When riding your trusted bicycle, surely you must be thinking of how fast you’re going. And once that’s sorted out, you must also be thinking: what’s the fastest bicycle speed without drafting? Here’s your answer:
The table below shows the different levels of speeds people can attain on bicycles.
Well, biking speeds vary concerning the model of the bicycle you’re using. That’s to say, a kid’s bicycle will go slower than a professional one.
Now with such diversity, in both functionality and use, the highest a bicycle can go is variable. However, there is an approximate value we can take into consideration.
In this article, I’ll take you through all the mechanisms of having an efficient bicycle as well as how fast they go. So keep reading and find out.
What Is the Top Speed on a Bicycle?
A regular untrained person can pedal up to 10 to 14 miles per hour on a bicycle. Give them a bit more training, and a trained rider can pedal up to 15 to 20 miles per hour. Finally, a professional rider can pedal at a maximum of 25 to 30 miles per hour. This is also the highest speed on a bicycle.
Like I mentioned before, bicycle speeds depend on the sort of riding level you’re at.
Now reaching the highest limit is not an easy task. It requires much skill and posture to make sure you can withstand the speed pressure and then maintain the flow, too.
Even at 30 miles per hour, it takes massive strength to be able to handle your bike. The last thing you want is to go haywire and crash. That’s why getting a bike suited for the speed is most important of all.
What Is the Top Speed For Professional Bicyclists?
Professional cyclists can go up to 45 miles per hour. Now that’s a lot, no doubt. What’s even more fascinating is this speed is attained by only raw power. They put themselves towards the wind and propel forward.
And if this sounds insane to you, the top record held by cyclist Todd Reichert for the fastest unpaced bicycles, which solely rely on foot power, is 82.82 miles per hour. This goes without saying that competitive cyclists are a whole other breed.
A well-trained Tour de France cyclist can easily go up to 34.5 miles per hour on the French flats.
One can argue that such numbers can be attained with no mechanical assistance but regardless it is pretty neat.
4 Factors Assisting the Speed of a Bicycle
Now that we’re accustomed to the maximum speeds bicycles can go about; there’s a multitude of other factors which allow the vehicle to reach the desired speed. These include factors like your bike’s power, resistance, and route.
Together, these determine if the bicycle is even able to go to the max speed. All these can either have adverse effects or aid your drift, depending on how it’s used.
To explain more efficiently, I’ll be going through each factor in detail.
#1 Power Output
Firstly, the major factor which assists your bicycle speed is the power exerted.
The overall power is 165 watts for a speedy bicycle and about 130 watts for normal bicycles. This makes a difference of about 28%.
» Read more about this in my post: How Many Watts An Average Cyclist Produces (9 Fun Facts)
This 28% more is what drives the bicycle to go quicker, faster. It causes a stronger rider to ride at an increased 3km/h rate than the rest. The reason the increase is so less and not linear is because of air resistance.
However, in a route where you have to climb more, air resistance becomes less relevant, and so the increase in speed is greater.
This is the main explanation of why riders use more power during a climb, less on flat terrain and even less on descents. That’s all because the power is used to optimize the average speed to its maximum value.
#2 Wind Resistance
Now there are different kinds of resistance. All these play a role when it comes to maintaining the speed of the bike. The different kinds include:
- Air resistance — This is the major kind and is the energy lost to pushing air out of the way.
- Rolling resistance — This is the energy lost due to the tires rolling.
- Gravitational resistance — This sort of resistance causes a loss of energy due to uphill or downhill energy exchange. For example, going upwards changes kinetic energy to potential energy and vice versa.
- Mechanical resistance — This is lost due to friction between the metal bits and parts of the vehicle.
Now that we know the kinds of resistance, onto their importance. Many modern studies have shown that aerodynamics play a greater role than we might’ve expected them to. It’s found to be more important than weight.
The basic concept, leaving the mind-boggling math aside, is that air resistance accounts for more resistance than weight.
Even if you weigh less, the air resistance will hold you down.
Once this is understood, there are many ways to lessen the resistance.
Up next is traffic. In many countries, especially the USA, there are allocated bicycle areas where riders can happily pedal about. It’s only when these areas become too congested, and there’s a lot of maneuvering that hinders the speed of the bicycle.
In most countries, the bike lanes are on the left side of the road. This is mainly done to avoid merging bicycles with other vehicles.
This is an effective way, no doubt, but it’s when these bicycle lanes become too congested and overtaking becomes frequent that causes issues.
When this happens, faster bicycles may have to enter the other lanes and in turn, hinder car traffic as well as their speed. The bicycles are forced to slow down and cannot go to their full potential.
Thus, when traffic is less, bicycle riders can go at an increased speed as compared to congested traffic.
As we discussed in air resistance, the route you take can have an inversely proportional reaction to the speed. Different routes give different speed limits.
For instance, if you’re going uphill, you’ll have a greater power input, but this will give an almost linear speed output. This is why more power is put on uphill routes.
In the same way, if you’re going downhill, then your speed is going to increase regardless of the power.
It’s in this way that different routes determine different speeding limits. Flat terrain usually has a lower limit due to so many resisting factors.
The best route to have the greatest possible speed would be downhill.
That’s when potential energy turns into kinetic energy, speeding up the bicycle significantly.
