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  1. #1
    Hip-star jhaber's Avatar
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    Why steel on the track?

    I was hoping the track forum could help me understand why people ride steel track frames on the track.

    What I have come up with.

    1. They can't afford something else.
    2. They want a custom frame and the builders can't build them a custom alu/carbon frame.

    I may be way off here but isn't alu light, stiff, and also cheap. There seem to be so many big bike makers making track specific aero alu frames for a very fair price. Why would someone choose steel over this where performance is concerned?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    There are a lot of old used steel frames around and you can get one cheap-- people seem to upgrade to new bikes faster than new people come into the sport, so there are always some old steel frames (and complete bikes) kicking around and available relatively inexpensively. I rode steel that I bought used until a few years ago, then upgraded to an aluminum frame that I bought used, raced it for almost two years, then upgraded to a carbon frame that I bought new. I still have the old steel and Alu frames.

    There are also at least a few builders who are building custom aluminum frames (e.g. Simonetti).

    Is there a lot of difference in performance? Not really-- I made it to the scratch final at elite nats on the steel frame. Came pretty close on the aluminum frame, and haven't had a chance to try on the carbon frame. Does the frame make a big difference in performance? Not a huge one, but compared to the aluminum frame it feels like I have to wrestle the steel frame around, and compared to the carbon frame the aluminum frame feels like a noodle. The carbon and aluminum frames are less than 100 grams difference in weight when set up for racing, but the carbon is way stiffer.
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  3. #3
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    In my opinion, steel is classy. It lasts forever, unlike aluminum. And it's still a damned nice frame material. And as is said in the other thread, weight is not much of an issue. You won't find many gram counters among track riders.

    My opinion only, but aesthetically steel is still the nicest.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Puke View Post
    You won't find many gram counters among track riders.
    I'm totally not a weight weenie, so the steel never bothered me. It was kind of funny at the few races I did where there was weigh in-- they would lift it and just pass it past the scale and chuckle. With the two newer frames I'm actually very close to the limit just by putting race wheels on-- with the aluminum frame I had to add about 20 grams. The carbon frame is about 80 grams over, but it has a really beefy stem bigass steel inserts in the rear dropouts (the aluminum one doesn't).

    The lighter frames do feel easier to throw around underneath you in a sprint or tight situation though.
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  5. #5
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    I know al lot of roadies that won't try the track because they feel that buying a second bike is a huge expense. I tell them that a good steel frame track bike can be had pretty reasonably. They think it will be too heavy. I tell them weight doesn't matter that much on the track......They can not comprehend.

    Their roadie mentality tells them they have to have super light, top of the line, high dollar or it will be slow.

  6. #6
    Generic Title ProFail's Avatar
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    I like nice bikes because they compensate for my lack of a massive peen.



    Just kidding. I like them because they compliment my massive e-peen.
    Last edited by ProFail; 12-07-08 at 01:26 PM.
    Generic Joke

  7. #7
    pushing the weight limit Doc_Holiday's Avatar
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    I'm not normally one to argue or get mad at people on the internet, but the ignorance of the OP in the case has given me no choice. I am not sure why bitingduck is so patient and informative with his answers, but for that I applaud you.

    First of all: with the observation that riders must choose steel because they "can't afford something else," I suggest you check out how much a custom steel Indy Fab or Yamaguchi custom bike costs and then reformulate this opinion. Also, doesn't it seem a little contradicting to say that riders that choose steel can't afford something else if you then turn around and say that you thought aluminum was comparably priced? So by this logic shouldn't these riders also be able to afford aluminum.

    In regards to your second point, bitingduck is right, there are quite a few custom builders now that do aluminum, and Indy Fab will do a custom Ti and Carbon track frame as well.

    I'm obviously coming off as a super huge d-bag. But next time you have a question, because at the heart of your drivel is the basic question as to why somebody would choose steel over other materials, just ask the question and let nice people like bitingduck answer it.

    I think you said it best when you stated that you "may be way off" because you sir, are way off.

