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Fuji Track update(9 posts)

Fuji Track updateSteve Young
Nov 5, 2003 5:49 PM
After a quiet day at work yesterday, I left early and went for a long ride on my Fuji Track. I was out for about 2 hours 20 and covered almost exactly 40 miles. Together with 20 miles that I had ridden before work that made my longest distance covered on the fixie in one day and also took my cumulative total over 400 miles. I'm not even too sore today so I must be closer to the conversion point to a competent fixie rider!

I thought at this point it would be worth documenting my experiences to date (another quiet day at work :).

Most of my early miles were on a totally flat MUT near my house. There are major advantages of a traffic and hill free environment to get used to riding fixed. After a couple of weeks I thought I had got the whole thing down and could stop, go, mount, dismount etc etc and regulate speed very nicely almost without thinking about it.

However, all that early confidence evaporated on contact with the first hill when I took the bike on a more undulating ride – going downhill is a completely new (and understated) dimension to riding fixed J

The bike came stock with a 48 tooth ring front and 16 cog rear to give about 80 gear inches. This seemed very tough in the first couple of weeks and there was some grumbling from my knees. However, my leg strength built up pretty quickly and it's now fairly comfortable with this gear on the flat. Just as that all got sorted out, I started riding hills and it's clear that a different gear will be required. I just got a new 1/8" 18 tooth cog (Soma) in the mail and will be fitting that tonight so it will be interesting to see how the change in gearing affects the ride along the MUT (I always practice there when making changes to any of my bikes). It will be good for my cadence (need to increase it on the flat) to have a lower gear and I hope the 18 tooth will enable me to get up some of the hills around here without damage to the knees (we'll see).

Other observations.

1) Riding with a freewheel feels odd when you have done a lot of miles on a fixie in the same week.

2) Early on when I was learning to ride the fixie I was riding along the trail in the dark one evening (with a 10W halogen light) when I found myself on a collision course with a small skunk. My initial reaction (stop pedaling) was rewarded with a good kick from the bike and I totally lost the plot for a couple of seconds before grabbing a handful of front brake which topped me much too close to the skunk which looked a bit startled and then ambled off into the undergrowth. I think I can say with some confidence that the skunk encounter elevated my heartrate much more than the first time I went down an extended grade and the pedals started to get away from me. That was my first skunk sighting and since then I have seen several more (likely the same group I think) and it has been much less eventful. (fingers crossed).

3) Riding fixed hasn't been the noiseless experience I had expected. There is more drive chain noise than anticipated and it's not clear to me what is causing this. Having said that, the chain is quieter after a good lube at the weekend so it may be that I need to take better care of it.

4) The Kenda tyres are pretty horrible. I hadn't noticed quite how bad until I went back out on my geared bike (Vittorias) and the ride was noticeably better – I'm sure this was due to the tyres.

5) The seat really is pretty good for a factory-supplied item. The Aliante on my geared bike is better (but not in proportion to it's cost).

I've enjoyed the first couple of months of the Fuji sufficiently that I am going to spend some money on upgraded components and see if I can't get the thing quieter and smoother.

The first step will be to replace the chainring with a Campagnolo track set – I'm waiting on a 46 tooth 144 bcd. I got the 2003 Track so it came with a fairly uncharacterized no-name crankset (cf the Travativ that is fitted on the 2004 models). I'm not
Fuji Track update continuedSteve Young
Nov 5, 2003 5:51 PM
The first step will be to replace the chainring with a Campagnolo track set – I'm waiting on a 46 tooth 144 bcd. I got the 2003 Track so it came with a fairly uncharacterized no-name crankset (cf the Travativ that is fitted on the 2004 models). I'm not certain whether the chainring on this crankset is 3/32" or 1/8" presumably the former but I'm wondering if that might be partly to blame for the noise.

I also ordered new wheels (high flange Phil Woods, 32 Wheelsmiths front and back with Open Pro rims). Apart from that, I don't plan on changing anything except possibly also the chain if I still can't get everything quieter (yes I'm picky!)

