Yes, you can ride a track bike on the road. However, they won’t work as well are road bike. Track bikes may be athletic and lightweight but they are not very well suited for use on the road. These bikes are generally stiff and will put their rider in an aggressive position throughout the ride, which may cause stress on certain joints. They also have no brakes!
Track bikes offer a variety of unique features that make them only well suited for use on a track as opposed to commuting. These bikes are aerodynamically designed but offer a highly uncomfortable experience on longer rides.
Unlike track bikes with lower-level tire clearance, harder frames and missing brake mounts, fixed gear road bikes could be a better choice for commuting. That said neither option is well suited for a comfortable ride on the road.
Table of Contents
- Can You Use a Track Bike for Commuting?
- Why Shouldn’t You Use a Track Bike for Commuting?
- Can a Fixed Gear Bike Work Better on The Road?
Can You Use a Track Bike for Commuting?
Even though the track bike is an uncomfortable option, it will still work on the road. Here are the main reasons why you might consider adding a track bike to your everyday routine.
Track bikes are built for racing on the velodrome. These bikes will rely heavily on a lightweight frame with no additions. They are usually built from carbon or aluminium frames, and feature neither brake mounts nor gears.
The bikes will generally remain lightweight even when heavier steel and titanium frames are used. As a result, they will tend to weigh a lot less than regular bikes.
A top-of-the-line track bike will easily fall below 8kgs/17.6 pounds. They will be easy to carry around and will offer increased convenience and security during storage.
Track bikes have a simple and clean build that many cyclists cannot resist. The sight of a track bike in full motion is appealing even to bikers outside the sport. Their large panelled wheels combine with their aerodynamic build for a highly attractive look.
Track bikes are very easy to maintain due to their relatively lightweight build. These bikes feature no suspension, hydraulic disc brakes or derailleur.
Unlike other bikes, these options will not bleed regularly or require consistent care.
Generally, track bike owners will only need to oil the chain and clean their bike. They will require wheel tuning, bracket replacement and other minor fixes, but these will tend to occur on an infrequent basis.
Why Shouldn’t You Use a Track Bike for Commuting?
Despite the aesthetic build and low cost of maintenance, the track bike might just not be well suited for your everyday use. Here are the key reasons why you should only consider it for racing on the track.
The track bike might look good, but it is designed for high speed. This results in a stiff frame to prevent power losses during pedalling.
Though advantageous for racing on the track, the stiff frame will be too tiresome when used on the road.
Ultimately, track bikes will be troublesome for use on roads with bumps. The bike’s tire is also very close to the rider, which increases the risk of toe overlap and friction burns.
A Highly Aggressive Riding Position
The stiff build of the track bike enhances its ability to pick up and maintain high speed. This results in a highly aggressive design with a large saddle-to-handlebar drop.
Riders will often have to take up a stretched position which may be tough to maintain over a long period of time. While this may be hassle free for the professionals, track bike riding could be tough for regular commuters.
Track bikes are low maintenance due to their lack of accessories. They are usually only fitted with one high gear, which will often be quite high. As such, the track bike will be tough to use without a high level of strength and endurance.
The bike will be tough for use when climbing and moving to slightly raised paths. The stiff build and tough gearing may cause knee pain for some users, although it can be mitigated by lowering the gearing through use of a smaller chain ring and larger rear cog.
Cadence refers to the number of revolutions that a bike’s crank makes per minute when in motion.
When using your bike, an optimal level of cadence will generate highly efficient movement. You need to maintain about 90rpm cadence to reach a great average speed over your commuting length.
Unlike other bikes, track bikes will offer sub optimal cadence and will tend to be tougher to ride on the road.
Missing Brake Mounts
A legit track bike will not feature any brakes or mounts. Unlike the road, velodrome racing doesn’t always need any breaks. Track bikes will have a predictable braking distance to prevent any collisions on the track.
When racing, unpredictable braking could increase the risk of collisions. However, the road is completely different animal. Bikers will have to brake quickly or slow down over a period of time depending on the situation while sustaining high traction. As a result, track bikes can increase the risk of collisions and other accidents for riders on the road.
Fixed Gear Drivetrain Risk
Fixed gear bikes will place regular riders under a higher risk of injury. Unlike other bikes, track bikes will often have a moving chain, chain ring and crank.
Any part of your outfit that gets caught in the drivetrain will be pulled in and may cause an accident. Riders have to choose their attire and footwear carefully to keep them secure and away from the drivetrain.
On regular bikes, riders will be better able to coast and address any potential problems by stopping the bike instantly.
Missing Fender and Rack Mounts
While track bikes are lightweight and streamlined in their build, they often miss too many parts for comfortable use on the road. The bikes also miss mounts for racks and fenders, which make riding harder on the road.
A track bike ride across a hilly and muddy area will be complex without fenders and racks because these are designed to help prevent the build-up of mud, as well as streamline cargo transport.
Mountain bikes may offer a better all-round experience for riders. That said, there are clip-on fenders and easily installable racks that can help upgrade your track bike.
Can a Fixed Gear Bike Work Better on The Road?
Even though track bikes are technically fixed gear options, fixies are better suited for use on the road.
Fixed gear options offer the same racing benefits as track bikes but also provide improved user security which makes them better suited for use on the road. These bikes will also fare badly against regular bikes for the average rider, but they can be enhanced for recreational and commuter use.
So, how are fixed gear bikes different from track bike? For starters, track bikes have no brakes while fixed gear options offer this feature. The track bike is engineered for speed and racing, with everything moving in the same direction.
This translates to oval-shaped fork blades and other aspects of rigidity that make them very uncomfortable when compared with the fixed gear bike. The track bike also has a tighter tire clearance than the fixed gear option, which increases the risk of accidents and injury.
Customized road bicycles offer the best option for use on the track. Even though both track bikes and fixed gear options can be used for commuting, the best experience on the road will only be offered by machines that are designed and built for use on the road.
Can you opt for a lower gear ratio on your track bike?
Yes, you can! There are three types of track bikes with specific engineering and dynamics. Some track bikes offer a lower gear ratio that enables riders to sustain high speeds with lower effort.