|Hugely popular in the 1920’s and 30’s, bicycle
track racing is roaring back in popularity
here in the United States. Velodromes, an
oval track used for bicycle track racing,
are being built as the sport gains in popularity.
A track racing bicycle is dedicated to only
the essential components, with none of the
complicated, and sometimes delicate, gearing
and braking systems found on a most bicycles.
Track bikes use a direct drive mechanism
consisting of a single, small gear cog on
the rear wheel that is fixed to the hub.
It has no "freewheel" mechanism
and is often referred to as a "fixed-gear"
or "fixed-wheel" bike. One large
gear, or "chain ring,” is attached to
the pedals. This direct-drive configuration
means that, like a child's tricycle, every
time the rear wheel goes around, the pedals
go around as well.
The rider increases or decreases
speed with pedals. As the rider
pedal, the bike moves forward.
the rider pedals, the faster
the bike moves
forward with a one-to-one ratio.
the moving bike, the rider slows
revolutions or employs gravity
by going “up-track.”
Instead of brakes to stop the
bike, the rider
provides resistance through the
places their hand (with glove)
on the front
tire to generate friction.
The track bike is durable and reliable in
great part because of its simplicity. Many
of the ‘fussy” mechanisms found on the touring
and racing bikes, like shifters, derailleurs,
and braking systems, are simply not there
to break down.
Designed specially for use on steeply banked
tracks, the frame of the track bike has much
steeper angles and is more "upright"
than it’s cousin, the road racing bike. Track
bikes have a shorter wheelbase and less clearance
between the tires and the frame. The bottom
bracket is higher and has shorter crank arms.
This allows for more pedal clearance on the
steep, banked velodrome tracks.
Because there are no brakes on a track bike,
they are dangerous to ride on the road. This
and the lack of gearing also makes them difficult
to ride up hills, so a track-racing bike
is limited in its usefulness outside of a