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Old 07-16-05, 11:40 AM   #1
harlot
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Mid-Level Track Frames Recs

It's time again for another "what frame should I buy" thread"! I've been training and racing at Marymoor this summer using their rental Raleigh track bikes and I'm holding out (oh so patiently) to buy a mid-level frame after the season and build it up over the winter to race Cat 4 next year. Questions:

1) Steel vs. Aluminum. I'm an old skool steel devotee and would lean towards getting another, but....what about the difference in stiffness between the two materials? I love all my steel bikes because of their absorption and flex. Are steel track frames that different in their construction? I owned an aluminum road bike ages ago and recall how stiff and responsive it was, which I would imagine is a huge asset on the track. And it seems like 3/4 of the bikes at our track are Pista Concepts or other aluminum space-bikes. There was discussion in another thread advocating steel because aluminum is far too fragile for a track bike. I'm not exactly a delicate flower when it comes to handling my bikes so that is something for me to consider. Other than durability are there other advantages? I want to believe in my steel frames, but there are so many divisive forces....gimme the dirt so I don't stray from my path!

2) Frame Recs. I'd like to spend around $800 for a frame and fork. Business Cylces has a Pinerello aluminum frame for $850. Bill Ron Bikes has an assortment of frames. The DeBernardi Zonal Track is aluminum frame and steel fork. Best of both worlds? Where are all the steel frames in this price range? Hmmmm is there a reason there are so many aluminum frames? Help me see the light!

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-05, 12:34 PM   #2
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I can't comment on what frame to get, but this talk of Aluminum being fragile is just not true.

What matters more is the weight of the frame/tubing diameter/quality of construction rather than whether it is steel or Aluminum. They can both be good if built heavy enough.

Steel has a fatigue limit true , but track bikes seem to be used hard (you are not spinning low gears in the saddle like you do with a road bike) . Most of the time you may be exceeding this fatigue limit if you are pounding a big gear out of the saddle depending on how heavy you are and how heavy the steel frame is.

There is a fatigue test call the Efbe test which applies a very high "out of the saddle" load to a road frame for 100,000 cycles. Steel does not do well in these tests for whatever reason. Aluminum does great though. Sure aluminum doesn't have a fatigue limit, but it seems to have a better strength to weight ratio.
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Old 07-16-05, 01:55 PM   #3
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Steel frame! it last a life time! you break it ,you can fix it! Steel is real!

S/F<
CEYA!
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Old 07-16-05, 02:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
I can't comment on what frame to get, but this talk of Aluminum being fragile is just not true.

What matters more is the weight of the frame/tubing diameter/quality of construction rather than whether it is steel or Aluminum. They can both be good if built heavy enough.

Steel has a fatigue limit true , but track bikes seem to be used hard (you are not spinning low gears in the saddle like you do with a road bike) . Most of the time you may be exceeding this fatigue limit if you are pounding a big gear out of the saddle depending on how heavy you are and how heavy the steel frame is.

There is a fatigue test call the Efbe test which applies a very high "out of the saddle" load to a road frame for 100,000 cycles. Steel does not do well in these tests for whatever reason. Aluminum does great though. Sure aluminum doesn't have a fatigue limit, but it seems to have a better strength to weight ratio.
Aluminum has a lower fatigue limit than steel. The reason that the aluminum bikes do better in the test is the engineering behind them. Because aluminum has a VERY low fatigue strength, the frame must be built in such a way that it doesn't flex very much. It is much easier to bend a piece of aluminum than it is an equal piece of steel, and if you were to flex the two back and forth, the aluminum would break a lot sooner than the steel would. It is because of these aspects that steel and aluminum frames have their respective reputations. Since steel has a high fatigue limit, and can take more flex, you can use it to design a frame geared more towards providing comfort. Since aluminum fails very easily if it flexes, it must be engineered a lot better. This means either thicker tube walls or larger diameter tubes. Both inrease the frame's stiffness. Thicker tube diamters retain low weight. This is why aluminum "space" frames look the way they do. To make sure that they don't flex so that they don't fail. This is also why they are so responsive. Generally for track, if you are racing, you want a stiff responsive bike. In this case, go with aluminum. If you want a mid level track frame that will be around for years, and is resilient to crashes and the like, go with steel. EFBE test may indicate that steel frames fail before aluminum ones do, but all the old frames that I ever see when i go to the track are all steel.
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Old 07-16-05, 11:53 PM   #5
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I agree with what you say about steel being stiffer than aluminum as a metal ---> http://strongframes.com/tech_geeks_l..._ID=12&copyID=

Aluminum is flexible compared to steel and fatigues whenever it bends therefore the design of the frame is engineered to overcome this flaw in the metal's characteristics.

The net result is a stiff frame made out if a flexible metal. Since it's less dense than steel the tubes can also be oversize as well to stiffen the structure up.

That link above is good reading.

Last edited by 53-11_alltheway; 07-17-05 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 07-17-05, 01:28 AM   #6
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Harlot,

Is there anything you particularly like or dislike about the Raleigh? That may give you a bit of insight into what you'll be looking for in your next frame. If there's someone that rides close to your style, check out what they're on or ask them the same questions.