I'm really happy with the frame. For the price it was a great deal. Not only is it very comfortable, it also fits me better than my gearie frame. That was a bit of a surprise as I chose the Fuji specifically for the similarities in geometry to the gearie. It helps to explain some of the comments of my training partner that I look a bit "wooden" on the gearie – transpires that the frame might be a sub-optimal fit. I may address that in the future but for the time being most of my riding (and expenditure) is on the fixie.

Finally, although I didn't experience the level of Nirvana described by some when I started riding fixed (and I certainly don't plan on retiring my gearie) it's certainly been a very enjoyable learning curve so far.

Thx for sharingcmgauch
Nov 6, 2003 7:18 AM
Glad you're having fun. Those are some nice upgrades you have planned, be sure to let us know how they work out.

After riding the 1st 400 miles brakeless, the Kenda on the rear of my '03 is pretty well hammered (you're right, they are not very supple). I've also had to re-tension my rear wheel 2x - the drive side in particular.

I just installed some parts I've had lying around for a few months; cowhorn bars, Dia Compe lever, an old Ultegra f. brake & a Cateye Astrale. I just did a short ride w/my 3y/o so it was not much of a test but I found out that he loves to hear the sound of the spokes popping as they relieve themselves.

Hopefully I'll be able to get out for a long-ish ride on Sunday to properly test my new gear.
Nov 6, 2003 1:48 PM
I had noticed and commented about the drivetrain noise, too. I was thinking the SAME thing - that the noise is attributed to the chainring being 3/32", rather than the 1/8" like the cog and chain. I'm 99% sure the ring is 3/32" b/c a.) if you feel it's thinkness (between your thumb & index finger), then compare that w/the cog, you'll notice the difference. b.) my LBS wrench said that 130mm bolt pattern cranks/rings are usually cyclocross or road, not track. Track cranks & rings usually use the 144mm bolt pattern and are 1/8". I bet the noise seizes once you install that Campy track crank! Lemme know.

Just curious why you ordered the new wheels? I'm sure they're much nicer (high flanges are cool, too!) - both smoother and lighter, but did you experience any problems w/the stock wheelset?

Hah - my Fuji fits me better than my geared bike, too! I like the same TT length as ST height geometry. I'm able to use a 110mm stem on the Fuji, as opposed to only a 100mm on the gearie.

BTW, thanks for the report!

Just decadent .... :)Steve Young
Nov 6, 2003 3:19 PM
I've had no problems with the stock wheels. They were very slightly out of true when I first took delivery of the bike but that was remedied in about 30 seconds by a wrench at the LBS. They've been fine since then - perfectly functional so no excuse for changing them whatsoever ... :)

I have wanted a set of Phil Wood hubbed wheels for a long time and I have saved up enough cash to get a set so thought "why not?" I have M535's on my geared bike that came as stock and they have been fine but I'm really a fan of traditionally built wheels on good quality hubs (My mountain bike has Chris Kings which I have come to love after a really protracted break in period). I'm really curious to make a comparison between the Kings and the Phil's (not that it will be a perfect comparison given the Kings have a ring drive and are not fixed.)

I'm not anticipating a huge difference with the Phils over the OEM Fuji wheelset but I am expecting they will be smoother (they will certainly be lighter, not that that is really important to me on the Fixie).

I'm also curious to see how significant (or not) the relative effect of both upgrades (cranks/wheels) will be. I ordered everything at once from the same place so they will likely come together but I plan on putting the wheels on first and seeing what difference that has before changing the crankset. All this experimenting and riding is bound to take me a while but I'll report back in detail once I have the results if anyone's interested.

In the meantime I have done 20 miles on the new rear cog (replaced stock 16 tooth with 18). I was a bit apprehensive that this would reduce my speed but actually it seems like I am maintaining a similar speed over the same route but with an increased cadence (only tested on the flat so far) which is what I was aiming for. I need to see how this affects my progress up and down hills (!?) but that's on the agenda for the weekend. Changing the cog hasn't made the drivechain any quieter.


