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  1. #1
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    Track Newbie Here: Am I headed in the right direction?

    So I did a couple searches and couldn't find real pertinent information on my specific questions (sorry if any of this is redundant to you veterans!), but I am really interested in getting into track riding and had a few basic questions for anybody who might be able to lend an ear:

    1. I've got my sights on a Felt TK3 for my first leap into fixie riding.

    http://www.feltracing.com/09-catalog...es/09-tk3.aspx

    Is this a decent bike? From my research, it looks like a good deal for what you get and it'd still serve me well for basic work commuting and practice while I'm out on city streets. Would this bike perform well enough to last me a couple years as a beginner on the track?
    -Subquestion: What would you recommend replacing first once the time comes? Wheels come to mind for me, but I really can't find any mid-level track wheels online (They jump from relatively cheap hipster wheelsets like the Weinmanns and the Deep V's and then skyrocket to full carbon wheels). Any recommendations for wheel upgrades?

    2. Any clipless pedal recomendations? I figure they're all pretty similar and my Crank Bros' Quattro road pedals will translate decently onto the track. Anything I should consider?

    3. What's a good entry level gear ratio/drivetrain setup? I'd like something that would serve me decently well for light commuting, but that would allow me to practice on the track without having to buy a 2nd drivetrain rig to switch out. The TK3 comes stock with 48/15 gearing, but it's a 3/32 setup. Is that bad/will that be a problem? Should I upgrade to a 1/8" drivetrain with some dura ace stuff?

    4. Any training/practice tips you can give me outside of the track? I want to get really comfortable on the thing before I head down to Hellyer velodrome in San Jose, Ca. Any simple drills you can recommend?

    5. I attempted to build a conversion fixie on the cheap last year and got the thing together (old schwinn frame, IRO drivetrain/cockpit parts, mavic open pro wheels) and ended up crashing the thing because I hadn't tightened the cog (nor lockring) enough and it popped off while I was going down a hill. I want to sell the parts and buy a pre-built bike so I can get a feel for it, but if I am going to be changing out the cog every once in a while depending on my rides, what tool do I need to make the process safe? I have a lockring wrench already but obviously I didn't get it tight enough the last time around =(. Will my generic chain whip work for tightening the cog? Do I even really need a lockring?

    Thanks so much in advance if you read this whole thing and can toss some advice my way! I really appreciate it =].
    Last edited by Matterbator; 06-23-09 at 03:37 AM.

  2. #2
    monster
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    This is my first year on the track as well. Here are some of the things I observed / learned so far. I'm sure some of the guys on here with more experience can help a bit more.

    1. TK3 seems like a decent bike to start off with. I wouldn't "upgrade" anything until you get out on the track and see if you really like it. The stock wheels should hold up fine as a set of training wheels.
    You can race on them your first years and save some money for a set of race wheels for next season.

    2. I rode my Crank Bros Candy SLs for the first months until I accidently unclipped during one of the workouts. Most people I talk to ride Speedplay or Look type road pedals on the track.
    I purchased Look KEO Sprints and use a 0 degree float cleat.

    3. You should invest in a few cogs and chainrings. I was amazed at how many times we switch out gears during the workouts. We usually warm up in an 82 gear inch then go to anywhere between 92-94 inches depending on the workout. 3/32" is fine, but 1/8" is more common. So if you need to borrow a cog or chainring in a pinch, there is a good chance they will have 1/8".

    4. So far I do my track specific training at the track. Rollers will help build up leg speed and bike control.

    5. You should get comfortable working on your bike. Have a friend show you how to swap cogs and how to work on your bike. To change a cog you need a lockring tool and chainwhip.

    Again, this is just some of the things I learned in my first year. Hope some of this helps!

  3. #3
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    1. I wouldn't get the Felt to start off with. Since you are going to be riding this on the city streets commuting and training. I would say try to find a decent steel bike. Steel will last a lot longer, and will survive a few crashes (its gonna happen). Lots of people ride Mercier Kilo TT's on the track espicially in the Cat 4-5 races.

