Something about riding a bike named after the velodrome where Sir Chris Hoy won his first UCI World Cup medal makes you want to do it justice.
The name HOY subtly shimmering on the downtube is a constant reminder of the prestige behind the model - a vote of confidence that has been backed up by countless coaches who have coveted the bike at the Lee Valley velodrome where I've been riding it.
The Fiorenzuola isn't a toy bike - it's an out-and-out racer based on Sir Chris' own geometry, with a frame the sprint legend certifies to be stiff enough to take a high wattage pounding. However, with a couple of tweaks to the set-up, I've been able to mould it to my own needs as a beginner with great success, making it a versatile machine that’s hard to fault.
Since track bike buying guides, suggestions and tips are significantly harder to come by than their road bike alternatives, you'll find a little more background around the basic choices that come into play when deciding on a bike for the boards within this review...
Both the 001 and 002 models available use a 6061 T6 Triple-butted Aluminum frame. Though many riders do choose to opt for carbon, there’s considerably less of a leaning towards it in the velodromes than you might find on the road.
The chainstays and downtube around the bottom bracket seem to be on steroids when compared to many other models
The popular opinion around the track is that quality aluminum is greater than poor quality carbon (especially for a beginner who, let's face it, might crash) and nothing on the HOY is poor quality. Triple butting means that three different thickness' are used so the frame can be thinner to save weight in some areas, and thicker elsewhere to make the most of the rider's power delivery.
Weight is less of a concern where there are no hills - what’s important is that the rear end of the bike doesn’t flex when under pressure. This was clearly an area of particular attention for designers of the Fiorenzuola as the chainstays and downtube around the bottom bracket seem to be on steroids when compared to many other models. The thicker tubing makes for a frame that refuses to flex.
I certainly felt the bike powered through sprint efforts and wouldn’t yield or offer any unwanted spring – but as a beginner female track rider I also quizzed sprint coaches to get their opinions. The consensus following much application of force to the pedals was that with its oversized tubing the frame was as tough as nails and would need a huge weight of wattage to be pushed through it before you’d experience any flex – if ever.
The welding is smooth and barely visible in the creases giving a plush aesthetic which matches the matte finish the designers opted for when they painted up our Fiorenzuola (more on the colours later..)
Firstly - to clear up a little confusion suffered by the man who shared an accreditation session with me (you have to do four at Lee Valley before you're let loose in SQT's - Structured Quality Training sessions) and told me rather condescendingly: "It's a track bike, it doesn't HAVE gears, love" when I asked if he knew what gear the hire bikes had: a track bike has A gear. Otherwise there would be nothing to propel it forwards. Now I've got that off my chest...
The gear you're pulling is decided by the relationship between the front chain ring and the rear sprocket - and it's worked out in inches. The higher the gear inch, the bigger the gear. In the case of the Fiorenzuola 002, the front chainring is a 51 and the rear sprocket is a 15. This means it works out at about a 92 inch gear.
Once track riders get to racing they'll usually have a handy little track bag with a selection of chainrings and sprockets to change out. I'm not quite there yet, and a 92 isn't the kind of gear I need to be churning for general training sessions. To fix this, I swapped the rear spocket for a 16 which gives me an 86 inch gear. This is actually smaller than I'd like - I could really do with the happy medium - which would be more easily achieved with a 49 or 50 chainring and a selection of sprockets.
It's a fact universally known that any track rider is going to eventually invest in a range of gearing options, so it isn't really a blot on the bike.
Where am I going with all of this? A 51 chainring wouldn't have been my first choice to spec on the bike as it's either too big, or too small, depending on the sprocket used. It might be the sort of chainring I'd opt for if I was, say... a sprinter.
Most other brands I checked out supply bikes with a chainring anywhere between 48T and 50T and this might have been more adaptable - I note 48T is the size that HOY chose to go for on the more entry level 001 model. All of this said - it's a fact universally known that any track rider is going to eventually invest in a range of gearing options, so it isn't really a blot on the bike.
The actual spec of the fore mentioned chainset and sprocket, however - is top draw. Dura Ace sort of top draw. Sir Chris has told us in the past that he swaps Dura Ace onto all his bikes - saying: "You don’t need to [use Dura Ace]– the difference from Ultegra to Dura Ace is minimal – it’s just because I’m a bit of a ponce." Well, we're feeling a bit show-off too, and it's pretty nice to know you're churning away on the best of the best. The set up is as stiff and as light as you might expect. It just seems a shame to swap on a slightly lower end chainring when I come to up my gear - in fact, I may just have to splash out.
