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I'm considering getting a fairly cheap bike built up for track racing at my local club, reusing my old carbon tubular road wheels.

However, most track frames have a narrower hub spacing (120mm) versus road frames (130mm).

My options seem to be at present to stretch an old steel track frame to fit the road wheel, or to use a tri frame which should have the needed 130mm hub spacing.

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I wouldn't. Track frames are purpose-built for racing at a velodrome.

Your tri frame will have a much lower bottom bracket. This can easily result in a pedal strike on the banked corners of the velodrome. Pedal strikes on corners with a fixed gear are bad; since the drivetrain is always turning, it will cause your rear wheel to jump perpendicular to the track surface. This will throw you into the bike on your left, and cause a spectacular crash.

Not as bad is that your frame has vertical dropouts instead of horizontal ones. Horizontal dropouts are made such that any loosening of your rear skewer bolts can only cause the wheel to move further into the dropouts. With vertical dropouts, any slip can potentially result in you losing your wheel.

  • Bottom bracket won't be that far different. Tri bikes will sometimes use smaller wheels and that will lower the overall bike. However if wheel size is the same you shouldn,'t see a huge difference. Crank length will enter into it more if he likes to sit at the top. – Chef Flambe Jan 19 '12 at 9:02
  • Frames that were designed for derailleurs have vertical drop-outs because they're simple and perfectly safe. When did you last see somebody's wheel fall out of a bike on the road? Note that, for the wheel to "fall" out, the bike would have to be lifted. Frames that were designed for a single gear have horizontal drop-outs because adjusting the position of the rear wheel is the only way to change the chain tension. – David Richerby Sep 8 '17 at 13:47
  • Indeed, a comment to another answer says that rear-facing dropouts are mandatory -- that is, drop-outs where a loose skewer would cause the wheel to get pushed out of the bike. – David Richerby Sep 8 '17 at 13:50
  • @DavidRicherby At least some tri bikes have rear-facing horizontal dropouts, e.g. Quintana Roo Kilo – Miff Sep 11 '17 at 9:03
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Any bike can be riden on the track but the question would be, does your tri frame have suitable drop outs for your fixed gear? Yes folks have rigged vertical drop outs for fixed gear before but they usually are a lot of hassle to keep set up just right.

As far as angles for the frame go, a track bike is going to be really close to a tri bike for geometry but you ride what makes you feel comfortable. You could always just get your wheels re-laced with a narrower hub.

  • 2
    Not true. Any bike "can" be ridden on the track (but not necessarily practically), but many bikes "may" not be ridden on the track... – linguamachina Jul 18 '14 at 16:14
  • Yeah, you're right. I was more or less referring to the less uptight clubs that do allow "fringe" bikes onto the track just for training purposes. Official races are a different thing and so if you're racing then you should probably sink the cash for a race specific bike. – Chef Flambe Jul 21 '14 at 6:45
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Some good points above, but first of all you should ask the venue to check that you'd even be allowed on the track. Most velodromes have pretty draconian rules. Minimum BB height, maximum crank length, specific pedal requirements, restrictions on bottle cages, brake/rack/mudguard bosses... the list goes on. You'd almost certainly have to remove your brakes and levers altogether, rather than simply disconnecting them. You may also need to fit dedicated track drops.

  • Yes, the first thing that will disqualify even a properly "converted" tri-bike is the drop-outs. You can't participate in an event if your rear-dropouts are not rear-facing.(like this framebuilding.com/NEWPARTSPAGES/NEWIMAGES/y5.jpg ) – Angelo Jul 18 '14 at 18:17
  • I have seen road bikes raced on the track when fitted with bolt-on wheels, fixed gear, etc. This dropout rule may not be universal. – Adam Rice Sep 7 '17 at 23:34

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