Who's the fastest? And all this time I thought track racing was all about who looked the coolest on their bike!
Track racing is the coolest, and track frames represent the purest form of the racing frame. My personal little quirk is the belief that the level of a framebuilders' ability is best seen in a track frame. Framebuilders like Masi, Cinelli, and Pogliaghi are well known for the exqusite track frames of their early years. Several of the track bikes Dave Staub rode in the early days would be an ideal addition to my collection. I have an early 70's Cinelli (49cm c-t) track bike. The 1961 replica Masi Special track bike fills a void for the real deal for now, but would like to find one someday. I had a 48cm Pogliaghi I bought from Montrose Bike Shop (Bob Hansing) in 1972 or so that I rode at the Encino Velodrome before I sold it for money to buy a Campy tool kit. Rather have the bike now!
Building track frames is more work than a road frame if you build it carefully. Finishing track dropouts is a real chore and there are lots of ways of doing it; but a masterpiece of a track bike is a special accomplishment in my opinion. I am particularly proud of my Masi replica which is why I'm sending it to Le Cirque for viewing. So far, only a few people have even partially grasped the amount of work on such a bike, especially considering the polishing of the entire frame my hand for the plater. If one were seeking to define "MOJO" as related to framebuilding, I would offer this as an example. Details and craftsmanship add a lot to Mojo in my experience. Selecting the proper piece to replicate is important. I was inspired my the Masi special track bike that belongs to Rex Gebhart (pictured on Campy only website, I believe) and decided to build one in place of figuring that I would be able to own the real thing some day. Originally I had planned to paint it the same color scheme as Rexs' bike because I REALLY like the "spanish blue" Masi used at the time. I eventually went for the full chrome treatment because I heard that such Masis are out there. I wanted to do a full chrome frame at least once to have the experience. I figured might as well do it now.
Mojo begins in the physical realm after the concept is concieved, in the materials that are selected for the frame. Being a track frame, obviously track fork blades and stays must be used. Early Masis are typically a combination of Reynolds 531 main tubes and Columbus or other tubing forks and stays. I decided to use 531 main tubes and Columbus PL forks and stays. Masi used the standard sand cast crowns for the 22.2mm round blades which appear on many classic track frames. I had one Columbus steerer that was marked Campagnolo that I've hung onto for years, so I used it on this frame to add a little spice to the "Mojo Soup". The crown gets drilled between the steerer and each fork blade for the Masi style. This is a 51cm c-t all around track bike as opposed to a sprint speciality frame which is why the PL stays and forks were chosen. The lugs and BB shell are Nervex Professional. I intentionally did one thing to the lugs that is not found on an original Masi Special of the period which has Nervex lugs straight out of the "box", nicely profiled. I did this as an aid in distinguishing an original from the replica (in addition to engraving to top of the fork crown with my logo and stamping the bb shell with "Masi Special replica by RBB" and the date of 2002 on it). I added the long point that later Masis with the Cinelli and DuBois lugs got on the seat lug. Nervex Pro lugs with long point on seat lug equals replica.
The rest of the work is standard in that the lugs are left the original Nervex shape and the track dropouts are finely pointed, tapered, and shaped. Flat seat stay caps top off the frame along with a few fabricated "vintage style" bridges. I avoided sandblasting around the lugs after brazing in order to minimize the polishing for plating. it paid off by leaving a reall nice crisp polish job right up to the perfect 90 degree sharp wall of the lugs. A close look at this frame might change some opinions about what Mojo is in a frame. Fancy lugs can be attractive when done expertly, but detract from the overall effect in many cases. Pure, simple, clean, when exicuted well actually excites me more. Track bikes are especially pure and clean. Maybe I'm making too much of this; but a frame made from basic old pressed lugs and BB shell, sand cast fork crown, and forged dropouts that can look this good, I call that Mojo. You can't get there from the starting point of investment cast parts. They don't have the same feel to me. Construction of such a frame transcends the purpose of the bike itself far beyond it's use as a racing bike. It becomes an example of a frame made entirely by hand; and "by hand" I mean using only hand held tools or tools where the work is held in ones' hands as in a belt sander where I hold a part up to it for grinding. Mitering using hack saw, file, and bevel protractor. Shaping lugs with files, hack saw, drill motor (hand held), and cutoff wheel. No "Dyna-file" work on the lugs. Everything done on belt sander and by files. Occassional use of die grinder to "hog off" large amounts of metal in some cases. Everything done by hand, by one hand; from the concept and full scale drawing to the final polish of the entire frame by hand in preparation for plating. The whole frame and fork, every square millimeter, had to be sanded with 80, 180, 240, 400, grit emory cloth. Finally, sanded with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and light oil before buffing the finished frame and fork with a sisal wheel and brown rouge over the entire surface. The frame spent a total of 7 hours at the plater, they just plated it and handed it back to me on the same day. It took me two weeks to polish it!
