Track Bikes Make You Strong



There was a time when I rode nothing but fixed gear, but eventually I became more and more into other kinds of cycling, and these days I’m just as likely to jump on my road bike and go for a spin. I enjoy selecting an easier gear as I climb hills and freewheeling my way down without my legs going like the clappers. Don’t get me wrong, my truest love remains riding track bikes, but when my Charge Plug and I were recently separated – the bike was in transit, and then in storage whilst Dave and I made our way to our new home in Italy – I just rode my other bike and didn’t think too much of it.

Incredibly in the short time I’ve not been riding fixed gear, my legs seem to have gone all weedy, if yesterday’s hill climbing and bombing session is anything to go by. It’s only when you’ve not been riding fixed gear for a while and you go back to it that you realise just how strong it makes your legs, and just how quickly that strength disappears. I actually think riding road bikes too much has made me wimpy!

juliet elliott fixed gear cyclist cycling

Dave noakes fixed gear cyclist cycling

It’s not for nothing that cyclists used to ride fixed in the winter to build up their fitness – the fact you can’t stop peddling coupled with the brute force required to make your way up (and down) hills mean it’s a great way to increase the power in your legs. And as the bikes are so minimal, they’re easier to clean and you don’t wear through your expensive cassette and derailleur when riding in bad weather. So if you want to get fitter, build strength, improve your pedaling technique and most importantly have a whole heap of fun, put that road bike back in the shed and go for a ride on your trusty fixed gear.


Here’s to a winter of track bikes in every weather and on every terrain!

Pics of me: Dave Noakes, pics of Dave: me

Comments (3)
  1. Ty November 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Tru dat! I’m about to convert my only geared bike to a singlespeed, unless you’re on a proper training regime with a geared bike the ease of changing gear really does make the muscle drop from your legs.

    Not that it’s happened to me of course, I’m still as hard as nails :-/

    • Juliet_Elliott November 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Yeah, it’s not what I expected at all, as I tend to go on longer, hillier rides on the road bike, but bloody hell it was a shock to my legs getting back on the track bike after some time off.
      How come you’re gonna convert it to a singlespeed?

      • Ty November 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

        The gears are just pointless here in Helsinki because there aren’t any hills or mountains yet I still find myself switching through them at every possible opportunity. Also, when the winter really kicks in soon I don’t want to have to deal with maintenance.

        Riding here is beating the hell out of me for some reason, I think it’s the difference in the air compared to the UK. My 10 mile ride into the city is flat and easy yet I’m exhausted at the end of it and my legs are the weakest they’ve been for years even though I’m riding probably 3x more than I have been.

        I’m going with the theory that without having gears to rely on because I’m feeling tired or weak will result in me gaining strength again, very scientific :-s

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