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  1. #1
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    advice - track bike for street use...?

    Hi,
    I've been a runner for some time now but was recently told by a specialist that I really should quit running or I'll develop an early arthritic condition in my knees. I'm considering getting a track bike to ride in an area that is fairly unimpeded by general traffic, just long highway...
    I'd like to get a track frame and build it up with road wheels and a front brake for safety. I like the more aggressive geometry of the track frame and the single cog for training purposes. Is this the wrong approach? Am I missing something by considering a track frame for this purpose? I was a messenger in Chicago for some time but that was years ago so I do at least, have some experience with cycling...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    post is ss/fg
    if your knees are bothering you probably should get a geared bike.
    If not a road oriented fixed gear will suit you better then a track bike.

  3. #3
    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    A real track bike will beat you up on the roads. The default design in a track frame is 'sprinterish.' Most track events are under one hour, and most tracks are smoother than what your local highway department puts down.

    Also, a typical track bike will have a short front center, which can lead to an excess of weight transfer under braking on the road. IOW, endo! On the track, it's no trouble at all due to the lack of brakes.

    If you're set on fixed gear on the road, convert a road frame, preferably a soft-riding unit, as you'll be in the saddle more on a FG road bike than you would on a FW road bike. For you antique fans, my FG road bike is a Viscount (fork replaced). Feels more limber than my Vitus!

    Good luck

    Mel

  4. #4
    TJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by melville View Post
    A real track bike will beat you up on the roads. The default design in a track frame is 'sprinterish.'
    Mel
    I disagree with recommending a relaxed frame but it depends on a persons riding style and personal taste of course.

    I ride my steel bianchi pista as a commuter and the geometry seems very agreeable to me. I tried a Specialized Langster (Not S-Works Track bike) at the bike shop and it felt very slow to steer. I would not want to ride one. No Zip, just lag time in steering. Too relaxed.

    Of course some might say that a Bianchi Pista is not a real track bike. If anyone thinks it is not, then tell me why it is not.

    Also, I've been recovering since 2004 from a cracked bone just below the knee. I think riding a track bike is fantastic therapy.
    Last edited by tjsager; 08-21-07 at 06:54 AM. Reason: omitted information
    "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
    park ranger
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    track and road bikes are pretty different.
    like Dutret said, if you have bad knees then get a geared bike.

    i think a road bike conversion will suit you just fine, just don't use something with touring geometry if you want a quick steering bike. my track bike beats the crap out of me and my (Miele) road bike feels like a caddy (ride and steering) because i ride my track bike most.

    alas, most fixed gear frame/fork are really road geometry anyway.
    how much do you have to spend?

    search in FG/SS forums.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malibu Police Chief
    I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off.

  6. #6
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    Surprisingly, I agree with dutret: At least until you're in good shape, a fixie is not a way to be nice to your knees. Someone defined a fixie as being in the wrong gear 95 percent of the time, and that's not gentle on your knees. You could put a single freewheel on the rear, but then you just might as well get a road bike anyway and benefit from the gearing. You do have an issue to address there.

    One thing: These days, most so-called track bikes really aren't. They are designed more to be ridden as fixies and that counts most of the bikes discussed here and on SS/FG. "Real track frames" back in the 80s had some outlandish angles (just like some of the road bikes) but today most serious track frames have angles not unlike road bikes (I race on a BT Stealth and it has a 73 degree seat angle; my Spectrum steel track frame has a 73 as well). A few modern track frames are getting extremely high bottom brackets (3 cm drop on my BT), but that's not for clearance as much as for under-bike aerodynamics, and most bikes have 6-7 cm bottom bracket drops (on the high end of road, which tends to be 7-8 cm, but not particularly extreme). "Real" track frames these days focus most on aerodynamics rather than on sheer stiffness, although most are quite stiff as well. But again, your Langsters, Pistas, etc. are not really stiffer than many steel road frames; they tend to feel harsher more because people tend to ride with track bars and in a more aggressive position, which combine to give you fewer position options and require a less comfortable position for longer road riding.