    Aluminum bikes can get destroyed very easily, especially if your commuting. If you are just going to use the FELT for training and racing, I would say go for it and find a cheap conversion for your commuting at what not.

    2. I ride Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL. My personal favorite road clipless pedal. They have a very wide body and a solid connection when clipped in.

    3. ^what monsterkidz said.

    4. For one, get out a ride your bike. Sitting on the internet never makes you go faster. I mix my training up with some sprints, some longer rides and a mix. Maybe one day a week, I will throw on a lower gear, and work on my spinning. Good Spinning technique will help you have and keep your bike in control during those all important sprints.

    5. Alot of shops offer repair classes. Ask if you have them show you around your bike for an hour. Beer goes along way in these situations . Definatly get a chainwhip and a lock ring tool, and wrenches to take off your rear wheel. Depending on the events being ridden on the track, I might change my gearing. And Yes a lock ring is necessary, you will be doing a lot of speed changing on the track, small minute changes, and you do not want your cog coming off. Actually, I do not want to be drafting you when your cog comes off.
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  4. #4
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    I ride track at the Superdrome in Frisco. Unfortunately I live in Austin, so don't make it up there as often as I'd like.

    1) I'd go with something more solid and with a 1/8" drive chain. Not sure why they would spec 3/32" other than to save themselves $$ and cost you $$ in the long run. Don't worry about wheels for now. OR... Rent what the track has for the first few months until you figure out fit, etc... and then make a more informed buying decision.

    2) SPD-SL with the tension cranked all the way up. Works good, a lot of guys use it. You can add straps to it later if you become a match sprint champ.

    3) Get 13, 14, 15 and 16 cogs. You will be swapping often throughout any training or racing session. I'm doing OK with only a 48 and 50 chain ring so far. My next buy would probably be a 52.

    4) No, riding fixed on the street is nothing like riding on the track. Just go take the intro/safety course that is required at all tracks and then attend the open training sessions.

    5) Once you're at the intro/safety course, if they don't cover this, ask the instructor to show you how to do it right. It's no big deal. You will need a 1/8" whip for 1/8" cogs, a 3/32" usually doesn't fit. Yes, you will need to use a lock ring. If you got caught in a mass start race without one, you'd make a lot of people very mad.

  5. #5
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    1. the TK3 is all right. it's similar to older TK2s with some downgrades and some cheaping out a little bit on components (OEM crankset rather than a nicer sugino track one). If I were you though, I'd look for a used Fuji Track Pro. They are probably nicer framesets (you can see 'em being ridden at top levels of the sport), and even lightly used ones tend to run around five to seven hundred - complete. Used TK2s you can get for similar deals.

    Wheels... I wouldn't worry about 'em. If you want to spend money on nicer hubs, or a handbuilt set, or a tubular set, talk with a wheelbuilder about what you'll be doing with them and listen to what they've got to say. It might be nice to have a training wheelset that you can get mucky and a racing wheelset that you keep in great condition, but it's not super important. Ride what you've got until you *know* what you want to change.

    Drivetrain: I recommend commuting on a light gear - 48/18 or something like that. 48/15 will probably do you okay for starting to race on the track. You might find yourself wanting a 14, a 49, and a 50 for a bit of variety.

    Basic training: one is, ride the thing a lot. Get comfortable on it. Get comfortable cruising on it, sprinting on it. Late in the winter when I removed the dust from my track bike and rode it around a little bit I scowled at how weird it felt. So I rode it more, and now it's back to its comfortableness again. Get there with your bike. Experiment with different stem lengths and positions. Those handlebars are pretty deep.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  6. #6
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    Good advice throughout; nothing to add, except don't worry about aluminum bikes. bikesandbeer seems to have wandered over from the SS/Fixed forum, where they're "all about steel," as they say over there. Experienced track racers have no problem with aluminum frames.

