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Watching the Olympics, I've noticed that track bikes seem to vary between events. For example, in the Keirin, all the riders have bikes with a solid/disc rear wheel and a front wheel that has a solid inner but with gaps. In the Omnium, however, they seem to ride bikes with two complete disc wheels.

Some events also seem to call for aero bars on top of drop bars, some only drops.

I can see that these might affect how the bike handles, and favour either top speed or maneuverability, but, as I only have a basic knowledge of what each track event involves, I am struggling to piece together exactly why each event has its particular combination of components.

Is anyone able to give a run down of how what the features of the bike are for each of the main track events and why those features are ideal for that event?

  • Two reasons - "that's the best item that the rules allow in this event" and "this item choice gives the rider an advantage over the competitors" so flat-sided wheels go faster but you can't turn and react as fast. There are no side-winds with indoor racing, so that point is moot. – Criggie Aug 18 '16 at 1:57
  • According to one manufacturer's research, track cyclists experience winds at 2.5 to 5 degrees yaw for the majority of a lap, so while it's not a major crosswind, it still plays a factor. – altomnr Aug 18 '16 at 2:14
  • Note the omnium is made up of 6 different events, so they could ride different bikes for each part. – vclaw Aug 18 '16 at 20:55
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Regarding handlebar selection, aero bars are only allowed in the pursuit (individual and team) and time trial events (1km TT, etc). All the other track events are drop bars only.

Wheel selection is a little more dependent on the rider's preference, though this is regulated as well; dual discs wheels are allowed for track time trials (essentially the same events that allow aero bars), while a deep section front wheel is always allowed.

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    Being pedantic for a moment I have always preferred the term "deep section" over "deep dish" as can confusing as many wheels are also dished. – Rider_X Aug 18 '16 at 1:34
  • Very true - updated. – altomnr Aug 18 '16 at 2:08
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    TT bars are not permitted for the flying lap in the omnium, nor for a track sprint qualifying 200m flying TT. – alexsimmons Aug 18 '16 at 6:54
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    As to wheels, UCI rule 1.3.018 includes the following statement: In track competition, the use of a front disc wheel is only permitted in the specialities against the clock. – alexsimmons Aug 18 '16 at 10:03

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