Somedays I roll out of bed and I think to myself “Mark, you are a god*&%$ed genius!”
Once in a while I have a brilliant idea. Like my super compact track bike design.
Back in 1999 while delivering pizzas on a 13” Fisher Ziggarat mtb with a 400mm seatpost, I noticed that I could launch an almighty sprint form a standstill since with the low top tube I had so much room to rock the bike. Coincidently, customers noticed that their pizzas were all scrambled in the box after I delivered them. Pizza aside, wouldn’t a track bike frame also benefit from loads of clearance? So started my 8 years of experimenting with track bike design.
For my new Sycip track bike, the tubing and fork will be the biggest differences from its predecessors. The geometry of the new frame will be the ultimate expression of what I laid out in my original Sycip and refined in my Sycip No2, which this latest bike (the 3rd true track frame) will replace. In this geometry, the top tube is equivalent to a 49cm bike, but the seat tube is cut down to 38cm. The bottom bracket is about 1cm higher than most track bikes (2 to 2.5cm higher than a road bike), and the front-center (bottom bracket to front axle dimension) is fairly long compared to a keirin frame. The head and seat angles are steep, but not markedly so.
The super-compact design gets the top tube down out of the way of my knees, so if the sprint begins at low speed (thus low cadence) I can really throw the bike side to side, putting everything into the acceleration. The long front-center makes the bike sure-footed when I lunge forward in the sprint so that the rear wheel stays glued down. There is a line of thought that says that a track bike should be twitchy fast in handling, but I think that a little stability is a good thing in the middle of a combat melee. You have to expect some contact, and most other riders outweigh me. My bikes handle well on a velodrome or on the road.
Would this geometry work for all track riders? Probably not, but then again design is tailored for me. Still, that original track frame changed hands a few times among messengers in Seattle after I sold it. No.1 was well liked by smaller riders, enough so that a local builder attempted to copy the design. The fact that the copy was a disappointment is a testament to the skills of Jeremy Sycip. Sadly, No.1 was stolen late last year. As for Sycip No. 2 that I currently ride, I had standing offers for it even before I committed to the newest frame.