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While custom frame builders are making something of a resurgence on the road recently, made-to-measure frames have never really gone out of fashion for the serious track cyclist. Anthony Tan takes a look at a track machine that will hopefully be ridden to Olympic glory, Graeme Brown's custom-made Teschner.
Local frame builder Peter Teschner has a formidable reputation as a custom frame builder in Australia. His close links with the Australian Institute of Sport have seen the Coffs Harbour-based bike wizard build frames for many of the country's top track athletes in recent years, including Sean Eadie, Ryan Bailey, Anna Meares and most recently, Graeme Brown. Outside of Australia, Teschner also built road frames for riders on the Mercury cycling team from 2000-2002 under the guise of official bike sponsor Fuji.
Being an Olympic year, Brown, a member of the record-breaking quartet at the 2003 World Track Championships in Stuttgart and a seasoned road professional with Panaria-Margres, will be taking time off from the road to focus his attention on the boards come Athens. While it's a certainty he'll be riding the team pursuit, the colourful Sydneysider also has his eyes on a spot in the Madison and points race.
With this in mind, "Brownie" wanted a bike that could adapt to a number of track cycling disciplines. "I gave Peter Teschner very simple instructions - that weren't really that simple - on building my new bike," said Brown. "I wanted it stiff and not too heavy. He (Teschner) simply replied: 'Is that it? Stiff? Pfft, easy!'"
While the world champion pursuiter pretty much knew what he wanted, Teschner will build a frame any way a customer requests, although he will inject his own experience and suggest changes if a rider asks for geometry that he feels isn't suitable. "Generally, I find out what one expects; what he/she has previously ridden, what they like or dislike, what power output he/she produces, what wheels and tyres they will use, and how he/she likes a bike to handle," said Teschner. "This frame is made to handle a few disciplines, though we built this frame to reflect a similar size and geometry to the BT bike that he rode before."
Apart from the fork, which originates from Brown's previous frame builder, BT (Bike Technologies), all tubing comes from Easton. A US manufacturer of high-end frames and accessories (Easton make the seatposts for Shimano's Dura-Ace group), Teschner is also the local distributor for Easton's tubing in Australia.
When building a track frame, aerodynamics sometimes takes precedence over comfort - especially in an event like the team pursuit, where thousandths of a second can mean everything and race times are measured in minutes and seconds rather than hours. Teschner has taken this into consideration and gone for some seriously aero and very stiff tubing: Easton's GX2 Scandium Tapered Airfoil for the seat tube and down tube (measuring 55mm x 77mm x 28mm) and GX2 Scandium Profile for the top tube; the more traditional Easton Tandem and Easton Elite tubing is used for the chainstays and seatstays. And with the force a incredibly powerful rider like Brown places on the rear end of the bike when starting off or sprinting, stainless steel dropouts are required - these are custom-made by Teschner and can be easily replaced.
Once out of his North Coast production facility, the frames are taken elsewhere for painting. From the photos, it's obvious the master builder understands great looks are just as important as build quality for a rider like Brownie; Teschner points out that his frames don't use decals, but instead are masked and airbrushed on, something that tends to be seen only on the best European brands.
Once pedalling, Brown rolls on Bontrager's X-Lite Carbon Track wheels, featuring 44cm deep aero carbon rims and a paired spoke design with 26mm spacing between each spoke and 16 holes front and rear. Hubs are of cartridge bearing design, fully sealed and serviceable and Swiss made.
One of Brownie's first outings on the bike was during the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, where he took line honours in his final race, the Burnie Carnival Wheelrace, on New Year's Day. "You can't beat world championships or world records, but this was definitely up there," he said after the finish.
"I became slightly sceptical before I threw the leg over the bike the very first time. But that scepticism quickly passed and I threw it around, sprinted and simply rode it for a while. After only 20 minutes I was happy enough to race it. I did just about every style of race on it while I was in Australia and can honestly say that it is the best track bike I have ever ridden."
Images by Ray Brown
Frame: Custom made by Peter Teschner
Hubs: Bontrager Track
Deda Elementi Newton Oversize, 140g
Pedals: Shimano SPD-R PD7700, 296g/pair