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  1. #1
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    Track drops vs. road drops

    I know this has probably been discussed at length, but since searching is disabled...

    Of those of you who ride frequently on a track, do you prefer road drops or track drops. I am building my new bike for road/track duty and was planning on going with road drops, but I'm wondering if there is any serious benefit to a track specific drop.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track

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    I have riden a road frame in a track and if u have the bolts tight enough u r done. The real advantage is that U have more play with a track rear drops. I mean... the ammount of movement of the rear wheel when changing a cog will be more comfortable... With road drops the combinaiton of cog x chainwheels will be limited to the size of the Drop out. Track srop outs are usualy longer so are more verzatile in that respect. Besides a security issue involved on this.

    Are u going to put track drops to a road bike? or are u going to build your onw bike from scratch?

  3. #3
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    Sorry, i meant handlebars, not dropouts.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track

  4. #4
    TJ
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    Sivat,
    Are you referring to handlebar drops or dropouts? I assumed you were talking about handlebars. A handlebar with a track bend gives clearance for your arms while rocking the bike back and forth during sprinting. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that is the purpose of a track bend.

    You'll do fine with a road bar on the track. You see plenty of pics of track racers using road bars, mostly during madison races I think.

    I think there are more, comfortable hand positions on a road bar than there are on a track bar. The tops of a road bar are flat and you have brake hoods to rest on. While riding a track bar on the road, you can put your hands on the tops of the bar as a position but I found that because of the angle, my wrists get sore from absorbing the shock of hitting bumps in the road and also from sudden braking (if you're riding a track bike on the street with out a brake.) I found that the most comfortable position for the track bar ridden on the street is to put my hands on the top of the bend on the outside of the bar. Just behind where I would have put my hands if I had brake hoods on the bar.

    For a track bar ridden on the track, though I can't see needing more than one position, and that is down on the drops. Plus you don't normally ride more than a few hours at a time on the track versus possibly all day on the road. I think it takes more time to get used to riding a track bar on the road than riding a road bar on the track.

    I believe Cinelli makes or used to make a "Criterium Bend" road bar that looks similar to a track bar. The drop was more shallow than a track bar though.
    "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it... if you live." ~ Mark Twain

    "Get yourself a cheap track bike - you won't regret it...if you live." unknown

  5. #5
    asleep at the wheel fixedpip's Avatar
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    Its personal perference. Lots of the off the shelf track bikes come with road bars anyway.

    Really it just gets down to whether the bar is comfortable for you and you're happy with its stiffness.

    I personally use Nitto bars which work great for both street and track (the 125s are a nice compromise, though I'm using 123s just because thats what I have).

  6. #6
    spinlikehell mickster's Avatar
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    I ride steel Nitto 125s and I love them. The shallow drop suits my small hands, they're narrower than most road bars and I find them surprisingly comfortable, even after a couple of hours training behind a Derny where you tend to be glued in a static position and going at speeds which transfer every little bump in the track to yr hands. I use them with the rubber keirin grips which are comfy and give you great grip during full-gas efforts.

    I moved to these from a pair of CInelli alu pista bars / road stem which I found flexed to an unnerving degree on the steep track at Calshot. Although I'd like to think this was caused by all the power I was putting through them (err, right!) I suspect that the flex was more down to taking the tight radius banking at 30mph+. Either way, it felt really weird so I switched to steel bars / stem and the steering improved lots.

    mickster

  7. #7
    Senior Member CafeRacer's Avatar
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    If your a bigger dude or sprinting get a cromo sprinter's bar. The Nitto B123 NJS is probably one of the nicest and cheaper too. Strong bastards too. Mine was crashed first race I had it and its strait as an arrow! Alot of hands dont agree with non ergo bars, to fix this just rotate the bar forward.

    Alot of mass start racers use road bars simply because the raceing is similar to a road race.

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    Unless your referee is lax, on the track you get penalized or DQ'd if you ride anywhere but in the drops. It's a safety thing. In training sessions it's not as critical, but riders may ask you to ride the drops because they don't want to see you cause an accident because you can't steer as effectively in other positions. It's good practice to get used to training in the drops so racing feels normal.

