What Equipment Do I Need?
There are subtle details when it comes to equipment for the track. We will try to cover the important highlights here.
The biggest thing to remember is that expensive gear just doesn’t make as much difference on the track as it does on the road. Which is probably why there is a big variation in equipment because most people like riding what appeals to them most. With that being said let's dive in.
Bikes that are designed for riding velodrome are called track bikes. A track bikes has no mechanical brakes, and one gear - so there is no coasting. Not all fixed gear bikes are suitable for the track. This is because track bikes have a higher bottom bracket and shorter cranks to allow for additional pedal clearance in banked corners. At Ed Rudolph Velodrome (ERV) the banking is relatively shallow so a lower bottom bracket is less of an issue than somewhere where the banking is very steep. In fact we have ridden our road bike around ERV without any issues.
Track bike sizing can be different than road bikes and a lot of bike fitters have told us to go one size up over your road bike frame.
There are different flavors of track bikes for different types of events:
The geometry of these bikes are very similar to road bikes
The geometry allows the rider to be longer and lower
They are typically very stiff
Keeping in mind that the bicycle is unlikely to be the limiting factor in your performance a good entry level track bike costs about $1,000 new. But for more than $1,000 you can find more specialized bikes. Some entry to mid level bikes that we like are:
Argon 18 Electron - $1,000
Dolan Pre Cursa - $950
Look 464 - $1,800
Felt TK2 - $1,799
Wheels & Tires
For beginners 32 spoke wheels are a great place to start. Most people will eventually upgrade to deep section wheels and or rear disk wheel. If you're running aluminum wheels clincher tires are fine. If you want to run deep section wheels we prefer tubulars.
All road pedals will work. However, we prefer pedals like Shimano SPD-SL or a Look Keo Series. If you become powerful on the bike we also recommend Track Straps like these.
Are typically narrower road bars which is because it allows you to be more aerodynamic. The author of this was always skeptical until they tried 35cm bars and now uses nothing bigger than 38cm bars on any of their bikes.
Tools are necessary to change your gear on your bike. At minimum to get started you'll need:
Track Specific 1/8" Chain Whip (If you are using 1/8" cogs)
You can make your own by taking a stock chain whip and replacing the current chain with a 1/8" chain
Metric Allen Wrenches
Finally, in our opinion good tools make a huge difference and will be kinder to your equipment and will last longer. We very much enjoy chatting about all this so if you have any questions about this stuff reach out to us.