When you start bike riding, it’s common to question how long it will take to arrive at your destination. But calculating your bike speed can be a little difficult, as it will depend on several factors.
Here is everything you need to know to learn how long it will take you to bike a mile effectively.
You’ll learn about average biking speeds for beginners, casual riders, fit cyclists, and professionals.
- What Affects Your Cycling Speed?
- 1. Road Type
- 2. Weather
- 3. Type of Bike
- 4. Physical Fitness
- Average Time to Bike a Mile
- 1. Beginners
- 2. Recreational Cyclists
- 3. Commuters
- 4. Professional Cyclists
- Calculating Your Time: Estimating How Long to Bike a Mile
- 1. Basic Calculation
- 2. Cycling Computers
- 3. Smartphone Apps
- Tips To Boost Your Cycling Speed
- 1. Improve Physical Fitness
- 2. Riding Technique
- 3. Improve cadence
- 4. Try Interval Training
- 5. Rest and Recover
What Affects Your Cycling Speed?
There are a few factors that will affect how fast you can travel on a bike.
1. Road Type
The first thing to consider is the type of road you are riding on. If it is a winding road that goes through hilly terrain, you will often have to take it a little slower.
It’s also important to consider the surface of the trail you are on. Dirt and sand will be slower than bitumen.
Sometimes, the weather can also affect the speeds you can achieve.
- Wind: Headwinds can drastically reduce speed, while tailwinds can provide a helpful boost.
- Rain and Wet Surfaces: Slippery conditions require slower speeds for safety.
- Temperature Extremes: Both hot and cold weather can affect rider endurance and bike performance.
3. Type of Bike
The next element to consider is the type of bike you are riding. Ideally, this will be customized for the type of terrain you are riding through. For example,
- A road bike will give you the best speed if you only plan to ride on bitumen.
- Mountain bikes are slower on the road, but they are essential for taking on off-road tracks.
- A hybrid bike is a good compromise. They will be able to deliver fairly quick speeds on the road and will be able to tackle dirt or gravel trails.
- Usually, electric bikes will be the fastest. Many of these will come with motors that can produce speeds of up to 20 miles an hour. This can be a good way to take a break from pedaling as you move over steep terrain.
This article goes into more depth about the other types of bikes on the market.
Once you have found the right type of bike for you, it’s time to narrow down your selection even further.
Getting a bike that is the right height for you, is lightweight, and has a good selection of gears will allow you to travel faster. This guide to hybrid bikes will give you more detail on what you should be looking for.
4. Physical Fitness
The next thing to think about is your physical fitness. Those who have cardio fitness will be able to maintain a higher speed for a longer time.
The good news is that you don’t need to be super fit to start bike riding.
- Cardiovascular Endurance: Stronger cardiovascular health leads to better stamina and speed.
- Muscle Strength: Leg and core strength directly impact the power behind each pedal stroke.
- Flexibility and Balance: These contribute to efficient riding and injury prevention.
- Fitness Level and Speed: A beginner might take longer to bike a mile compared to a more physically fit cyclist.
5. Skill and Technique Matter
- Pedaling Efficiency: Experienced cyclists have a more efficient peddling technique, conserving energy and maintaining speed.
- Handling Skills: Navigating turns, obstacles, and traffic safely and effectively without losing speed.
- Riding in Groups: Drafting and other group riding techniques can help in maintaining higher speeds with less effort.
Average Time to Bike a Mile
With these variables in mind, you should be able to estimate how fast you will be able to travel.
Most beginners will be able to move at 10 miles an hour. Because of this, they should be able to bike a mile within 10 minutes.
It’s not uncommon for beginning bikers to be able to cover a mile in six minutes, as long as they are moving along relatively flat ground.
2. Recreational Cyclists
Recreational riders, who are often more accustomed to cycling, might average between 12-15 mph. This would put their time for one mile at approximately 4-5 minutes.
In urban settings with stops and traffic, commuters might average around 10-12 mph, similar to beginners, taking about 5-6 minutes per mile.
4. Professional Cyclists
Pros can easily average over 25 mph on flat terrain, which would bring their time down to around 2-3 minutes per mile, but this is heavily dependent on conditions
As your experience grows, you will be able to travel faster. More advanced bikers might be able to achieve 20 miles an hour or more. Because of this, they might be able to cover a mile in around six minutes.
Calculating Your Time: Estimating How Long to Bike a Mile
There is an easy way to find out how fast your current average speed is.
1. Basic Calculation
When you start riding hit a stopwatch and record how long it takes you to ride the route.
Then, divide the number of miles you covered by the number of minutes it took you. Some bikes will come with a small computer that measures how often your wheels are spinning, telling you the current speed and number of miles covered.
- Time (in minutes) = Distance (in miles) / Speed (in miles per hour)
2. Cycling Computers
These devices mount to your bike and provide real-time data on speed, distance, and often time.
Some models also track altitude, gradient, and temperature.
3. Smartphone Apps
Popular apps like Strava, MapMyRide, or Garmin Connect can track your ride using GPS. They provide a wealth of data including speed, distance, route, and even comparisons with previous rides.
Tips To Boost Your Cycling Speed
Your cycling speed isn’t fixed, there are a few simple things you can do to travel faster.
1. Improve Physical Fitness
First, you can try boosting your physical fitness. In particular, you should be focusing on improving your cardio, allowing you to pedal for longer without becoming tired.
It’s also important to make sure that you are improving your leg strength, so you can use more power each time you pedal. This article talks you through some exercises to build more powerful calf muscles.
2. Riding Technique
The next thing to consider is your riding technique. It’s a good idea to ride as part of a group.
If you stick close to the person in front of you, they will be able to create a draft, which can reduce drag for the other riders by 50 percent.
3. Improve cadence
In cycling, cadence is the rate at which a cyclist pedals. It’s measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). This is the number of times you turn the pedals per minute.
When you start it’s common to have a cadence of 70 to 80. Professionals can achieve 100 or more.
You might be able to get a computer that can help you track your cadence.
4. Try Interval Training
Sometimes, you might not want to push yourself for the entire ride. You might want to try interval training instead. This means that you will push as hard as you can, for a set period. It might be a period, like a minute.
Or you might set a landmark, like a tree or a fence post, that you want to reach. Give yourself some time to recover and repeat. This is one of the most effective ways of building your cardio.
5. Rest and Recover
Finally, the best way of building your speed is by spending more time behind the wheel. You won’t turn into Lance Armstrong overnight.
However, as long as you put in regular sessions, you should notice an improvement in your speed. It can be helpful to use a spreadsheet to track your progress.
Speed isn’t everything when you are riding a bike. But it does feel good when you look at your stats and see improvements. So, grab your bike and find out how long it takes you to ride a mile.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.