Track bicycles are a unique breed of bicycle that are designed specifically for use on the track. These bicycles are typically fixed gear, meaning that the rear wheel is directly connected to the pedals and does not freewheel like a traditional bicycle. While this design may seem counterintuitive at first glance, there are several reasons why track bicycles are fixed gear.
Why Are Track Bicycles Fixed Gear?
Track bikes are fixed gear because fixed gears offer more control during deceleration, which is crucial when riding in a large pack on steep banking. Additionally, fixed gear bikes have a simpler design with fewer moving parts, making them less expensive and ultra-lightweight.
Track bikes have only one gear ratio and lack a freewheel or brakes, which means riders must use their strength and skill to control their speed.
There are no derailleurs on track bikes, which eliminates the need for cumbersome shifting mechanisms. Fixed gears mean there is no freewheeling while riding, providing a purer cycling experience.
Fixed Gears Provide More Control on Steep Banking
Fixed gears are a crucial feature for any track bike rider, especially while navigating through steep banks.
On a fixed gear bike, riders have more precise control over decelerations which is ideal when riding in a large pack on steep banking. This added control is impossible to achieve on a freewheel bike.
Proper track bikes also have a higher bottom bracket which compensates for the constantly spinning cranks, largely mitigating this problem. This feature ensures riders can move through the challenging terrain with ease and stability.
Track Bikes Have a Minimalistic Design and Fewer Moving Parts
With fewer moving parts, track bikes are less expensive to maintain and repair when compared to traditional geared bicycles.
This also means that there are fewer components that can go wrong and break, allowing for a more reliable ride.
The simplicity of a track bike’s design also means that riders can have a more direct connection between themselves and their bike, allowing for greater control and responsiveness.
Track Bikes Have Only a Single Gear Ratio with No Freewheel or Brakes
Track bikes are simple and they have only one gear ratio with no freewheel or brakes. This minimalistic design helps to reduce weight and increase control for the rider.
Because they are geared differently to regular bikes, they offer higher speeds on the velodrome.
Riders who race on track need to work hard to maintain momentum, so a single gear ratio means that they can focus on their own power output rather than changing gears.
Unlike regular fixed gear bikes, track bikes cannot be stopped by coasting, which means riders must apply a brake or skid to slow down. This adds an element of danger to racing and requires high skill levels.
Track Bikes Come with One Chainring and One Cog
Track bikes are fixed-gear bicycles with only one chainring and one cog. This means that there are fewer moving parts to worry about, making them easy to maintain and repair.
Additionally, the lack of a freewheel means that riders must constantly pedal, providing a more efficient workout.
While this may sound daunting to some, the fixed gear also provides a unique sense of control, especially when navigating steep bankings on a velodrome.
There are No Derailleurs on Track Bikes
Unlike other types of bicycles, track bikes have only one gear and no derailleur mechanism to switch between them. This is to avoid the possibility of chain slack, which could interfere with braking on the steep banking of velodrome tracks.
In a way, this means that track bikes rely on the rider’s strength and skill to match the gear ratio to the riding conditions, instead of relying on a mechanical shifting system.
The lack of derailleurs also ensures a more direct transfer of energy from the rider to the wheel, resulting in a more efficient and responsive ride.
Fixed Gears are Less Expensive and Ultra-Lightweight
With their minimalistic design and fewer moving parts, fixed gear bikes are cheaper to build and maintain than geared bikes.
This also means that they are much lighter in weight, making them faster and more agile, especially when navigating through steep banking on the track.
The simplicity of the fixed gear system also means that there are fewer parts that can break or fail, making it much easier and cheaper to keep them in good condition.
With all these features, it’s not surprising that track cyclists often choose fixed gear bicycles as their ultimate ride for racing on the velodrome.
But it’s not just for racing, as single speed and fixie bikes are also popular for regular riding due to their affordability and efficiency.
Track Bikes are Designed for Racing on a Velodrome, While Fixies are More for Regular Riding
Track bikes and fixies may share similarities in terms of their fixed gear mechanism, but they have different design purposes. Track bikes are optimized for racing on a velodrome, where riders compete on a super smooth and uniform track with steep banking angles.
On the other hand, fixies are perfect for regular riding, usually used in commuting or leisure cycling. Track bikes are designed with no brakes and only one gear ratio, while fixies come with a variety of gear ratios and often with brakes.
Furthermore, track bikes have minimalistic designs specifically built for aerodynamics and weight reduction, while fixie designs prioritize comfort and optimum performance on regular roads.
Although track bicycles are more commonly used for racing, fixies are suitable for regular riding as well. So if you want to experience cycling in its purest form, look no further than a fixed-gear bike for your track cycling needs.