlike the finest road single-speed and fixed-gear bikes. You can only accelerate and decelerate by shifting into and out of the fixed gear. Of course, a pursuit bike has TT-style bars rather than drops, as well as two wheels, a saddle, and handlebars.

Ideally, a track bike should be easy to ride and confident while changing direction at high speeds. It should also accelerate fast and be sturdy enough to endure the punishment that comes with track riding. When sprinting towards the finish line, it’s critical that the vehicle be stable at high speeds.

As a track biker, your time on the bike will be limited unless you want to break the hour record. However, the bike does need to fit well, even if you don’t plan on going for the record.

Frames for track bicycles

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Track bikes often come in a combination of carbon, aluminum, and steel. Which one you should go with is determined on your financial situation. It’s usual to see aluminum frames since it’s lightweight, affordable (when compared to other materials), and durable (when it comes to crashes).

Even though carbon is by far the most costly material, the advantage it has over aluminum and steel is not one of weight but rather one of aerodynamics and stiffness. There are a few of bikes like the BMC Trackmachine and the Cervelo T5 that are built to be very stiff while still being incredibly slippery. These bikes are ideal for racing on the boards. In order to accomplish this, they have beefed up the head tube and bottom bracket, which are critical components. It’s not a big deal for companies to do this since it’s light and comfortable.

best motorcycles for racing on the track

In racing, aerodynamics is critical (Image credit: mike prior)
Even though carbon and aluminum are more prevalent on track bicycles, steel may still be found on some of them as well. The Hour Record was held by Eddy Merckx, who used a normal steel bicycle frame. As a result, although steel frames will no longer be used in major championships or the Olympics, they will continue to be used in training sessions and amateur races.

best motorcycles for racing on the track

Technical information on track bikes

Track cycling, despite its simplicity, may leave you dazzled by the variety of parts and gears available. Due to the vast differences in riding indoor and outdoor velodromes, as well as the fact that various disciplines favor different combinations of bike wheels, gears, and handlebars, the first outlay may seem prohibitively costly. However, you don’t have to pay for it all at once. An off-the-shelf bike will have everything you need to get started riding right away.

Gearing

For the most part, track bikes come with a standard set of gears between 84 and 90 inches in diameter (chainring size 47 teeth, sprocket size 15 teeth, or 50 tooth chainring, sprocket size 15 teeth). If you have a penny-farthing-sized wheel, smaller inches (or smaller front chainrings and bigger rear sprockets), you’ll have an easier time pedaling. Instead of using a large front chainring, use a tiny rear sprocket or increase the inch count for larger/harder gearing.

To put things in perspective, Bradley Wiggins would have been racing in the team pursuit with a gearing of almost 110 inches. Anyone interested in competitive cycling should be ready to experiment with various gear ratios, training methods such as effective pedaling or just riding different tracks, since the length and steepness of velodromes may vary greatly.

Take a look at the gear we use in the table below.

Table for bicycle equipment on tracks

clincher or tubular

Tubular or clincher tyres are still an option, just as on a road bike. Puncturing is much less probable on track, therefore tubular tyres are more prevalent. As a result of being bonded or taped to the wheel’s rim, they are more difficult to replace and cost more money. Even with lower grip, your performance will improve since you’ll be able to use considerably greater tyre pressures. Grip and compliance are less important on the track than reducing rolling resistance.

Of course, cleaver tyres will always have a niche in the automotive industry. Tubular tyres are more expensive, but they need less maintenance and may be replaced more often. You may use them if you want to perform any kind of track riding or race on it, but it will depend on your preferences. Tubulars are preferable for indoor use and for riders that are more performance and racing oriented, whereas clinchers are best for outdoor use.

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Chainset

Unless you’re Sir Chris Hoy or a member of Team GB’s pursuit squad, a normal mid-range chainset should suffice. What you’re seeking is a combination of sturdiness and long-term use. It’s important to keep in mind that even a high-end Shimano or Campagnolo chainset feels the same as, say, a Miche Primato Advanced chainset that costs half as much.

If you wish to be able to switch out your chainring to alter your gear ratio, check for a bolt circle diameter, or BCD (the measurement between the chainring bolts on your chainring and chainset typically measured in millimeters). Regardless of the size, the most essential thing to keep in mind is that the chainset’s spider arms must match the chainring BCD’s size and placement in order for the bike to be properly assembled.

Both the crank and the chainring should have the BCD printed on them. If this is the case, you’ll just have to take a measurement to determine its exact size. You won’t have any problems if you pair it with a track chainring.

The length of the crankshaft should also be taken into account. Track cycling is more about sustaining high cadences than having a lot of leverage, therefore you’ll often see people using 165mm cranks or 170mm cranks. In either case, you risk pedaling into the bank, while a size that is too tiny would be inefficient.

best motorcycles for racing on the track

From Chain Reaction Cycles, get a Miche Primato Advanced chainset at the best price.

Handlebars

All you need for beginners is a normal drop handlebar. Aero tri bars are well worth the money if you plan on participating in pursuit or individual timed events. As long as there are no brake or gear wires to get in the way, switching between them is a breeze.

Wheels for a track bike

Standard aluminum track bike wheels, like the frame, are inexpensive.

Clincher or tubular box rim spoked wheels are available for less than £200. These are suitable for track use on a daily basis. Top-end equipment, however, may be had at a premium by purchasing a disc rear wheel, as well as a deep-section carbon or five-spoke aluminum front wheel.

A track bike’s wheels are one area where more weight hurts performance. Rolling mass must be maintained to a minimum because of the rapid acceleration required by several track events. If you want to enhance your performance, purchasing a new bike isn’t the best option. Instead, consider upgrading your wheels.

For the majority of bunch racing events, a five-spoke front wheel and a disc rear wheel are widely regarded as the best fast wheelset choice. When you need that additional zip, the aerodynamic effectiveness, weight savings, and decreased rolling resistance are all important factors.

Yeah, fixie!

If you want to take your fixed-wheeled bike out for a spin around town, adding a front brake will turn it into a street legal bike with ease. However, if you want to do this, make sure your chosen bike can take a front brake since not all racing forks have a mounting hole for a front brake.

Front and rear disc brakes are standard equipment on certain track motorcycles.

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The gear you choose should also be much less large, with a maximum diameter of 72 inches being recommended (eg. 45×17). This should make it much simpler to ride up hills, away from traffic lights, intersections, and do other traffic maneuvers. The Highway Code’s requirements for lights and reflectors will, of course, apply at night.

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