Why is Cycling Speed Important

Cycling speed is one of the most critical; numbers for cyclists as it helps one to benchmark their performance as a cyclist

However, it is critical to keep in mind that average cycling speeds are impacted by many different factors and hence speed is not always an accurate measurement and may vary from one day to another. 

What is a Good Average Speed?

It is not so easy to determine a good average speed as this can be impacted by a range of factors such as age, weight, fitness, and whether one is a beginner or professional cyclist. 

Professional cyclists are usually faster than beginner cyclists; mountain bikes are not as fast as road bikes and heavier riders tend to be slower than lighter riders on flat or hilly terrain. 

Overall, most regular riders can attain an average speed of about 15 mph over an hour’s ride. Most beginners will top out at about 10 mph but with training, they should get to 15 mph pretty fast. Further training should get one up to 18 mph and even more should get the cyclist to as high as 22 mph

Winners of the Tour de France the biggest speed event in cycling across the world have been averaging about 25 mph or 40 kph. However, it is important to note that this includes cycling on uphill sections too. 

The following table shows the average cycling speeds for different skill levels

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)

Is it Better to Cycle Faster or Longer?

Overall, it is better to cycle faster rather than longer if you need to get in a good workout. It is also recommended to cycle for time rather than distance. 

ride in a group

If you usually do 50 km races you should try to increase your speed rather than the distance to make yourself a better cyclist. 

While it can be difficult to maintain the pace over long periods, you can often do this by shifting properly. By shifting properly you can maintain a regular cadence thus keeping up the fast pace and working the muscles more.

What Affects Speed in Cycling?

Bike riding speed is impacted by three critical factors which are the strength and weight of the rider and the resistance to the movement of the bike. 

Strength

If you compare your speeds with a friend you may realize that they are faster than you even though they seem to expend less effort. Such a difference usually comes from pedaling strength and efficiency.

By improving your pedaling strength through long-distance and speed training, you should be able to significantly increase the force applied on the pedals and you will be able to apply more force with less effort resulting in greater speed.

You can usually check for how much force or power (watts) you are producing and measure your heart rate using a cadence meter and heart rate monitor respectively. 

Weight

You will need to consider the weight of the bike and that of the cyclist. Two cyclists producing the same amount of watts but having different weights will move at different speeds with the lighter rider moving faster. Simply put the lighter rider will require less power to move forward.

As for the weight of the bike having too many accessories on the bike could make one rider heavier and slower. 

The same could be said of the type of material the bike is made of as lighter materials such as carbon fiber generally tend to be lighter as compared to materials such as aluminum.

Resistance

Speed will also be impacted by resistance which has to do with the rider’s weight, the wind speed, and the air density in which you are riding. 

You can typically reduce the effects of resistance by adopting aerodynamic positions, losing weight, and riding with a tailwind if you can.

Does Slow Cycling do Anything?

Even though speed is important in that it provides you with confidence and allows you to enjoy riding more, a slow speed is not necessarily bad.

If you are coming from a long-distance training ride, riding slowly the following day can help with performance and recovery. In fact, pro cyclists and the all-conquering British cycling team have been known to do slow cycling as a form of recovery. 

Additionally, slow cycling and in fact any kind of cycling improves and stimulates the lungs heart, and circulation thus making one less susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. 

How do I Increase My Cycling Speed?

There are several ways of increasing cycling speed that include:

  • Bending and tucking in elbows
  • Wearing well-fitted clothing
  • Listening to upbeat music
  • Riding in intervals
  • Riding in a group
  • Pressing the brakes less, and 
  • Pumping up your tires to reduce resistance