The cranks are 165mm on the XXSmall to Large models, and only go to 170mm on the XLarge - so on my XSmall I had 165mm arms. Shorter cranks are common on track bikes, in order to support greater pedaling efficiency and faster cadence and since many shorter women find sub 170mm cranks on their road bikes more efficient too this can only be helpful.
The wheels that come specced as standard on HOY's Fiorenzuola 002 have been the source of much envy amongst the velodrome crowd. Mavic Open Pros come with Dura Ace hubs. A set of these wheels alone might set you back around £300, making them a pretty hefty chunk of the bike's overall cost.
Light, fast to accelerate, and a super stiff platform to power out of the corners on
Light, fast to accelerate, and a super stiff platform to power out of the corners on - I'm reliably informed these are the wheels that the British track team use for training, with the exception of the stealthy black spokes which I rather love.
The wheels are shod with Continental GP Supersonic 23c tyres which are velodrome legal and completely smooth for fast movements over the wooden boards. I rode them on Herne Hill's slightly bumpier concrete as well as the smooth wooden surface of Lee Valley (with extra PSI indoors and very careful wipe downs between sessions) and found they coped with both surfaces with ease.
Bars and stem
The bullhorn bars that come specced on the bike are a little marker of Sir Chris' influence on the build. They're stunning, I loved them when I first picked the bike up. Then I rode on them for two hours and found I lost all functionality in my hands for an hour or so afterwards.
Teamed with the 110mm stem initially fitted to the bike, the drop creates a pretty long and low ride designed for a specific type of rider.
Ok, that's an exaggeration - but the Nitto Chromoly bar comes with an almighty drop of 170mm, and though the metal construction adds a sureness to the front end that feels amazing in a sprint, it's a pretty rigid surface to be resting on for more than twenty minutes. Teamed with the 110mm stem initially fitted to the bike, the drop creates a pretty long and low ride designed for a specific type of rider. You guessed it: a sprinter!
Sir Chris has always been pretty clear that he'd expect a rider to tweak a bike to suit them - in fact, on the road bikes this is a service given free of charge and Evans stock a wide range of bars and stems to help people get the perfect fit.
I chose to swap on a narrower pair with a smaller drop, and immediately found myself comfortable - and I also found the coaches mocked me less for turning up on sprinters bars with legs that didn't quite match the first impressions created by my bike.
The other major set-up change I made was fitting an ISM saddle - a very popular choice among female road racers, track riders and time trial riders - basically any woman who intends on sitting right forwards on the saddle. The FWE saddle that came on the bike initially was female specific but wouldn't have suited me.
We had to add a little bit about the colours, obviously. Stealthy black machines are pretty popular on the track scene, and I love the matte finish on the HOY frame, with the glint of metal on the top tube that creates a sort of industrial feel next to the iconic track stripe design.
HOY answers back with a more classically elegant rounded shape to the construction
I'll confess, at times, I've been tempted by the sexy aero tubes on carbon models, with their 'go faster' flattened downtubes and bold splashes of lurid colour. However, the HOY answers back with a more classically elegant rounded shape to the construction that quietly but confidently confirms the no nonsense speed in simplicity.
The 002 is the top end HOY, and it retails at £1300, though it is currently reduced to £1040. Since the groupset components are so limited, track bikes can retail from as little as £350, so the HOY isn't the entry level option. However, you do of course get Dura Ace and those top end wheels to gloat about.
The Fiorenzuola 001 is a little closer to the average spend on a first track bike, at £750 reduced to £600. The frame is identical and the sacrifices are in the loss of Dura Ace in favour of SRAM Omnnium and the wheels are downgraded to Alex R380's with Q-Lite hubs. These would serve a rider perfectly well and the faultlessly stiff frame and aggressive race ready geo would still be the number one selling point.
Finally, track geeks who already have all the other components required could do well to snap up the frame set alone - reduced from £349.99 to £249.99 - an option one of British Cycling's Lee Valley coaches was seriously considering whilst checking out my HOY at a recent SQT.
I've loved every moment I've spent pedalling this bike. The frame is stiff and powerful, wheels are lively and it looks the business.
There are a few touches of Sir Chris' sprinter heritage in the gear selection and bar choice which might not suit your average rider, but with the top end chainring and wheel choice this isn't really an entry level machine, though it can be easily transformed into a bike comfortable for beginners and experienced racers alike.
For those starting out, the 001 might represent a more sensible choice, but with the 002 comes top of the range luxury that it's easy to get a bit too used to.
Want to try the track? It's not as hard as you might think to get into - check out our velodrome guide which explains the accreditation process at each of the UK's tracks.