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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 12-15-09, 03:29 AM   #1
RoadJerk
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A Few Starter Questions

Hi,

I am new to the track bike scene and I had a few questions. I am looking into building a bike, and I am looking around for a frame.

1. I hear a lot of people talking about frame geometry, such as "lax" or "tight" geometry. Generally, what does this entail? What sort of angle of the tubes makes a frame tight or relaxed, and what effect does this have on handling?

2. Materials - I have realized most frames are Cromoly, which is a sort of steel, I have gathered. However, I know they make aluminum frames too, which I am assuming are not as strong/stiff. Is every "steel" frame a cromoly frame? Becuase I have a feeling the steel of my crappy Free Spirit is a bit heavier than the Cromoly frames ive seen in shops.

3. Brake placement - Until I get used to riding a fixed gear, I'm going to have at least one brake. Is it better to place it on the front or rear wheel, in case of emergency?

Also, I have yet to get a frame. I was thinking about going around to yard sales and looking for an old road bike to strip down and restore/rebuild as a track setup. Anything I should watch out for, besides rust? This is my first project bike, so I am not concerned too much about this - ill probably just pick whatever looks the best - but still, any suggestions.

thanks!
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Old 12-15-09, 03:36 AM   #2
zeBRAHz
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i hate all of you.

take a look at the second thread in this forum.
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Old 12-15-09, 03:59 AM   #3
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Type this into Google: "Sheldon Brown"
Read that, lurk moar, and then come back.
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Old 12-15-09, 05:43 AM   #4
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Old 12-15-09, 07:27 AM   #5
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He didn't ask about Aerospok?
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Old 12-15-09, 07:35 AM   #6
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My good deed for the day:

1: Tight or "track" geometry means the bike will have a ride that is very agile and almost "twitchy". Lax or relaxed geometry will be the opposite; it will offer a very smooth easygoing ride. A general rule of thumb for telling how relaxed the geometry of a frame is would be to check wheelbase measurement (longer usually = more relaxed) and head tube angle, Steeper head tube angles will offer a twitchier ride. (This isn't always true but it's the best shorthand description I could come up with.)

2: The common frame materials are steel (usually chromoly) and aluminum. (there are others like titanium, magnesium, and carbon fiber but we won't get into those here.) Al is ususally a little lighter weight but offers a 'harsher' ride (the frame doesn't soak up the bumps in the road as well). Generally within a certain price point steel will be a bit heavier but offers a cushier ride. Cyclists have been arguing about which is better since the first Al frames were built but at the end of the day it's a personal preference. For casual street riding I (and many others here) prefer steel.

3: There is no shame in running 2 brakes on a fixed gear but if you only run one brake it should be the front. The front brake provides over half of the braking power for the bike. You can slow or stop the rear wheel using back pressure on the pedals.

If you aren't already familiar with the ins and outs of fixed gear bikes and general bike mechanics your best bet is probably to get a factory made FG bike (bikesdirect, IRO, 1/8th inch, etc.) and take it to your LBS to make sure everything is assembled correctly before riding. Pedaling a fixed gear bike is one of the most fun things you can do with your clothes on but it can be dangerous if you do not have your bike set up correctly. Please take some time to read the stickies in this forum, the articles about FG written by the late Sheldon Brown, and if you still have questions come back and ask here.

Good luck and happy pedaling.
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Old 12-15-09, 08:03 AM   #7
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Traditional track geometry usually means angles approaching 75 degrees, but it's more complicated than just steep angles - for more information, read Don Walker's "The Truth About Track Geometry" here:

http://www.urbanvelo.org/issue3/urbanvelo3_p44-45.html

Unlike what a lot of people parrot on the internet, track geometry doesn't necessarily entail twitchy. Many track bikes have fast steering due to steep head tube angles, but a corresponding decent amount of trail to reduce twitchiness.
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Old 12-15-09, 09:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadJerk View Post
I was thinking about going around to yard sales and looking for an old road bike to strip down and restore/rebuild as a track setup. Anything I should watch out for, besides rust?
You'll want a frame that has horizontal dropouts.
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Old 12-15-09, 12:21 PM   #9
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thanks ryan!
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