8 Tips to Improve Your Bicycle Speed
Here are eight tips on how to improve your bicycle speed. These don’t cost any money, and if they do, it’s cost-effective. Once followed, these can surely crank up your ride speed by a lot.
#1 Pedal Frequently
Let’s start with a basic one. The best way to improve your bicycle’s speed is by frequently pedaling, however tiring that may sound. It’s a secret tip all professional bicyclists use. Most of this is only possible by being fit physically.
Other than this, you should also be confident about the road you’re on and the route you’re taking. These all help you quicken your pace and surpass everyone else.
When to pedal is also important to take note of. You obviously can’t pedal hard and fast at a blaring red light; it would be futile. Rather you should pedal hard and fast when you’re high on the lane.
To learn more about bicycle pedals, read my Definitive Pedal Guide.
Getting some aero is a major win. Aerodynamics plays an important role in speeding up your bicycle, and the posture you hold up can largely impact this. Around three-quarters of drag comes directly from you. So really, it’s all on you to manage the drift.
The only thing which can come in your way is air resistance, and even this is countered by changing your posture accordingly. The main thing you can do is reduce your frontal profile.
That is to say; you must get lower on the handlebar riding in the drops and, if possible, lowering the stem too. After all this, you must still be comfortable. Otherwise, it’ll be a lost cause.
However, if you’re not fit for an aggressive position such as this, then you can always just use an alternative. Studies show that even the shape of your arms makes a difference, so you can find a balance that works best for you.
» Read my blogpost about: What Muscles Mountain Biking Work!
#3 Maintain the Tires
A major tip is to upgrade and maintain your tires. This may sound like a costly step, but on the contrary, it is pretty cost-friendly. The best road bike tires will ride quicker as compared to the regular model of tires.
Most brands don’t pay much heed to tires when they make their model, so it’s best to revamp your tire game once you get your bicycle. Many bicycles also come with tubeless-ready wheels.
Running tubeless has immense efficiency than you would see using tubes. This is due to the elimination of friction between the inner tube and the tire casing.
Admittedly, latex tubes are more efficient than the standard variety if going tubeless isn’t an option for you.
Aside from this, tire pressure is also very important in having a speeding bicycle. The right pressure in your bike’s tires will ensure equilibrium throughout the vehicle and give the ultimate highest attainable speed.
#4 Use Gears Efficiently
Another thing you must be cautious of is using your gears to their full potential. Poor use of gears can sap your speed.
If you find yourself spinning before you change gear or going up and down hills with the wrong one, you’ll have to put in a lot of effort.
That is to say; you’ll have to use extra power to make it work, which can easily be avoided if you use the right gear. That’s why learning how to use your bike’s gear is of utmost importance.
Once you get the hang of it, you can easily maneuver the bicycle, obtaining the maximum possible speed it has to offer.
#5 Wear Tight Clothes
This is a rather peculiar tip but effective nonetheless. There are two reasons to wear tight clothing, mainly:
- Cycling clothes ensure no sweat and moisture piles up, keeping you dry. If you’re not wet, you’re also more energetic and don’t have that wave of dizziness wash over you.
- Baggy clothes add to the drag, pulling you down and reducing your speed by a strikingly large amount.
That’s why you should make sure only to purchase tight-fitted clothes, ones that don’t have any flaps.
As an extra tip, you should only get zipped clothing so you can store belongings but also not be dragged down.
#6 Eat Light Before Riding a Bicycle
To be energetic while riding is of utmost importance. The worst you can go through is a crash. This is where you run at zero energy levels and reach a bare crawl.
It’s scientific knowledge that even a fraction of bodily fluids is a major drop in your efficiency. So hydration is something you just can’t miss.
The overall rule is to eat and drink as minimally as possible but keep your fluids on a high. When you’re in for a longer ride, stopping by for a coffee break isn’t a bad idea either.
#7 Ride in Groups
This may seem absurd; how can riding in groups ever speed your bicycle? Well, it just so happens that riding in groups is beneficial for your speed.
Riding in groups gives you the incentive to keep up, thus going quicker.
And if you’re feeling rather fresh, you can start helping other riders out at the front.
It increases your stamina when riders take turns in riding the front. When one person rides in the front, it gives you enough time to catch your breath and regain energy to go faster. This way, only one person works to counter air resistance instead of everyone at once.
Other than mutual gains, you also have the element of competitiveness. It may not be a race but seeing others pedal faster inspires you to do the same as well.
» Read my blog post: 10 Most Famous Races in Cycling
#8 Maintain Your Weight
Lastly, maintaining your weight can also help increase your speed. It can majorly affect how fast or slow your bike goes. Let’s say if your weight is relatively low, then you can pedal quicker, not having much of a struggle in withstanding your mass.
Additionally, it also decreases the drag and air force needed to push through. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should restrict or diet excessively. It just means you should lose any body fat replacing it with muscular mass.
Lowering your sugar consumption can easily lose a few pounds, which is more than enough to get you going faster.
» You can also read my post: How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?
So we’ve reached the end of the article. What I feel after this article is that you and your skills determine the speed of your bike.
It simply isn’t a number written on paper (if the world records are anything to go by). Rather, it’s the cyclist’s skill that determines the speed. If you’re a professional, then you can easily go all the way up to 45 MPH.
At the end of the day, a fast bicycle may be cool, but this is only ever fun if you’re fit to ride it. The real joy comes in the experience of riding, not the speed.