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Has track bike technology changed in the last 10-15 years?

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Has track bike technology changed in the last 10-15 years?

Old 09-11-19, 10:55 AM
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chas58
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Has track bike technology changed in the last 10-15 years?

Just wondering on this one. So much change in mountain bikes (long, low slack), so much change in road bikes (disk brakes, wider tires, tubeless, dropbar-gravel). I donít know that anything has really changed on the track side of things. Am I forgetting something?
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Old 09-11-19, 11:24 AM
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Morelock
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Certainly things have changed, but no it's not at the pace of things like Triathlon / Mountain Biking / Gravel-Allroad, etc.

The thing is, manufacturers don't sell many track bikes. How many Cervelo T4's get sold vs. P2/3/5/x's? Or Felt TK1's vs. Felt DA/IA's? Probably very, very few and the % has to be insanely low. And in general, these advancements in track bikes are trickle down from road.

On the other side of the coin... how many triathletes (for example) buy the newest, hottest ~$2-5k bike, do their bucket list Ironman, then sell it / let it sit in the basement. Compare that to a trackie...who generally is in it for the long haul. How many guys show up to the local track on a bike they've owned for years and years? Or on disc wheels from the 90's? If you see that at a triathlon, it's generally from someone who is on a budget.

It's sort of an Ouroboros... guys aren't buying new bikes every year - manufacturers aren't making money hand over fist - no point in spending tons of money of R&D on a new bike. It's why something like an early model Felt TK1 is still considered high end, but a Felt DA from similar generation is basically worthless, the two of which are very, very similar bikes.

It's interesting (to me) coming from Triathlon years ago seeing the differences.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:27 AM
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I'd say yes, but it's more subtle than with other disciplines.

Carbon has brought in the possibility of more aero tube shapes, as well as some handlebar shapes the weren't possible with metal.
The Sram Omnium type bottom bracket, while popular on the road, is relatively new to track.
Aero helmets have become popular for mass start racing, I think that's relatively new.

It's a fun topic to think on. This is just a few things that I thought of off the top of my head. I'm sure others will add more.
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Old 09-11-19, 01:55 PM
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How far back are you comparing?

Compared to the round tube steel bikes or when carbon first really came wide spread in the early- to mid-2000s, things have changed a lot. If you're comparing it to the last 5-10 years, not so much. (In MTB, if your FS bike is more than three years old, it's pretty much outdated.)

As Morelock said, a lot of the higher end track stuff we are seeing now is derived from TT bikes.

I think probably the most notable difference is headtube height. It's become much shorter in recent years, resulting in reduced drop handlebars (Look, Scatto) and more up-turned stems.

There's also a growing trend toward shorter crank arms and bigger chainrings, but that isn't really a new technology.

But I think the bigger thing is that even when new or crazy things are tried, many just go back to the original.

Felt's Super Bike was interesting in the narrow front wheel spacing and left hand driveside crank set. But that bike is only used by a handful of top riders.

The Brits tried super wide forks at one point but then went back to regular width.

And even though Mavic updated the iO in 2016 with the Rio, many of top riders are still riding the original, which is a 20-year-old design.
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Old 09-11-19, 03:07 PM
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Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything much over the last 10-15 years.

Some frames have some interesting more aero shapes. Some carbon handlebars have a newer look.

I read somewhere not too long ago that Aero testing showed that the super tight tire clearances (front fork) were not very aerodynamic, and the forks now had more tire to fork clearance.

Goodpoints above.
  • More compact drop (and flattened/aero) compared to the old school track bars
  • Aero helmets and attached goggles
  • Maybe more wind tunnel tested frames (or at least they try to look that way...)
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Old 09-18-19, 12:20 PM
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In a game were progress (even personal progress) is measured in less than a second, yes there has been significant progress (read: times are getting faster). But, they are all considered marginal gains.

So, the tech itself hasn't changed much (aero tubing, carbon fiber, 34cm Nitto B123 bars have existed for decades).

What's changed is data analysis. Athletes and coaches being able to get instant data and the knowledge of how to analyze it to look for these marginal gains has increased. A coach and athlete can test an idea that's "ass backwards" and beyond all "common sense" and immediately see if it works. I mean, it was just 2009 when people were like, "You NEED wide bars in order to breath! Hell, even 40cm bars are too narrow!! You can't handle the bike with bars more narrow than 40cm!".

So, it's data analysis that's changed. It was that sea change that vaulted Team GB over everyone else in the world. They were one of the first teams to put computers and power meters on every bike and hire a full-time data analyst (who later married Victoria Pendleton) to analyze that data for actionable insights.
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Old 09-18-19, 12:23 PM
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The same goes for Joe Schmoe. Every racer will benefit from learning to analyze their speed, cadence, HR, and (optionally) power data. Every. One.

That's where your marginal gains (5-10% increases) will be found.

EDIT:

Learn to analyze it on the bike when racing and later at home after the races.

For example: If you know your threshold is X Beats Per Minute or Y Watts, then you be careful not to go over that when you are taking pulls or trying to take a lap.
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Old 09-19-19, 11:51 AM
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Wow, good point.

Yes, that has changed for me dramatially. I was a little skeptical when I first use the heart rate monitor - although it was invaluable for doing the HOUR. Then I wished I had a way to record it and analyze later. Certainly in practice, doing jump the gap or lap the field - I can see how long it takes to recover - and how the harder and more often I jump - the longer recovery takes. And if I haven't gotten below my HR threshold, I'm certainly not going to be able to take a second jump.
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Old 09-20-19, 04:16 AM
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On a related note: Wind Tunnel Testing is an extension of the Data Analysis and has led to gains.

Even if normal folk can't get to a wind tunnel, we still benefit by imitating the new "fast" positions or riders who have a similar body shape and riding style. Basically, copying works.


So, this is still on the Data Analysis front. The equipment used on the bikes hasn't really changed much.
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