How Fast Can You Go On A Bike: What makes a bike go faster?


Many people often wonder just how fast a bike can go, it is certainly something that has interested me. As someone who loves cycling, I wanted to take a deep dive into what factors impact bike speed, and find out just how fast you can go on a bike?

In general, a cyclist will be able to ride at a maximum speed of 30 mph on a road bike, however, professional cyclists achieve speeds of up to 70mph while racing. This is much higher than the average speed of regular cyclists which is 18mph. The fastest recorded speed on a bicycle is 83mph.

So, we’ve established that the speed you cycle at will be impacted by whether or not you are a professional cyclist, but what other factors will impact your speed. Does bike weight or tire size make a difference? I take a look into this, as well as the fastest speeds of mountain and electric bikes in the rest of the article.

How fast can you go on a bike?

How fast your bike can go will depend on many things, including the terrain you are cycling on, how good a cyclist you are, and the type of bike you are cycling on.

How fast can you go on a road bike?

Road bikes are designed to be fast, lightweight, and aerodynamic. This makes them one of the best options when it comes to speed.

In general, a regular cyclist will be able to cycle at up to 30 mph on a road bike, however, professional cyclists will be able to go much faster than this. Professional cyclists tend to achieve a maximum speed of up to 60 mph during outdoor racing however in some cases such as in a velodrome, they can be much faster.

Velodromes are designed in a way that can maximize the pace of a rider, with a 42-degree angle to the race track and minimal friction or air drag, allowing cyclists can achieve speeds of up to 70mph while racing.

The world record for the fastest speed achieved on a road bike is held by Todd Reichart who cycled at a whopping 82.82mph.

How fast can you go on a mountain bike?

Mountain bikes are less well designed for speed. As they are required to ride on rougher terrain, they often have to prioritize durability and stability. This means the bikes are often made with heavier materials, are less aerodynamic, and have lower gear ratios that do not allow you to pedal as fast.

In general, a typical rider on a mountain bike will be able to achieve speeds of up to 25mph, however, it is more likely that the average cyclist will be riding at closer to 15mph when cycling on the flat.

The current world record speed held on a mountain bike is actually faster than a road bike, this is because the world record for a mountain bike is set on a downhill route where gravity can help with your speed. The record is held by Eric Barone who cycled at 141mph in 2017.

How fast can you bike a mile?

So, with the speed you can cycle at being so variable, how fast would you be able to cycle a mile?

As you can see, the time it will take you to ride a mile will be very dependent on your cycling ability. The times below estimate that you are cycling on a road bike with flat terrain.

CategoryExpected TimeAverage Speed
World Record Pace00:4382mph
Professional Pace01:0060mph
Expert Pace02:0030mph
Novice Pace05:0012.5mph

How fast does a bike go on average?

So now we know how fast it is possible to go on a bike, how fast does the average cyclist go?

It is generally accepted that beginner cyclists will cycle at around 12.5mph when on a flat road. This would be a good estimate to use if you wanted to calculate how long it will take you to cycle a certain distance.

On the other hand, we have records of professional cyclists that show that their average pace is, as expected, much higher. During the Tour De France, professional cyclists will ride at an average speed of 24.8mph (even including all the hills).

When it comes to regular cyclists (those who aren’t professionals but also arent novices), there is less information available. I spoke to a group of regular cyclists to see what their average speeds were. Answers ranged from 14 to 20 mph depending on the cyclists. The average speed was 18mph however the most common response was 20mph.

How fast can you go on an electric bike?

What is the top speed of an electric bike?

Electric bike speeds are limited by the power of the motor that assists the rider, as well as the regulations of the country the bike is being used in.

Countries often have a legal limit on the size of the motor that can be put into an electric bike, with most countries setting the maximum size as 750W.

The world record for the fastest electric bike is held by the Delfast Top 3.0 which achieved a speed of 50mph. This means that the motor can speed you up to 50mph without any need to pedal. However, it has a 3000W motor inside and so is not street legal in many countries.

How fast do unrestricted electric bikes go

Bikes with a motor above 750W are illegal in most countries. However, due to their larger motor size, they are often faster than their legal counterparts.

Motor SizeEstimated Maximum Speed (mph)
1000W35mph
2000W40mph
3000W50mph
5000W60mph

How fast do electric bikes go with pedaling?

The speed limit restriction on electric bicycles only applies to the legal speed limit at which the motor can assist you. This means that once you reach a certain speed, the motor has to cut out but you are still able to pedal yourself more quickly.

This means that theoretically, an electric bike can go as fast as any other bike you can pedal (it will just be harder as it will weigh more). I personally have achieved speeds of 40mph on my electric bike.

