Special Track Bike Project

As I mentioned in my prior post, I am super excited about this upcoming project with some special tubes from way back in the day.

The story starts back in the 70’s with 2 brothers.  Jeff and Jerry bought a few sets of Columbus tubing with the intent of making themselves each a track bike and a general road or touring bike.  As so often happens, even avid cyclists get distracted by life.  They made their road bikes and rode them for many years.  The track tubeset sat unused.  Unfortunately, Jerry passed on.  While cleaning out Jerry’s belongings, the old tubeset was found and set aside.

Fast forward to 2018.  Jeff has an adult son, Grant, living in Seattle. Grant is also an avid cyclist and recently started racing at the Jerry Baker Memorial Velodrome outside of Seattle.  Jeff contacted me and asked if I would be willing to take on a commission to build the old tubeset into a track bike for his son Grant.  Jeff said he thought it was the Columbus SP tubeset.  After some discussion with Jeff and follow up research, I agreed that this was too special of a project to pass up.  I let him know that the SP tubes came in Small, Medium and Large ‘sizes’ and it was possible that the tubes might be too short or long for an appropriate size frame for his son and he agreed that we could make it work.

Going in, I could tell it wasn’t going to be a straight forward build and there would be challenges along the way.  The tubes might be too rusty or dented or the wrong dimensions.  As a part time builder, I don’t have to worry about volume and efficiency and maximizing throughput.  I get to take on projects that interest me and say ‘No’ to projects that don’t inspire me.  Having said that, making a bike that is well-made, well-fitting and long lasting and provides years of joy to the rider is always inspiring!

Back to the story…

Jeff sent me the tubeset and upon inspection, I determined it was a pretty special Columbus PS tubeset from the 70’s that was designed around track sprinting and 6 Days racing.  Below is page from the Columbus catalog from the late 70’s.  Apparently Columbus phased this tubeset out in the 90’s.


Catalog picture credit:  http://equusbicycle.com/bike/index.html

Below is the full set of tubes and fittings.

Notice the bulged chainstays.  The large end is 22mm and they bulge out to 24mm diameter and then taper to a more standard 12.5mm small end.


After I inspected and measured the tubes, I found a few challenges we would need to overcome.  The headtube, steerer and seatstays were missing.  And if that wasn’t enough, the original top tube had been partially cut in the middle of the tube.

In addition to the tubing challenges, Grant is a pretty strong rider.  He’s 6′ 1″ and built for the track so the standard diameter tubes were causing me some concern.  For someone who puts out some serious power on the track, a frame with 1″ top tube was going to be too flexible.

Since I had to replace the top tube, I decided to move the 28.6mm 1/.7/1 butted downtube to the top tube position and uprate the DT with a 31.6mm 1/.7/1 tube.  This along with uprating the steerer to 1-1/8″ should provide a significant boost in stiffness and stability for hard track racing.  Going with 1-1/8th steerer also makes finding headsets, replacement forks and stems easier in the future.

The look will be pretty traditional track frameset.  The handling will be on the quick edge of neutral.  As always, I will have a couple little surprises to commemorate the specialness of the tubing and a few other little flourishes that make my bikes one of a kind.

Progress to date has been focused on the design – including taking measurements of the rider, watching him race on the track to see his style of riding and stiffness calculations.

The drawings are all done, The lugs have been prepped and the fork ends are almost ready to go.  The fork crown and BB shell are next.   The next step will be to acid wash the tubes to get the rust and coating off of them.  After that, miters, fit up and heat!

Stay tuned and let me know if you’d like me to take on your special project.


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