Track bike vs road bike: Understanding the differences

Track bike vs road bike
(Image credit: Colin Levitch)

There a lot of different bikes in the Olympics, from road bikes and time trial bikes, to track bikes, BMX bikes, and mountain bikes. At the end of the day, they’re all bikes, but when you look a bit closer they could not be more different. BMX bikes are tiny, time trial frames have thick tubes and 3D-printed aerobars, and mountain bikes have chunky tyres and a cassette as big as a dinner plate. Then there are track bikes, with no brakes and a fixed gear. 

A track bike is the purest form of cycling. The lack of brakes and only one gear puts the rider in complete control. There are no debates about rim versus disc brakes, 10-speed versus 11-speed, or one-by versus traditional. On a track bike, there are few things to customise, namely the frame, wheels, and gearing. That’s about it. 

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Zach is a freelance writer, the head of ZNehr Coaching, and an elite-level rider in road, track, and e-racing. He writes about everything cycling-related, from buyer's guides to product reviews and feature articles to power analyses. After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science at Marian University-Indianapolis, Zach discovered a passion for writing that soon turned into a full-fledged career. In between articles, Zach spends his time working with endurance athletes of all abilities and ages at ZNehr Coaching. After entering the sport at age 17, Zach went on to have a wonderful road racing career that included winning the 2017 Collegiate National Time Trial Championships and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Pro National Time Trial Championships. Nowadays, Zach spends most of his ride time indoors with NeXT eSport.