  7. #7
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    Awesome! This was just what I was looking for. Thanks for all the great advice! =]

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
    Good advice throughout; nothing to add, except don't worry about aluminum bikes. bikesandbeer seems to have wandered over from the SS/Fixed forum, where they're "all about steel," as they say over there. Experienced track racers have no problem with aluminum frames.
    I was only commenting this, since Matterbator was mentioning using the bike double duty as a commuter bike.

    heres what I said:
    "Aluminum bikes can get destroyed very easily, especially if your commuting."

    here is what Matterbator said:
    "From my research, it looks like a good deal for what you get and it'd still serve me well for basic work commuting and practice while I'm out on city streets."

    You should read all the words I wrote.

    If you are only going to be riding on the track, by all means go aluminum.
    Last edited by bikesnbeer; 06-23-09 at 11:05 AM.
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  9. #9
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    destroyed very easily?

    that might be a bit of hyperbole there.

    i wouldn't treat my aluminum bike the same way I treat my everyday steel bike, which i toss around, drop, crash, et cetera. Because the alu bike has thin walls and big tubes and could get dented more easily.

    But to make the leap to "destroyed very easily" requires quite an imagination. I commute on my Felt TK2 pretty regularly and imagine it would be hard to destroy it, even in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

    I also regularly commute on my aluminum road bike. Also not getting destroyed easily.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by queerpunk View Post
    I commute on my Felt TK2 pretty regularly and imagine it would be hard to destroy it, even in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
    just another data point:
    My GF has taken her TK2 (a couple years old model) off pavement on quite a few fire roads. It did fine. I rode my CF Trek road bike on the same roads (and some worse ones) and it's fine, too. Bikes are generally pretty tough, no matter what they're made of.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

  11. #11
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Does anyone else notice this canard about everyone crashing their bike multiple times? I've been racing for years and I've really only ever seen a handful of crashes, and usually they were on totally sketchy wet brick roads or else crazy flukes like someone dropping a chain in the third corner. I've been bumped and I've certainly fallen a few times, but I've never crashed, and neither have most of the people I race with.

    Have you people who actually have experience racing actually see this much crashing in real life? Do I live in a bubble?
    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

  12. #12
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    i see very little crashing at my local velodrome. maybe four in the two years i've been racing.

    a lot more in road races.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matterbator View Post
    for my first leap into fixie riding.
    First off DON'T use the term "fixie" at the track or around track racers. That's for the hipsters.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikesnbeer View Post
    Aluminum bikes can get destroyed very easily, especially if your commuting.
    Don't worry about aluminum. Last time I checked there are MILLIONS of aluminum road bikes out there. I'v got one that's 15 years old and going strong.

    Quote Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
    1.with a 1/8" drive chain. Not sure why they would spec 3/32".

    2. then attend the open training sessions.

    3 Yes, you will need to use a lock ring. If you got caught in a mass start race without one, you'd make a lot of people very mad.
    1. 1/8 is more common, but 3/32 is fine(some riders prefer it). What I would do if the bike comes with 3/32 is change out the chain to 1/8. You can run 1/8 chain on 3/32 cogs and chainrings no problem. Then if you need to borrow a ring or cog, you wont have to find someone with 3/32.

    2. I would stay away from the OPEN training sessions until you know what you need to do. Open sessions can become free-for-alls and you really need to be up on your track etiquette and riding skills. Go to the structured sessions. You will get the instruction and guidance you need.

    3.Some tracks don't allow lockrings. I wont go into details. Point is, you should ask about the rules for the track you are riding at. We ride three different tracks. While most things are the same at all three, there are those few that are not.

    Have fun.
    P.S. The rental bikes at ADT are stock Felt TK2's (including the wheels).

  14. #14
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    Thanks!! =D All great tips.

  15. #15
    shut up and ride
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    Quote Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
    Get 13, 14, 15 and 16 cogs. You will be swapping often throughout any training or racing session. I'm doing OK with only a 48 and 50 chain ring so far. My next buy would probably be a 52.
    your next chainring should be a 49.