    In a slight twist on piwonka's suggestion, get a road bike for now. Get a fixed rear wheel and do a conversion when your knees are doing OK. Then if the fixie doesn't work for them, you're only out a rear wheel. Or you can swap between fixie and road with a half hour of chain change and removing extra hardware.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the advice. Regarding my knees though, they are just fine. I've got a small tear in my left meniscus which will not heal and is to small to go in and fix. I'm slightly bowlegged and so the genetic disposition to an early arthritic condition. My decision to switch from running to cycling is because, even with a fixed gear, cycling is way more low impact than running. What will harm my knees in the future is not heavy loads on my knee joints, but constant jarring impact of running for hours at a time. I lift weights all the time with the permission, and encouragement, of my doctor.
    The idea of getting a road bike and being able to switch back and forth from fixed to geared is attractive though.
    btw - sorry about the missposting - ss/fg

  8. #8
    Banned. teiaperigosa's Avatar
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    dutret... you are an idiot

    edit: the above post is completely out of line, off topic and does a disservice to the original poster, but I can't help getting excited when I see dutret's name!!
    Last edited by teiaperigosa; 08-28-07 at 12:11 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret View Post
    post is ss/fg
    if your knees are bothering you probably should get a geared bike.
    If not a road oriented fixed gear will suit you better then a track bike.
    Good advice!

    To add:

    Make sure the road frame does not have those new super short drop outs.

    S/F,
    CEYA!

  10. #10
    Banned. teiaperigosa's Avatar
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    so, I'm trying to start a fight with Dutret, but...lol
    in all seriousness, I think the advice given (other than to post in ss/fg) is a bit presumptuous. The man clearly said that he liked the agressive geometry of a track bike. How a road oriented fix better suits his needs, I'm not sure. If he said his condition was in his wrists, maybe. Also, I'm not sure I buy into that a geared bike is better than a low geared fixed for the knees. It all depends on how you ride and are aware of your injury. After riding fix for a while, I almost pulled a muscle riding a freewheel bike because I wasn't used to mashing and stoping, but rather easing into momentum. So, I jumped on the bike in a low gear, tick, tock, coast, and I could feel it was rough on my joints. This is not the fault of the bike, but rather my approach. fixed can be great for your knees. you'll only know through trying tho whether 's good for you. (testimonials all over ss/fg; search) so, why not have a high bottom bracket, dropouts with some breathing room (perhaps for a little flip flip), and a bike that handles the way you like?
    I say go for it....get that track bike

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by teiaperigosa View Post
    so, I'm trying to start a fight with Dutret, but...lol
    in all seriousness, I think the advice given (other than to post in ss/fg) is a bit presumptuous. The man clearly said that he liked the agressive geometry of a track bike.
    Aren't you the guy who tightens his headset too much cause the bike doesn't go straight enough without some damping?

    Everyone talks about how aggressive they like their bike to ride but then they cruise around with locked arms weaving all over the place. It's not unreasonably presumptuous to tell someone to get a bike designed for the type of riding they are going to do. It's good advice.

    Go back to unsuccessfully trolling swingers boards for sex or at least ss/fg. You don't belong here.

  12. #12
    Banned. teiaperigosa's Avatar
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    no...it IS unreasonably presumptuous to tell him to get a bike that he doesn't want to get. The OP will make up his mind and maybe he'll choose a road bike, but he clearly said that he liked the aggressive geometry of a track bike, so that is the type of riding he is going to do....aggressive geometry riding!!!!!..lol He was a messenger before, he knows what it is like to ride a bike already. It's bad advice especially cause you haven't given him any reason that actually relate to him as to why he shouldn't ride a track bike on the street.

    oh and I'm not that guy...close....I actually was talking about keeping my headset on the tighter end of 'properly' adjusted in order to accomodate more stable no handed gully street riding...again, you know nothing about that

    and why is my sex life so constantly on your brain...free your mind..lol...free your mind...off my nuts...off my nuts.

