Encyclingpedia: Track Bikes

Track Bike Overview

Track bikes are some of the simplest bicycles used in competition. The two most unique aspects of a track bicycle is the lack of brakes and a single, fixed-gear mechanism. Slight variations and modifications to track bikes customize them to the type of event that is being contested. With mass-start endurance events, individual and head-to-head sprint events, and individual and team time trials against the clock, track cycling requires bikes specific to an athlete’s respective specialty.

One of the most notable aspects of a track bike is the lack of brakes. This setup is used for mass-start endurance races such as the points race, the madison and the scratch race, as well as sprint-oriented events like the 500-meter time trial, the keirin and the sprint.

A front, five-spoked carbon fiber wheel provides the bike with lightweight, aerodynamic, stiff and strong attributes to maximize performance.

A rear, carbon fiber disc wheel typically provides mass-start endurance bikes, individual time trial bikes and sprint bikes with an aerodynamic and lightweight edge.

A single fixed-gear mechanism means that a rider has only one gear and cannot stop pedaling. With only one chainring in the front and one gear in the back, the lack of gears (and brakes) makes for an extremely lightweight bike. A rider must choose which gear he wants to run, considering the balance between one that allows for maximum speed yet lets him make a quick acceleration.

The major difference of an individual pursuit or time trial bike is the aerodynamic handlebars which allow a rider to position themselves
in a more aerodynamic way. This bar setup is typically used for the individual pursuit, the team pursuit and the kilometer time trial.

Because of the smooth surface of a velodrome, extremely lightweight tubular tires can be used. These tires allow for very high pressure and are glued to the wheel with a special adhesive to reduce the amount of friction between the tire and the surface of the track.