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  1. #1
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    Are track handlebars outdated for real track racing?

    On all the pictures of nowadays real competition track races, I see only (99%) road type handlebars, no old type fashion bent track handlebars. My personal impression also is that with track handlebars the "upper position" is much less comfortable. (I acknowledge that some might say you don't need such upper position at all, however I would disagree on that)
    Any comments?

  2. #2
    Mitcholo CrimsonKarter21's Avatar
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    For Madison races, a lot of riders prefer traditional road bars with the cable grooves taped up, but for all other standard equipment races, track specific bars are used. The trend now is leaning towards carbon bars with Easton's track specific EC90's and such.
    There are still hundreds of big name and not-so-big-name riders using traditional track equipment.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Yeah, I see the same thing-- I see a lot of track bars, and madison riders tend to use narrow road bars. I have track bars that have a wider top position than serious sprint bars, so they work fine for madisons.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  4. #4
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Most of the people at my local drome ride traditional-bend track bars, in both steel and aluminum. A few people ride fancy-schmancy modern ergo super carbon whatever track drops and a few people ride road bars.

    I like steel handlebars. They're heavy, and that's okay, because they provide a sort of reassuring weight to the front of my bike. The track surface is imperfect so the additional weight feels reliable.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  5. #5
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doofo View Post
    the main cause of fit problems is riding your bike

    you should have just stopped riding so you could focus on color coordination

  6. #6
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    ^2 dudes, 1 sprinter's lane...
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  7. #7
    Senior Member I saw Elvis's Avatar
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    Chris is using the flat 'wing' bars/stem set-up developed for British Cycling by the British Institute of Sport, not standard sprinters bars.
    At Manchester I still see sprinters using sprint bars and endurance riders riding with 'road' bars. For riders that don't race but are regulars, or track league riders 'road' bars are pretty much the choice, although I don't know if this is because most 'off the peg' track bikes tend to come with 'road' bars.
    I grew up as a kid idolising those hero's in the Tour de France, Indurain and everyone like that. It was almost a childhood dream to ride the Tour de France. The last 2 years my childhood dream which became a reality has been pissed all over by certain members of the peloton. - Bradley Wiggins 27th July 2007.

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  8. #8
    Senior Member melville's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    ^2 dudes, 1 sprinter's lane...
    That's 2 BIG dudes, one sprinter's lane, at 40 mph. Regular folk can fit three below the red line and above the blue band if they've all got proper narrow track bars. Try it sometime. Not in a race, please.

    Now did Chris Hoy get the foul called on the Dutchman? Or was it an 'incidental' encroachment?

  9. #9
    Senior Member CafeRacer's Avatar
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    It didnt matter in the end because Chris hung him up long enough for him to fade a little and he won.

  10. #10
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Dubbayoo's Avatar
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    Most track riders that aren't dedicated sprinters are really roadies anyway so it makes sense they'd use road bars. Also Madison racers wants a wide top with plenty of grip space so they can turn around for the hand sling.
    Last edited by Dubbayoo; 02-01-09 at 05:11 PM.

  12. #12
    Fails at being impressed trelhak's Avatar
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    The 'true' track bars you get these days are rarely significantly stronger than your average road bar, though the steel ones are very strong. They are essentially the same bars, just built to be narrower, with a traditional track drop, and no cable grooves.

    (The amazingly expensive or custom ones given to the top-tier sprinters are another matter entirely.)

    Improvements in handlebar design and construction mean that a handlebar can be both very light and very strong, something that was much harder to achieve in times past. Therefore you would have light, but fragile, road bars and mighty, but mighty heavy, track bars. Each type would be bent to suit their purpose best.

    (Note also, that Chris Hoy is using only a single strap to secure himself to his pedals. Think double straps and clipless pedals may be overkill?)

    With that in mind, realize that head tubes have become consistently shorter in recent years. Combine that with the extremely deep drop of traditional track bars and the grips can very well be below the top of the front wheel. Road bars, on the other hand, usually don't have as deep a drop, so they can be used without putting the hands below the level of the top of the wheels.

    For this reason, when you see a rider using traditional track drops, he or she is frequently using a large number of headset spacers and/or will have the stem flipped in the 'up' orientation.
    "Quäl dich, du Sau!" (trans.: "Suffer, you swine!") - Udo Bölts

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  13. #13
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    (Note also, that Chris Hoy is using only a single strap to secure himself to his pedals. Think double straps and clipless pedals may be overkill?)
    I suspect he has SPD-R pedals underneath there, and the strap is just extra insurance. One of the Hoy videos that's been circulating recently panned past a bike set up with SPD-Rs and a single strap, which has been pretty popular with the sprinters. You can crank them down so tight that you practically have to take the shoe off to get out-- I know a few sprinters at that level who don't bother with the strap anymore.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  14. #14
    Fails at being impressed trelhak's Avatar
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    Very true, and the intarwebs are littered with means to modify a clip and an SPD to accept a strap.

    Nothing's as secure, though, as those shoes Cinelli made many years ago that had a spindle molded into the sole. (You would screw the shoe itself into the crankarm and slip your foot into the shoe when mounting the bike. They are rare as hen's teeth.)
    "Quäl dich, du Sau!" (trans.: "Suffer, you swine!") - Udo Bölts

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  15. #15
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    Nothing's as secure, though, as those shoes Cinelli made many years ago that had a spindle molded into the sole.
    Never saw those, but I used to joke that the next thing in clipless would be surgical implants...
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  16. #16
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    With that in mind, realize that head tubes have become consistently shorter in recent years. Combine that with the extremely deep drop of traditional track bars and the grips can very well be below the top of the front wheel. Road bars, on the other hand, usually don't have as deep a drop, so they can be used without putting the hands below the level of the top of the wheels.

    For this reason, when you see a rider using traditional track drops, he or she is frequently using a large number of headset spacers and/or will have the stem flipped in the 'up' orientation.
    Not sure how many years you're including in "recent," but I'm thinking of footage I saw of Marty Nothstein racing in the 1996 olympic qualifiers (you can find a tv broadcast in 5 parts on youtube). His bike had a short headtube (low toptube), and a quill stem with some serious rise.

    I see fewer and fewer deep-drop stems. Some folks still ride them (partly due to the keirin fad), but when those were popular, traditional bike fit called for much less exposed seatpost. Today's Japanese keirin riders display that old-style fit - a fistful of seatpost means that with a drop stem, the bars really won't be uncomfortably low.

    To avoid going too low I use Nitto's B125 bars, as well as old criterium bars, which are very similar in shape. A lot of entry level track racers ride too low, with their arms stiff and their elbows barely bent. This puts a lot of weight on the hands and on the front end and compromises handling.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  17. #17
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    A lot of entry level track racers ride too low, with their arms stiff and their elbows barely bent. This puts a lot of weight on the hands and on the front end and compromises handling.
    The stiff arm thing seems to be popular in kids coming from the hipster/street fixed gear scene, and yeah it makes them wiggly.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  18. #18
    Fails at being impressed trelhak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    Not sure how many years you're including in "recent," but I'm thinking of footage I saw of Marty Nothstein racing in the 1996 olympic qualifiers (you can find a tv broadcast in 5 parts on youtube). His bike had a short headtube (low toptube), and a quill stem with some serious rise.
    Yeah, by "recent", I was referring to about the late-80's onward. Whenever the re-sizing of bikes happened that resulted in riders having a mile of seatpost showing. (I guess the 80's isn't that recent anymore.)

    While the super-dropped stem may be a product of the Keirin fad, I have observed a number of Keirin riders beginning to adopt 'modern' bike fitting. They will ride a deliberately 'undersized' frame with a mile of seatpost showing and a lot of saddle setback, then using a zero-drop stem like the Nitto Pearl instead of the dropped Nitto Jaguar. (English product names.) Needless to say, as traditional as the Keirin circuit is, it will probably be a long, long while before that catches on.
    "Quäl dich, du Sau!" (trans.: "Suffer, you swine!") - Udo Bölts

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    Very true, and the intarwebs are littered with means to modify a clip and an SPD to accept a strap.

