When you start riding a bike, you probably wonder how fast you’re going. Even simple bike computers can tell you your max, current, and average speed. But you may still have these questions: How do I compare to others? Can I go faster? Checking your average speed helps you know how you’re doing as a cyclist. Lots of people want to improve their average speed on a certain route.
You might be interested in this question, ‘How can I get faster on a 100-mile bike ride?’ Well, we’ve got more advice to make you speedier. Some tips are effective, while others need more practice. No matter how fast you start, these tips can boost your average speed. Get ready to roll faster!
What’s the Average Speed for Regular Riders?
This is a real tough question to answer – it depends on where you live (is it hilly or windy?), and how fit you are. But it’s a question lots of new riders ask.
Just to satisfy your curiosity, here’s the scoop: according to info from Strava, guys who bike average around 20.4 kilometers per hour (that’s about 12.7 miles per hour), while gals hit about 17.7 kph (11 mph).
But there’s more to it. Those numbers include all kinds of rides on Strava. Some folks do slow rides in the city or on bumpy gravel roads. Others speed through group rides on indoor cycling apps like Zwift.
If you want to get into the nitty-gritty details about how fast people are biking, Strava’s segment leaderboards are a great place to dive in. You can sort them by things like age, weight, and gender – that way you can find a good comparison that fits you.
But no matter what speed others are doing, there’s always that warm fuzzy feeling when you beat your own records. So, here’s our top advice for getting faster on your bike.
How to Increase Your Average Speed on a Bike Ride
1. Bend Those Elbows
The number one thing that makes you go slower when you’re riding your bike is the wind pushing against you. Now, here’s the trick: a lot of these helpful ideas are about ways to make you smaller in the front and smoother in the air, so you can go through the wind without a big fight.
Here’s the easiest idea of them all: just scooch down a bit on your bike. Instead of sitting all upright in the seat and letting the wind hit you like a wall, give this a shot. Get your body closer to the handlebars by bending your elbows and tucking them in. You’ll notice the difference right away – it’s like you’re slipping through the wind more easily.
2. Inflate Your Tires Just Right
Having your tires filled with the right amount of air is super important for riding as fast as you can. You should make sure your bike’s tires have the right pressure before each ride. Why? Well, when the temperature changes or a bit of air escapes, your tires might get softer – not because they’re punctured, just because of these regular things.
Now, here’s the deal with tire pressure: If your tires are too soft, they’re like putting the brakes on your speed. They’ll slow you down because of something called “rolling resistance.” And if your tires aren’t pumped up enough, they become more vulnerable to getting punctures. So, it’s a good plan to keep your tire pressure where it should be.
But hold up, there’s a balance here. If you pump your tires up too much, they become super hard. That might sound good, but it’s not. See, roads aren’t perfectly smooth, right? They have bumps and little cracks. If your tires are too hard, they can’t absorb those bumps, and you end up feeling all the jolts. It’s smarter and more comfy if your tires can handle those bumps by being a bit softer.
Now, how do you know the right amount of air? Well, it depends on things like how wide your tires are and how heavy you and your bike are. There are some cool tools, like an online tire pressure calculator, that can give you suggestions. When it comes to pumps for your bike, there are two kinds: floor pumps and mini pumps. Floor pumps are better for home because they’re easier to use and more accurate. Mini pumps are like emergency helpers for when you’re out on the road.
3. Brake Less
Here’s something that’s pretty clear: try using your brakes less. When you brake, you slow down and then you have to pedal harder to speed up again. Braking when you don’t really need to wastes your energy and the momentum you’ve built up. So, how can you get better at this? Well, let’s start by getting rid of what we can call “comfort” braking. This happens when you’re cruising along a road pretty fast or going downhill, and you start going a bit faster than usual.
It’s okay to tap the brakes if you want to slow down to a comfy speed. But before you do, take a good look around. If the road is smooth, there’s nothing in your way, and it’s pretty straight, then you might not need to slow down. You can let your bike roll and enjoy the extra speed without using energy to brake. Now, when you’re turning corners, there’s another way to get better. Try braking a bit later – this will help you keep your speed up for a longer time. Just remember, brake when you’re going straight, and make sure you’ve slowed down enough before you start turning. This way, you’ll feel more confident and in control.
4. Ride on the Drops
Do you ever ride a bike with those curved handlebars? You know, the ones that point downward? Well, think about it – do you use the lower part of those handlebars much? Probably not so often. But here’s something neat: when you crouch down lower and grip that lower part, it actually helps you control the bike better. It also makes you slice through the air easier and lets you handle turns and going downhill with more confidence. When you ride with your hands down there, it’s like you’re a superhero – you face less wind pushing against you, which slows you down.
