What if gaining strength isn’t the only thing you need while riding a bicycle? If you use your bike for getting places or just to crank up your fitness level, you might want to cycle long distances. Let’s say a mile, perhaps. Now how long does it take to cycle a mile? Here’s the answer:
Overall, a normal bike ride for a mile would take around 6 minutes. Biking a mile can have different times depending on the person cycling. However, you can have an estimated value after considering a few factors.
The lowest time would be on downhill tracks at only 1 minute. Now that we know the average time, I’ll go deeper into the semantics of riding a cycle for a mile and break down all aspects one by one.
Different Types of Terrain And How They Affect The Speed
When answering how long it takes to cycle a mile, there’s no single sure shot value you can give. Since cycling quickly is all dependent on the skill and the situation you’re in, comparisons always vary between cyclists.
One of the most important aspects to consider when searching for an answer is the type of terrain you’re riding on. This matters a lot because the terrain can largely impact your speed time.
If it’s rocky and uphill, it’ll take longer as compared to flat terrains. This is how great everything has an impact. Now let’s look more into the terrains and their effect on cycle speed.
» Read my blog post about: How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go? (Models, Speed & Facts)
A mile on flat terrain roads will only take about 3 or 4 minutes to get by. This is because the ride is smooth, and the fewer hurdles, the quicker you’ll be.
Flat roads are much like your bike lanes and other flat terrains, which are smooth and don’t have many disruptions. These are usually straight roads that don’t have many twists or turns either.
You can only reach a mile in 4 minutes if you keep your average speed at 17 to 18 mph, which won’t be hard due to the flat surface.
Keeping the same speed, you can easily reach 10 miles in only about 30 to 40 minutes.
Since hills are rocky terrain, you can expect to double the time it would take to cycle a mile on flat roads. Hills usually have a lot of disruption on their path, rocky roads, and topsy turvy turns; all of which hold you back and refrain from keeping a stable speed throughout.
Therefore, by doubling the time, it would take you about 6 to 8 minutes to cycle a mile on hills. The drop of speed on hills as compared to flat roads is much steeper for ordinary cyclists than for professionals.
This is because normal cyclists aren’t used to the effort, whereas anyone participating in competitions like the Tour de France will be much better on hills.
A mile downhill will hardly take you 1 minute to cross, and if you’re a bit more skilled, you can do it much faster, too. Of course, with such tracks, there are concerns, and you have to be careful in managing the weight, speed, and gravity.
Downhill is the one route that takes the least time in going a mile. The reason is also pretty obvious, but I’ll still explain. Downhill racing is one of the fastest riding competitions solely because of its track.
Once you’ve controlled all these factors, getting down is a piece of cake. This goes without saying that downhill biking is an extreme sport.
It’s something you should only consider doing if you’re a professional or have ample practice.
Usually, professional riders can cover a mile in only 2 minutes. This is irrespective of the kind of track they’re on. If you’re a skilled professional who regularly participates in competitions or practices frequently, then only you can make terrains a minor matter.
Now despite all these different terrains having their perks and downsides, there is one thing that overpowers all these factors — skill!
It’s quite absurd how fast professional cyclists can go. These riders are extremely skilled and can make the most insane maneuvers seem easy. But don’t be fooled because it isn’t as easy as it seems.
For example, on hills; pro cyclists can climb at 25mph, which makes them reach 5 miles in only 12 minutes. Now isn’t that just bizarre?
Factors that Affect the Duration to Drive a Mile
Now that we’ve covered how terrain affects your speed, and in turn, time, for cycling a mile, there are still other aspects that affect the time.
The estimates I’ve given above are just that; estimates. In no way can you take them as the law and expect to have the same results. For that to happen, there are a lot of factors you must take care of.
These include the cyclist’s fitness, type of bike gear, clothing, and much more. Once you’ve found your fit in all these factors, only then can you expect to get similar results or at most accurate ones.
Firstly we have cyclist’s fitness which, let me tell you, has a huge role in portraying a bike’s speed. How you take this into perspective is by judging how physically apt you are.
If you’ve been a couch potato for the better part of your everyday routine, then chances are even 1km will seem like too much.
Therefore, biking longer distances will make you wear out excessively before you get used to it.
» Read my blogpost about: How Many Watts An Average Cyclist Produces?
Until you don’t make physical changes, you’ll get fatigued more easily. This will affect your stamina, and you’ll find yourself short of breath. When all this goes on inside you, you’re going to take your bike slow and so reach 1 mile later than estimated.
This is only human restriction. You cannot go beyond what your body is designed to go. So, to increase your stamina, you’ll have to work out frequently. You should go to the gym or do other physical activities, which boost your energy levels further.
As you get fit, you’ll find covering distances such as 1 mile much easier than before.
The Type of Bike
Next up, the kind of bike you have is also a crucial aspect. There are various kinds of bikes, such as mountain bikes, hybrids, and so on. All these are distinguishable between the two and hence have different properties.
Each bike also has a specification and performs well in that aspect, more than it would on others. For example, mountain bikes are better off for hilly terrains as compared to road bikes. This also affects your time to cycle a mile.