Pardon me for this outburst, but it sort of divulges my opinion on the topic of Mojo and framebuilding. It addresses Sams' question of are there any framebuilders out there that build for the passion of it and the preservation of the "craft" itself as opposed to for other reasons. My answer is yes! I do it, Richard Moon does it. Who is making frames from the "rough". Only a few people. I don't know too many others who are quite this determined to indulge in the experience of building handmade frames as opposed to seeking ways to make more frames more profitably. The market is small. The process is time consuming, albiet enjoyable. The results are satistying; they cannot be replicated in their essence no matter how sophisticated the castings are; they are still castings. You do not cast in Mojo, you work it in by hand; you create it in your mind and you express it with all your heart. The finished product tells the final story. But the subtle joys of truely handmade and individual frames are often glossed over by those who do not stop and REALLY study and appreciate a finely crafted and concieved frame at close range. Take some time. Look at track bikes or bikes made specifically as fixed gear road bikes.
Regarding fixed gear on the road. It does depend on where you live, but I also feel one can do without the stress caused by backpedaling a fixie on the road. Furthermore, brakes on a fixie allow the option of the double sided hub fitted with a single speed FW on one side. This combination tremendously increases the virsitility and practicality of a fixie on the road while still giving the benifits of same. Also, haveing brake leavers gives another position on the handlebars which is real nice when you go on longer rides; which is now possible in relative comfort because of the dougle sided hub combo. Be Macho and ride without brakes if you want to; but I remember a Vintage ride last year where Jan Johnson and I were spearheading the group at about 20mph through a side street in Sunset Beach, when some lady in a HUGH SUV looked right at us and then pulled out right in front of us from a side street! I was on my fixed gear road bike. Without a brake I would have slammed right into her. My bike would have taken a severe beating, which when you see it at Le Cirque, would have been quite a sad day for me. It was close, my rear wheel when into the air a bit I think, and a lump formed in my shorts! I reccommend brakes. Converting older road bikes to track dropouts can be done and gives good results, but it's a pain in the ass to do. I think I've had enough of doing that conversion myself.
So what is MOJO? You have my opinion. It's why older vintage bikes charm us, and why modern frames made directly in that spirit desreve respect and appreciation. Everything else has only as much Mojo as handwork as a general rule. It doesn't have to be fancy. Quality is prefered over quantity. Creativity over technology. These are just my opinions. I appreciate efforts to make frames more effeciently for those who chose that approach, like Hetchins. There is still a lot of handwork in a frame made that way and the operation itself can be done poorly or expertly. I've seen both and everything inbetween on Hetchins. There is also a certain amount of Mojo in being consistant. If everything one does is full effort in terms of quality of workmanship and expression of craft, then one deserves respect for not compromising.
Looking forward to being in Greensboro soon. I personally will be paying homage to the track bike.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA
> Bicycle Mark,
> I really dug your story! But I got ta tell ya, the secret to riding the
> miss and out is ....ride from the front. Relax till the end. When your
> down to 3, then rip um a new ----ole! It would be real fun watch'n the
> other two guys try'n to figure out who got 2ed so we could "go for it". I
> would wait around between turn 3 and the 200 meter mark at Kissena for um
> to show up. Cost me a win or two, but it was all for the show. Noth'n like
> a little "one on one" in the 200! I still got the itch but haven't
> scratched it in about 15 years. At least not on the track.
> Thanks for bring'n up the memories,
> John T.Pergolizzi
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mark A. Perkins" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: <email@example.com>
> Sent: Monday, March 17, 2003 1:20 AM
> Subject: Re: [CR]Track racing and who's fastest
> > John:
> > Well put! I tried criteriums, and I placed, won, and lost. I tried road
> > racing, and mostly chased the pack. But when I found my way to the
> > velodrome, I found my place. I will say it again, there is no purer form
> > of bike racing.
> > Although I wasn't the greatest, not even a district championship
> > contender. Over a two year period, from mid- '76 to mid- '78
> > approximately, I participated in every track event the San Jose Bicycle
> > Club (S.J.B.C. - I was a member) would allow me to enter. I even won and
> > placed in several mass start events. Even pulled of a 14 sec. flat,
> > flying 200 meters, only one time, and one day, and couldn't match it
> > again.
> > We didn't do much individual start events because they took too much
> > time, and mass start events allow more riders to share the track. A
> > "Miss-'n-out" is a darn tough race to ride, 25 laps, a sprint every other
> > lap. That's only about 6-miles, but half of the time is spent sprinting,
> > and when it was over all I wanted to do is lay down and try to get my
> > breath back. If eliminated early it would be less, but to win you must
> > get across the line before all but one rider, every time. Points races
> > are more fun, especially if you keep track of who has won points, and try
> > not to let anyone get more than you. In a 25 lap points race there would
> > be a sprint every 5 laps, for 5, 3, 2, 1 points for 1st thru 4th
> > respectively. Oh yea, double points for the third and final sprints
> > keeps it interesting. Still a lot of work for only 6 miles. Near the
> > end of my time in San Jose, I had the pleasure of lapping the field, with
> > the help of another rider who won all of the 2nd place sprints. It only
> > happened once, but it was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.
