What's so much fun about riding around in circles?
Well, for starters, there are no traffic lights, no snarling dogs, no crazy Ford Falcon drivers, and no frazzled Mum's driving 4wd's. The track is banked which is pretty neat, plus there's something to be said for riding 5 cm off someone's wheel with no brakes at 45 kph.
Being a bike geek, the real question for me was what bike to chose?
There is a limited number of choices, due mostly to the lack of demand. Let me clarify that comment - track cycling is increasing in popularity again (due in part to athletes like the classy Sarah Ulmer increasing the profile), and it's well funded, organised, and supported - but it is a niche market when compared to road cycling. That said, the quality of what is available for track is pretty good. Track bikes range in price from $1000 (Avanti Pista) to $10,000 (BT Carbon), so for me it was an exercise in looking at the optimum balance between cost and benefit (plus I didn't have a spare $10,000 for a track toy).
There were three candidates that made sense - the $1000 Avanti Pista, the $1600 Genius Velodromo, or the $1800 Fuji Track. The Pista is bare bum basic, with a cheaper seat post, seat, stem and bars that would soon be tossed aside for lighter parts. The Velodromo was specified with much better parts - so there was no need to upgrade. The Fuji had very high quality Ritchey components, including a good quality wheel set. The difference in price was pretty much explained by the specification.
However, the main deciding difference for me was the frame quality. Both the Genius and the Fuji had carbon forks, but the Genius had the edge with a track specific fork. Both the Fuji and the Genius had high quality tubesets, the Genius with triple butted diamond section, the Fuji with ovalised. They were both considerably lighter than the Avanti. The Fuji was pretty in white, the Genius serious looking in black.
What sold me on the Genius was the overall feel of quality, the welds were good, the frame was stiff and very straight, plus the spec had been carefully matched. Plus it was designed by New Zealander's. I got set up on the bike by the guy who designed the frame, (thanks Mr Parker!), and it was interesting hearing how much thought went into the creation. It's clear the entire Genius range of bikes represent extremely good value for money.
On the track this bike feels very good, it's very stiff in the bottom bracket area, meaning it feels efficient when pedaling. It is very smooth, and holds its line very well. I ditched the tires that came with the bike for some Continental Supersonics - big improvement in ride quality, but they're not appreciably faster. So, this amateur thought the bike rocked, what would a pro think? I was lucky enough to bump into pro racer Kirsty Robb at the track, she jumped on it and did some laps - the bike will never go that fast again! Her comments were very favourable too, she liked the colour and how it rode. Oh, Justin Grace bought one too. If it's good enough for them?...
If I could change anything, it'd be the hubs. They feel very cheap in comparison to the rest of the bike, but as Troy says, the wheels that come with the bike are training wheels, most people will swap them out on race day. (Speaking of which - Monday and Friday nights are race nights out at the Manukau Velodrome. Contact Troy for details). I also swapped the tires because of personal preference, and I swapped the seat for a trusy Selle Italia seat for my own comfort.
So overall ratings:
Quality: Frame is excellent, other parts commensurate with price
Looks: Very subjective, but I think they look cool.