Find a Club

MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.
NSC Velo
Contact:  Bob Williams
Website:  NSC Velodrome
Gopher Wheelmen
Contact:  Matthew Sterling
Shamrocks Racing
Contact:  Rob Danneker

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One optional item on a track bike that has no analogue on a road bike is called a chain tensioner.  If you tend to have problems with your wheel slipping forward in the rear dropouts, it will solve that problem.  This problem would tend to arise on standing starts (chariot races, time trials, match sprint), where the effort you put into the pedals has the effect of pulling the right side of the rear axle forward, and you “pull a wheel”.  This stops the bike dead, and you fall over, and you look silly.  It’s embarrassing, and incredibly frustrating.

The problem of pulling a wheel is most likely to arise if your rear dropouts are shiny or too rigid.  Because the grip of the rear axle bolts into the rear dropout is the only thing keeping the wheel in place, the best bolts are big and grippy, and the best dropouts are of a somewhat softer metal, and painted – it grips better than chrome.  That said, if you have a wheel/dropout combination that doesn’t seem to hold very well, just cranking down on the right-side axle bolt will eventually cause you to strip the axle threads, the bolt faces, or both.  Don’t do that.  Just get a little device called a chain tensioner, and you’ll be all set.  You can’t pull a wheel with a chain tensioner on.  It also may make it a little easier in general to get the right chain tension and wheel position when you’re switching gears.


Track frames tend to be stiffer, heavier, and less comfortable than road frames, which is natural given what they are being designed for.  But a few features merit special mention.

  • Higher bottom bracket.  Again, for better pedal clearance.
  • No bottle braze-ons.  Water bottles are never allowed on the track.  On a wood track in particular, any water on the track surface is treacherous and will cause crashes.  (Incidentally, this is an easy way to know if a fixed-gear or single-speed bike being sold in a shop is laid out with an actual track geometry.  Most single-speeds are not set up for track – the bottom bracket height, seat and head angles, etc., are road angles.  But if there are bottle braze-ons, it’s a dead giveaway – you know it’s not meant for the track, whatever the marketing materials say.)
  • Stronger Forks.  Especially on short, steeply banked tracks, the G-forces a rider will generate in the corner are not inconsiderable, and that weight comes bearing down onto the front fork disproportionately.  So, the fork and steerer tube need to be nice and strong to hold their shape and avoid breakage.  Any good road fork would probably be fine, but track forks are a little beefier for this reason.
  • Rear-facing dropouts.  This is the necessary feature of a track bike that makes it impossible to adapt most road frames to track use.  Because different gear combinations result in different rear-wheel positions, any fixed gear bike needs to have long, rear-facing dropouts so that the rear wheel can be positioned differently for each gear.
  • Sizing.  Depending on various factors, you may ride a smaller bike on the track than on the road.  I ride a 59cm road frame, but a 59cm track frame is too big; I ride a 57cm on the track.  This isn’t true for everyone, but it’s not uncommon.


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