How fast can electric bikes go in the UK?

The UK, along with Europe has stricter speed regulations on e-bikes than many other countries. Within the UK, any electric bike has to have the motor only assist you up to 15.5 mph. After this, any extra speed needs to come from the power of the rider pedaling.

This limitation means that electric bikes sold in both the UK and the US need to produce a UK-specific restricted model that can be legally sold in the UK market.

How fast can electric bikes go in the US?

Within the US, electric bikes are classified into 3 broad groups. Different states have their own rules for electric bikes and so these classes help to make broad classifications that people can recognize.

ClassCriteria
Class 1Pedal-Assist Only Up to 20 mph
Class 2 Pedal-Assist and Throttle Up to 20 mph
Class 3Pedal-Assist Only Up to 28 mph

This means that in most US states, the speed limit for electric bike motor assistance will be a maximum of 28mph.

Do bigger bikes go faster?

In general, the size of a bike will have a significant impact on the speed of a bike, with smaller bikes being faster.

Larger bikes are less aerodynamic

Smaller bikes create less air drag as there is less surface area on a smaller bike. This makes smaller bikes more aerodynamic, and thus faster.

Larger bikes are heavier

Not only this, but larger bikes are typically heavier. Heavier bikes tend to be slower on flat ground or any ride with an incline. On the other hand, heavier bikes can be faster when going downhill as their weight helps to increase your speed.

How much does bike weight impact speed?

While a heavier bike is generally slower, the impact that the weight of your bike has on your speed may be less than you think.

Ridefar did a very interesting study looking at the impact of bike weight on speed and found that a 5% increase in bike weight actually only leads to a 0.25mph reduction in speed. This resulted in a very small (1.9%) overall increase in the time of a ride during the test.

How does bike tire size affect speed?

The traditional thinking is that thinner tires make you go faster, however, this is not always the case.

Thinner tires will cause less resistance and drag as you cycle but are less effective at cushioning your ride. This means that as you ride, the bike experiences more vibrations which cause more energy loss.

In real-world studies, they have found no significant difference in speed between 25mm and 32mm tires as the amount of energy you lose from a more bumpy ride actually balances out any effective speed increase you get from the thinner tires.

Does wheel size affect speed?

Many people also wonder if larger wheels will result in a faster bike, however, this is not the case. In fact, smaller tires are often faster. In fact, the fastest bicycle in the world uses much smaller wheels than many other road bikes (17 inches).

In reality, the fastest wheel size for you will actually be dependent on the terrain you are cycling on, with rougher terrain being faster with a larger wheel.

Large WheelsSmall Wheels
More stable at higher speedsLess stable at higher speeds
Easier to accelerateLess good at accelerating
HeavierLighter
Less aerodynamicMore aerodynamic

Does bike tire pressure affect speed?

The best tire pressure for a fast bike will again be dependent on the terrain you are cycling on. There is no “fastest” tire pressure.

Take for example a velodrome, here you have a very flat surface with minimal drag on the tires. In this case, a high tire pressure works best, this is because it reduces any extra friction on the bike tires and therefore helps you to go faster.

On the other hand, on a rougher bike track, for example in the woods, there are a lot of bumps in the path, cracks, and areas of debris. In this case, the lower tire pressure allows the tires to flex around these obstacles much more easily, keeping in touch with the ground and slipping less. This means less energy is wasted as the tires spend more time in contact with the ground.

In real-world situations, there is likely to be a balance where your tire has low rolling resistance but is also able to compensate well for any imperfections in the road, but this exact pressure will vary.

Are bikes faster than cars?

Many people wonder whether bikes are faster than cars. In this case, the answer depends on where you are cycling.

Most of the time a car will be much faster than a bike. If we take the UK as an example, the average car speed ranges from 30mph up to 68mph depending on the road and the speed limit set for it. In these cases, the car will obviously be faster than a bike, especially if you consider a “fast ” average speed for a bike is around 20mph.

However, in more urban areas bikes may well be faster. If we take London as an example, the average car speed in central London is 8.7mph. This is far less than the average bike speed and so in some situations where there is a lot of traffic, a bike may well be faster. As someone who lives in London, I for one would always choose to commute on my bike rather than drive.

Overall

As you can see, there are many different factors that impact how fast a bike can go. If you want to get the fastest bike, then you will likely want to pick a road bike that has a low weight, and tires that have been specifically picked for the terrain you plan to cycle on.

Mark Holmes

30-year-old doctor with an interest in cycling, bikepacking, and statistics.

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