Sports & Games

The Average Bike Speed for a Commuter Cyclist

The cycling speed of a bike varies widely depending on many factors. It is hard to get all the cycling speeds recorded. However, the average cycling speed as reported by most commuter cyclists is 15 mph (about 24km/h).

I was surprised to learn this because I had randomly recorded my speed and it was exactly 15 mph. I am a frequent cyclist and writer. That is why you are reading this article.

How To Record Your Average Cycling Speed

If you have never been to a mathematics class or you forgot how to calculate the average speed, this is how you do it. Record the distance you have covered and the time it has taken you to cover it. Measure your distance in kilometers or miles and the time in hours.

Then divide the distance you have covered by the time it has taken you to cover it. Remember the time you use to cover the distance is the total time even if you stopped along the way for a meal.

To estimate the distance, you can use Google maps. Then for time you can use your smartphone or a stopwatch. You do not have to be dead accurate. Just an estimate is enough. Expect your average to be between 11 mph and 19 mph.

What affects the speed of a bike?

Type of Bicycle

The bicycle you ride will affect your cycling speed. Road bikes are the fastest bicycles. They are made with speed in mind. From their light frames to their slim tires, these bikes do everything possible to go fast. If you want maximum speeds during your commutes, go buy a road bike.

Other bicycles are fast enough but they require a lot more work to attain any significant speed. A mountain bike for example can go fast but its thick tires slow you down. To maintain a high speed on an MTB you will have to pedal continuously.

Read Also: Benefits of a lightweight folding bike

Cruiser bikes are one of the slowest type of bicycles. Cruiser bikes are made to provide comfort over long distances. They are heavy and practical but have no speed.

For a hybrid bicycle, which is considered the best bicycle for commuting, you get good enough speed and a good chunk of practicality. You can do fast sprints without much struggle but at the same time you have sufficient space to carry luggage. In other words, a hybrid bike is customized to fit your biggest priorities.

The type of bicycle you ride will determine whether your average cycling speed is above or below the 15 mph average.

Wind

If you have been a cyclist for a while, you know just how much wind can slow you down. Sometimes it is even better to be on a climb with wind blowing in your favor than to be on a slope against the flow of wind.

Wind creates a force called drag that pushes you in the opposite direction. You have to work harder than usual to overcome this drag. Unfortunately, even when the weather is calm, you will experience some level of drag. That is why road bikes have drop handlebars to help you lean while cycling to reduce drag.

If you have a hybrid bicycle, consider installing the drop handlebars to tackle wind drag. You may have seen some cyclists riding behind a truck. The aim is to avoid drag. The truck breaks through the wind for them so they have almost zero resistance. It is a dangerous move but it is rewarding. The difference is tremendous.

In professional cycling, you will often see cyclists riding behind one another in a straight line. It is the same principle; avoiding drag. Wind can affect your speed significantly.

Body Strength

This is so obvious. The more muscular you are, the faster you can pedal and for long. If you run out of gas fast, you can’t go so fast. Cycling is no different from a marathon. Your heart has to pump blood to your muscles to keep you pedaling.

To increase your body capability to ride fast, consider jogging frequently. Let your heart be able to work under pressure. In most cases, beginners feel muscle pain. Keep riding for a few more days and the pain will disappear. Eat healthy food and do daily exercise.

The faster you pedal, the faster you go. The power you apply on the pedals determines how fast you accelerate. Though other factors like weight will also affect your acceleration, muscle power counts a lot. Squats help you develop thigh muscles for more pedaling power.

Does Cycling Speed Increase Naturally?

Yes, cycling speed increases over time until you hit a particular level then it flats out. A child will naturally have less muscle power than an adult will. Your age will affect your cycling speed. When you commute daily with your bicycle, the thigh muscles develop and become stronger. You feel less pain and you barely get tired pedaling.

For example, you may have only been able to do two sprints during your commutes but with time, your body starts recovering faster than before and it allows you do five sprints. The good old saying states; practice makes perfect. There is no magic about it.

There is a mark where your body cannot go beyond. Once you hit it, everything goes flat. Your average speed also flats out. The only way you can overcome this topping out is by using external boosters. For example, you can get a lighter bicycle to enable you go faster. Other times, you just have to accept that there are limits you cannot go beyond.

Is The Average City Cycling Speed Different?

Yes, average city speed is a little lower than the average cycling speed.  A city has pedestrians and many cars. You have to slow down a little for your safety.

The average speed for a bike ride in a city is 6.5 mph (approximately 11 km/h). Even if you can go faster, try to maintain this average speed in the city. The many crossroads and cars are hard to monitor if you are going too fast.

Tips for Increasing Your Cycling Speed

  1. Install drop handlebars

Drop handlebars will allow you to lean more whenever you need to minimize wind resistance.

  1. Use Road Bike Tires

Road bike tires are slim and hard to minimize resistance. Also, make sure they are properly inflated.

  1. Use big gears

A single speed bicycle allows you very little room to speed. Get a geared bike, preferably a 21-speed and use the big gears for the highest speed.

  1. Wear cycling clothes

The clothes you use do not necessarily have to be professional cycling clothes. But make sure the clothes you use are light to allow you pedal fast. Also, let the clothes fit you properly. Hanging clothes will increase wind resistance and slow you down.

  1. Do Workouts

Work out especially your thigh muscles to increase your pedaling power. The harder and longer you pedal, the faster you go.

Let me know your average cycling speed in the comments below.

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