For some reason a few people have asked me about this lately, so I thought I'd do people a favour and make speaking to me in person completely unnecessary. I also thought labeling a post like this would result in a greater SEO, so here goes: Mr B's top five best track wheels. Please note I receive no endorsements from any of the companies mentioned, but would totally accept some if they were ever offered. Especially if Mavic want to give me an iO.
5. Whatever wheels are currently on your track bike.
Are they round? True? Does the cog go on alright? Then shut the hell up and get down to the track. I'm guessing you're new to this. At this stage, training will do you more good than any fancy new wheels.
4. Velocity Deep Vs.
When we were watching that Shane Perkins documentary Casey and I noticed two different things. She noticed how many calories he was eating each day, and how they were targeting specific amino acids. I noticed that he was training on Velocity Deep Vs. And he - barring any more hotel punch-ups - is going to the Olympics! There's a reason he's riding them - Deep Vs, despite their adoption by the hipster hoards, are strong, stiff and - unless you choose a ridiculous colour - unpretentious. Get these as you move up the grades, and keep on training on them until you too are able to give two-fingered salutes in front of millions. Some may have inserted Mavic Ellipses into this position, but I've had them, and they're ok, but if you have to constantly change you cogs - as you do when you race track - the hubs tighten up, and they're a pain in the ass to adjust. Typical French engineering.
3. Campagnolo Pistas.
Welcome to the world of tubulars. I don't actually own a pair of these, but I've ridden on them, and I'd go so far to suggest that they're almost as stiff as my Shamals. Perfect for outdoor velodromes, still unpretentious and surprisingly economical - I've seen them priced as low as $700. Hit that, get some Veloflex Record tyres and you'll have a sweet set of race wheels. This being said, I wouldn't lash out on race wheels unless I was riding in Opens. You don't want to be the guy who brings all the bling out on a Tuesday night when you're competing for ten dollars. You wanna be the guy who has the "These Wheels Go Fast" edge in the wheelrace final at the Austral.
2. Campagnolo Shamals.
The shit thing is, Campy don't make these any more. The not shit thing is, you can find them on eBay pretty often. The shit thing is, it's difficult to find original track ones. The not shit thing is, you can get the road rims and swap out some hubs. The shit thing is, 16-hole track hubs are hard to find. The not shit thing is, Miche make some, which is what I run - coupled with some ceramic bearings to give me the psychological edge. I've also seen folks use Dura Ace hubs, with every other hole in the hub skipped. You could also hit up Phil Wood or Royce (!) for some custom drilling patterns.
The first definitely not shit thing about Shamals is their stiffness. They're not light by anyone's standards, but when you go to put the power down you will not lose one watt due to flex in your rims, on the clincher or the tubular version. They're also as aero as you would expect from a high-profile rim, and not too hard to manage in a fierce crosswind - my old training partner Joel "Chopper" Leonard once told me they are the wheels he would always choose when racing outdoors, and he put down more power than anyone you know.
The second definitely not shit thing about Shamals is they look fucking hot. Polish that shit up, motherfucker, and let people see their reflection in your wheels as you cruise past for the win.
1. Mavic Comete / iO.
Apologies to Fast Foward, Bouwmeester, Hed and even Zipp, but why the hell would you fuck around with second rate disc wheels or third rate five spokes? You've already saved up a few thousand dollars, save up a few thousand more and get the best. Sure, they've got stupid French names, but 17 of the gold medals won on the track at the Beijing Olympics were won on these wheels. That's some serious intimidation factor. No one is intimidated when they can see you've settled for second best.
Don't bust these out in a club race though. No one takes that guy seriously. Even at Opens you'll get some funny looks. State, National and International events only, please. Or any Masters event, anywhere. With those guys the most important competition is won on Wiggle.
So there you go. Best track wheels. I'd try to also review track frames, but there are about a thousand out there, and I've only ridden five or six of them. I'd also review groupsets, but I've only ever ridden Dura Ace. Maybe gloves next. I go through a lot of gloves.