Dave Moulton

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« Back from the Classic Rendezvous Weekend | Main | Museum Piece »

Track Bike

The Fuso track bike above was built 30 years ago in 1988. It is still owned by the original owner, Dave Watring, and is pictured at the Los Angeles Velo Sports Center where it is still being ridden three times a week.

I built only a few of these specialist track frames over the years, there was little call for them at the time. They were not yet a fashion fad to be used on the streets. They were only ordered by someone who actually had access to a track or velodrome.

The track bike is as simple and as basic as one can get, which is part of their appeal. A single fixed sprocket screwed directly to the rear hub, and no brakes. What, no brakes? The uninitiated will ask. Isn’t that dangerous?

No, actually when used as intended, on a banked velodrome, brakes would be more dangerous than “No Brakes.” Everyone is riding counter-clockwise around the track, there is no need to stop, and the last thing one needs would be someone slamming on their brakes when riding only inches from the rider in front.

If someone falls, and it happens, the riders are so close and going so fast that there would be no time to stop even with brakes. The best defense is to steer around the fallen rider. For this reason, track bikes are designed with a steeper head angle to steer quickly.

On a road bike, to go around a corner, the rider leans in the direction he is turning and the bike steers itself around the bend. On a banked velodrome, when the bike and rider are traveling at speed, the bike is leaning, and in theory is at 90 degrees to the track surface at all times. It is as if they were traveling in a straight line.

The time to deviate from that straight line, is to go around an opponent, or a fallen rider. The track rider learns a whole different skill set. He steers the bike by turning the handlebars. Something a road rider rarely does.

Watching a track meet, one can always pick out the inexperienced road riders. In the event of a crash, the first thing they do is try to stop pedaling, and reach for brake levers that aren’t there.

Track bikes I built had a 74 degree head angle, and 1 1/8 inch (30 mm.) fork rake. Less trail than my road bikes which were 73 head angle, 1 3/8 in. (35 mm.) More trail for self-steering qualities, less trail for track bikes meant to be physically steered.



I am late with my blog posting this week partly because I am preparing to attend the Classic Rendezvous Weekend event in Greensboro, North Carolina, May 18-20. I will probably be late next week for the same reason. I hope to meet up with a few of you there.

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Reader Comments (1)

Greensboro NC Home of Dale Brown who is putting on his last "a really big show" as Ed Sulivan would say. I know that there is going to be several of your bikes (well frame and forks) in the show. I would like to add, that, I like, I am sure YOU Dave when we started riding and racing we only had ONE bike and this had to suffice for every kind of race we did. But our only one did have the track ends like the one you built above. Looking forward to spending some time with you and Kathy, also Alexander and Sharron VonTutschek all the from BATH ENGLAND The British ARE coming!!!

May 16, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

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