What is a reasonable speed for long distances on a bike?

  • I am curious what a reasonable speed to travel on a bike is. Speed will obviously vary based on the conditions in which you are riding. I am planning on taking the GPS out with me this weekend to see how quickly I go. Before I did that I wanted to get some benchmarks.

    For the most part I will be riding an older road bike on crushed rock. (Very small rock, with good rolling resistance but still much worse than pavement).

    I will also be riding that road bike on the road (i.e.: pavement in North America, Tarmac in Great Britain).

    What is a reasonable speed on these two surfaces? I am more interested in speed over long distances, i.e. if you were going 80 km what would your target speed be?

    note: in the US, "pavement" means normal road surface. In the UK, it is equivalent to the US' sidewalk

    @Jonny, I will update the question but if I want to be more generic what should I say?

    Road? Tarmac? Concrete? Slabs?

    @Amos: I think "road". Sadly our countries are divided by a common language. Here in the US, "Tarmac" is usually specific to airports, and I think it's actually a trademark of the Tarmac corporation in the UK. "Concrete" is used for a substance made of limestone, clay and gypsum with stones and sand added as aggregate. Slabs are a particular format of concrete that a building might be built on, or possibly a large piece of bacon. Technically the common road surface is "asphalt concrete" composed of tar (thick oil) and aggregates, but typically only engineers use that term.

    @freiheit: The type of slabs I was thinking of were actually paving slabs, which are usually concrete (I think) about 2 feet by 3 feet. Sometimes used for garden paths and for pavements (sidewalks).

    Try Strava - https://www.strava.com/ for keeping track of your rides and tracking your fitness and progress and seeing what speed your buddies are riding.

    "comfortable speed" so 40%-50% of your max threshhold power. Maybe even as low as 30% to keep going all day. 80 km on the flat should be 3-4 hours for most average riders.

  • darkcanuck

    darkcanuck Correct answer

    10 years ago

    Speed varies widely by cyclist, depending on fitness, road conditions and traffic. Some of my observations (cruising speed based on a flat, paved road in good condition):

    • 20km/h (12.4 mph) - many "occasional" cyclists ride around this speed
    • 25km/h (15.5 mph) - most commuters
    • 30km/h (18.6 mph) - fast commuters, slower roadies
    • 35km/h (21.7 mph) - fast roadies
    • any faster than that on a long flat and they're probably a racer

    (based on who I pass and who passes me when riding around 30km/h)

    Average speed will usually be slower than you think, once traffic stops and hills are factored in, especially over longer distances (like 80km). On my 21km commute I'll hit 30+ on every long stretch I can, but my average still only works out to 24km/h. For longer rides I cruise around 27-28 km/h, which is more sustainable; averaging 22-24 over a very long ride (200km) is a great pace for me.

    +1 This is a difficult question, with as many answers as there are people, but this is about the tidiest answer that I've seen anywhere.

    +1. Bike and wind also makes a big difference - In my younger days, I could average 30km/h on my roadie over a 1 hour circuit. A bit off wind, that would drop considerably (eve though it was a loop- you would think you would get back on the down wind what you lost on the up wind... not...). The same ride on my MTB (with me at the same fitness levels) I could just make 24km/h for the same effort. Drop 2km/h off these and it was a "leisurely cruise/all day" pace so to speak. Same ride in a bunch would add more speed. Just tire pressures are good for another 2-3 km/h variation.

    This matches up with my experience and the people I see on Strava. The fastest people who aren't part of a pro cycling club average around 36Kmh.. the pro people (people who do it as a job) average anything from 40-45Kmh (they make you feel quite slow..) on the same bit of road.

    Also, mean average is fairly meaningless, as said traffic lights etc make a huge difference to a mean average.

    +1 but even though those are presumably average *moving* speeds on the flat, traffic will make a big difference as will the bits when you're moving but approaching/leaving a stop. These could therefore be regarded as more like upper limit speeds on the flat, at least for urban/suburban rides. So I find that the longer the ride, the faster the pace, because my short rides have more traffic (and possibly more hills as I have more choice of route when I'm riding further)

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM