After being introduced to track cycling this past winter at the tight, indoor Forest City Velodrome, I went looking for a track bike for myself and had a chance to test ride a Blue TR250 and a Jamis Sonik on the track last night. I have to preface this report by letting you know that I'm a relative newbie on a track, but even I came up with noticeable differences between the two.
First the bikes
Both bikes are similar in that they have an aluminum frame, carbon fork, aero tubing, pista bars and American Classic 420 wheelset. Geometry is strickly track with the Jamis being more aggressive. This comes from a 30mm rake on the Jamis versus 38mm on the Blue and the Jamis wheelbase is 39mm shorter, over 1.5 inches. Jamis comes with a carbon crank. In my size the Jamis was about 14 pounds and the Blue was 15 pounds. This could come from the crank and smaller tires. The Jamis comes with 20 versus 23mm tires. The frame finish on the Blue was much nicer than on the Jamis. The Blue is double welded. I'm not sure if this made the joints on the Blue look smoother, but the Blue actually looks like a carbon frame. The Jamis welds are noticeable,but functional. BTW, one can add brakes to the Jamis if one wanted to use it as a fixie. That option is not available on the Blue.
The first thing I noticed that for me, the deep pista drops on both bikes didn't suit me and I replaced them with road bars. My preference - I'm new, a roadie and an oldie. Maybe in time I'll use the Pistas, but for my comparison - I stayed with the road bars.
As expected, with the more aggressive geometry, the Jamis was a lot more twitchy on the track. The transitions from the straights into the corners and back again required a lot more attention. By comparison, the Blue was a lot more solid. FCV is a tight track, short straights, 130 meters in length with steep (50 degree) banks. There is a lot of transitioning here. With more seat time, I suppose the Jamis would settle down for me. The Blue was more comfortable and gave me more confidence. For me, the Blue would appear more suited for riding pacelines, madisons and mass starts whereas the Jamis is more suited for sprints and tts. I didn't have the confidence with the Jamis to really "suck wheel" than I had with the Blue, but this was only after a few hours on the track.
GEARING and TIRES
These are variables that can easily be changed, but I thought I'd mention the stock comparison between the two.
Tires. The Blue came with 23mm Hutchinson Intensive tires versus the 20mm Vittoria Diamante Pro on the Jamis. I didn't like the tires on the Jamis. The 20mm Vittorias seemed slow compared to the Hutchinson's. The Vittorias have a very narrow smooth crown and an comparatively aggressive tread pattern on the sidewalls. This tread pattern has the exaggerated effect as riding knobby tires. I could feel and hear the tread pattern, especially when I was on the straights. The straights are banked around 30 degrees, so I was riding off the narrow crown and mostly on the treaded sidewall. I immediatly noticed a change in rolling resistance with these tires going onto the straights. I'm not sure if 23mm Vittorias would have been more comparable to the 23 mm Hutchinsons, but the Hutchinsons were smoother and offered less rolling resistance.
Gearing. Jamis comes stock with a 49/15 and the Blue 48/15. With the aforementioned tire characteristics combined with the heavier gearing on the Jamis, the Jamis required more effort on the track. As I mentioned, tires and gearing are variable, but out of the box, the Blues combination better suited me.