First let me say that this forum is great. Been reading them for some time now and trying to learn. I was hoping some of you could help with some questions.
Background: My 15 year old started racing track early last year in Londonderry, NH. Comes out of a BMX racing background (still races) and also races some Cross in the fall. With the BMX background he's definitely been more comfortable in the sprinting side, but also raced omniums all summer as well with points races, etc., mostly racing 2-3 times a week. We went to the Jr. Track Nats in Trexlertown mostly for the experience and he had some downs but also some ups and would like to continue this year and hit Trexlertown a little more often.
And he raced the rest of the year on it completely stock. He's age limited on gearing so the stock 48x15 was fine. He's about 5'10"+ and around 175.
Now he's looking to upgrade some parts. Coming out of BMX, the first bang for the buck upgrade I would consider would be better wheels to save on rotational weight, get better hubs, and hopefully increase stiffness. After that we would usually look at gearing and cranks. Would those same concepts carry over to the velodrome? He's also been talking about sprint and/or aerobars.
So my questions for you fine folks, are for thoughts on the above. Would better wheels be the best first upgrade? And if so, would having them built be best? For a sprint-centric set of race wheels that won't be crazy expensive, maybe in the $500+ range? Also, what else would you advise for the first few upgrades?
If you look around on the forums, you'll find Carleton's list of things that go from best advantage to least... I will post them if I find them in the next five mins
If you plan on doing more than one or two events gearing will need to be varied to an extent.
I know American Classic do track wheelsets, and they go for £300 ($500?), I've heard nothing but excellent from AMClassic at my LBS. The first few upgrades would depend on what you have (and it's condition/quality). Aerobars are only for non-mass starts/pursuits, but you say he took to sprinting? I think this would be a step backwards..?
I couldn't advise on upgrades to a great extent, I don't know masses about products and the quality of the components from the link, but a wheelset would be my general advise if the bike was a 'budget' bike.
Edit: I can't find the list from Carleton. The general gist was strong, durable stuff at the start, and slowly advancing over to fancy aero carbon as the speed gains are minimal for the extra $$$.
Good luck on the track!
Last edited by Lew.; 02-01-13 at 06:49 PM.
Reason: Prevent multiple posts
Thanks Lew. I found a thread where Carleton reviewed wheelsets and he listed the Mavic Ellipse as a best all-around set but with only 20 spokes, "big sprinters" could feel some flex. So that's one question, what is a big sprinter. He starts hard from BMX, but at the same time, he's 175 now, not a 225 pound guy with a lower body that would make Sir Mix-A-Lot blush.
Hey rocketfrog, welcome to the forum. I'm pretty sure I raced with your son at Londonderry a few times this past summer, and damn does he have some kick. I'm sure you've seen the rental fleet up there, and while they're all nice bikes, they're also not super high end. Yet the racers that rely on them are still pretty competitive, and they're all basically set up like the bike you're looking at. At this level, I think the biggest difference is how good your engine is, and how tactical you are. However, the American Classic wheelsets Lew mentioned are quite nice. Bladed spokes, low spoke count, high flange hubs, sub 1600 grams, and really good-looking too.
I'd like to point out, I don't have experience with the AMClassics, but everyone I know sings their praises in terms of hubs and weight for their price.
I'm a Youth B (14-16) and rarely do sprint efforts/events and have never felt anything I could consider flex from wheels, but then again I'm 140lbs so I probably wouldn't from the weakest of weak wheelsets.
As TrackMonkey7 said, the riders fitness and tactics will play the largest factor in youth categories, at my track there is a guy who has a real nice bike (Langster Pro, FFWD deep rims and a rear disc), who lets his son use it for his events and he's a good rider, but I don't think he placed better than third last year in the league at our track (I wasn't there, just saw results). I'd put that down to fitness, considering the bike cost twice as much as any other bike I've seen in my age cat.