If you’re just starting out with cycling, you may be wondering how fast the average road bike speed is. Maybe you’re also curious about your own personal speed and whether or not it’s considered fast.
Well, let’s explore that!
To find out your own biking speed (if you don’t know how yet), we recommend using a smartwatch with GPS or, better, a cyclocomputer. They’re great because not only do they provide distance traveled over time, average speed, meters climbed, but also an output in terms of calories burned (although, you really shouldn’t rely 100% on the estimated calories).
With that being said, let’s get to it!
What’s the average road bike speed?
There are a lot of factors that will determine an individual cyclist’s speed. Variables like weight, gender, fitness level, terrain type (flat vs hilly), whether they ride in a group or not, wind speed, drivetrain efficiency, and more.
So, how fast the average road bike speed is a very broad question. That said here’s a quick answer: the average road bike speed on a flat road is 17-22 mph or 28-35 km/h for men and women who have been cycling regularly for at least a few months.
Beginner cyclists might be slower, and experienced cyclists can get to that speed easier. That’s because as you ride more, your legs and lungs get stronger too.
But in general, if you go on a casual group ride, expect the speed to be about 28-35 km/h on a flat road. If you can’t reach that number yet when going solo, don’t worry, reaching that speed as a group is easier than when you’re riding alone.
What’s the average bike speed for beginners?
If you are a beginner at the sport, your speed is likely to be slower than the average road bike speed – Don’t worry, it takes time to build up cycling fitness.
For beginner male or female cyclists who started less than 3 months without prior cardio training, the average road bike speed is 12 mph or 20 km/h (or lower) on a flat road.
Beginner women sometimes go slightly faster and can ride for a longer duration than beginner men cyclists because they have smaller and lighter bodies. Also, women naturally have a higher base fitness than men and can utilize oxygen more efficiently.
If you’re slower than average, don’t worry! As you train more and build up your fitness, you will increase your average road bike speed.
What’s the average cycling speed by age?
In other sports such as running, older athletes tend to be slower than younger athletes. However, the opposite is often true for cycling because it’s a low-impact sport and you can keep riding through your whole life.
There is no such thing as average cycling speed by age for non-competitive cyclists. Your average speed is largely affected by how long you have been cycling in your life. So an older person who has been cycling for a long time will surely be faster than a younger person who is new to the sport.
So don’t get embarrassed if you find yourself slower than a person younger or older than you because they might have been cycling their whole life.
If you’re an older individual, cycling is a great exercise because this is one of the few endurance sports where you can keep up with people much younger.
The only exception is for people under 16 years old because they don’t have fully developed muscles and lungs yet, so they tend to be slower than adults who haven’t been cycling as long.
Is 20 mph (32 km/h) fast on a flat road?
20 mph or 32 km/h is a very good road bike speed for one-hour rides even if you are an experienced cyclist.
You should be proud of yourself for hitting that speed.
In most casual group rides, the average speed people usually aim for is 20 mph or lower on a flat road. That is why 20 mph is a good average speed to aim for because it allows you to keep up with your friends.
Although, even if you still can’t quite reach 20 mph on a solo ride, you might still be able to join a 20 mph group ride without getting dropped because of the drafting effect. This is where cyclists riding closely behind each other can go faster easier than they usually would solo because there’s a slipstream of air for them to use.
What’s the average speed of cycling pros?
The average cycling speed of professional cyclists in the Tour de France is 29 mph or 47 km/h. Cycling pros are able to reach these high speeds because they’ve been training for a long time and have developed the required levels of fitness. Genetics also plays a big role.
What about a mountain bike (on tarmac)?
Mountain biking is a different sport but you can ride MTB on the road. The average road bike speed for mountain bikes on the tarmac is slightly lower at 15 mph or 25 km/h. Mountain bikes are designed to be ridden over bumpy terrain, which makes it harder to reach high speeds like you would on a road bike.
Moreover, mountain bikes have wider, knobby tires and are designed so that the rider is more upright than on a road bike. This makes it easier to control and more comfortable but also increases aerodynamic drags and road friction, making a lower average speed.
How to improve your average speed to 20 mph on a road bike
The most important thing to do is just ride regularly.
Even without structured training, you can still reach 20 mph or 32 km/h given enough time. As a beginner, this speed might seem impossible to reach, but you will likely reach this speed in less than a year of cycling without even trying too hard.
If you’re struggling, try increasing your training volume and/or intensity. Doing some interval training will help you improve your fitness if you feel stuck.
Upgrading your bike components can help, but you can still hit 20 mph or above 30 km/h even with the cheapest road bike.
How you can get a faster average speed without the extra training
Doing the right kind of training or just riding your bikes more regularly will improve your speed over time. But, maybe you want to just go faster on a bike right now so you can show off your speed to your Strava friends, that’s okay, we’ve all been there before.
Here’s how to increase your average bike speed right now:
1. Choose the right route
If you want to go fast, ride on a flat road during days without strong winds. Or choose a route with a tailwind. Descending roads can also help you achieve a higher average speed on your road bike, but you might need to go up before you can go down.
Also, choose a route with smooth tarmac because bumpy road surfaces can make you go slower (and it’s also dangerous).
2. Ride a short distance
On a long-distance ride, your average speed will be lower compared to a shorter-duration ride due to fatigue build-up. If you want to get high average speed, just go for a short ride for an hour or less and do an all-out effort.
Keep in mind that longer distance rides are beneficial to improve your speed.
3. Ride in the right temperature
Temperature can have a significant effect on your average speed. Riding in hot weather can slow you down because the heat increases your heart rate faster. Riding in very cold weather can also reduce your average speed because it is harder to generate power when you are cold and you will need to wear warm clothes that are not very aero.
4. Be more aero
Going into an aero position can make you faster. Lower your head and make your back flatter to minimize drag. Hold the drops of your handlebars to go even lower.
Wear a tight-fit cycling jersey. Loose clothing increases aero drag and makes you go slower.
If you don’t mind spending tons of money, get lightweight and aero wheels, an aero bike—or even a time trial bike, and an aero helmet. The money you spend will help you achieve higher speed, although it might not be worth it because of how expensive they are.
5. Ride behind someone else
The number one enemy of going fast is the wind. If you have someone else in front of you to block the wind, you can go faster with significantly lower effort. This is called drafting and is the bread and butter strategy of any cycling race to conserve energy while still going fast.
6. Clean your drivetrain
A clean drivetrain is more efficient and absorbs less power. Make sure to clean your drive train regularly, this includes the chain, sprockets, derailleurs, chainrings, crank, pedals, bottom brackets, and wheel hubs.
Speed is not always a good indicator of performance
For example, if you live and ride in a mountainous area then the average speed might be low even though it is actually a very hard workout. Or if you are riding on a headwind, it will reduce your average speed too.
So comparing your speed with others is not always a good way of measuring how strong of a rider you are.
If you want to use speed as a performance indicator, make sure you only compare speed when riding the same route in similar conditions (traffic, weather, wind, etc.).
The better way to keep a record of your performance is by using a power meter. This measures how much power you are putting in when you’re cycling, which is a good indicator of performance improvement because it doesn’t rely on the road and weather conditions. A power meter isn’t cheap, but if you’re serious about your cycling performance it’s definitely worth the investment because it can really help you track your training progress.