    Also, as a side note I own and Indy Fab custom steel track bike and a Kalavinka Keirin track bike and like riding them way more than the S-Works Langster that I had a few years ago. So I'll leave you with that and will stay away from this thread from now on.
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  8. #8
    Hip-star jhaber's Avatar
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    Yes you sound like a d-bag. You assume a lot. I am well aware of the prices of both those custom bike makers. I have looked at their sites many times over the last several months and actually thinking about yamaguchi bikes is why I came to ask this question.

    I was hoping that on a track forum people as "kind" as yourself would let me know how a steel custom bike could be as aerodynamic as an alu/carbon bike. I was not thinking of bottom of the line alu frames like a city langster or other low end alu frames but of bikes like the pista concept, argon 18 track frame, or marinoni track frames. Frames that were designed with shaped tubes and designed for the track. I wanted to know if steel made sense because currently I don't understand how it could be as effecient on the track.

    Some people cannot afford these mid-range alu frames, even if they are relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of other bike frames. Those people might be riding older steel frames or less expensive new steel frames.

    You at no point in your rant about how I am ignorant explained why a steel frame would be desired over an alu/carbon frame besides to say you prefer your simply prefer your indy fab bike over your langster (not to mention the fact you didnt comment on if the components play a part in your choice of one bike over another while this thread is about frame choices).

    Please stop assuming the worst about people that post on this forum and stop being so elitist.

    I sincerely hope that you are not typical of track riders or other posters on the sub forum. You would think track riders would encourage questions about their sport. You do a disservice to others in your sport by posting the way that you did above.

    If other people people on this sub forum are reading this thread I encourage you not to act like the poster above me and instead encourage discussion and questions. Perhaps even let the poster above know that acting in such a way is a waste of his time and effort and gives new people interested in the sport of track riding a bad first impression.
    Last edited by jhaber; 12-10-08 at 02:17 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhaber View Post
    Yes you sound like a d-bag. You assume a lot. I am well aware of the prices of both those custom bike makers. I have looked at their sites many times over the last several months and actually thinking about yamaguchi bikes is why I came to ask this question.
    Yamaguchi makes nice frames. I've known quite a few people who had or have them, and recommend them for people who want custom steel.

    I was hoping that on a track forum people as "kind" as yourself would let me know how a steel custom bike could be as aerodynamic as an alu/carbon bike.
    It won't be as aero as a CF or Al bike that was designed to be aero. If you're riding mass start races it won't really make any difference, and if you're riding TTs the geometry will make more difference than the tube shape- a standard "square" steel frame will be harder to get into a good aero position than a compact CF or Al frame.

    I was not thinking of bottom of the line alu frames like a city langster or other low end alu frames but of bikes like the pista concept, argon 18 track frame, or marinoni track frames. Frames that were designed with shaped tubes and designed for the track. I wanted to know if steel made sense because currently I don't understand how it could be as effecient on the track.
    Pista Concept is nice, but I haven't seen an Argon or Marinoni (are you in Canada? edit: I just looked-yes...). For the most part the material makes very little difference, especially for a beginning to even advanced intermediate rider. You can learn to race quite effectively on any bike that fits well.

    You at no point in your rant about how I am ignorant explained why a steel frame would be desired over an alu/carbon frame besides to say you prefer your simply prefer your indy fab bike over your langster (not to mention the fact you didnt comment on if the components play a part in your choice of one bike over another while this thread is about frame choices).
    I like my S-works Langster a *lot* more than my steel Pinarello. The Pinarello is nice, and I learned to win riding it, but the Langster is a lot easier to move around on. I like my Giant TCR Advanced Team even more. Weighs about the same as the langster, but way stiffer. Pretty much the same parts on all of them except the stems-- I just move things from frame to frame.

    I sincerely hope that you are not typical of track riders or other posters on the sub forum. You would think track riders would encourage questions about their sport. You do a disservice to others in your sport by posting the way that you did above.
    He's not. Check out over at Fixedgearfever.com, as well, people are pretty helpful over there, too. You might see things get heated occasionally there, but it's mostly between people who know each other well (often from racing together over the years) and have a lot of offline history in addition to the online.
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  10. #10
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    I have to agree with biting duck that the aerodynamics of the frame are far far far less important than your position (by far THE most important), then maybe use of aero bars (if we're talking TT), then wheels, and maybe a distant last (ahead of the frame) your helmet choice.