Yes, give us another report after you install the new wheelset,jtferraro
Nov 6, 2003 8:47 PM
then another after you install the new crankset! =) Is the new cog also 1/8" or is it 3/32"? Either way, I can see why you'd still have the noise sine the chain is 1/8".

noise annoysdesmo
Nov 7, 2003 7:58 AM
I've found that a noisy fixed drivetrain is usually from too tight a chain. Check tension in at least 4 spots rotating the crank in quarters. You may have an out of round chainring that's causing a tight spot. The chain binding can be very noisy, and in extreme cases I think you can hear the rear hub bearings under stress telegraphing up the seat and chain stays. Also make sure the rear wheel is centered in the stays as that can cause some binding and noise from the chain. I think most people over do chain tension on fixies, just make sure it's not going to fall off but give it some slack. I think "silent" is a bit overstated but with good parts and tuning very quiet is obtainable.
Various ..Steve Young
Nov 7, 2003 9:38 AM
Thanks for all the ideas/feedback.

Here are a couple of additional comments.

The new cog is 1/8" - 1/8" is going to be my drivetrain standard (although hopefully I won't be needing any more drivechain components, other than possibly a new chain sometime after the new crankset arrives).

JTferraro. I was looking back through my notebook the other day and I think that I might have got the idea about the chainring being 3/32" from your post in the first place - apologies for pinching the idea - but it was a good one. I read a lot on the web over the past couple of months and just jotted down the key points in a notebook (without references!). I think it's Sheldon Brown who has a section on his site about mixing 3/32" and 1/8" - it works fine but is not perfect. On the topic of noise from the drivechain - there's a very interesting read on website which describes the relative merits of chains from various manufacturers and suggests that KMC chains may be some of the noisier ones.

Desmo: That was a top tip about checking the chain tension in multiple points - I'll do that over the weekend. I don't think the chain will be too tight - I've actually been thinking it might be the other way round - when I got the bike I just dropped the wheel in, lined it up and have been riding without checking/changing ever since. I can't remember if I said in a previous post but I think more regular lubrication may be good too especially now it's raining more often. I don't think that there's any noise from the rear hub bearings but I will also check the alignment of the rear wheel carefully.

Cmgauch: I'm amazed you have scrubbed out your tyres so quickly - after 400 miles mine are barely showing any wear at all - maybe I need to ride harder ?? Also I "pinged" all the spokes on both sides of the rear wheel last night and there's no sign of any tension problems (although I am no expert with wheels). I only weight about 150 and rarely skid so perhaps that accounts for the difference to some extent? Also - with lots of riding on a MUT there has been less stopping and starting than might otherwise be the case. I can often do my normal 20 mile run and only slow down about 6 times total and stop even less than that.

Have a good weekend,


P.S. Today is the 2 week anniversary of ordering the new wheels and crankset - I knew it was going to take a while when I placed the order but I'm starting to get desperate!! I hope the stuff comes soon.
Various ..cmgauch
Nov 7, 2003 12:40 PM
The "file tread" on my rear tire is now smooth, and the little sipes on the drive side are almost gone.

I try not to skid, but I have a few long, steep hills on my regular routes where (at least initially) I resist every down stroke to the point of 2 brief skids on each revolution. I live in northern NJ, so there is plenty of stopping and starting on an average ride (~30x on a 20 mile ride). Turning left at busier intersections, you have to hammer to claim your place in traffic, get into the left turn lane and then go into full engine-brake mode. When necessary, I skid and/or skip/hop to a stop. When I'm tired I probably over-use the skip stop. The drive side seems like it takes the brunt of it (I'm 185 lbs), which may be a dominant foot issue. Hopefully that changes as my technique improves.

As I gain confidence and push the mileage envelope, it seems weariness sneaks up on me. I usually find out when I go to stop, and then I skip stop out of laziness and fatigue. The addition of a front brake, as much as I was trying to avoid it will help in that regard.

Have a good weekend yourself, and keep those updates coming. After all, the next best thing to having your own new gear is hearing about someone else's.