The Truth About Track Bike Geometry
By Don Walker
What makes a track bike ride, handle and be a track bike?
In hindsight, I really wish that I hadn’t agreed on the subject matter. I have a set way of doing things. I’m opinionated. Very. I don’t always play well with others.
Now, please bear in mind that I am a former Cat. 2 track racer from California’s “good ol’ days”. In the 1980’s, I competed as a Junior against the likes of Knickman, Oravetz and Schommer. I’ve ridden and constructed many steeds in my time, and have set opinions on how track bikes should ride.
Mass Start Frames
A “Mass Start” frame is one in which the frame is used for all mass start races, i.e. Points Races, Scratch Races and even Madisons. The general handling characteristics of these types of frames is stable and smooth, with just a touch of twitchiness.
A “Sprint” frame is one in which the frame is used for Match Sprints or Keirin racing. The general handling characteristics of these types of frames is twitchy and fast.
A “Pursuit” frame is one in which the frame is used for timed events only on the track, usually solo or against one other rider. The general handling characteristics of these types of frames is a bit slower than those of Mass Start frames.
The angle of the headtube in degrees, from parallel with the ground.
The distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the front axle
The offset of the fork
The measurement on the ground between the straight line of the fork and the imaginary line dropping down from the front axle center. The distance between those two points is what affects bicycle handling.
Exactly what it says, measured center of axle to top of crown.