How to Do a Bike Track Stand
A Practical and Fun Skill for Road Riders and Mountain Bikers
Track standing is a great practical skill for mountain bikers and road riders alike. And it’s not that hard to master.
Track Stand Benefits
For the road rider, an effective track stand means not having to unclip at stop lights, so she can start faster when the light turns green. For the mountain biker, track stands are a great way to pause while determining how to approach an obstacle, what line to take, or to maneuver a tight switchback.
It’s also a cool trick for showing off, and a skill to practice while waiting around to get going, as inevitably happens on group rides.
Track stands are not easy, but a little practice can go a long way. When beginning, it’s important to practice in a safe manner:
– Use flat pedals rather than clip-ins (a.k.a. clipless pedals). If only clip-in pedals are available, use some flat shoes other than bike shoes, to prevent clipping in by accident.
– Start out on dirt or grass rather than pavement.
To make it easier when beginning:
– If possible, use a bike with wider mountain-bike tires, rather than skinny road tires.
– Set the seat low.
– Use a middle gear to keep a steady pressure on the drive train.
– Slightly lower the air pressure in your tires so they will grab the ground better.
Ride slowly on the grass or dirt, ideally up a very slight incline and stop with the power foot or strong foot in front. Turn the front wheel slightly, or up to a 45-degree angle, depending on what feels most comfortable. If on an incline, turn the wheel uphill.
Apply forward force through the pedals while simultaneously counteracting this forward force by lightly feathering the brakes. The less braking, the smoother the track stand.
Micro Movements the Key to Balance
Using micro movements, ride a tiny bit forward, a tiny bit back. Do this by ratcheting the pedals, moving them only a little bit forward, a little bit back. Do not do a full pedal stroke. At the same time, turn the handle bars slightly to the left, slightly to the right, to maintain balance with lateral micro movements.
When just beginning track stands, the cyclist’s moves to maintain balance will not be so micro. But with practice, the rider is able to stay up longer and with less perceptible movements. Here, a track stand involves some movement. Like so many bike skills, each rider has a slightly different technique.
Track Stand with More Confidence
– on pavement
– on level ground or even slight downhill inclines
– while clipped in
– with the bike seat in its normal position
– and from any gear.
And of course, more practice means track standing for longer periods of time, with less perceptible movement.
Another way to make a track stand more challenging is to move you head and look around while standing.
Even if one’s own track stand is never good enough to show off in a video or enter into a track stand contest, even a little practice leads to some valuable benefits – the ability to stop the bike, keep standing for several seconds, and stay in control. And most importantly, learning to track stand is like learning to ride a bike: once you learn the skill, you never forget it.