  16. #16
    Does Not Exist
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    ^This man is correct.

  17. #17
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Truth.
    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

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Somewhat related digression:

    Android said, "You will be swapping often throughout any training or racing session."

    Really? I have a warm up gear (83), a medium gear for sprints and mass-starts (90) and a big gear for kilo and keirins (94). I've got a load more rigs and cogs, but it's easy to get by on just these, basically a 47 and 49 rings and a 14 and 16 cogs. I rarely change gears more than twice in a day. Do you guys change a lot more than this? If so, why? I may need to change my system up.

    Thanks

  19. #19
    shut up and ride
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    here's the way it was explained to me way back when:
    you want three consecutive chainrings (45,46,47 or 49,50,51) and three cogs to give you range of gears.

    example:
    xx 49 50 51 chainrings
    15 88.2 90 91.8
    16 82.6 84.4 86.1
    17 77.8 79.4 81.0

    this gives you the range of gears you will need and the tightest range. any more will be duplicates of these. this allows you to make small changes in your gearing depending on track, weather/wind, type of race/training, fitness, etc.

    you might use the 91.8 (50x15) for a flying 200m to get your best time but go down to a 90 or 88 for the actual match sprints to get a better jump and as you get a little tired through the rounds.

    i used to use a smaller gear for the miss-and-out that for the point race and others because the miss-and-out was usually slower at the front where you knew you were safe and if you were at the back and needed to sprint you also had to do it uphill as you have to go over the top

  20. #20
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    When I get to the track, I want to warm up, so I put on the warm-up gear: 49x15.
    Then the motorpace starts, and so I need a gear that's a little bigger. I put on the 49x15.
    Usually the first race is a short scratch race, so I can get away with a 49x15.
    Later in the night, there is a longer points race, so I don't want to get too worn out by the end. I put on a 49x15.
    (I'm lazy.)

  21. #21
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    I guess I'm halfway between you guys. I don't like changing the cog, so with my set-up I just have to flip the wheel and change one ring. Pretty lazy, but I still get to have a warm-up gear at least.

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    I'm thinking about using a flip flop hub on back to be able to switch between a good starter track gear and a city street commuting gear. The cog my bike will have on it when I buy it will be a 15t, but I'll probably throw like an 18t on there (live in Sf, quite a bit of hills). Would you guys recommend buying an extra chain so that I can just swap my entire chain out each time I flip the hub (assuming the primary chain won't be able to accommodate both), or just remove chain links on one chain and use it for both gear settingS?

  23. #23
    shut up and ride
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    you should be able to make it with one chain if you have true track dropouts that are long enough. i ride a 46 or 47x14 on the track and ride a 47x19 to and from the track. that's a five tooth difference and it works with one chain

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zzzwillzzz View Post
    you should be able to make it with one chain if you have true track dropouts that are long enough. i ride a 46 or 47x14 on the track and ride a 47x19 to and from the track. that's a five tooth difference and it works with one chain
    Ahh, cool! I will have to play with my chain length to try and make it work for both =]. Thanks for your input.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matterbator View Post
    I'm thinking about using a flip flop hub on back to be able to switch between a good starter track gear and a city street commuting gear. The cog my bike will have on it when I buy it will be a 15t, but I'll probably throw like an 18t on there (live in Sf, quite a bit of hills). Would you guys recommend buying an extra chain so that I can just swap my entire chain out each time I flip the hub (assuming the primary chain won't be able to accommodate both), or just remove chain links on one chain and use it for both gear settingS?
    I can flip between a 15 and a 18 cog on my 08 Fuji Track Pro without any problems. The 18t is right against the inside of the drop out and the 15 lays just past mid-line towards the open end of the drop out. Not the most ideal wheel placement for racing with the 15t considering the aero-cut out, but it gets the job done.

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