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Track bike versus gear bikes

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Purchasing a bike is such a big decision! Even if you are buying a used bike, you can still pay quite a bit of money. Plus there is so much information out there, it makes it hard to determine which bike is the best for you. Let’s sort through some of that information. This post will help you know the difference between a track bike and a fixed gear bike, as well as the pros and cons of each style.

What is a fixed gear bike?

A fixed gear bike can also be called a fixie in bicycling circles. This is a single speed bike. Fixed gear bikes also have a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism. The drivetrain refers to the parts of the bike that push or pull the bike along. Examples of those are the pedals, crank, and chain. Fixed gear bikes are powered by the rear wheel. For the bike to maintain movement, the pedals must stay in motion. This bike also has the ability to go backwards.

Pros of a fixed gear bike

If you don’t know much about bikes, then this is something that you wouldn’t realize. But most individuals that you see commuting and using bikes for transportation are using fixed gear bikes. This style of bike is the go-to choice for commuters. Most people who use a bike travel on flat ground, which is the type of terrain that this kind of bike excels at. For those who are more budget-conscious, fixed gear bikes tend to be less expensive than other models of bicycles.

If you enjoy doing repairs on your bike, you are in luck with a fixie. This style of bike is known for being easy to repair, and replacement parts are affordable. Another nice factor with this bike is if you maintain your bike and keep up with the required maintenance, it will need very little work and will last for many years.

Cons of a fixed gear bike

While there are many reasons a fixed gear bike is a fantastic choice, it may not be for everyone. Mainly, if you are used to another style of bike, there may be some aspects of this bike that you may not enjoy. It also may not be the best bike for your needs. If you need a bike that can conquer rough terrain, especially things like hills, a fixed gear bike is not the style you should purchase. They are not suited for hills or rugged terrain. Their lack of brakes compared to other bikes will not work in those situations.

What is a track bike?

A track bike is also another kind of fixed gear bike. All types of fixed gear bikes only have one speed and a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism. Tires on a track bike are narrow and inflated to the highest volume possible. Any customization done to this bike is to optimize it for racing. This bike was designed for racing on bicycle tracks. Its primary use is for indoor only racing. A track bike will have no brakes.

While there will be some mechanical differences between this and a basic gear bike, there are also some similarities. With required maintenance, your track bike can have quite a long life. These bikes are also easy to repair for anyone that has basic bike knowledge.

Pros of a track bike

As mentioned earlier, track bikes were designed for use on indoor bike racing tracks. If you want to ride a bike in an indoor competition, this is the bike for you. Not everyone wants to get a bike workout on a stationary bike. Track bikes can help you achieve that goal.

Cons of a track bike

The most obvious con of this kind of bike would be that it is not made for the outdoors. So if you want to purchase a bike to ride in the park or on your commute to work, this would not be your best choice. Its design and tires are not meant for that at all. Also, since it doesn’t have brakes, it wouldn’t be safe to use it outside. There will be times you are biking in a park that you will need to stop. Not being able to do so is a safety issue. This bike also isn’t equipped to handle the terrain outside. Track bikes will also cost a bit more than a standard fixed gear bike.

Which one should you purchase?

This is a case where there are such differences in use, that will determine which one you purchase. If you want to purchase a bike to use as your primary mode of transit, a track bike is not your best choice. While those bikes can technically be used outdoors, they aren’t designed for that task. Using them for this task could actually put you in harm’s way. Their lack of brakes is not safe for outdoor use. In this case, a traditional fixed gear bike would be a better choice. Fixed gear bikes are the top choice for those looking to purchase a bike for commuting.

If you are looking for an indoor racing bike, a track bike is your best choice, hands down. They were designed for use on indoor racing tracks. Their lack of brakes is one of the things that makes them perfect for this task. As a matter of fact, if these bikes had brakes, that would make them extremely dangerous for racing. There are a few variants on track bikes, so you should be able to find your ideal bike.


The choice between a track bike and a fixed gear bike is going to be primarily based on the reason you need the bike. While a track bike is a variation of a fixed gear bike, it is designed a bit differently. Anyone looking for a commuter bike will want the standard fixed gear. In contrast, indoor racing enthusiasts will want a track bike. This is truly an instance where your need will determine your purchase since these two styles are designed for two different purposes.

Author avatar - Bradley Knight

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