Track Bike Power

This winter I have pretty much exclusively been riding the indoor Velodrome here in Glasgow.

This has mainly been Tarck league on a Wednesday (usually 4 races) and a coach led session the day after (gate starts - flying 200’s 500’s etc) and maybe one other track session.

So my training is very much down on the beginning of the year but life gets in the way etc.

I find that my 5s to 1min power is very much down on what I would do on the road. 418w for a min as opposed to 530+w on the road bike. (I am around 65kg give or take)

Is this normal to produce significantly less power on the fixed gear?

I am competitive in my category generally placing in the points in most races after a shaky few week start.


I race primarily track with road as a backup. I have noticed lower than what I would expect wattage on the track, but I’ve also set annual PRs out there for peak watts. So my answer would be NO.

Are you using the same power meters? What is your track gearing relative to what you would have on the road? RPM? Crank Length?

I once heard power described as ‘what your body is doing to the bike’. Your body is no more or less capable on one bike vs the other when all things are equal. BUT change your fit, change your position, different crank arm length, q factor, limitations in the rack vs a flat stretch of road and all of a sudden there goes 20 watts.

I wouldn’t say ‘its normal to produce less power BECAUSE of a fixed gear’ however all these factors can add up and that is the reality for you.

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To add to @berto2cj typically the biggest issue is the selection of gearing if hasn’t been ruled out. It can be an art to find the right gearing to allow both good torque as well as high cadence. Too high or too low of gearing can affect this and disrupt power output. Most people have to high a gearing when they start out on the track and not able to get high enough cadence. 120-130rpm is typically optimal for most individuals so if it is not a gearing that allows those rpms it may be the culprit. As mentioned, position can also have an impact.

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Case in point - I did masters nationals this past year and our main event was team pursuit. Me and my team had quite a few practice sessions during the build up - probably close to 20 hours together in aero position with a USAC national coach for 4 days, and a trip to Indy mixed it.

As we experimented with gearing (I personally like big gears low cadence) I was struggling to hold the pace with everyones gears. My wattage was like 375 and we needed that for 4:30-5 min. When I went to bigger gears I was keeping up much better but i was shocked that my wattage was dropping.

I would have thought big gear = harder to press = more watts. But in my case it wasn’t…odd know.


@berto2cj Yes this is exactly what I’m referencing. It’s always an eye opener that higher power doesn’t necessarily equate to higher speeds and vice versa. Optimal gearing is definitely key.

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All makes sense.

Currently riding 50x14 and typically I’ll max out my cadence mid 120’s.

Turns out looking back at efforts I haven’t actually been doing any real 1 min max efforts. I tend to attack with a couple laps to go with is around 35-40s (did standing 500m’s today 40.17s and 610 watts)

I’ll need to go try a few hard 3/4 lap efforts and see how it stands up.

Go 51x15 and see what you think - same effort from RPE perspective. I’m betting what you see won’t be what you expect to see.

Those Team Pursuit efforts were great for consistency because they were same position, order of riders, time, and RPE (mostly). I could really look back and see the differences in gearing in near isolation.

It’s not uncommon to obtain lower power on a trainer than outdoors. I’m primarily a track cyclist as well and my 30 second all out efforts on any trainer never reach those from my races.

Some explanations behind this:

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I came up from 48x14 via 49x14 and found the 130+RPM in the lower gear unpleasant racing but I’ll give the 15 a bash.

I mostly race scratch and points races and find the bigger gear easier on me when it gets strung out.

Yeah I don’t do well on a trainer for sub 1min efforts.

I race both track and road as well. Given you mentioned 5s to 1 min, I am wondering if it has to do with the fact track cyclists don’t typically sprint off the seat in mass start races (and those who do are usually quickly identified sarcastically as “roadies”. :slight_smile: . There are some exceptions, such as in an attack in order to get to top speed, or before a sprint in a points race, keirin, or scratch race, etc, but this is only for a few seconds. On the road, when you are sprinting off the seat for 30s, it may be that you are able to generate more power than seated on the track, because your body and legs have not yet conditioned to sprinting on the seat, which requires higher cadences and powering through more with the hips than with brute force rocking back and forth on the bike off the seat. Just a thought. This wasn’t the case with me. Once I started track racing, I PR’d all my 5s to 1 min efforts.