Learning how to build a vintage track bike will likely require a significant amount of money. However, the rewards can often justify the expense. Track bikes have become quite a phenomenon over the past few years, with hipsters being the most visible riders of such bicycles. Built properly, your bike could be all rage at your local hipster hangout.
As brief background, traditionally a vintage track bike is bicycle designed to be raced on track called a velodrome. The track bike's geometry is much more upright and compact, and the drop-outs on the rear of the frame are horizontal. They are single-speed bikes with a fixed gear cog, meaning that the rider must pedal continuously. Vintage track bikes almost universally are brakeless, lacking even the whole in the fork to even attach a brake. Obviously, this gives many people pause, as there are significant safety concerns. That said, vintage track bikes are some of the sleekest looking bikes around. They're geometry, clean lines, and lack of brake and gear wires make for an extremely aesthetically pleasing machine.
To build a vintage track bike, you will need the following:
- Vintage track frame and fork
- Wheel set with a hub threaded for fixed cog
- track cog
- bicycle chain
- tubes and tires
- silver track racing drop bars
- chain ring
- track pedals with toe clips and straps
- seat post and saddle
- 15 mm wrench.
- adjustable crescent wrench
- hex key set
- chain tool
- crank puller
- chain lubricator
- Find a vintage track frame and fork. This can be difficult and will surely cost you more money than if you were simply looking for a vintage road bike frame. Internet auction sites regularly have track frames for sale. The rest of the components can be purchased new from companies specializing in fixed gear bicycles.
- Once you have all the components, you can begin assembling your vintage track bike. You can begin by assembling the crank arms to the chain ring.
- Attach the crank arms to the bottom bracket. There are screws and washers that go into the bracket spindle, remove these. Then, fit the crank arms onto the spindle, then drive them in by driving in the screws.
- Next, attach the pedals. Take your adjustable crescent wrench and screw pedals into the cranks arms. One side will be reverse threaded, so you will need to tighten counter-clockwise.
- Install the seat post and saddle. You will want to lightly lubricate the seat post before inserting into the frame. This is to prevent the seat post from fusing to the frame over time.
- Mount the handle bars. Typically, most vintage track bike frames will have what is called a quill stem. To mount handle bars to such stems, simply loosen the bolt on the underside of the stem and thread the bars through until they are centered. Tighten the bolt.
- Attach the wheels. To do this, turn the bike upside down so that it is resting with the seat and handlebars on the floor. The front wheel is attached by simply pushing down on the wheel evenly and tightening the nuts on the axle. The rear wheel is a little trickier: center the axle in the middle of the dropout and hand-tighten the nuts. Do not tighten all the way until you've connected the chain.
- Take your chain and place it over the both the rear cog and chain ring. There will likely be a few links that need to removed from the chain to get the correct length. This is done by using the chain tool to drive out the pin in the selected link. Once you've got your chain to the desired length, drive the pin back in.
- Push the rear wheel back and to one side and tighten the nut. Then, press the wheel the other direction and tighten the nut. It may take a few attempts, but by working it back and tightening and loosening, your wheel should end up centered and the chain tension should be to the ideal tightness. (Note: you'll want to beware of a loose chain, and conversely an overly taut chain. The ideal is somewhere in between.)
- Apply a small amount of chain lube and you're ready to ride.