Track cycling in a velodrome has always used fixed-gear track bikes, but fixed-gear bicycles are now again used on the road, a trend generally seen as being led by bicycle messengers.
The track bicycle is a form of fixed-gear bicycle used for track cycling in a velodrome. But since a "fixed-gear bicycle" is just a bicycle without a freewheel, a fixed-gear bicycle can be any type of bicycle.
Traditionally, some road racing, club cyclists used a fixed wheel bicycle for training during the winter months, generally using a relatively low gear ratio, believed to help develop a good pedaling style. In the UK until the 1950s it was common for riders to use a fixed wheel for time trials. The fixed wheel was also commonly used, and continues to be used in the end of season hill climb races in the autumn. A typical clubmen's fixed wheel machine would have been a "road-path" or "road/track" cycle. In the era when most riders only had one cycle, the same bike when stripped down and fitted with racing wheels was used for road time trials and track racing, and when fitted with mudguards (fenders) and a bag it was used for club runs, touring and winter training. By the 1960s, multi-gear derailleurs had become the norm and riding fixed wheel on the road declined over the next few decades. Recent years have seen renewed interest and increased popularity of fixed wheel cycling.
In urban North America fixed gear bicycles have achieved tremendous popularity, with the rise of discernible regional aesthetic preferences for finish and design details. The rise in popularity of fixed-gear bicycles in the mid-2000s, complete with adaptations such as spoke cards, is attributed to bicycle messengers
Dedicated fixed-gear road bicycles are being produced in greater numbers by established bicycle manufacturers. They are generally low in price, and characterized by a very forgiving, slack road geometry, as opposed to the steep,aggressive geometry of track bicycles.
Fixed-gear bicycles are also used in cycle ball, bike polo and artistic cycling.
A fixed-gear bicycle is particularly well suited for track stands, a manoeuver in which the bicycle can be held stationary, balanced upright with the rider's feet on the pedals.