    The reason track drops are shaped the way they are is because you typically keep your arms almost or completely straight in a start or jump. You can't do that easily with road bars because the upper part of the drops hits your forearms. As a result, not only can't you accelerate as effectively, you also develop bad habits for when you ARE in track drops. So there's a real reason for track drops. At that point, it's just a matter of how much drop you want (Nitto B123 = lots of drop, Nitto B125 = less drop) and whether you want an anatomic grip (Nitto B127, which, if you run the gripping surface on the drops at a fairly horizontal angle, causes you to get a very short reach as well as a drop close to the B125).

    The other thing about track drops is that they tend to be stiffer and more overbuilt than road bars. Accelerating with a fixed gear allows you to use your upper body much more effectively, so you can torque bars and stem a lot more than you would ever expect to do on the road.

    Lastly, road bars tend to be wider than track bars. Very few people ride (or need to ride) wider than 40 cm (center-to-center) track bars and many people ride 39 cm or narrower. Nitto B123 and B125 bars are available down to 36 cm width. This is partly to enable you to squeeze between riders, or between a rider and the rail, but also because it's a bit more efficient. Remember that on the track you'll be riding higher speeds where aerodynamics play an increasing role, and a narrower aerodynamic position really helps. So if you use road bars, you'll be riding wider bars than ideal.

    All this being said, many people just salvage an extra pair of road bars and stem and use them on the track. Some of it is economics, some is simply not thinking about how to be more efficient on the track (in ways that work differently from on the road).

    Steel Nitto track bars are not expensive, and you can use them with any mountain stem (which has the same 25.4 mm clamp size). So I'd suggest you go that way and not get into any bad habits.

  9. #9
    R900Campagnolo marcelinyc's Avatar
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    I have been using road bars and they give me bruises on forearms. I own a pair of 123's but they weight 3 times as much as my road bars...
    11.4 what kind of bad habits I might have developed?

  10. #10
    Senior Member brooklyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcelinyc
    I have been using road bars and they give me bruises on forearms. I own a pair of 123's but they weight 3 times as much as my road bars...
    11.4 what kind of bad habits I might have developed?
    do you notice the weight difference on the track between the two bars?

  11. #11
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    As for weight, get the alloy track bars (like the B125AA or the B123AA, which are roughly the same dimensions as the B125 and the B123CrMo respectively). They are pretty stiff as alloy bars go.

    As for bad habits, there are many. There's putting your hands in a less than optimal position, bending your elbows a lot while sprinting, moving your hips back when sprinting out of the saddle, arching your back too much to avoid forearm-bar contact, lowering your shoulders and not watching as actively an adequate distance in front of you. That's for starters. It's not enough to matter much to a road rider, but for trackies it can be quite significant.

  12. #12
    L-time Cat4 & proud of it
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    I bought a pair of deep drop track bars and had to run my stem WAY high. Then I looked at what they really were and found a few pair of Cinelli 64-40s. Similar, just shallower.

    HTH

    M

  13. #13
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    For mixed use go with road drops. Yes track drops provide more clearence and that means they are better when riding in the drops but that clearence comes at the cost of a good position on the tops. I assume the vast majority of your riding is going ot be on the roads where you will spend far more time on the tops of the bars then the drops. Even when you are on the track you will probably spend alot of time on the tops too. Why get a bar thats going to be uncomfortable and possibly injure for a very small amount of time you spend in the drops.

    Also despite what 11.4 says don't get extra narrow bars.

    I think 11.4

  14. #14
    L-time Cat4 & proud of it
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    Just found this on CL SF Bay: Linky

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    For mixed use go with road drops. Yes track drops provide more clearence and that means they are better when riding in the drops but that clearence comes at the cost of a good position on the tops. I assume the vast majority of your riding is going ot be on the roads where you will spend far more time on the tops of the bars then the drops. Even when you are on the track you will probably spend alot of time on the tops too. Why get a bar thats going to be uncomfortable and possibly injure for a very small amount of time you spend in the drops.

    Also despite what 11.4 says don't get extra narrow bars.

    I think 11.4
    Yes?

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    overestimates the importance of track drops on the track while underestimating the importance of road drops if you are going to ride on the tops and the advantage of breathing freely.