Now, let’s talk about why some people avoid using that lower part. One reason is they can’t easily reach the brakes from there. Another reason is that it just doesn’t feel comfy. But no worries, there’s a solution. If your bike is set up right, you can fix both of these problems. When your bike fits you well, you can spend a lot of your ride in that crouched position. And if you’re having a tough time feeling comfortable in that superhero pose, you might need to do some stretches. Loosening up those tight leg muscles and stiff lower back can make a big difference. How about giving a 10-minute stretching routine a try? It could help you become more flexible and last longer on your rides.
5. Track Stand
You might have seen other folks on bikes, like commuters and those speedy delivery riders, just hanging out at red lights, looking like they’re effortlessly balancing on their bikes. It might seem like they’re showing off their crazy bike skills, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. While you’re still trying to find your balance and get your feet on the pedals, they’ve already done a few good pushes and taken off. This cool move is called “track standing,” and it’s not just for show. But here’s the deal: it takes some practice, and it’s probably not the best idea to try it in front of a busy van driver during the busy Monday morning rush.
Here’s how you can learn to do it: Find a road that’s a little slanted – that slope can help you find your balance point. If you usually have special bike shoes that clip onto the pedals, you can switch to regular sneakers to feel more confident. Start by riding in tight circles, but really slow. This helps you figure out how to balance your weight. Go as slow and as tight as you can, and try to move smoothly.
Once you feel comfy, slowly stop with your bike wheel pointing uphill. Look ahead, not down at the front of your bike. Choose a spot to focus your eyes on. Now, here’s the cool part: use your front foot (the one that’s forward, like at 3 and 9 o’clock on a clock) to turn your bike wheel about 45 degrees toward the slope. Put enough pressure on that front foot to keep your balance, but not enough to go up the slope.
Remember that circle riding trick? Use it here too. Relax the pressure just a bit, and your wheel will roll back. Add pressure again, and it’ll roll forward. With this little rocking motion, you can stay balanced. At the beginning, you can totally cheat a bit by grabbing onto something like a lamp post or a railing when you stop. But when you’re ready, let go and start pedaling a bit before you fully let go. This way, you’ll have some momentum, and you won’t tip over sideways. It’s a fun trick to try while you’re waiting or hanging out with friends.
6. Play with the Wind: Go Against, Come Back With
Unless you’re out sailing and biking, you probably don’t think much about which way the wind is blowing every day. But guess what? Wind can be like a buddy sometimes and a real challenge other times. When the wind is blowing right at you as you bike, it’s called a headwind. And let me tell you, it can feel like you’re pushing against a wall! It’s like trying to go fast while someone’s holding you back. On the flip side, when the wind is at your back, that’s called a tailwind. And it’s awesome – it’s like having a magical boost that pushes you forward without much effort.
Now, here’s a cool trick: you can work with the wind to your advantage. When you plan your biking route, think about the wind direction. At the beginning of your ride, when you’re all full of energy, ride into the headwind. It’s like getting the tough part over with when you’re still strong. Then, on your way back home, when you might be getting a bit tired, let that tailwind give you a helping hand. It’s like riding with a secret breeze pushing you along..
7. Lose Extra Weight
If you’re looking to pick up some speed and go a bit faster on your bike, here’s a trick: losing a bit of extra weight can really help. It’s like when you’re biking uphill – shedding some weight means you can go faster without working extra hard. Plus, when you want to speed up, it’s easier to do with less weight holding you back. And that’s not all – if you get rid of some of that extra bulk, you’ll create a smaller hole in the air as you ride, which makes it easier to glide along, especially on flat roads.
If you’ve got some extra pounds you want to lose, that’s cool – just do it slowly and over a good amount of time. Here’s the thing: even when you’re trying to lose weight, you still need to eat enough food to keep you going on your bike rides and to help your body recover. Don’t worry, you can totally balance losing weight and fueling your rides if you do it smartly. Check out our detailed guide on how to shed weight while cycling and still keep your strength intact.
Now, if you’re already in pretty good shape and not carrying too much extra weight, you’ve got a different goal. Instead of focusing on dropping more pounds, put your energy into getting stronger. But be careful, if you go too hard on losing weight, it can mess with your body’s energy balance. You might want to learn more about something called “RED-S” and how not getting enough fuel can be a real issue for athletes. It’s better to work on building strength than getting too skinny.
8. Speed Up Training
So, let’s talk about a super speedy trick to make you go faster on your bike. Imagine you want to get faster than your usual speed. Well, guess what? You can’t just ride your usual route faster and expect everything to be peachy. You’d end up super tired and worn out in no time. Instead, coaches have a cool idea: it’s called interval training. Basically, you ride super fast for a short bit, faster than your normal pace. Then you slow down a bit to catch your breath, and then you speed up again. It’s like a cycle of fast and slow.
