Video by The Global Cycling Network.
Trackstand or standstill is a technique that enables you to balance on the bike while it is stationary or moving very slowly. The technique originated in track cycling, but is a great skill for urban commuters, bike messangers and other cyclists who need to stop for a short time without putting a foot on the ground, (e.g. at red lights). The trackstand is also used by mountain bikers when navigating through challenging terrain and is a favourite of BMX cyclists when preparing for tricks and trackstand competitions.
HOW TO DO A TRACK STAND
Find a place to practice that has a gentle uphill slope – just a few degrees, like the crown of a paved road. The gradient needs to be sufficient to allow the bike to roll backwards when pressure on the pedals is relaxed. Once the track stand is mastered, even a very tiny gradient is sufficient: e.g. the camber of the road. If there is no gradient, or if the gradient is downhill, a track stand can still be done on on a freewheeling bicycle using a brake to initiate the backwards movement. If a fixed-gear bicycle is being used, an uphill slope isn’t needed as the rider can simply back pedal to move backwards.
1. FIND YOUR DOMINANT FOOT: Decide on a direction and work out which foot you like to lead with.
2. RIDE UP THE SLOPE: Make sure you’re not clipped in. Use a line of approach that places the slope uphill to your dominant side.
3. NOW STOP and with your dominant foot forward, hold the bicycle’s cranks (i.e. the pedals) in an approximately horizontal position. The pedals should be at 3 and 9 o’clock. The front wheel should be turned 30-45 degrees towards the front foot.
4. ROCK BACK AND FORTH: Push down gently uphill against the slope for a few seconds with the front foot, then release the pressure and roll back down a few inches.This is easier to do standing on the pedals than seated. Repeat a few times and concentrate on getting the forward and backward roll of the front wheel as slow and stable as possible. You shouldn’t need more than 30 centimeters of trajectory and this distance will shorten as you become more stable. You can aid your balance by looking into the middle distance.
On level ground, the backward motion is created by pressing down on the rear pedal (pedaling backwards) for fixed gear riders while freewheel riders supply the backwards resistance with their brake. As you rock back and forth, your pedals will need to be re-adjusted to find the 3-9 position. Remember to keep the front wheel at an angle as this turns the forward and backward motion into side-to-side motion which enables the rider to keep the bike directly below their center of gravity.
5. FIND THE SWEET SPOT: As you rock backwards and forwards with a slow and stable motion, you may notice a small point along the trajectory where you feel very well balanced. This is the “sweet spot”. As you practice, this will starts to expand and become easier to reach and you’ll be able to stay there longer. This is your trackstand!
TIP: As you experiment with finding the sweet spot and losing it, you may notice that you usually fall away from it in the same direction. You can compensate by bringing your body closer to the opposite side as you stand up and turn the front wheel. You can also experiment with approaching the slope with your front pedal a bit higher or a bit lower to help find the sweet spot.
6. EXPERIMENT + BECOME A PRO:
Once you have mastered the basic trackstand (maintaining it for a long period of time), you can get more creative – try it seated and/or on flat ground. For a real challenge try the trackstand on the opposite side, putting your non-dominant foot forward or taking one or both hands off the handlebars and even taking one foot or both feet off the pedals – see how long you can stay balanced in an upright and stationary position. Now you are ready to enter a Trackstand Competition.