How to trackstand on a road bike.
An internet article by Rick Smith
With acknowledgments to my trackstanding mentor, Neil Bankston.

Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, ....

1. Wear tennis shoes.
2. Find an open area, like a parking lot that has a slight grade to it.
3. Put bike in a gear around a 42-18.
4. Ride around out of the saddle in a counter-clockwise circle, about  10 feet in diameter.

Label Notation for imaginary points on the circle:
   'A' is the lowest elevation point on the circle.
   'B' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'A' .
   'C' is the highest elevation point on the circle.
   'D' is the 90 degrees counterclockwise from 'C' .

      C
   /        \
D           B     Aerial View
   \        /
       A

5. Start slowing down, feeling the different sensation as the bike transitions between going uphill (B) and downhill (D).

6. Start trying to go real slowly through the A - B region of the circle. This is the region you will use for trackstanding. Ride the rest of the circle as you were in step 5.

The trackstanding position (aerial view again):

          ---|    /
------| |----/
    |---      /

The pedal are in a 3 o'clock - 9 o'clock arrangement (in other words, parallel to the ground). Your left foot is forward, your wheel is pointed left. You are standing and shifting you weight to keep balance.

The key to it all is this:
     If you start to fall left, push on the left pedal to move the bike forward a little and bring you back into balance.
     If you start to fall right, let up on the pedal and let the bike roll back a little and bring you back into balance.

7. Each time you roll through the A - B region, try to stop when the left pedal is horizontal and forward. If you start to lose your balance, just continue around the circle and try it again.

8. Play with it. Try doing it in various regions in the circle, with various foot position, and various amounts of turn in your steering. Try it on different amounts of slope in the pavement. Try different gears. What you are shooting for is the feel that's involved, and it comes with practice.

The why's of trackstanding:

Why is road bike specified in the title?

A true trackstand on a track bike is done differently. A track bike can be pedaled backwards, and doesn't need a hill to accomplish the rollback affect. Track racing trackstands are done opposite of what is described. They take place on the C - D region of the circle, with gravity used for the roll forward, and back pedaling used for the rollback. This is so that a racer gets the assist from gravity to get going again when the competition makes a move.

Why a gear around 42-18?

This is a reasonable middle between too small, where you would reach the bottom of the stroke on the roll forward, and too big, where you couldn't generate the roll forward force needed.

Why is the circle counter-clockwise?

Because I assume you are living in an area where travel is done on the right side of the road. When doing trackstands on the road, most likely it will be at traffic lights. Roads are crowned - higher in the middle, lower on the shoulders - and you use this crown as the uphill portion of the circle (region A-B). If you are in a country where travel is done on the left side of the road, please interpret the above aerial views as subterranial.

Why is this done out of the saddle?

It's easier!! It can be done in while seated, but you lose the freedom to do weight adjustments with your hips.

Why is the left crank forward?

If your right crank was forward, you might bump the front wheel with your toe. Remember the steering is turned so that the back of the front wheel is on the right side of the bike. Some bikes have overlap of the region where the wheel can go and your foot is. Even if your current bike doesn't have overlap, it's better to learn the technique as described in case you are demonstrating your new skill on a bike that does have overlap.

Why the A - B region?

It's the easiest. If you wait till the bike is around 'B', then you have to keep more force on the pedal to hold it still. If you are around the 'A' point, there may not be enough slope to allow the bike to roll back.

What do I do if I want to stop on a downhill?

While there are techniques that can be employed to keep you in the pedals, for safety sake I would suggest getting out of the pedals and putting your foot down.

Other exercises that help:

Getting good balance. Work through this progression:
     1. Stand on your right foot. Hold this until it feels stable.
     2. Close your eyes. Hold this until it feels stable.
     3. Go up on your toes. Hold this until it feels stable.
     4. If you get to here, never mind, your balance is already wonderful, else repeat with other foot.

Return To: Ken Hart's Bike Racing Page