Find a Club

MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.
Crossniacs
Contact:  Jared Roy
Website:  Crossniacs
 

Nomad Marketing Cycling Team

Contact:  Jason Lardy
Website:  Nomad Marketing

 
Minnesota Cycling Team
Contact:  Kevin Lennon
Website:  www.mncyclingteam.org
 

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It is fairly rare to see a track racer racing on track-specific (pista) tires.  Mostly, track racers ride road tires.  Yes, there are tiny 19mm tubulars out there being sold as track-specific tires, and I’ve even seen pista clinchers, but they are not the typical thing that track racers use.  Those tires are well-suited for sprint events on very smooth, often indoor, velodromes.  But most velodromes are not nearly that smooth.  And track racers tend to do a wide variety of events, putting a lot of miles on their tires; they aren’t just specializing in sprint events.

So – what do experienced track racers use?  Most elite riders use tubulars, and they often just use road racing tires like a Vittoria CX or Continental Sprinter or Competition.  In an ideal world, you could ride larger (22mm) track-specific tires like the Continental Sonderklasse, but those are very hard to find, and they aren’t really necessary.

Clinchers are fine for track racing too, and while all the usual advantages of tubulars still apply on the track, many track bikes come equipped with clinchers.  Mavic Ellipse track wheels are quite nice, and come with clincher rims, for example.

One tiny detail that might save you a crash if you race on wood is between rubber-carbon and rubber-silica tread.  It seems that rubber-silica tread grips less well on wood surfaces, so rubber-carbon tread is preferred.  Especially for slick indoor tracks (in the USA, the ADT Center in Carson, CA), but also for other wood tracks, the best thing is said to be a rubber-carbon tread.  (The reason rubber-carbon isn’t universally used is that it wears poorly compared to rubber-silica; you have to look for it.)

 

The chain on most track bikes will be a 1/8”-width chain.  These chains are visibly wider than any chain you would find on a road bike.  The idea is that they are stronger and flex less.

That said, entry-level track bikes (e.g., a Bianchi Pista) will often come with a 3/32”-width chain, which is narrower and closer to what a road bike uses.  (More precisely, road bikes used to have 3/32” chains, before the chains started to get narrower still in order to accommodate more cogs in the rear.)
The only practical thing you have to remember about track chains is that while the larger 1/8” chain will work with any chainring or cog, the narrower 3/32” chain will not work with the wider cogs or chainrings designed for 1/8” chains.  So if you end up with a mixed collection of chains and cogs, just be aware of that.

A final note – some six-day racers in Europe use 3/32” chains on their track bikes because the chains are a little less rigid, and they say it’s easier on their legs.  Since I ride on both types of chains, I’ll say that I find this believable.  The narrower, more flexible chain makes the ride a little more comfortable, though I wouldn’t attempt to explain exactly how.

 
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