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What Are the Different Types of Track Bikes?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Track bikes are designed for use on a type of bicycle track known as a velodrome; this velodrome is made of wood flooring and the track itself is sloped upward. The overall structure resembles a large bowl, and as the cyclists pick up speed, they will ride along the upward slope of the track. Track bikes are fixed wheel bicycles, which means a cyclist cannot coast. The pedals will be moving as long as the rear wheel is moving, and the bikes usually do not feature any brakes. A more trendy type of bike modeled after the track bike is the "fixie."

A "fixie," or fixed gear bike, works in a similar fashion as track bikes, but is mostly used on roads by bike messengers and commuters. The popularity of these bikes has exploded because of the neat, simple aesthetic of these bikes and the challenge of riding them. Sometimes a bike designed for commuting will feature a front brake only, though some feature no brakes at all and the cyclist will need to master the technique known as the skid stop. The only way to stop the bicycle is by stopping the pedals, thereby causing the rear wheel to skid.

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Woman exercising

Track bikes designed for racing are usually exceptionally lightweight and simple, and they are designed for aerodynamic performance. Carbon frames are popular for rigidity and light weight; the bike does not feature any braking systems, and the cyclist is secured to the pedals by using clipless pedals and shoes. The shoes feature a cleat that clicks into the pedals. When the cyclist needs to release from the pedals, he will simply kick his heel outward away from the bicycle.

Cyclists who ride fixies around town will usually use either clipless pedals or toe clips. Toe clips are cages in which the cyclist can slip his feet. They are cinched down around the foot with an adjustable strap and they offer the cyclist more control over the pedal stroke, as well as more power when pedaling. These track bikes are often made with refurbished parts, and vintage bikes are often stripped down to the bare minimum of parts. The aesthetics of these bikes are usually not as sleek and streamlined as track bikes used for racing, though many fixie owners prefer the used, vintage look. Steel frames are most commonly used for fixies, and the handlebars are often very narrow for negotiating tight spaces between cars in traffic.

Discussion Comments


I have a vintage track bike frame that I would like to re-outfit. I would like to use as many used track bike parts as I can but I also want to have a quality bike in the end. So how easy is it to find cheap and used track bike parts that are still worth using?


I have seen people ride on velodromes on television but I have never actually known someone who has done it themselves. There are really not that many velodromes in the country because they are expensive to build and maintain and they have a limited use. So has anyone out there actually rode a track bike on a track before? What was it like?


I love riding fixed gear bikes. I rode my first one almost ten years ago and I will never ride a free wheel bike again. Not only do I not like it, I think I would feel bored if I did.

The fixed gear configuration makes you feel so much more connected to the machine that is the bicycle. Your body and the pedals are in perfect synch. Every movement you make has a concurrent effect on the bicycle and vice versa. I think it is the way that bicycles were meant to be ridden.

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