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I want to be able to do a track stand. I can almost come to a halt on my bike without taking my shoes out the cleats - but not quite.

In theory, on a fixed wheel it should be easier, but I can't quite manage to maintain position, I always find myself rolling forward.

So I'm looking for snippets of advice, without being able to see what I'm doing wrong, can anyone tell me something to do right so as to perform a decent track stand; on either a free or a fixed hub, advice for either is fine.

What's your secret?

I promise that I'll go out and practice somewhere quiet ...

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Mind linking a wikipedia article on track stand for those of us who have never heard of it? –  Joe Philllips Sep 16 '10 at 3:04
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9 Answers 9

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Here are my snippets of advice from when I learnt to trackstand:

  • Start off by practising on a slight uphill. This way you only need to practice the forward pressure part of the movement. As you get better you can move on to smaller and smaller slopes. In urban riding, you can often use the camber of the road as your slope.
  • Use the right gear. Not really an issue with a fixie, but on a bike with gears you want a gear that is in about the middle of the range. Too low a gear will give you too much leverage and you will tend to over correct. Too high a gear and you won't have enough leverage to move the bike easily.
  • I find it easier to track stand standing up, pedals horizontal with my good foot forward and with the saddle braced between my thighs. Later you can progress to seated trackstands.
  • If the bike starts to lean towards the direction that you've turned your front wheel, then a slight pressure on your leading foot should shift the bike back under you.
  • If the bike starts to lean in the opposite direction, then you have to ease off the pressure on your front foot and let the bike roll back down the hill slightly. This is probably the trickiest part to get the hang of as it is a fairly unnatural backwards motion at first, but once you get the hang of it your trackstands will progress well.
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Can this still work if you're on a freewheel? So the front foot does all the pressure control. If you're on a level street, how do you roll back? I guess I just have to try it out. :) –  milesmeow Sep 16 '10 at 3:28
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Yep, this does still work on a freewheel. In fact I haven't ever tried it on a fixie. The trick when learning is that uphill bit that allows you to roll back by releasing the pressure. As you get better, you can do it on the flat by using the small uphill from the road's camber. –  deemar Sep 16 '10 at 7:11
    
On the flat, you can also rock your body slightly backwards to get the reverse momentum. And don't be afraid to use your brakes when you're starting out. –  Byron Ross Nov 19 '10 at 1:49
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Start by finding some imperfection in the surface - like just a tiny bit of a dip or lump. Roll your front wheel up to the point by pushing very slightly on the pedals and then once you feel the resistance from point to your movement ease off on the pedals and roll back. Keep doing this and you will find that you can balance on the point with only the very slightest of movements. You just alternate between applying a little bit of pressure on the pedals to the pedals applying a bit of pressure back to you. Even with a freewheel you will get some back pressure.
When you come to a non flat surface, there are two things to do. If you are facing up hill, then turn your front wheel almost 45 degrees to the frame, and then do the pressure on, pressure off routine as before. Facing downhill is harder, since you will get very little back pressure. My tip here is to turn the front wheel to almost 90 degrees, and to let the bike roll so you are perpendicular to the direction of the road. Then you can generate a small amount of back pressure, since the bike actually tries to go back on itself. Be careful though, it is very easy to fall off doing this.

And when you have mastered this, you can try doing it while still in the saddle ;-)

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on youtube you will find quite a few video tutorials on how to do a track stand

Here is an example:

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I was taught how to track stand on a fixed gear bike by some velodrome riders and here are some pointers they gave me that really helped me.

Keep your pedals roughly horizontal, and turn your front wheel about 45 degrees towards the side that has the front foot. Most beginners don't do this, they move their wheel left/right in an attempt to stabilize the trackstand. While this may work temporarily, it is very bad technique and you won't be able to progress to long seated trackstands like this. Assuming you ride on the right side of the road it is good to learn with the wheel facing left, so that when you get better you'l be able to utilize the camber of the road (you want the wheel pointed uphill, which will be left if you're on the right side of the road).

Learning on slight hills is definitely a good idea, but not necessary if you're on a fixed gear bike. I learned to trackstand by not thinking about just stopping and balancing, but focusing on riding into the trackstand. as the pedals approached the horizontal position, I would slow them down, and I'd try to stop with the front pedal slightly higher than the back pedal, this gave me slightly better leverage. Now the important thing is to not rely on turning the wheel right if you start falling over to the right. Use your center of balance to overcompensate to the left. If you see you're constantly falling right, lean more left, and vice versa.

Another very important thing to remember while learning is trackstanding is not about standing perfectly still when you're learning, its about forward and backwards movement. If you're on a fixie, alternate putting a tiny amount of pressure on the front foot and on the back foot. You will be rocking back and forth (quite a bit at first), but as you get better you will minimize these movements. On a freewheel the gravity provides the backwards motion, so you apply pressure on the front foot, then let off slightly to rock back. This rocking motion is critical in acquiring the right balance. Again, you should NOT be moving your wheel left-right. You should be using your center of balance for left-right balance, and rock forward and backwards for forwards/backwards balance.

