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  1. #1
    Senior Member SteveCrowley's Avatar
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    downsides to used keirin framesets?

    After several seasons of xc mountain bike, cyclocross, and road racing, I decided to venture into the realm of track racing and it is an absolute blast. the thing is, my current bike is bombproof and weighs in at around 23 pounds. This thing was really built for the abuse of riding on the street, which it does phenomenally, not for racing. I have been checking out NJS Export, and have heard some good things about the guy who runs it. There are some framesets on there that are priced relatively reasonably. I think I want to build up a bike with one of his framesets.

    What, if any, are the downsides to racing a used (but in good cosmetic shape) keirin frameset? I must imagine that the pros who have used these before they are exported put a huge amount of stress on these bikes, but since the framesets are lugged steel, they should hold up pretty well, right?

    anyone have any experience with these?

  2. #2
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    They should be fine. It's my understanding that one minor dent might render a Keirin bike unable to pass inspection.

    That being said, NJS riders ride those bikes because they have to. By all accounts: If they had their pick, they would ride modern bikes.

    Remember, NJS doesn't mean it's better than modern bikes. Actually, it's quite the contrary. It means that the bike and parts have been made to specifications that date back decades to ensure that no one competitor has an equipment advantage over another.

    I raced at a local track weekly (when in season) and went to a couple of National events and I did not see ONE NJS bike all season. I *DID* however get to see an ex Keirin racer compete on an Anchor/Bridgestone...a carbon fiber one :-)

  3. #3
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    To get an idea of what regular folks race on locally, not just the world-class stuff, have a look here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/dlv/pool/

    Some of those in the photos are pros, national, and world champs at the local races. They've got to be local somewhere, right?

    Most bikes are off-the-shelf types in the $800 - $2,000 range. There are, of course, a few exceptions on either end of that range.

  4. #4
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Keirin bikes themselves all start out great, but by the time you buy one, you should be examining the condition just as you would with any other new or used bicycle. They are not commonly raced in the US, probably because they are currently more expensive and usually harder to acquire than many mid-to-high end track bikes, bikes which are lighter, stiffer and generally more suited to today's racing. I still see plenty of people racing old and new steel frames, but like Carleton, few if any of those are NJS bikes.

    There was a time, not more than a few years ago, when track bikes were exceedingly rare, and the least expensive quality "legit" track bike you could find was an old NJS frame from Japan or one of the handful of people who imported them. For a variety of reasons, demand has now outpaced supply, while at the same time, the whole bike industry went and dumped a thousand new track frames onto the market, so buying a used keirin bike is no longer a very good value (unless you find some insane deal, but those don't seem to come around much anymore).
    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

  5. #5
    vexatious enigma Waldo425's Avatar
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    The downside is that it's used and you don't know exactly where it's been. Assuming that it hasn't been in a major crash or something I'd say go for it. I would.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SteveCrowley's Avatar
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    thanks for your opinions. I am well aware that there are good new bikes out there, one of my teammates has a pretty nice fuji pro. I am definitely still gonna go with a lugged steel frame, so I'll keep shopping around and see what I find. Honestly, I'm really not that much of a weight weenie, I just want something that is relatively light but will last me for many years to come, and I am very skeptic about aluminum and carbon, as aluminum bikes definitely feel pretty dead after several years of racing, and i have a friend who's carbon frameset broke, and I cant afford Ti. I guess I will just keep my eyes open for good deals. I just dont want to end up with a bike that is so beat up that it will fall apart when I ride it hard.

  7. #7
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveCrowley View Post
    thanks for your opinions. I am well aware that there are good new bikes out there, one of my teammates has a pretty nice fuji pro. I am definitely still gonna go with a lugged steel frame, so I'll keep shopping around and see what I find. Honestly, I'm really not that much of a weight weenie, I just want something that is relatively light but will last me for many years to come, and I am very skeptic about aluminum and carbon, as aluminum bikes definitely feel pretty dead after several years of racing, and i have a friend who's carbon frameset broke, and I cant afford Ti. I guess I will just keep my eyes open for good deals. I just dont want to end up with a bike that is so beat up that it will fall apart when I ride it hard.
    I have a 1976 Schwinn Paramount P14 steel lugged track bike that I bought new and raced for 30 years before I replaced it 3 years ago with a Bianchi Pista Concept aluminum track bike. The Paramount has survived numerous hard crashes and is a great handling bike that is a pleasure to ride. However, it simply cannot match the stiffness of the Bianchi, which I've taken to my natz for the last 3 years. The Bianchi has not become "dead" or in any way shown signs of wearing out, although, I've never had a crash on it which it probably would not survive as well as the Paramount. A strong sprinter friend did manage to break a Teschner carbon frame, but I've not seen anyone break an aluminum frame. The Bianchi is about 2 lbs lighter than the Paramount, and this matters in short standing start TT events that are timed to the 100ths of seconds. Also, modern frames offer better aerodynamics, which again is important in TT events. The problem with old steel frames is not so much the material itself, but the fact that they use small diameter tubing, which is less geometrically stiff than the large diameter tubing used today. Another problem with steel is corrosion, and Keirin races are held in wet conditions, so I would not want to buy a used Keirin frame without actually seeing it up close. As bonechilling said, go to races and you will not see a lot of NJS frames and very few steel frames anymore. Aluminum used to be a problem with durability, but I think the technology has advanced to the point that they are just as good as steel and perform better. NJS frames are also hampered with the inferior obsolete technology of threaded headsets and quill stems. Like I said, I love riding my old Paramount on and off the track, but its days as a serious competition weapon are over.

