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  1. #1
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    Why do Track Riders use such Small Gears?

    Why do track riders use small gears? For acceleration? I would think that in sprint events, that acceleration isn't necessary.

  2. #2
    wim
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    Not sure what you mean by "small gears." During my admittedly mediocre track career, I used gears from 81" - 94", which I don't consider small. Many times, I was overgeared and got beat because of it. Undergeared, hardly ever.

    Gearing on the track for a number of events is a compromise between good acceleration and sustainable cadence. Keep in mind that good track riders can hold 120 - 130 rpm for a long time, some even higher cadences. What makes you think sprint events don't require acceleration?
    Last edited by wim; 07-03-2013 at 05:04 PM.

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    A wheelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    I would think that in sprint events, that acceleration isn't necessary.
    They usually roll around at just above walking pace for the first lap (drop below and the event gets re-started) and they finish off, two laps later at about 70kph. If that isn't acceleration I don't know what is.
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  4. #4
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    Why do track riders use small gears? For acceleration? I would think that in sprint events, that acceleration isn't necessary.
    Damn, you need to do some Googlin'...your understanding of track racing is pretty much non existent. But you're young, so there's time...
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    Why do track riders use small gears? For acceleration? I would think that in sprint events, that acceleration isn't necessary.
    What do you mean by small gears?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    Damn, you need to do some Googlin'...your understanding of track racing is pretty much non existent. But you're young, so there's time...
    Chris Hoy didn't do much accelerating did he?
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  7. #7
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Chris Hoy didn't do much accelerating did he?
    Just 0 to 70kph, that's all
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

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    I had read that Chris Hoy raced a 52x14 (98), which I would call HUGE. I never raced more than a 92, but I didn't get knighted either.
    Don't mind me, it's just the online disinhibition effect typing.

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    Funny, I imagine a sprinter accelrating in a race. How can you actually sprint without acceleration? This could be Seinfeld material....
    If you hold a sprint event without acceleration, what should it be called?
    Somewhat trollish, oh well.
    Last edited by carbonconvert; 07-03-2013 at 08:49 PM.

  10. #10
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    To be fair, most accelerations in cycling, even on the track, are pretty modest.

    But one needs to accelerate for various reasons, on the track primarily to attain a superior track position so you can control the race/gain advantage, or to cover your opponents move so that you maintain your positional advantage.

    Generally by the time a rider is in the final run to the line they are barely holding pace, if not decelerating.

    Gearing is as said before a compromise between what a rider can sustain at critical race pace but also manage themselves well enough during periods above and below that pace.

  11. #11
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex_Simmons/RST View Post
    Generally by the time a rider is in the final run to the line they are barely holding pace, if not decelerating.
    Absolutely true, and especially so for all standing start events. In those, initial acceleration is crucial to success. It does seem strange to a road rider to give it all you have in the first half or so of an event only to deteriorate as you get near the finish line, but that's how it's done.

    As to "small gears:" Do a couple of standing starts in an 84" gear with 100% effort and you might change your mind about "small gears" on the track.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    As to "small gears:" Do a couple of standing starts in an 84" gear with 100% effort and you might change your mind about "small gears" on the track.
    No kidding. The OP should try this - with that "little" 84" gear.......oh screw that, I'll let him off easy - use an 81 like I do for all track training, decide to go "flat out" for just a measly 4km from a standing start. How hard can that be eh? No cheating now; it's gotta be a b@lls-to-the-wall effort. I'll bet after 2km (or less) he's seeing little blue lights and pedaling in squares.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland44 View Post
    What do you mean by small gears?
    I mean, they should use bigger gears since a few RBR riders CLIMB in a 53x11.

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    Maybe this should be a forum for answering questions instead of ridiculing the questioner...

    The OP's question is likely based on a popular meme about track cyclists that dates back to the era when track sprints tended to be more about the acceleration than today's style that focuses on top end speed (and bigger gears).

    As for small gears and standing start events, the smaller gears these days (at least at my track, indoor and steep) are reserved primarily for endurance events (points, etc). Whereas you choose an 81 for a pursuit, I typically run a 100 inch gear (and 110 for flying 200 partly the influence of the national team guys).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    No kidding. The OP should try this - with that "little" 84" gear.......oh screw that, I'll let him off easy - use an 81 like I do for all track training, decide to go "flat out" for just a measly 4km from a standing start. How hard can that be eh? No cheating now; it's gotta be a b@lls-to-the-wall effort. I'll bet after 2km (or less) he's seeing little blue lights and pedaling in squares.