    Nothing's as secure, though, as those shoes Cinelli made many years ago that had a spindle molded into the sole. (You would screw the shoe itself into the crankarm and slip your foot into the shoe when mounting the bike. They are rare as hen's teeth.)
    Back in the '70s, Jerry (The Gentle Giant) Ash got tired of ripping cleats off his shoes and breaking toe straps. So he bolted his shoes to his pedals. I see that as the first clipless system.

  20. #20
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    While the super-dropped stem may be a product of the Keirin fad, I have observed a number of Keirin riders beginning to adopt 'modern' bike fitting. They will ride a deliberately 'undersized' frame with a mile of seatpost showing and a lot of saddle setback, then using a zero-drop stem like the Nitto Pearl instead of the dropped Nitto Jaguar. (English product names.) Needless to say, as traditional as the Keirin circuit is, it will probably be a long, long while before that catches on.
    The drop stem is not a product of the keirin fad. In the old days before compact geometry frames, seatpost sizes maxed out around 200mm and it was simply a necessity to have a deep drop stem and a larger frame to get the position you wanted. The keirin sizing philosophy goes off this old method.

  21. #21
    Fails at being impressed trelhak's Avatar
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    Not a fad among the actual riders, a fad among people like us who want a bike as close to the authentic Keirin ride as possible. (...even if you're just going to slap riser bars into them instead of drops and colored Veeps instead of box-section tubular rims.)
    "Quäl dich, du Sau!" (trans.: "Suffer, you swine!") - Udo Bölts

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  22. #22
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trelhak View Post
    While the super-dropped stem may be a product of the Keirin fad, I have observed a number of Keirin riders beginning to adopt 'modern' bike fitting. They will ride a deliberately 'undersized' frame with a mile of seatpost showing and a lot of saddle setback, then using a zero-drop stem like the Nitto Pearl instead of the dropped Nitto Jaguar. (English product names.) Needless to say, as traditional as the Keirin circuit is, it will probably be a long, long while before that catches on.
    Where are you observing this? Do you attend Keirin races? I haven't noticed this, but I also have a hard time finding photos of current keirin races/riders on the internet.

    Quote Originally Posted by andre nickatina View Post
    The drop stem is not a product of the keirin fad. In the old days before compact geometry frames, seatpost sizes maxed out around 200mm and it was simply a necessity to have a deep drop stem and a larger frame to get the position you wanted. The keirin sizing philosophy goes off this old method.
    This was already stated earlier in the thread.

    He clearly means that the current trend towards deep-drop stem for many novice racers and street riders is motivated by the present day interest in keirin bikes, rather than considerations of bike sizing or fit.
    Last edited by bonechilling; 02-03-09 at 05:15 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by doofo View Post
    the main cause of fit problems is riding your bike

    you should have just stopped riding so you could focus on color coordination

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    The keirin style of bike fit and sprinting style is very old school, and goes hand in hand with their training methods and system. They have a very forward and low position when sprinting, which has not been the style on the world stage for many many years. If you watch a Japanese keirin, it is very hard to spot any differences in style among the riders. This is because they are all a product of the same keirin schools, where presumably the training methods have not changed in thirty or forty years. It's a bit strange, as they are NOT hoping to create world champions, they are hoping to create close racing, so uniformity is valued over any stand-out performers. At least that's how I'm observing it. Seems to be hurting the Japanese in World Cup and Olympic competition. There are 76 velodromes here, and 1000's of professional racers, yet international results are pretty thin. Interesting paradox.

  24. #24
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    yeah they seem to push trough with their heads first, haha

    rather than put their bars in a gap.

    lots of folks in Aust ride with road bars fully taped up and then again lots have sprint bars. Most off the rack track bikes sold here (not that I know of any real factory spec ones, they all seemed cobbled together by the distributors) come with a more road style bar.

  25. #25
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    Yeah, all that said, I'm using Nitto 123's and a drop stem! ALL the amateurs use them here, and it does look pretty cool. But I'm trying to get modern, too. Got the seat all the way back and I'm using the mellower drop steel Nitto stem, so it's not functionally different than a Pearl or other road stem. It is not super low.

    Some of the keirin pros are SO low and forward when they sprint they are nearly in danger of touching the front tire with their (huge) helmet! I don't know how they do it.

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