    "You [I] don't belong here." huh?
    I bet you really believe that..LMAO

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    Quote Originally Posted by teiaperigosa View Post
    no...it IS unreasonably presumptuous to tell him to get a bike that he doesn't want to get. The OP will make up his mind and maybe he'll choose a road bike, but he clearly said that he liked the aggressive geometry of a track bike, so that is the type of riding he is going to do....aggressive geometry riding!!!!!..lol He was a messenger before, he knows what it is like to ride a bike already. It's bad advice especially cause you haven't given him any reason that actually relate to him as to why he shouldn't ride a track bike on the street.

    oh and I'm not that guy...close....I actually was talking about keeping my headset on the tighter end of 'properly' adjusted in order to accomodate more stable no handed gully street riding...again, you know nothing about that

    and why is my sex life so constantly on your brain...free your mind..lol...free your mind...off my nuts...off my nuts.
    Aggressive geometry riding is not a type of riding. I suggested he get a roadish bike because:
    It is more comfortable(shallower ST and longer stays = smoother ride).
    It will be healthier(track drops are bad for you, fewer brakes are bad for you)
    It will be faster(a more upright position will probably be faster as more power can be produced even if aerodynamics suffer)
    It will handle better(for rides more then a few minutes long where you're not weaving inches away from other people track geometry isn't ideal)

    Mainly though when people say they like "aggressive track geometry" it almost always means they don't understand much about geometry and/or haven't thought about it much. It it therefore good advice to point them towards something that better suits there purposes.


    That is the moronic sentiment I was referring to. If there is any meaningful damping it's no longer properly adjusted. If you don't like how the bike handles hands free learn how to balance or change the geometry. An overtightened headset is just going to get indexed and handle even worse.

    The only reason I've ever thought about your sex life is because googling your username shows what a pathetic boor you are IRL.

    I say you don't belong here because this is the "Track" forum and I have never seen you post anything that would lead me to believe you have any knowledge on or interest in the subject.

  14. #14
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    dutret gets alot of **** from all the dorks in the ss/fg forum...but i gotta admit, he almost always makes sense
    in this instance he does, especially that part about headset adjustment...
    Quote Originally Posted by Malibu Police Chief
    I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off.

  15. #15
    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dutret View Post
    Aggressive geometry riding is not a type of riding. I suggested he get a roadish bike because:
    It is more comfortable(shallower ST and longer stays = smoother ride).
    It will be healthier(track drops are bad for you, fewer brakes are bad for you)
    It will be faster(a more upright position will probably be faster as more power can be produced even if aerodynamics suffer)
    It will handle better(for rides more then a few minutes long where you're not weaving inches away from other people track geometry isn't ideal)

    Mainly though when people say they like "aggressive track geometry" it almost always means they don't understand much about geometry and/or haven't thought about it much. It it therefore good advice to point them towards something that better suits there purposes.


    That is the moronic sentiment I was referring to. If there is any meaningful damping it's no longer properly adjusted. If you don't like how the bike handles hands free learn how to balance or change the geometry. An overtightened headset is just going to get indexed and handle even worse.

    The only reason I've ever thought about your sex life is because googling your username shows what a pathetic boor you are IRL.

    I say you don't belong here because this is the "Track" forum and I have never seen you post anything that would lead me to believe you have any knowledge on or interest in the subject.
    Boy, I leave this thread for a few days and it turns into some sort of interweb pissing match. I'm with dutret on this one. Googling the pervert's username does seem a bit much, though.

    The truth of it is that for both of my track bikes, the 'aggressive' geometry yields handling like a semi-truck. The steep angles (actually not that steep--the Raleigh Pro is 73 parallel, the Davidson is 75 parallel) are matched with minimal fork rakes for a lot of trail. They truthfully take a lot of effort to change direction compared with my crit bike or my old Vitus road bike. Riding them around Marymoor Park for a warm-up on mornings when the f***ing sprinklers were going on the track infield (and on the banks) they were truly awful riding and handling.

    Horses for courses--fixed or free, ride a road frame on the road, track on the track.