> > I was good enough that Gary Klein gave me (to use) the first frame he had
> > made, a track frame, to use my components on, and ride on the San Jose
> > velodrome. All you had to do was think 'go faster' and it did. If I
> > remember correctly it weighed 14 or 14 1/2 pounds (in '77 that was
> > seriously light). I rode it for a while, but I knew I wouldn't be
> > joining any teams, or going to "the Districts", and I was already making
> > plans to make a move, so I gave it back and suggested that he offer the
> > frame to the S.J.B.C. and let one of their Juniors ride it. He did that,
> > and I have photos of Chris Springer winning sprints on it. He (Chris)
> > would be behind everyone entering the final curve before the finish line,
> > but would be at the front by the time they got to the line.
> > Oddly enough, my '73 (that's the year I bought it - it could actually be
> > a '72 for all I really know) Bob Jackson, full chrome track bike, has
> > been with me longer than any of the bicycles I own. Every bike I owned
> > before that is long gone. Now I own 5 track bikes: Cinelli, Schwinn
> > Paramount (Wastyn), BSA Gold Column, a cheap J.C. Higgins (24"-whl.), and
> > my Bob Jackson. Now, in my early 50's, I can still ride with the locals,
> > but I have neither the ambition nor the time for the kind of miles it
> > takes to ride on the track and still be competitive.
> > Like I said, I wasn't a championship contender, but I had the most fun I
> > could have on that track.
> > Incidentally, the first few times I rode on the S.J. (Hellyer Park)
> > velodrome were on asphalt. At the end of that season, '76, they tore out
> > the asphalt and put concrete down. Since I lived only 2-miles from the
> > track, I would go by to see if it was open yet, almost every day. One
> > day, Don Peterson and Ed Steffani were there to check it out too, but
> > didn't bring a bike. I had mine in the pickup, and gladly volunteered it
> > for use in trying the new surface. We all took turns, and now I can
> > honestly claim that my chrome Bob Jackson track bike was the very first
> > track bike to roll on that brand new concrete surface at the Hellyer Park
> > Velodrome. I'm not sure if Mr. Steffani is with us anymore, I know Don
> > P. passed away a few years back, so I am the only person who remembers
> > that day. It's the truth though.
> > Cheers everyone!
> > "Bicycle Mark" Perkins
> > Fresno Cycling Club - Historian
> > Fresno, California, U.S.A.
> > On Sun, 16 Mar 2003 23:48:44 -0500 "John Pergolizzi"
> > <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > > Steve Barner wrote (snip):
> > > "Most track racing isn't about who is the fastest, anyway. It's who
> > uses the most
> > > effective tactics."
> > >
> > > "Sorry Steve, your wrong on that one. For sure tactics matter.
> > And
> > > lots. But it is all about who's fastest(and who is the most fit for the
> > > distance of the event. That will get "hidden" in mass start track
> > events,
> > > even match sprints to an extent, but any of the individual events(which
> > also
> > > have tactics) are a clearer window as to who's fastest. Kilo, pursuit,
> > hour
> > > record; still allot of tactics (especially in terms of a time table),
> > but
> > > easier to see who's fastest.
> > > Certainly, the match sprint involves tremendous tactics. Yet the
> > event
> > > is the quintessential test of "fastest". Even if we debate the
> > definition
> > > of "fastest": top leg speed or highest rpm over 200 meters(timed
> > portion of
> > > the match sprint) or amount of time for the distance (sub 11's a must
> > for
> > > topworld class today) or all of the above in one, it still comes down
> > to
> > > whoever and however that individual got over the line first.
> > Generally,
> > > that is the one specific and final measurement of "fastest".
> > > That is the true beauty of track racing: you get to see all the
> > tactics
> > > and who's fastest.
> > > Ain't noth'n like the sound of a one inch pitch 24x9 at a constant
> > 90 to
> > > 110 rpm on a 6:30 a.m. spring morning in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New
> > York.
> > > I spent many a day enjoying that pleasure. Oh yea, no breaks on any of
> > > those 50 mile days either. Mostly on an old black Frejus. Great road
> > > training track bike; a little laid back on the angles. A little
> > softer on
> > > the kidneys and the ass.
> > > Steve,it's all about who's fastest. That's all that matters. Just
> > ask
> > > any trackie.
> > >
> > > enjoy and be well,
> > > John T.Pergolizzi
> > > LaJolla ,Ca.