If you use a bike that’s meant for leisure riding or sporting purposes, then chances are it won’t go very fast. Not because you’re not skilled enough, but because it’s not within its capacity.
This is why choosing the right bike for the job is important and largely affects your speed and time. Various bikes have different features. Some are built with light alloys, and others are sturdy and made to withstand obstacles.
Additionally, the number of gears on a bike also makes a difference. The more gears a bike has, the easier your life will get. This not only affects the effort required but also helps you navigate different slopes. Hence, for rocky terrain, a bike with many gears is useful.
Gear and Clothing
Gear and clothing can also impact the speed and duration. You must have seen professional bikers cruising around. When you look at their clothes, they are clad in spandex, which is super tight.
These types of clothes, as opposed to casual jeans and a tee, make all the difference. For professional bikers in spandex, their weight will overall be quite light as compared to the one in casual clothing.
Since the clothes stick to their body, no air pushes them backward or makes them heavier. Instead, it is only their mass that they have to manage. In the same way, the kind of helmet worn also changes the game.
Helmets affect aerodynamics when riding, which is a very important phenomenon to be wary of. The more streamlined the helmet, the smoother the ride will be.
If you’re carrying a whole toolbox with you, then you’ll be weighed down. If you’re weighed down, you’ll need more energy to cycle, making you slower.
So, it’s important to only keep as little gear as possible. The lighter you are, the more efficient you’ll be.
We’ve discussed terrain in detail before. But here’s a quick recap. It’s obvious by now that flat terrain is easier to get by. Thus, you can go quicker on flat roads.
Hills and the woods have several obstacles that will hold you down. So, these roads will only slow you down. Aside from this, the incline on your road also matters.
The ideal incline would be downhill as it not only requires less force but also has both gravity and the direction of air aiding you.
Lastly, we have the weather. This is only significant when the weather is not on the sunny side. For example, if the weather outside is windy, then you’ll have a harder time breaking the wind force barrier if you’re on the opposite end.
But, if you’re in the direction of the wind, then you’ll propel across the road. This is how effortlessly weather influences your speed and how long it’ll take you to reach a mile.
Similarly, if it’s raining the entire day or has rained prior, the road will become slippery or muddy, which will again influence your speed.
With these unexpected weather changes, your cycling time can either shoot up or down.
Different Bike Types and Their Average Speeds to Cycle a Mile
Biking speed determines how far your bike will go. This is what’s used to estimate the time taken for you to reach a certain distance(in this case, 1 mile).
The speed is mostly dependent on the factors I just mentioned above. But, even amongst these factors, the type of bike drastically changes the speed you’re at.
Aside from skill, you need a bike that can also go fast. Only then can you start practicing your speed maintenance.
BMX bikes or mountain bikes are a biker’s favorite pick. This is mostly because they’re ever so comfortable and have a range of features that makes them work well on both hilly and flat roads.
Oh, and it also comes at a reasonable price. When you find a bike for cheap which can zoom you through the track, then there’s nothing more you need.
These bikes can go up to 10mph and can easily cover between 15 and 20 miles by maintaining this speed.
Road bikes are the usual model you’d see more commonly. They’ve thin tires attached to a dainty frame. It screams leisure as it isn’t made for the more aggressive practices.
This sort of bike is available in many different sizes and even comes for kids. A road bike’s top speed is a direct proportion of the rider’s comfort. So, the more comfortable you are, the faster your bike will go.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: Road Bikes Easier To Ride? Learn The Various Bike Properties
So, a road bike can speed at an average of 17-18 mph. This is fairly decent as compared to the other options of bikes. A speed like this can effortlessly get you as far as 40-60 miles.
Heavy riders have the chance to outpace lighter ones on downhill or flat terrains. But they may have a difficult time on uphill terrains.
Hybrid bikes are the fastest bikes. This is a great advantage they have over the rest of their kin.
This advantage allows them to go as far as 11-18mph on average. This is considering you’re an average rider. Professionals can go even higher.
» You can also read my post: Mountain Bike vs. Hybrid Bike? » (6 Facts & Differences)
With a speed limit like this, hybrid bikes can easily cover 40-50 miles on a good sunny day.
What Can I Do to Make My Bike Ride Faster?
Now that you’ve evaluated the different factors that play a role in a bike’s speed, I’m sure you’re curious about how you can increase your speed. Like every other sport, you only do good with practice.
The best way to increase your average speed and the time you take to bike 1 mile is only by being consistent and riding your bike every day. To excel, you must learn all the crooks of the sport.
As a beginner, you can start with 10 miles per day.
You can learn the bike’s gear and other mechanisms to aid you. And to bike daily and learn all this, your body must be in a healthy and fit state so you can ride every day.
If it’s possible, try using your bike to get to nearby places. This will give you more experience.
Going a mile might seem incredibly difficult or easy, all depending on how well versed you are with your bike. If you’re in practice, then you can even go a mile in a minute.
But, if you’re lazy or just started riding, you’ll have trouble meeting the 7-minute estimate. But that is subjective of the time taken. There’s no set rule; 1 minute or 15. It’s all on how well you’re able to ride, which truly matters.
So, don’t take these numbers to heart but do consider the other factors that affect them. Once you’ve perfected your riding skills, then any time will be easily attainable.