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    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike View Post
    As for small gears and standing start events, the smaller gears these days (at least at my track, indoor and steep) are reserved primarily for endurance events (points, etc).
    True enough, and my choice of words could have been better. To avoid throwing metric distances around, I chose "standing start" but really meant the kilo and, for us older guys, the 500 meter. At any rate, we still don't know what the OP meant by "small gears."

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    Why do Track Riders use such Small Gears?

    My guess is that OP has been scoping out fixies parked outside the bar and made the assumption that track riders scoot around on the same 42t chainrings. Meh.

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    First off, there's no need to be nasty. Did you know everything when you knew nothing about track racing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland44 View Post
    What do you mean by small gears?
    This website recommends around 90-94 gear inches for gears.

    But a road rider generally uses a ratio (53x11) of about 126.6 gear inches.

    That's what I mean.

    As for not accelerating, I'm thinking about races like the keirin, where riders speed up behind the derny bike. In a sprint, it's much the same (seems to me), where the acceleration is gradual at first, after that slow start comes to an end.

    At that point, the riders seem to already be spinning at ~90 rpm, and so it's not that hard to accelerate to 120+ vs. from 0-> 120+.

  18. #18
    'brifter' is a lame word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    First off, there's no need to be nasty. Did you know everything when you knew nothing about track racing?



    This website recommends around 90-94 gear inches for gears.

    But a road rider generally uses a ratio (53x11) of about 126.6 gear inches.

    That's what I mean.

    As for not accelerating, I'm thinking about races like the keirin, where riders speed up behind the derny bike. In a sprint, it's much the same (seems to me), where the acceleration is gradual at first, after that slow start comes to an end.

    At that point, the riders seem to already be spinning at ~90 rpm, and so it's not that hard to accelerate to 120+ vs. from 0-> 120+.
    How much time do you think road racers spend in the 53/11? Hint: it's more than a minute or so, and they can draft, go down hills...stuff that generally results in much higher speeds than track races, especially sprint events. They have to have much higher gear ratios or they'd be spinning their brains out at 150rpm for hours.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TehYoyo View Post
    But a road rider generally uses a ratio (53x11) of about 126.6 gear inches.
    Road riders do what generally? What the hell do you mean by "generally"?

  20. #20
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    Yeah, slow


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    Re: Why do Track Riders use such Small Gears?

    I spent a little time on this and threw some ratios in for some of us novices.
    53x11 is pretty much the usable max on a road bike, with 53x13=107gi being right about what the TDF peleton cruises in.
    Cruises, meaning they shift through to get there, then they can hold that gear due to the advantages of the pack. The peleton travels around 25 mph or so, again due to peleton dynamics.
    A track racer is really about acceleration and solo tactics, a totally different ballgame. 83gi is like a 53x17.
    I could probably start off in the 17, but the 11, no way.
    So, 53x11 isn't generally anything but a top end/descending gear; the track racer uses that particular gear because....it's the right tool for the job.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by davez26 View Post
    I spent a little time on this and threw some ratios in for some of us novices.
    53x11 is pretty much the usable max on a road bike, with 53x13=107gi being right about what the TDF peleton cruises in.
    Cruises, meaning they shift through to get there, then they can hold that gear due to the advantages of the pack. The peleton travels around 25 mph or so, again due to peleton dynamics.
    A track racer is really about acceleration and solo tactics, a totally different ballgame. 83gi is like a 53x17.
    I could probably start off in the 17, but the 11, no way.
    So, 53x11 isn't generally anything but a top end/descending gear; the track racer uses that particular gear because....it's the right tool for the job.
    Not much track racing gets done in 83"...for mass-start races 90" (50/15) is the most common gear. Sprint events and pursuits are generally a bit higher, varies w/ the event.
    i work for some bike racers...
    2013 Trek Madone 5.9 w/ '12 SRAM Red
    2010 Cervelo T1 sprint bike
    Ruger 10-22TD
    Smith&Wesson M&P 15-22
    Smith&Wesson M&P 9
    oh, those belong in another forum

  23. #23
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    If you're already at max cadence, downshifting isn't going to cause you to accelerate. As you accelerate, your cadence increases. Gearing must match road speed to cadence and provide enough room to accelerate.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

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