  17. #17
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    I think I'll just bite the bullet and get 2 bars. One for the track, one for the road. I'll probably end up riding my conversion more on the road anyway. Since my stem will most likely be open faced, changing the bars won't be much of an issue. Since 11.4 seems to have the most track experience of anyone who responded, i'll stick to his advice.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track

  18. #18
    spinlikehell mickster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    <snip> Even when you are on the track you will probably spend alot of time on the tops too. Why get a bar thats going to be uncomfortable and possibly injure for a very small amount of time you spend in the drops.

    Also despite what 11.4 says don't get extra narrow bars.

    I think 11.4
    Eh? I'd say you spend almost no time on the tops when you're on the track; riding relief in the Madison maybe, and that's about it. I think 11.4s advice is pretty spot on in terms of what you need from a set of bars when riding the track; your advice seems to be more orientated towards riding a fg on the road.

    mickster

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    I don't know when I train on the track I probably spend half of my time or more warming up, cooling down, between intervals etc. Even on practice race nights a large portion of the time is spent not racing.

    Watching other people on the track I see alot of hand shaking and other signs of numbness that you simply don't see from people riding road drops. I think for the beginning racer the choice is pretty much a tossup anyway unless they really need the stiffness. Clearence and stiffness aren't as important as ability to ride and train hard without injuring oneself for many people. When you factor in the fact that the OP was originally talking about one bar for everyday use as well as track use I think there is a clear advantage to road drops.

    Now that he is getting two bars the equation changes slightly and he might as well get track drops for the track then he can easily see which works better for him. Two bars is probably a better situation anyway since he can easily leave a brake lever on the everyday bars.

    Sivat:
    Before you build a conversion for track use you should probably make sure it would be welcome at your local velodromes.

  20. #20
    Geek Extraordinaire sivat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    Sivat:
    Before you build a conversion for track use you should probably make sure it would be welcome at your local velodromes.
    I have both a conversion and a bareknuckle, as seen in my sig. Originally the plan was for the conversion to be the beater and the track bike to be the fun, weekend bike. but since I live 5 minutes from one of the nicest velodromes in the country, i figure I should put the track bike to good use.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    Sintesi Conversion Serotta Track

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    ahhh I misread that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mickster
    Eh? I'd say you spend almost no time on the tops when you're on the track; riding relief in the Madison maybe, and that's about it. I think 11.4s advice is pretty spot on in terms of what you need from a set of bars when riding the track; your advice seems to be more orientated towards riding a fg on the road.

    mickster
    Glad someone else said it. If one is just bombing around the track for fun, riding on the tops is OK. If one is riding a fast paceline, most experienced riders will ride on the tops at 20 mph up to perhaps 23 or 25 mph, but then go down to the drops. If there's a touched wheel, that's where you want to be holding them, plus you need the aerodynamics as speed increases. So yes, you may spend a fair amount of time on the tops, but a pair of track bars lets you do that just fine. Now if you're racing in sanctioned races (which includes most weekly series) most referees give you a warning for riding on the tops and then will pull you out. It's simply not considered safe to ride on the top, plus at racing speeds the aerodynamics will kill you. Many Cat 4 races run at 27-28 mph, most Cat 3 run at 28-30, and anything Cat 2 or higher is 30-33 mph, and I'm not talking about sprints. Riding on the tops, you'll die. So if you're riding a fixie on the road, by all means use road bars. If you're just riding on a track outside of races, ditto. But if you're racing, you'd better be in the drops and at that point, there's an advantage to track bars. They're not necessary or required, but good steel track bars are stiffer, cheaper, come in narrower widths, and fit track stem clamps, and for good measure allow the best positioning in the drops. So if you're buying bars, decide whether you're going to be racing at speed or not, and then decide which bars you want.

  23. #23
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    I don't want to derail this so feel free to ignore but I was wondering about something a buddy of mine said, he's just getting into track riding and he mentioned that many folks only wrap the lower part of the bars. Is that generally true or just a local fashion thing? I can see why that might be from ^^.

    Thanks all, BTW, interesting stuff.
    Can you pass the test?
    Yield to Life.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11.4
    but a pair of track bars lets you do that just fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by dutret
    Watching other people on the track I see alot of hand shaking and other signs of numbness that you simply don't see from people riding road drops.
    it depends how you define "just fine" I guess.

  25. #25
    R900Campagnolo marcelinyc's Avatar
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    thanks 11.4 i switched to track drops and they feel better.
    Last edited by marcelinyc; 08-24-06 at 07:33 PM.

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