    Later

    Mel

  16. #16
    Banned. teiaperigosa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by piwonka View Post
    dutret gets alot of **** from all the dorks in the ss/fg forum...but i gotta admit, he almost always makes sense
    in this instance he does, especially that part about headset adjustment...
    why does it make sense? because you saw the referenced discussion about the headset topic? or because his recap so clearly explained how it wasn't about someone buying this fork or that fork which would have been appropriate, but rather making an adjustment on their existing bike which had a significant effect for them?

    and the only thing perverted in this thread is dutrets misguided stalking, then making sexual references, and posting them on a thread started by a guy who wants to buy a track bike after he told the guy essentially...go ride a geared bike! you don't belong here! (with a late attempt to smooth it over with some explanation)

    he's on the track forum, he wants to ride a track bike. don't tell anyone to leave. do your thang....go ride one my dude (OP)...if you don't like it, you'll know soon enough...searching for testimonials (ss/fg and here) about technique, dealing with knee pain, and riding on the street will be informative and insightful as a supplement to doin' dat thang

  17. #17
    Headed to the Library... DC_Emily's Avatar
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    I ride my gan well on the street all the time. Feels great.
    Get whatever you want!

  18. #18
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Just get or borrow an off-the-shelf track bike like a KHS or Mercier Kilo TT, ride it for a month in a not-to-steep gearing (below 70 gear inches) with the proper fit (seat needs to be adjusted so that you don't injure your knees mainly) and form (not mashing the pedals down, but spinning in smooth, complete circles). If you don't like it or it hurts your knees, sell it to someone else on craigslist and count your losses.

  19. #19
    park ranger
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    Quote Originally Posted by teiaperigosa View Post
    why does it make sense?
    because it's all basically true:

    Quote Originally Posted by dutret View Post
    Aggressive geometry riding is not a type of riding. I suggested he get a roadish bike because:
    It is more comfortable(shallower ST and longer stays = smoother ride).
    It will be healthier(track drops are bad for you, fewer brakes are bad for you)
    It will be faster(a more upright position will probably be faster as more power can be produced even if aerodynamics suffer)
    It will handle better(for rides more then a few minutes long where you're not weaving inches away from other people track geometry isn't ideal)

    Mainly though when people say they like "aggressive track geometry" it almost always means they don't understand much about geometry and/or haven't thought about it much. It it therefore good advice to point them towards something that better suits there purposes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Malibu Police Chief
    I don't like your jerk-off name. I don't like your jerk-off face. I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off.

  20. #20
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    If you don't like it or it hurts your knees, sell it to someone else on craigslist and count your losses.
    Losses? The last few Kilo TTs I've seen on eBay go for more than they cost from Bikes Direct!

  21. #21
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    I haven't been paying attention to it... they're going for more than 300-350 now?

  22. #22
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    Another possibility would be to equipe your track bike with at least a front brake and possibly a rear brake. If you really want the responsiveness of a track frame and don't want to convert a road bike to a fixed gear, this may be the way to go as the initial knee pain is due, to a large extent, from using the legs to slow the bicycle. If you put both front and rear brakes on the bike, you may need to drill holes in the track frame and forks, but if you intend to keep the bike and really ride it, then it might be worth it.

  23. #23
    Senior Member CafeRacer's Avatar
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    I disagree with any and all comments that fixed geared bikes are hard on the knees. The only time a fixed gear bike is hard on your knee is if you crash the thing, or like on ANY bicycle are poorly positioned.

    I exclusivly rode a fixed gear bike to train while racing downhill. My knee health and leg strenth improved from riding a fixed wheel up and down hills. This is coming from somone who's had several good knee operations.

  24. #24
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    ahem.

    year old thread, people.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  25. #25
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    Ah the memories.

    The only time a fixed gear bike is hard on your knee is if you crash the thing, or like on ANY bicycle are poorly positioned.
    Not being able to keep a relatively optimal cadence by shifting is simply going to be harder on ones knees. If you start trying to stop by pulling hard on the front foot it's going to get even worse.

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