    In fact, over on fixed gear fever someone recently posted a nice link to a study that confirms all this. If you were interested it would be easy to find via search.

    Also, track events are short. Probably if you just leave that last pancake or ask Santa really, really nicely you'd go just as fast on a round tube steel frame as on that aero alu/carbon/whatever in that flying 200 or kilo.

  11. #11
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    Ok, I can't sleep, so here is that study. Enjoy:

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?...ed_for_speed08

  12. #12
    Senior Member taras0000's Avatar
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    Another reason why you see a lot of steel bikes in the track community is durability. You can find many 20 your old steel steeds out there, but aluminum generally doesn't have that sort of lifespan. If you crash aluminum, your frame may be done. If you crash steel, you can still straighten out the frame, and any dents in the tubes are usually superficial and don't compromise the strength of the frame. You can also have tubes replaced in old lugged steel frames as well, so for someone with a bike that has a lot of sentimental value, it may be something to consider.
    Taras - :noun. 1. Typically an overweight has-been that can sometimes be seen pootling around a velodrome on an old Look KG 233.

  13. #13
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    used to be if you wanted a track bike (or decent road bike) to race on, you more or less had to get a custom frame. There just wasn't the same choice as today.

    becuase they last for ages, there are lots of them still left and it seems through the cycling clubs (before ebay) these frames would get passed along the line as riders got new frames and or out grew the older ones. this passing on still happens all the time with juniors in the bmx racing clubs, heaps of kids ride 10 year + old bikes.

    Sure there are expensive steel frames, but there is a truck load of cheaper old ones. So yeah, if you want to have a go at track riding without making a big $$ commitment, you'd be silly not to grab an older, used or inexpensive steel bike and give it a go, you can on sell the thing for what you paid most of the time.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taras0000 View Post
    Another reason why you see a lot of steel bikes in the track community is durability. You can find many 20 your old steel steeds out there, but aluminum generally doesn't have that sort of lifespan. If you crash aluminum, your frame may be done. If you crash steel, you can still straighten out the frame, and any dents in the tubes are usually superficial and don't compromise the strength of the frame. You can also have tubes replaced in old lugged steel frames as well, so for someone with a bike that has a lot of sentimental value, it may be something to consider.
    It's gotten a lot harder to find someone who can do a nice repair job inexpensively on a steel frame. When a teammate bent the top tube on one of my spare frames a couple years ago I managed to find someone to replace the tube and paint the frame for $200, but the going rate for the same work from most people was at least $400, and that's for a very plain paint job. A decent Al frame doesn't cost all that much more, and can pretty much be treated as disposable (I concluded long ago that anything you race has to be treated as disposable). CF frames vary-- I've seen some go down extremely hard and be fine, and others that disintegrated. It all depends on the particulars of how it's made, though the heavier CF frames seem to be pretty tough.
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  15. #15
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    I like pie.
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  16. #16
    commuter
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    2008 colnago master pista - stiff, fast, expensive, steel

  17. #17
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    First track bikes are light to begin with. Second, weight doesn't matter much on a track going round and round. Third, you want stiffness for both the frame and fork. Steel is the choice for most builders as well as riders.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  18. #18
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhaber View Post
    I was hoping the track forum could help me understand why people ride steel track frames on the track. Why would someone choose steel over this where performance is concerned?
    Maybe some of us would just prefer steel for the track. I've got a CF road bike, a titanium mountain bike, a steel cyclocross bike and could have bought a custom Ti or CF track bike but I wanted steel. The maker who did my frame does custom steel and aluminum. Steel is repairable and its lifespan is relatively unlimited. Frame weight is just about immaterial. That's why I chose it.
    Last edited by Mike T.; 01-15-09 at 04:31 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member yusuke343's Avatar
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    ummmm... just throwing this in here....


    steel is real haha
    "If I kept count, I'd realize just how dead I should be."-Hickeydog

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