How To Track Stand Like A Cycling Pro

There are a few cycling skills and tricks that look great and can earn you nods of approval from bystanders, but some skills are genuinely useful in your day-to-day riding.

One of those skills is the track stand.

The track stand gets its name from velodrome racers who have the ability to balance their fixed gear bikes on the track while not moving. Mastering the track stand allows you to stay upright without unclipping your shoes from the pedals or putting a foot down. 

In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • Why Should I Learn How To Track Stand?
  • Getting Prepared For Your First Track Stand
  • The 3 Elements Of Good Bike Balance
  • How To Track Stand: The Technique
  • The Box Game

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the track stand!

How To Track Stand Like A Cycling Pro: Title Image

Why Should I learn How To Track Stand?

Road Cyclists

Road cyclists benefit from being able to track stand when riding in traffic.

When they encounter stop signs or traffic lights, they don’t have to unclip from the pedals, allowing them to get away quickly when the lights change.

Also, being able to stay on your bike at slow speeds means you can weave around pedestrians, traffic, and anything in your way, without putting a foot down.

Mountain Bikers

Mountain bikers use track stands all the time.

They come in handy when you approach switchbacks and challenging climbs. They’re also helpful when you need to spot your line before dropping into a steep or technical descent.

Another benefit of perfecting the track stand is that it helps you to improve your balance on the bike. Having excellent balance makes a massive difference in your riding skills and will help you progress.

Fixie Riders

If you’re riding a fixed-wheel bike (whether it’s a track bike or a fixie road bike), the track stand is a little different.

Unlike bikes with a freewheel component, fixie bikes can be pedalled backwards. This gives you a little more control, and makes track standing on flat ground a little easier – but besides that, the technique is essentially the same.

How To Track Stand Like A Cycling Pro 1

Getting Prepared For Your First Track Stand

It’s best to go to a quiet place away from traffic, anything dangerous, or anything that will spoil your concentration.

You’ll find it easier if your practice spot has a slight incline. This provides some resistance that will allow you to put pressure on your pedals to prevent you from rolling backward. Using a hill will help you learn to track stand a little faster. A driveway, yard, parking lot, or quiet road with a 2-degree gradient is perfect.

If you ride a mountain bike, you’ll find that doing a track stand is much easier. The upright riding position and wide tires help with your balance. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t master the track stand on a road bike – you can do it on any kind of bicycle!

You may want to put flat pedals on your bike at this early stage, unless you can quickly unclip when you lose your balance. 

Before attempting your first track stand, select a gear that you would use for casually riding on flat ground. This should provide the optimum level of control without being too sensitive to your inputs.

The 3 Elements Of Good Bike Balance

Now you have a starting point, the key to a track stand is having good balance on the bike. Here is how you maintain good bike balance in a track stand:

#1. Have A Light Grip On The Handlebars

If you grip the handlebars too tightly, your entire upper body is tense, preventing you from making the micro-adjustments necessary for a track stand.

#2. Stand On The Pedals With Your Weight Centered

When your weight is too far forward, over your handlebars, your center of gravity is off. Try to focus on placing your weight over your bike’s bottom bracket.

#3. Keep Your Head Up

It can be tempting to look at your front wheel or the ground in front of you, especially at slow speeds. But, if you don’t keep your gaze forward while practicing a track stand, your balance will be off.

How To Track Stand: The Technique

#1. Initiating The Track Stand

With all the things above in your mind, find your slight slope and ride up it slowly until you come to a stop. You need to be standing on level pedals with a slight bend in your knees for balance.

As your speed reduces, turn your handlebars just before coming to a dead stop. Which way you turn your handlebars is up to you, but if you turn to the left, lead with your right foot. This will mean you control the bike by putting pressure on the right pedal while your left foot holds things still with the help of the slope.

#2. Adjust The Pressure on Your Pedals To Maintain Balance

Don’t attempt to be perfectly still during your track stand at this early stage. Instead, let your bike roll back a bit by releasing the pressure on your left pedal. Then push down again, so your bike rolls forwards and up to the left.

Do this a couple of times to get the feel and dismount your bike. Then do it again, but with a few more back-and-forths, building on it each time. This repetitive practice will train you to be more balanced, helping you stay in a track stand for longer.

#3. Minimize Movement

After you get to a point where you feel like you can maintain your balance with movement, it’s time to minimize it. To reduce movement while doing a track stand, it’s vital to stay relaxed.

To keep yourself still, minimize your back-and-forth motion by applying light pressure to your leading pedal. If you feel like you’re tipping to the left, push harder. But if you feel like you’re going over on the right side, ease off.

Eventually, you will find the perfect balance minimizing your motion or being completely motionless. But this will come with lots of practice, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t do it straight away.

If you lose your balance, you can either dab a foot down or pedal to ride away. Keep trying – you’ll get there!

#4. Don’t Use Your Brakes Too Much

It can be tempting to grab a handful of your brakes while attempting a track stand for the first time. But rather than helping you, it actually throws you off balance. Just use the pedal pressure and the slight turn in your handlebars to maintain balance.

However, if you are on a road or section of trail that requires you to brake, you need to do it in a certain way.

Don’t just hold your brakes on; instead, feather them to compliment your pressure adjustments on the pedals.

#5. Remember To Keep Your Head Up

Yes – we’ve already mentioned this!

However, we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your head up. If you’re going to be doing a track stand cycling in the real world, you need to be aware of what is going on around you.

While practicing your track stands, pick a point ahead of you and fix your eyes on it. This will help you keep your balance, but you will also be more aware of your surroundings than if your eyes are looking at the floor or your front wheel.

#6. Think About Your Hand Position

You don’t need to worry about this too much on a mountain bike, as long as you don’t grip too hard. But, on a road bike, you have three choices of hand position. The top of the handlebars is probably not the best place to have your hands while doing a track stand. Your grip is a bit too narrow, making the bike unstable.

You may find that holding on to the drops is fine, as it gives you control over the brakes and the gears, and it makes it easy to ride away.

However, some cyclists prefer to keep their hands on the hoods. Here your grip is nice and wide, giving you lots of control and stability. You can also reach your brakes and gears, so you adapt when you need to.

The Box Game

A great way to improve your track stand technique is to set up the Box Game.

Get a bunch of bike friends together and set out a large square on the ground. Your box could be on a driveway, parking lot, yard, or anywhere without obstacles.

The idea is to ride around the square as slowly as possible while keeping your balance. If you put a foot down or ride out of the square, you’re out.

The winner is the last person in the square.

How To Track Stand Like A Cycling Pro 2

Now You Know How To Track Stand Like A Cycling Pro!

The key learning points of perfecting a track stand are:

  • Practice away from traffic
  • Use the brakes sparingly
  • Keep your feet level so you can adjust pressure for balance
  • Keep your head up
  • Practice makes perfect!

As you get better at track stands, you’ll be able to do them on flatter terrain. This is when you’ll find them to be really effective when riding at slow speeds or in traffic.

But before you start using a track stand cycling in traffic, make sure you’re confident you’re not going to fall over!

Found this Article Helpful? Develop your cycling knowledge Further With The BikeTips Experts’ Guides Below!

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One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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