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  1. #1
    Mexican Food Enthusiast Burrito Eater's Avatar
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    Beginner bike: Steamroller or Pista?

    I did the search for Steamroller and there seems to be a difference of opinion on using it on the track. I live near the LA Velodrome and really want to start riding there. However, the bike that I purchase will be used on the street for commuting and some LA river trail distance-type riding. I have never been on a track before so performance is not a huge factor to me. Would I be better of with a Steamroller or a Bianchi Pista (or similar entry-level true "track bike")? 95% of the riding done on this bike will be on the road.

    Also with the geometry on a track bike. I ride a 58cm cross bike, would I be looking at a 59cm for a track bike? Thanks for any help.
    Last edited by Burrito Eater; 04-05-07 at 06:12 PM.

  2. #2
    asleep at the wheel fixedpip's Avatar
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    The general rule for track bike sizing is your supposed to go smaller than your road bike sizing. However, I ride the same size (or larger) on the track than on the street. So take that sizing as a starting point.

    If you're talking about the LA Velodrome (ADT center) then definitely don't get the Steamroller. Its just not going to cut it.

    For the LA Velodrome, you have to get certified to ride there, which means you must do their training class. This is world class velodrome, really steep angles etc so you need a bike spec'd with a high bottom bracket at a minimum.

    So I would sign up for the training sessions, rent a bike from them, see if you like track racing and are prepared to do the training to get certified and then buy a bike based on their advice and your experience.

    If you want a bike now to ride the streets of LA then the Steamroller and Bianchi Pista are fine machines.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Listen to fixedpip. He just said it all. I have a Bianchi Pista and it’s a ton of fun on the streets and can go on the track but… I would feel a bit outclassed at the Velodrome. The best way is to rent a bike. Chances are you will locate a slightly used top/middle of the line track bike that will fit your needs better than a Bianchi Pista for about the same cost as a new Pista. You know how it is with sports equipment. You’re going to meet some dude at the track and he is going to want to sell you his 'middle of the road' track bike so he can get into a higher end model.

  4. #4
    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    Definitely cannot recommend the Steamroller. I love it for commuting and foul weather riding but it didn't feel quite at home on the track, for many reasons. I should have my Pista Concept built end of next week and the velodrome should be opening soon thereafter. Life is good.

  5. #5
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waldo
    Definitely cannot recommend the Steamroller. I love it for commuting and foul weather riding but it didn't feel quite at home on the track, for many reasons. .
    I don't know anything about Surly Steamrollers but no one in this thread seems keen on then for track use. Even "fixedip" says "definitely don't get the Steamroller. Its just not going to cut it."

    Why isn't it going to "cut it"? What's wrong with this bike/frame for track use?

    Be careful with your answers as I ride regularily on the shortest, steepest track in N. America (the world too?) and even converted road frames (if they provide adequate pedal clearance) are just fine here. Our bog-stock KHS rentals (like $500 bikes) get raced often with good results. The limitation is the rider and not the bike.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    I don't know anything about Surly Steamrollers but no one in this thread seems keen on then for track use. Even "fixedip" says "definitely don't get the Steamroller. Its just not going to cut it."

    Why isn't it going to "cut it"? What's wrong with this bike/frame for track use?

    Be careful with your answers as I ride regularily on the shortest, steepest track in N. America (the world too?) and even converted road frames (if they provide adequate pedal clearance) are just fine here. Our bog-stock KHS rentals (like $500 bikes) get raced often with good results. The limitation is the rider and not the bike.
    I would think Surly Steamroller frame has a more road bike geometry? Thatís my guess.

  7. #7
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about the steamroller (but I think Fixer might ride one on the road around here). It's probably fine for starting out. The entry level Bianchi seems to be available pretty cheap in the LA area, so it might not be a bad bet. All other things being equal, get one that has cranks with a 144 BCD so you can borrow rings. I tend to go for short (165) cranks, but there are plenty of people on longer ones.

    Before shelling out for either you might want to take the class on a rental bike, just to get a feel for what the track is like. As already mentioned- you may also find a used bike locally that's better than either of the one's you're looking at new.

    As for sizing, I pretty much ride the same size on Road and Track, and I think most people I know do, too, though I haven't taken any kind of survey. And the numerical sizing on bikes has gone all wacky anyway with the whole compact geometry thing. I just picked up a Langster Pro frame that's nominally a 58 but measures awfully close to my old steel Pinarello [edit: the pinarello is a 56]. The cockpits on the Felt rentals also seem to run small, at least in the smaller sizes-- the cockpit measurements on the 52 are pretty close to a Bianchi 46 if you put on a bit shorter stem.

    And like Mike T. said-- the performance is all in the rider. As long as the bike fits and does normal bike things (like has wheels that spin) you're going to get a lot more improvement out of yourself for a while than you'll be able to get from a better bike. And he's on what may also be the funnest track in north america-- I managed to get on it for a couple hours a couple years ago.
    Last edited by bitingduck; 04-08-07 at 05:37 PM.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  8. #8
    oldsprinter oldsprinter's Avatar
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    Does it have to be between those two frames? Biting Duck's idea of a Langster is a good one. Better bb height, stiffer, about the same price.

    OR better than that - a Bareknuckle - a proper track frame and cheaper than the Langster, Surly and Bianchi.

  9. #9
    asleep at the wheel fixedpip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    I
    Why isn't it going to "cut it"? What's wrong with this bike/frame for track use?
    Basically two things. My experience of riding one at Hellyer Park was poor, bike felt very 'dead' on the track and it just wasn't fun. Secondly, as LA Velodrome is very steep I would worry about the BB drop on this frame offering enough clearance (but this is just my opinion).

    I do though agree with you that its not really about the bike but the rider; until you get to be racing regularly. Most of the off-shelf-fixies are fine for track racing, with some minor tweaks, but I have my doubts about the Steamroller esp it being used at the LA velodrome.

    Thats way I suggested using the rentals, so you can get a feel for what is right for you and esp what feels right on the track you'll use the most before you drop any cash.

  10. #10
    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    I don't know anything about Surly Steamrollers but no one in this thread seems keen on then for track use. Even "fixedip" says "definitely don't get the Steamroller. Its just not going to cut it."

    Why isn't it going to "cut it"? What's wrong with this bike/frame for track use?

    Be careful with your answers as I ride regularily on the shortest, steepest track in N. America (the world too?) and even converted road frames (if they provide adequate pedal clearance) are just fine here. Our bog-stock KHS rentals (like $500 bikes) get raced often with good results. The limitation is the rider and not the bike.
    I'll try to be careful in my answer...
    In my experience, the Steamroller felt quite unresponsive when it was time to sprint and the handling felt quite slow. This could have been somewhat affected by the tires I have on there. BB height was not an issue as ours is not a particularly steeply banked track.

    That's just my experience; it looks like fixedpip had similar sentiments.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldsprinter

    OR better than that - a Bareknuckle - a proper track frame and cheaper than the Langster, Surly and Bianchi.

    not true. a steamroller frame is $425 where a bareknuckle is over $500

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