  8. #8
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    People still hold to that "aluminum bikes feel dead" canard? I can't believe we still hear that **** and it's nearly 2010.
    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

  9. #9
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Another thing, NJS bikes (and older bikes in general) are designed to different fitting methodologies which make the bikes handle differently.

    Look at old photos and you see a large frame with a high TT, "a handful of seatpost" under the rider, and a down-sloping stem. Now bikes have lower TTs, longer seat posts, and up-sloping stems.

    Modern bikes seem to be more nimble and easier to handle. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but that's how they compare in my humble opinion.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    I've been racing an NJS steel frameset over here with some pretty good success against riders on bikes many, many times the price. It's not the bike. Anyhow, it isn't really much heavier than many of the new type bikes. My teammate has an Anchor carbon bike and it's HEAVIER than my steel bike! Weight really isn't much of an issue on the track. Buy what you like.

    Anecdote: I have a friend over here who recently upgraded to a Teschner form an older steel keirin frame. His difference in times? Nothing. In fact, his fastest 200 and kilo are still on the old "inferior" bike. Make of that what you will.

    Additionally, if you can find a fair vendor, an ex-keirin frame is a good value. Frames are often retired on a yearly basis on principle, even if they are un-crashed. If you can find one of these it's basically new. Good luck!

  11. #11
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    I moved from a twenty year old steel track bike to a modern aluminum one and my times and results improved dramatically. Pretty much every person I race with made this jump at one time or another, and nearly every one of them will comment on how much better their new bike is than their old one. Make of that what you will.

    You're the only person to bring up weight in this conversation. The problem most people have with keirin frames is not weight, it's that they are highly flexible compared to a comparable bike made of aluminum or carbon, and that the geometry is generally designed for an event and a type of velodrome few of us encounter with any regularity (and even if you do keirin, international keirin is different from Japanese keirin). Your friend's Anchor may weigh more than your steel bike, but that's not the point - it's function is to be exceptionally stiff.
    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
    Senior Member
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    Bonechilling wrote: "You're the only person to bring up weight in this conversation"

    -Not true, check the OP's second post.

    Yeah, that's fine- everyone's milage will vary. Perhaps someday I'll be upgrading to carbon, too-- I'm certainly not against it. Also, stiffness depends on the rider. I'm only 170 pounds, and mine is plenty stiff for me. I've also seen a number of NJS frames that have managed to get "creative" within the rules- massive tube diameters, unorthodox bottom bracket shell construction, etc. Mine is pretty garden variety, but it is still very possible to make a very stiff frame out of steel. Check out Yamaguchi, for example.

    And on the bumpy tracks of the US, steel might actually be a blessing. I've only ridden two US tracks, but boy I sure would take my "flexible" steel bike over an ultra-stiff alloy bike there!

    In my admittedly un-scientific experiences I've found that equipment changes are mostly psychological, at least in super-short sprint events. That means; if you think your equipment is fast, then it most certainly is.

    In any case, my advice to the OP is the same: Buy what you like. If it's a quality track bike of whatever type, you'll be psyched. It's so much more fun than the road!

  13. #13
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    Steel NJS vs. Aluminum Concept

    Anyone reading this discussion should refer to the Blotto interview with Mike Hernandez here:
    http://www.blottophotto.com/29:-samson-njs/

    He clearly explains the difference in feel of the two styles of track frames. Having owned both styles myself I would have to completely agree with what he says concerning razor vs. sword.

  14. #14
    Run What 'Ya Brung bonechilling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cryptic View Post
    Anyone reading this discussion should refer to the Blotto interview with Mike Hernandez here:
    http://www.blottophotto.com/29:-samson-njs/

    He clearly explains the difference in feel of the two styles of track frames. Having owned both styles myself I would have to completely agree with what he says concerning razor vs. sword.
    That is so wildly irrelevant to the conversation we had here.
    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

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Another thing, NJS bikes (and older bikes in general) are designed to different fitting methodologies which make the bikes handle differently.

    Look at old photos and you see a large frame with a high TT, "a handful of seatpost" under the rider, and a down-sloping stem. Now bikes have lower TTs, longer seat posts, and up-sloping stems.
    actually.. keirin frames tend to be more modernized in their dimensioning/geometry than 80s italian pistas w/ their usual squared dimensions. most keirin frames seem to have 1-2cm longer top tubes than seat tubes... and a modern relaxed headtube angle of 74ish for stability since their tracks are longer in general ..400-500m .. compared to 250-333m. current sprint frames also aren't as steep in teh HT as they were back in steeldays... but make up for this w/ a higher bb. about 2cm i believe. anyways.. for comparison. my 87 pinarello is 76/75; 55.5 squared w/ a 40mm bb drop. measured on a surface plate.

    njs bikes are very refined and extremely well built.. engineered w/ tight triangles and stability in mind. also the njs frames tend to accomodate japanese body dimensions and style... w/ lots of leaning over and lower saddles to leverage their downstroke. which is must since they dont allow clip ins.
    Last edited by eoLithic; 03-25-11 at 04:30 PM.

  16. #16
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    Bikes are bikes, yes, they are put under a lot of stress but how much more powerful are you than a world class track racer? Your power shouldn't stress the bike enough to make it an issue

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