I'll do a search on this site and try and dig up these answers from other threads. But, in the meantime, I've got to ask -
1. Any suggestions for pedals/shoes combinations?
2. Any suggestions for cranksets/gearing combinations?
I'm spec'ing out my first track bike, and I'm really struggling with these two questions. The pedal system I am used to on my road bike is the SPD (Ultegra-level) system, which I've used for several years and have been quite happy with. My mountain bike and 'cross bike both have Shimano M-540s, which have been great as well.
This bike will be a race bike and I will do some commuting on it; hence, I'd like to find one system that I can coordinate with one set of cycling shoes that will serve both purposes. What I'm looking at right now would be the MKS Sylvan track pedals with clips and straps, to be used when the bike is in commuter mode, and the SPD system with clips and straps, when the bike is in race mode. The other option I'm kicking around is the MKS EKA pedal, which appears to be a great pedal for both commuting and for racing. Can the pedal be clipped in to without being locked in, so, for example, if I rode the bike on the road with bike shoes, could I be clipped in, then clip out without getting unlocked? I'm open to other suggestions as well.
Regarding the cranksets, I'm kicking around Campy's Record crank, the Stronglight track crank, the Miche, and the Sugino. I'd really like to get a Phil Wood bottom bracket; hence, the square-taper compatability issue might eliminate a few of those options. Beyond that, I'm looking for something that is made in a factory where the workers are treated fairly by a company that has a good record for quality and customer service. The question of gearing is one that I'll bet has been debated ad-nauseum in this forum for many moons; hence, I'll have to wrestle with that one more on my own. However, any suggestions are welcomed.
I'm excited about learning more about track racing. What I have learned thus far has been really exciting and rejuvinated my interest in cycling again.
Pedals: Really is a personal choice esp. if juggling with the need to only have one pair of shoes that does everything.
For track, clipless pedals of the more racing-orineted variety (eg Look, Time, SPD-SL, Speedplay) are common. They are used at the tracks I've been to by everyone from general recreational trackies through to serious pursuit, points and other endurance racers. I myself use SPD-SLs most of the time at the track.
The other commonly used setup is traditional clips & straps. These tend to be favoured by riders focussing on the more sprint-based events, and events where big standing start efforts are required (eg Kilo, Olympic sprint). This option may also be the most suitable for commuting with, as many of teh race-orientated clipless systems above are not really suitable for walking around on.
The one pedal type I'd be a bit wary of using on track would be Shimano SPD's, as I don't think these offer enough security - even fully tightened - and platform area for racing on. I've not heard of SPD pedals being used with clips and straps but it might be possible to rig this up?
All the cranksets you mention would be suitable for track - I've direct experience of teh Miche and Dura-Ace track cranks. You may want to consider the fact that the Miche and Stronglight don't use 144bcd size chainrings, which is the track standard. This limits your choice of chainrings somewhat, and makes borrowing chainrings from others at the track harder as most people will have 144bcd rings. There's also lots of 144bcd rings available used which helps keep costs down.
Gearing - you're right, this is a 'how long is a piece of string' type question, and it depends on many factors including the event you're doing, the track length, its surface, its steepness, your fitness level, who teh competition is, the sort of race plan you have in mind etc etc. Maybe start with an 86-88 inch gear and see how it feels. Don't fall into the trap of riding too high a gear too soon - track racing is all about leg speed and you'll benefit greatly from learning to spin a moderate gear at a good cadence in the early days.
Thanks for the advice. This helps a bunch. The 144 mm bcd ring size is significant, as I'd like to have options for swapping out chainrings, especially as I get older. The SPD R and SPD SL is probably the way to go.