Practice is key, eventually I reached the point where I could confidently trackstand sitting down with my hands not on the bars. Re-learning how to trackstand on flat ground on a freewheel is proving to be tough, i'm using the brake to provide a tiny amount of back pressure against the forward pedaling, but havn't been able to maintain it yet really. Hills are cake though.

Good luck. sorry for the wall of text.

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This is actually incredibly enlightening. I've been wondering for a few years (since I learned) why I was having so much trouble doing a trackstand with my wheel ganked right. It doesn't help that I'm a lefty, I'm sure, but I never put 2 + 2 together on the road camber bit. As soon as I swing my right foot forward and turn the wheel to the right, I can't stay upright. –  kyle Jan 2 '11 at 6:50
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I learned how to track stand in a very similar fashion to Victor's posting with fixed gear bicycles. However learning to track stand on a freewheel bike can present a different set of problems than on a fixed gear bicycle. This does not necessarily mean it is harder though. The placement of your pedals in relation to your wheels is the same, but with the added challenge of not being able to back pedal. When track standing on level ground, I find that by squeezing the brakes (front or back or both, you will find which suits you) you can resist the forward motion of your pedaling, while at the same time pushing backwards. All this put together will help you keep stationary. An advantage to not being fixed is that you can very easily level out your pedals and keep them in the optimum position.

Best of luck! and remember, Practice makes perfect, as mentioned earlier.

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"How do you get to Carniegie Hall...?" - Practice, practice and more practice. Make sure you attempt it every time you come to a stop, you'll find that you can hold it for longer and longer each time, until you get to the point that you can pretty much stand there for as long as you need to.

I had an interesting conversation with a woman the other day who called me a crap cyclist (she thought I was about to jump the pedestrial crossing she was going over - I wasn't) - I pointed out to her that I was able to talk to her without having put my feet down...She went a bit quiet after that :-)

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Before I learned to do a track stand, I learned to balance a BMX bike while sitting with my left foot on the pedal so that I could push forward and my right foot on the front tire so that I could move it back and forth to keep my balance. This provided me with the feel of the basic rocking technique that is required to do a track stand, even though I did not know what a track stand was at the time, and it made doing a track stand easier.

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A few pointers:

  • On most roads the crown of the road (center) is uphill for water drainage, so turn your front wheel towards the center to give your forward pedal stroke some natural resitance.
  • Take your hands off the brake levers once you achieve your initial balance. You will maintain position by varying a slight pedal pressure against (a) any natural uphill (like the crown of the road) or (b) leaning to make the bike roll slightly backwards.
  • Visualize the front wheel, rear wheel and your torso (hips through shoulders) as forming a tripod. the base width vs. height of the tripod can be changed by (1) pedal pressure, (2) standing height (taller vs lower on cross bar or (3) forward/back body position (you can get way out over the handlebars in a track stand)
  • Don't fight to hold a track stand on crummy terrain (ex: pointed down a steep hill) or on days you just don't have it going on (like me after a night of drinking). The point is to conserve energy and look cool - if you're fighting it you'll accomplish neither.

Keep practicing - I commute daily through a busy city and almost always try to go from hopping on my ride to pulling into the garage without touching the ground. It's "the ground is made of lava!" for adults.

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I got this from: http://www.mtbtechniques.co.uk/TrialsTrackstand.html (Which looks to be a great website on Mt. Biking skills)

The Trackstand is basically a method of remaining stationary on the bike without having to put a foot down.

Learning how to trackstand will improve your balance no end allowing more control of the bike when riding slowly (for example when riding along a thin section of north shore).

mtb skills trackstand

It is also an essential technique that allows you extra time to compose yourself and work out your line through technical sections without putting your feet down. It is essential when riding highly technical slow speed ‘trials’ type trails.

To practice a trackstand it may help to be facing up a slight hill. Selecting the middle chainring on the front and around a 20t sprocket or middle gear on the rear will give a nice responsive feel to your pedals without them being to hard to push.

Roll along at a slow pace with your pedals roughly horizontal one foot should naturally become your front or chocolate foot. Apply the front brake and allow the bike to come to a stop. As you stop turn the handlebars so that your front wheel is at about a 45 degree angle facing into the hill.

If you start to fall uphill, then apply pressure on your forward foot to move the bike forward, because the front wheel is pointing uphill this will bring the bike back under you.

If you start to fall downhill take your weight off the front pedal and allow the bike to roll back (this is why it is easier on a slope) under you.

Try not to move too far forward or backwards whilst staying balanced. The aim is to stay in the same place.

It’s just a matter of allowing the bike to move under you so as to correct your balance. When you start you will need to move the bike and your body quite a bit to stay in control. As you progress the movements will become much smaller until they are almost invisable.

Once comfortable turning the front wheel in this natural direction, approach the hill from the other side so that you still face uphill but with the front wheel turned the other way. Also practice in both directions with your natural foot to the rear using your opposite foot to apply pressure to the pedals. This will give you many more options on the trails and will also help you swap pedals over when turning corners.

With practise, the trackstand in will become second nature and become a key technique in your skill arsenal giving you far more options on severe trails.

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