A track bicycle is a fixed-gear bicycle that is used in a velodrome. It has narrow, light tires that are inflated to very high pressure, well beyond those used in road cycling. This is done to cut down the rolling resistance caused by friction. The tires used by track cyclists for grass tracks have knobs to minimize skidding chances. These tires also are literally puncture proof and rarely get punctured.
The frames of track bicycles are designed according to use. The frames that are used for sprinting are very rigid whereas those that are used for general racing and longer events are aerodynamic. Several kinds of materials are used in making the frame. These include steel, aluminum, carbon fiber and titanium. Among these, carbon fiber is the choice of most professional racers while steel frames are preferred by the non-track riders.
Most track frames have common features like a high bottom bracket for corner clearance and a steeper seat tube to create an aerodynamic position for the rider. The track bike also boasts of a steeper head tube that aids in steering and a lower fork rake for stable steering at high speeds.
The choice of gear ratio is very important since the track cyclists are unable to change gears during the course of a race. Basically, a gear ratio is selected to strike a balance between quicker acceleration required for a ‘jump’ start and high top-end speed. A lower gear ratio allows quicker acceleration for a ‘jump’ start in a race, which is crucially important for establishing a lead over the opponents.
A high gear ratio, on the other hand, is used if a cyclist is trailing somebody in the decisive stages of a race. It helps in maintaining a constant high speed throughout the race. Ideally, for racing, the gear ratio is selected to have a quicker acceleration for a jump-start and to achieve higher top-end speed.
For single speed and fixed gear bicycle the two common width chains available are of 1/8 of an inch and 3/32 of an inch. Most track bicycles including BMX bicycles and roadsters use the wider and heavier 1/8-inch chain. Some track riders prefer the 3/32-inch chain for their bikes since they are lighter. For best results, the chain ring, the sprocket and chain should all be of the same width.