It can be exhilarating getting that new bike as you fall in love with its sleek beautiful body and push it to its limits. In time though the bike may begin to get slower as you find that your friends get quicker shifts and higher speeds than you could ever get.
While sometimes a loss in speed may be due to a lack of bike maintenance, sometimes it has to do with you and how your ride the bike.
But not to worry as just because your bike has slowed down does not mean that you have to buy a new one. There are some tips and tricks that you can use to get your bike riding just as fast as it used to when it was new.
Why is My Bike So Slow
Some of the many reasons why your bike may be feeling so slow include mechanical issues such as friction in the drivetrain, the wheel or in the brakes, loss of power, extra weight, or some other unusual riding condition.
- Rubbing Brakes
To identify issues with rubbing brakes you will need to check the brake pads. If these are touching without you pulling the brake lever it means the brakes are rubbing thus creating friction with the wheel and reducing your cycling speed.
- Low Tire Pressure or flats
Low pressures result in greater friction as it increases the surface area of the wheel in contact with the road surface. It is always important to ensure that your bike pressure is what is printed on the sidewall of the tire.
- Rusty Cogs and Chain
This is one of the most common causes of slow speeds that you can usually easily diagnose. Check the drivetrain including the chainrings, cassettes, and the chain for any signs of rust. Rusty components can slow you down even if other parts are in good working order.
- Incorrect Tire Size
Most speed bikes come with very narrow 23-25 mm tires but some may be as wide as 32. If you change your tires for added stability and comfort, this may be the reason for the decrease in speed.
If you are riding your bike into headwinds, you will usually feel a difference in the amount of effort needed as compared to riding with a tailwind. If you notice the wind howling in your ears or whipping around your dance the headwind could be the cause of your slowdown.
- Undertraining or Overtraining
This may be hard to identify as it has to do with you as a rider rather than the bike or riding conditions. As a cyclist you need to know when you are training too much or not enough and either of these will negatively impact your speeds. This can be especially so for senior cyclists who train too hard or go too fast.
- Straight Inclines
Some inclines may look like flat surfaces but will definitely sap some of your speed since even the slightest incline means more effort is needed. To determine if you are riding an incline you can use a range of fitness apps to track the elevation on your route.
- Baggy Clothing
There is a reason why cyclists love to wear cycling clothing. It is made to increase their speed by reducing drag and wind resistance. Baggy non-cycling clothing will slow you down by increasing drag and wind resistance thus making one slower.
How to Improve Your Cycling Speed
Every cyclist wants more speed regardless of whether you are a beginner or professional cyclist. Riding a bike at high speeds not only makes one more confident but is also good for health.
Even though speed comes with patience and practice, there are several hacks you can incorporate into your arsenal to make yourself faster on your bike ride.
7 ways to improve your average cycling speed
- Bend and Tuck Your Elbows
Wind resistance is one of the biggest hurdles, especially for beginner cyclists. The best way to overcome wind resistance is by adopting a lower position on the bike’s handlebars rather than sitting up straight. By adopting the aerodynamic position of tucking in your elbows and bending you can significantly reduce wind resistance.
- Listen to Music
Music is always a good bet if you need to improve your mood and lift your spirits. The same trick can work when you are working to increase your cycling speed. In fact research shows that you can significantly increase your efforts while cycling by listening to fast-paced music.
- Ride in a Group
While you get to enjoy some quality time riding all alone, riding in a group is one of the most effective ways of increasing speeds. By riding with others you get more consistent effort as you try to keep up and also get to draft in their slipstream to take advantage of the group’s effort.
- Pump Up Your Tires
Make sure that your bike has the correct tire pressure and does not have any flats. This will reduce friction and help the wheels of the bike roll faster. As such it is always critical to always check the pressure in each tire and watch out for changing temperatures which might increase or reduce pressures.
- Brake Less
If you have been getting good speeds but now cannot it is a good idea to look into your riding habits and particularly braking. Unnecessary braking means that you have to pedal faster to get the high speeds you once used to get. If you are riding on a familiar road with no obstacles or reasons to slow down, use the brakes less.
- Wear Well Fitted Cycling Clothes
It is critical to wear well-fitted cycling clothes to reduce wind resistance and drag. Cycling clothes are designed to keep you sweat-free and cool and should always be worn when you need to ride for speed.
7. Get Proper Shoes
Always ride with proper cycling shoes as these will improve pedaling efficiency as your foot will not slide off the pedals unnecessarily to slow you down