What Is The Average Cycling Speed?

When you first start cycling, it’s natural to want to know how fast you’re going.

A useful piece of equipment is a bike computer, that can tell you your maximum speed, average speed, and current speed for each ride.

Once you have the information about your own speed, you’re likely to want to know how your speed compares to other riders.

Whilst this is completely natural (we’re all a little competitive!) trying to come up with an average speed to benchmark against is very difficult as it is influenced by a wide range of factors.

In this article, we’ll have a quick run through all the factors that can influence your cycling speed, and then look at broad average speed ranges across different ages and also across new and experienced cyclists.

We’ll finish up with some tips for things you might try to increase your cycling speed.

What Influences Cycling Speed?

Your age, fitness level and experience of riding are the main factors that will impact your average speeds. But there are also other factors to take into account:

Type of Bike

There are a few key differences between racing bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes that can influence cycling speed.

A racing bike is built for speed – with a lightweight frame, thin tyres and no suspension, it’s designed to minimise drag and make it as easy as possible for the rider to cycle quickly.

A road bike is similar, but typically has a bit more cushioning in the saddle and frame to make it more comfortable for long rides.

A mountain bike is designed for off-road riding, so has a heavier frame and thicker tyres to provide more stability on uneven terrain.

This can mean that mountain bikes are a bit slower on the flat than other types of bike, but they’re much better at handling hills and obstacles.

Road Surface

The type of surface you’re cycling on also has a big impact on your cycling speed.

Tarmac surfaces are the quickest, followed by concrete and then cobblestone (or any other uneven surface).

Gravel roads are the slowest. This is because gravel roads create more resistance than other surfaces, making it harder for you to travel at a fast pace.

Route

To achieve an accurate measure of average speed on your ride, your ideal route would be long, straight and on flat ground.

In reality however, most routes have hills or inclines or some type, and you’re also likely to encounter traffic lights which are all likely to influence your average speed.

Weather

Weather can have a big impact on cycling speed, with wind being the biggest factor. A strong headwind can reduce your speed significantly, while a tailwind can increase your speed.

It’s also possible for temperature to have an impact on cycling speed, especially at a more experienced or professional level. It’s generally accepted that cold weather results in a slower cycling pace.

Part of the reason for this is that cold muscles don’t work as well. Some insight reported in Cycling Weekly suggests that as your muscles get colder, they won’t be able to generate as much force.

It’s also worth noting that tyres are more elastic and have more bounce when they are warm, and roll faster. So in the cold, they tend to have more rolling resistance and roll slower.

However, another main reason for riders reporting slower speeds in colder weather is poorer aerodynamics, with the drag from jackets and gloves and other overwear slowing you down.

Teamwork

Cycling as part of a team has benefits to increasing your average cycling speed.

If you’re on group rides, you are commonly protected by the riders in front of you, therefore experiencing less wind resistance.

You will also end up keeping up a similar speed to the cyclists around you, which can possibly increase your average speed compared to if you are cycling alone.

Distance

Speed will vary across the amount of distance that is covered.

It’s estimated that the best amount of time to cycle for the best average speed is one to two hours, giving your legs time to warm up and not feel tired.

A ride of a shorter distance may have a lower average speed, due to the muscles in your legs not having the chance to fully warm up. Longer rides can also cause the average speed to reduce, due to fatigue.

Average Cycling Speed By Age

Age is one of the major factors that can influence your cycling speed.

Decline Magazine explains how your “functional threshold power” varies with age, and put together an overview of how that might impact a typical experienced cyclists speed.

It suggests that at the age range of 18-20, a typical average speed for an experienced rider might be around 27 km/h.

At 30-35 this is likely to peak, with a typical average speed of approximately 35 km/h.

From 35 onwards, the typical average cycling speed decreases with each age grouping, with the typical average speed for 60-65 being 18.5 km/h.

Average Cycling Speed For Beginners

If you’re just starting out cycling, we’d really recommend that you don’t worry too much about your cycling speed.

For most beginners, the most important thing is to just try and get out and ride consistently and build the habit, and gradually build up to longer distances.

However, if you did want to benchmark yourself, a good average speed for a beginner cyclist who has just begun to start riding is around 20 km/ hour.

Average Cycling Speed For More Experienced Riders

Once you begin to ride regularly, you’ll begin to ride faster and cycle at a higher average speed.

It’s estimated that experienced riders will have an average speed of anywhere between 30 and 35 km/hour.

Average Cycling Speed For Professional Riders

Statista has collected the Tour de France winners average speed from 1903 to 2021.

In 2021, it was estimated that Tadej Pogačar’s average speed across the 3500km race was an amazing 41.17 km/hour.

How Can I Increase My Cycling Speed?

If you’re interested in things you can do to help improve your average cycling speed, we’ve put together a few tips:

Ride with others

If you’re on group rides, you are able to share the load of riding upfront and cutting through the wind. By splitting this effort as a group, you are likely to travel faster than if you were on your own.

Riding with others can also be motivational. If you aim to match the same speed as someone a little bit faster than you, it can help to increase your average speed.

Inflate tyres

If your tyres are correctly inflated, they are likely to have a lower rolling resistance and roll faster.

The majority of tyre manufacturers have the ideal target pressure printed on the side of the tyre. It’s always worth checking the pressure of your tyres before a long ride.

Riding position

Another way you look to improve your cycling speed is to review and adjust your riding position.

You may find that by altering your riding style, you can increase your average cycling speed.

One suggestion is that you use the drops if you have a drop-handled road bike, to reduce your aerodynamic drag. Stats in Cycling Weekly suggest that riding on drops can lower wind resistance by up to 20%.

Lose weight (on your bike or your body!)

One of the most potentially impactful things you can do to help improve your cycling speed is to lose weight, especially if there are any inclines on your routes.

The heavier the weight you’re carrying, the more effort is going to need to go into those climbs.

An article in Bicycling suggests that on a flat ride, losing around 5lbs might only increase your speed by 15 seconds on a ride of one hour, but on a hilly ride you could shave up to 2 minutes off your time.

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