HOW DO PRO CYCLISTS RIDE SO FAST

What is a Good Average Cycling Speed

What is the average cycling speed of riders is a very common question, particularly among beginners and even avid cyclists. Cycling speed is important as it plays a critical role in how confident a cyclist is.

While it does seem like a very straightforward question, unfortunately, it does not have a straightforward answer. 

As you would imagine there are several variables that impact average cycling speed and hence it is not very easy to provide a direct answer. Still, this article tries to provide a range of bike speeds that you can expect given the different variables.

Factors That Affect Your Average Cycling Speed

Most bikes are used as a form of transportation as commuter bikes and long-distance ride bikes while some use them for leisure and sport in road racing or mountain biking competitions. 

Some of the factors that impact average cycling speed include environmental, physical, and psychological factors among others. 

Environmental Factors

  • Type of Terrain and Riding Surface – Cyclists are usually faster on smooth paved surfaces rather than on rough gravel surfaces. 
  • Weather Conditions – Riders having to ride in bad weather conditions such as muddy or wet conditions tend to be slower than ones cycling in dryer conditions. 
  • Obstacles Along the Route – This could be anything from pedestrians, traffic stops, and traffic lights which can slow one down considerably
  • Total Ride Distance – Different people have different objectives as road racers will usually go further and commuters or leisure riders ride relatively shorter distances.

Physical Factors

  • Preferred Riding Style – Some cyclists love to ride fast while some go at a more leisurely ride.
  • Rider Fitness – The more fit the rider, the faster average cycling speed they can achieve and vice versa
  • Rider Weight – Heavier cyclists tend to be slower on flat terrain since they have more weight they need to push along as compared to lighter cyclists.
  • Rider Age – There is a certain age when a cyclist achieves peak fitness which then starts to drop off resulting in lower speeds. 
  • Biological Sex – Female cyclists tend to be overall slower and will usually clock slower average speeds over the same distances and time. 

Psychological Factors

  • Rider Confidence – More confident riders who have been riding for a long time tend to attain higher average speeds as compared to unconfident riders that may just be starting out. 
  • Familiarity with Cycling Route – The more familiar a cyclist is with a route the faster they will go s they will know where the challenging or obstacle-filled parts are
  • Rider Skill and Experience – Cyclists with great skills and experience tend to ride faster overall as compared to unskilled riders. 

Other Factors

  • Bike Ridden – Different bikes are designed for different purposes and hence the type of bike ridden will have a huge impact on the speeds that can be attained.
  • Cycling Discipline – Disciplined authors who keep up their cycling speeds and do not stop for breaks all the time tend to attain higher average speeds. 
  • Overall Aim of the Ride – The average speed will be impacted by whether you are riding for leisure or are racing
  • Bike Fit – Poor bike fit will make you uncomfortable or un-aerodynamic which can significantly reduce cycling speeds. 
  • Bike Condition – The better maintained a bike is the more efficient and faster it will usually be thus resulting in higher speeds. 

Good Average Cycling Speeds For Different Cyclists

Professional cyclists such as those that ride in the Tour de France or in the Olympics tend to be faster as compared to hobby riders or beginner cyclists. 

There is a range of reasons why cyclists of different experience levels may attain different average cycling speeds. 

The following table provides the different speeds for different cyclists

Good Average Road Cycling Speeds (1hr Ride)

Beginner Cyclist8 - 12 mph (13 - 19 km/h)
Intermediate Cyclist12 - 16 mph (19 - 26 km/h)
Advanced Cyclist16 - 24 mph (26 - 39 km/h)
Professional Cyclist>24 mph (>39 km/h)

What Is The Global Average Cycling Speed?

When it comes to average cycling speeds, these can be as varied as the number of countries across the globe. 

When it comes to measuring speeds there is no one better than the popular social media app Strava.

In 2018, Strava made use of 5.2 billion miles of cycling data over different cycling disciplines, fitness levels, and bike types to come up with an average global cycling speed. 

The global average cycling speed in 2018 was 21.72 km/h or 13.5 mph. The average for women was 19.47 km/h or 12.1 mph while men topped out at an average global cycling speed of 22.04 km/h or 13.7 mph.

Still, it is important to note that the real speed may be lower given that most people that use Strava tend to be professional or avid cyclists rather than regular cyclists.

Average Bike Speeds For Different Bike Types

There is all manner of bikes out there due to the range of cycling disciplines. Given that these bikes are designed for different purposes they tend to achieve different speeds. 

While there are many bikes out there, the most common bikes that we will analyze for average speeds are the road bike, the hybrid bike, and the mountain bike. 

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Average Road Bike Speed

The fastest conventional bike that you can ride is the road bike. These bikes are very fast as they are designed to offer superb aerodynamic performance for high speed. 

The average road bike speed is about 23 – 29 km/h or 14 – 18 mph when riding on smooth roads that are relatively flat. Going uphill many road bikes can hit speeds of between 13 – 19 km/h or between 8 – 12 mph.

Average Mountain Bike Speed

Given that there are so many disciplines in mountain biking it can be difficult to give one average bike speed for a mountain bike.

On flat terrain mountain bikes will on average attain an average speed of between 16 23 km/h or 10 – 14 mph.

Riding on technical terrain with sharp bends, mountain bikes will average between 6 – 13 km/h or 4 – 8 mph. The same speed is experienced in uphill sections that may have a gradient of 5% or more.

Competitive downhill mountain bikes tend to average between 29 – 32 km/h or 18 – 20 mph. However, they have been known to go as high as 80 km/h or 50 mph on very steep descents. 

Average Hybrid Bike Speed

Hybrid bikes combine the features of mountain and road bikes and hence their average speeds also tend to be in the middle of the range of both types of bikes. 

Hybrid bikes use rigid forks and frames which makes their pedaling efficiency better as compared to full suspension mountain bikes. However, they use chunkier tires as compared to road ikes which makes them slower than road bikes on paved surfaces. 

The average hybrid bike will attain average speeds of between 19 – 26 km/h or 12 – 16 mph on flat terrain. This can reduce to about 10 – 16 km/h  or between 6 10 mph on uphill gradients of about 5%.

How to Increase Your Average Cycling Speed

Now that you know about the average speeds of different bikes, it is time to learn about how to increase average cycling speeds next time you decide to take your bike out. 

Some of the most effective ways include:

  1. Experimenting with Tire Pressure – Check for the optimal pressure for your bike and try out different pressures until you find the most effective one for speed.
  2. Learn to Track Stand – If you do not have to get off your bike all the time you will be faster over the time in addition to improving your balance.
  3. Improve Your Nutrition – Study up on the best nutrition for cycling s that can feed and refeed adequately during your rides. 
  4. Listen To Music – Research studies have shown that listening to upbeat music can help one get tired less and also improve their cadence. 
  5. Build Muscle and Slim Down – The slimmer and fitter you are the better you will be able to produce enough power and have enough endurance to attain high speeds.
  6. Use Clipless Pedals – Use cycling shoes and clipless pedals to improve pedaling efficiency for faster speed.
  7. Do Cross trainingCombine cycling and running training which will ulitmately make you fitter and faster on your bike