The principles used in setting up for track are very similar to road, however, there are slight differences and variations.
When cycling becomes more advanced, bike set-up varies depending on the type of event. For example, the “pursuit” event requires a much different position to that of the “sprint” because of the aerodynamics and power output. The main areas to focus on when setting-up a track bike are:
- Body Measurements for set-up
- Track frame size
- Seat height
- Shoe Position on the pedals
- Seat Position (fore-aft position)
- Upper Body position
Body Measurement for set-up
First and foremost in bike set up is to obtain various body dimensions that are used in various formulae to determine correct bike set up. The most important being the “inseam measurement”. To get this measurement:
- Dress in a pair of knicks with thin socks and no shoes
- Measure the distance from floor to crutch to obtain the inseam measurement
- Place a thick spined book between your legs as if to use it as a seat
- Standing upright on a hard floor surface with your back to the wall
- Mark along the top of the book edge, which is touching the wall
- Using a tape measure or ruler, measure the distance from the floor to the mark – This is the inseam measurement
- Take the measurement 4 or 5 times and take the average
This measurement is then subused in the formulae that determine frame size and seat height.
Track Frame Size
A correctly sized frame will provide a balance between height and length as well as responsiveness and comfort.
The formula used to determine the approximate frame size is INSEAM (CM) x 0.65
Seat height is one of the most important measurements for correct positioning on a track bike. Wrong seat height can waste energy and result in a less efficient pedalling action.
Being too low will cause bunching up on the bike and restrict the full contraction of the leg muscles. Being too high will cause rocking on the seat, which wastes energy. It can also cause over stretching of the leg muscles.
Here are 2 methods for finding the correct seat height:
The Heel Method
This is the easier method for getting the correct height.
In the normal riding position turn the cranks until they line up parallel with the seat tube of the frame.
Position the center of the heel directly over the center of the pedal axle.
Adjust the seat height up or down until the leg appears fully extended. If the heel of the shoe is thicker than the sole on the ball of the foot, the seat position will need to be adjusted, e.g. if the heel is 3mm thicker than the shoe at the ball of the foot the seat needs to be lowered by 3mm.
The Calculated Method
The formula for this is INSEAM (CM) x 1.09
This formula will provide a starting point for seat height, which will be at the upper level of the adjustment range.
Seat height is measured from the center of the pedal axle (crank lined up with seat tube) through to the top of the seat cup.
Shoe Position on Pedals
Position the shoe so that the pedal axle lines up directly under the ball of the foot. This is the point where the greatest transfer of energy is obtained.
Many factors are considered when placing the cleats, and as it plays such an important role in preventing injury and maximizing effort it is best to have a coach or a specialist retailer advise and adjust cleat positioning.
Seat Position (fore – aft position)
Loosen seat bolt enough to be able to slide the seat forward and back.
On a level surface lean the bike against the wall and sit in the normal position with the feet at the 9 and 3 o’clock position.
Have someone drop a plumb bob (easily made by tying a piece of string to a key or a lump of bluetac) from the small lump just below the kneecap on the forward leg – all the way to the floor between the crank and frame.
Adjust the seat position until the plumb line falls through or slightly behind the pedal axle of the forward foot.(not more than 1-2 cm behind the axle)
Before re tightening seat bolt check that the seat is perfectly level.
Upper Body Position
Upper body extension is a personal thing. There are no “rules” only general guidelines. The goal is to achieve a balance between comfort and aerodynamics.
Head Stem Height
This depends on your height and frame size. A guideline is that the top of your head stem should be 5 – 10cm below the top of your seat. Lowering the head stem further improves aerodynamics but this may feel uncomfortable to people with less flexibility in the lower back hips and hamstrings.
Head Stem Length
Whilst in the racing position on the bike have someone drop a plumb line from the tip of your nose. The line should fall directly through or within 1 – 2cm behind the centre of the point where the handlebars connect to the stem.