When you're looking for the next step, I think you should start looking to personal preferences. You want a machine that compliments your strengths so you don't have to compensate for them.
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Old 07-17-05, 12:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
I agree with what you say about steel being stiffer than aluminum as a metal ---> http://strongframes.com/tech_geeks_l..._ID=12&copyID=

Aluminum is flexible compared to steel and fatigues whenever it bends therefore the design of the frame is engineered to overcome this flaw in the metal's characteristics.

The net result is a stiff frame made out if a flexible metal. Since it's less dense than steel the tubes can also be oversize as well to stiffen the structure up.

That link above is good reading.
So that's where the link came from. Remember reading it a while back. Definitely a good read for anyone, especially for those who are into the geeky specs and numbers of anything they do.
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Old 07-17-05, 04:00 PM   #8
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For off the rack track frames, I would look at size and geometry first, frame materials second.



I do not know what size you ride, but if you look at the HT angle on the Pinarello, it doesn't look track-ish until you get to the 52cm (c-c) size. Also note that the fork used does not change fork offset (rake) from the smallest size to the largest. This means that the front end handling of the bike changes from an extremely slow (trail=6.9?cm) to quick (trail=5.6cm). So the smaller sizes would be ok for mass start racing, but the larger frames would be good for sprinting. In my estimation, the 54cm frame is the best compromise.

One thing to note about aluminum track frames; do not buy them if they do not have stainless steel replaceable track ends. Aluminum track ends will get worn out real quick. (I can only guess that to get around this you should use the mks tug nuts or something similar to avoid wear on the aluminum, but I do not know this from experience.)

Re: aluminum vs steel. I won't get into a geeky argument about which is better. Alot of people ride aluminum frames on the track because of availabilty. And in many cases these frames are used as entry level frames. Eventually, the frames are replaced by custom steel frames or carbon fiber frames once that racer feels ready. The fuji track pros and bianchi pista concepts are nice, but each have issues I wouldn't settle for. The fork offset on the Fuji and the integrated headset on the Pista. But, if I had a choice of the two, I would go for Bianchi.

Personally, at this price point, I would spend a little more and go custom. Which usually means steel.
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Old 07-17-05, 10:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by yonderboy
Is there anything you particularly like or dislike about the Raleigh?
The handlebar tape is cork. That's about the only nice thing. I'm not knocking what they offer as loaner bikes, because that's what they are and I'm still learning the system so they will do as a teaching instrument until I get my own rig. But I can feel that it's an entry level bike. I've been on higher end road and mtb bikes and know what a difference they are in handling from the entry level ones. There's not a huge women's field so I expect the races will continue to be mostly short distance races w/a small field, so lots of sprints. I just know that I'm looking for an extremely stiff and responsive frame that powers well (sounds like about any track frame though, doesn't it?). I've had this experience with aluminum road bikes so I can image what an aluminum track bike would feel like. I can't quite image what a steel track frame would feel like given my road and mtb flexy steel bike experience.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yonderboy
You want a machine that compliments your strengths so you don't have to compensate for them.
Good advice. I'll have to find out what my strengths are first.

Jose R - More good advice, thanks. I ride a 54-56 depending on the frame and I know track frames run differently so I'll have to buckle down and figure out my optimum dimensions. I don't want to cave and get a full stock bike because I do like to be in control of some elements, hence my interest in searching out a frame. But given my fresh entry into the track world, I'm not ready to commit to a custom. I'm thinking of something to get me through my first full year or two, and then I'll reassess my worthiness of a custom. I'll also haunt Ebay at the end of the season looking for bikes that are victims of impulse buys. The good thing is that I'm not rushing into this so I will take the time to ride some other people's bikes and make a somewhat intelligent decision.
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Old 07-18-05, 07:03 AM   #10
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harlot, have a look at this Cramerotti TVT Ultra Track Frame. it's AL, lists at right around 1g, and the sellers BIN is 425 (with a king headset, too).
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Old 07-18-05, 08:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harlot
I ride a 54-56 depending on the frame and I know track frames run differently so I'll have to buckle down and figure out my optimum dimensions. I don't want to cave and get a full stock bike because I do like to be in control of some elements, hence my interest in searching out a frame.
First, how tall are you? And what are the measurements of your current ride: (1) seat tube, center of BB to center of TT, (2) Saddle height, center of BB to top of saddle, (3) TT length (c-c), (4) Stem length, and (5) reach length, front of the saddle to center of handlebars (or center of saddle to center of handlebars).



BTW, the Bianchi Pista concepts are available as framesets with fork. Full stock it comes in at $1,400 MSRP. So, I would assume it would be ~$800 for the frameset. But, like I stated before, the integrated headset may be an issue to review.

And, here is some interesting reading on the design of track frames by Spectrum Cycles.