Now, the best thing? You can do this during any of your rides – you don’t need a special training session. It’s like playing with speed! Imagine you pedal like a rocket to the end of the street, then chill out until you pass five lamp posts, and then speed up again. You can use anything around you as markers, like parked cars or signs. Pick a target, pedal like crazy, then ease off.
However, safety is the top priority. Thus, it is important to make sure the road is safe. And no matter how fast you’re going, keep your eyes on the road to spot any obstacles. If you want a more structured approach, here’s one for you: if your regular speed on a flat road is around 23 kph (14 mph), start by warming up for 15-20 minutes. Then find a nice flat stretch and ride at 26 kph (16 mph) for two minutes. Don’t worry about pedaling faster, just keep a steady rhythm.
After those two minutes, switch to an easier gear, slow down, and keep your legs moving for five minutes – this helps your muscles recover. Then do the whole interval thing three or four more times. And if it feels too easy, next time try going three, four, or five kph (mph) faster during your speedy intervals.
You know what’s really cool? After a few tries, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Your average speed during these rides might be lower than your usual speed. But don’t sweat it! That’s not the challenge. The real challenge is getting used to riding at 26 kph (16 mph) instead of 23 kph (14 mph) – and guess what? Eventually, you’ll be able to do it for a whole ride. That’s how you become a speed champ!
9. Ride with Friends
When you start riding a bike, one of the first things you might wonder about is how fast you’re going. Even if you have a basic device on your bike, it can tell you the fastest, current, and usual speed you’re going.
But after you know that, you’ll likely have more questions. Like, how do I compare to other bikers? Can I go even faster? Either way, looking at how fast you usually go is a good way to see how you’re getting better at biking. Lots of people aim to improve how fast they go on a particular route they ride regularly.
Many people were curious about the answer to the question: “What’s the best way to train to go faster on a 100-mile bike ride?” We have many more tips to help you get faster right away, along with some advice that might need more practice and patience. No matter how fast you start, follow these tips to make your average speed go up.
10. Aero Gear
If you’re really looking to go super fast on your bike, there are a few ways to do it. One way is to buy things that help you cut through the air more easily. The shape of the bike’s frame and the design of the wheels can make a big difference in how much wind resistance you face, which affects how fast you can go.
But here’s the catch: even though these things can help, the way your body is positioned on the bike actually matters even more. About 70% of the wind resistance you feel comes from your body, while the bike and wheels contribute about 30%. So, if you want to get faster, it’s really important to improve how you sit and move on the bike.
Before you spend a bunch of money on fancy gear, though, remember that there are some easy and free things you can do to go faster too. Working on how you sit on the bike, making your body more flexible, and taking care of your bike can make you faster without spending a dime. If you do want to spend some money to get faster, the best thing you can do is to make sure your bike fits you perfectly (you can learn more about that from bike fitting experts) and wear tight-fitting cycling clothes. These steps can help you become a speed machine without breaking the bank.
11. Wear Tighter Clothing
There are two good reasons to wear snug cycling clothes. First, these clothes are made to take away the heat and sweat, so you stay cool and dry when riding in hot weather. This helps you avoid getting tired quickly. Second, if you wear loose and baggy clothes, they catch a lot of air and slow you down.
When picking clothes, choose ones that fit closely and don’t have extra fabric flapping around. If you want to ride faster, zip up your clothes. Some very serious cyclists even wear tight shoe covers. Also, wearing a special helmet designed for better air flow might help you save some energy.
In simple words, tight cycling clothes keep you cool and help you go faster, while loose clothes slow you down. So, tight-fitting gear is the way to go!
Does Your Average Speed Really Matter?
I know you might be curious about how fast you usually ride compared to others. When you look around online forums, you’ll see many folks wondering if their regular speed is good enough to join a cycling group or even compete in a race.
But it’s not easy to give a straightforward answer because a lot of things can affect how fast you ride on any given day. While it’s helpful to remember your average speed from past rides to track how your fitness is improving, it’s not great to get too focused on it.
Several factors can impact your average speed when you’re riding: things like the direction and strength of the wind, the type of road you’re on, how hot or humid it is, and how much traffic there is. If you pay too much attention to small changes, it can make you feel down on days when you’re going slower, even if the slower speed isn’t because you’re not trying hard enough. It could just be due to different conditions.
Trying to go faster every single day can make you really tired and stressed out. Plus, it might make you take more risks as you care more about speed than enjoying the ride. Except for using average speed to see how you’re improving, it’s not super important. Our suggestion is to choose a safe, fairly flat route that you know well and ride it hard once a month. This way, you can see your average speed go up over time.