Last edited by Jose R; 07-18-05 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 07-18-05, 09:33 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose R
BTW, the Bianchi Pista concepts are available as framesets with fork. Full stock it comes in at $1,400 MSRP. So, I would assume it would be ~$800 for the frameset. But, like I stated before, the integrated headset may be an issue to review.
Actually retail price for a Pista Concept frame and fork is $600 http://www.bianchiusa.com/pista_concept.html . You can often get them on sale for $500ish and that price is for the fork also.

Bianchi doesn't sell complete Pista concepts. It's available only as a frame set.

Custom steel frame you are talking about $1000 and there is no fork included.
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Old 07-18-05, 10:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
Actually retail price for a Pista Concept frame and fork is $600 http://www.bianchiusa.com/pista_concept.html . You can often get them on sale for $500ish and that price is for the fork also.

Bianchi doesn't sell complete Pista concepts. It's available only as a frame set.

Custom steel frame you are talking about $1000 and there is no fork included.

See here for the 2005 Pista Concept. Which is sold as complete bike, but also as a frameset.


The concept you link to is the 2004.
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Old 07-18-05, 10:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 53-11_alltheway
Bianchi doesn't sell complete Pista concepts. It's available only as a frame set.
This is off the Biachi USA Website.

Pista Concept

The radical frame was so popular in 2004 that we decided to build a complete bike.
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Old 07-18-05, 10:52 AM   #15
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Beat me to it Jose. I couldn't get my damned link to work. Kept typing Biachi instead of Bianch
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Old 07-18-05, 12:05 PM   #16
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Wow. I missed that. Every time I googled Biachi Pista I got the 2004 without noticing it was 2004.

Well **** that celeste one looks better anyway. Hopefully the price hasn't changed.

Hey, can you guys help me clear up a track geometry question in the SS/FG forum. (look under Fuji track thread)
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Old 07-18-05, 12:19 PM   #17
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Harlot -

I'm about to get another track frame built up. This will probably be the all-track ride, started because I managed to get Campy Record Pista parts for a steal. I'm going british this time, sort of an homage to my earlier years and a Bob Jackson is being inquired about. Not fully custom, this one is an "off the peg" Vigorelli Pista 631 Reynolds frame which comes in the colour and lug pinstriping of your choice. Full custom comes at about $1000 shipped and a Mercian costs about the same. I hear the wait times are shorter than their American brethren. The off the peg though is a 10 week turnaround. Better than a year but maybe not so good if you want it for the here and now track season (which is almost done soon).

Edit: the off the peg costs about US$640 shipped.
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Old 07-18-05, 12:27 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose R
First, how tall are you? And what are the measurements of your current ride: (1) seat tube, center of BB to center of TT, (2) Saddle height, center of BB to top of saddle, (3) TT length (c-c), (4) Stem length, and (5) reach length, front of the saddle to center of handlebars (or center of saddle to center of handlebars).

And, here is some interesting reading on the design of track frames by Spectrum Cycles.
That's a really good article. I'll break out the ruler tonight and measure my Serotta and see what numbers I come up with for its measurements. Between that and the article I should get a good base for what geometry and sizes to look for. I'm 5'10" and my Serotta is a 56. My Bstone is a 54 and I know she's too small, but she's good for around town. This is an excellent bike nerd project Jose R. Thanks.

C&C - thanks for the Ebay link to that frame. I'll see what kind of numbers I come up with and if that frame could work out.
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Old 07-18-05, 12:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose R
And, here is some interesting reading on the design of track frames by Spectrum Cycles.
Good link. It does a good of explaining center of gravity of track frames.

Makes sense if headtube angle is steeper you don't want too long of a stem.
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Old 07-19-05, 09:10 PM   #20
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Hey Harlot,
Check your personal messages re/ my friends bike.
Had a great time last night!
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Old 07-20-05, 09:18 AM   #21
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Harlot. I don't know if you're looking at new frames exclusively, but I would say you could probably get a great deal by looking into an older steel frame. I recently picked up a gorgeous Razesa frame with a Chris King headset and a dura-ace bottom bracket for $500. Its certainly not top of the line, but for the money it was a great find.

Lots of older frames are out there and can be had for similar prices. Razesa's seem a little rare so you may not be able to find one of those (One sold on e-bay for $785ish a couple weeks ago.)

Just a thought.
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Old 07-20-05, 10:06 AM   #22
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DiT - I am starting to lean towards an older steel frame. Kind of had an epiphany the other night at the races. My head was swirling looking at all the soulless aluminum bikes. I'm going to stick with steel. And with the money I could save finding a nice used one.....heck I could get another bike!
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Old 07-20-05, 11:19 AM   #23
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hell yeah! That's the ticket. Let us know what you decide on.
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Old 07-21-05, 08:18 AM   #24
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Quote:
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Kind of had an epiphany the other night at the races. My head was swirling looking at all the soulless aluminum bikes. I'm going to stick with steel.
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Old 07-21-05, 09:24 AM   #25
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I envisioned a bunch of frat boys smashing beer cans on their foreheads. I don't want to ride a beer can. My bike's gonna last forever.
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