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To All the Cyclists out there

Gearhead01Gearhead01 Posts: 12Member Member Posts: 12Member Member
Hi guys, I have this question that’s been in the back of my mind for a while.

You see, I do cycling for cardio, and when I cycle, I cycle hard. So today, I was riding and I had my gps watch and Strava on. Both of them were saying that I was averaging a speed of 11 miles per hour.

I thought this was weird because I was pedaling hard and I’m pretty fit. To give you context, I’ve been exercising for over 12 years now and did distance running before I switched over.

My bike is an old one. It’s a steel frame mountain bike from the 80s. It has relatively narrow wheels. It’s more like a road bike.

I know that the average speed of a bike on the road is about 20 mph, so how am I getting 11 mph? Is it my bike or am I just slow?

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Replies

  • Machka9Machka9 Posts: 14,772Member Member Posts: 14,772Member Member
    The average speed of a bike on the road isn't 20 mph ... probably more like 20 km/h. :) Taking all road cyclists into consideration.

    However, 11 mph is 17.7 km/h and is at the beginners / recovering from injury / recovery ride end of things.

    If your bicycle is heavy, it might be part of it ... or it could be you.

    What's the terrain like where you are?

    Did you check to see if your brakes were rubbing?
  • AzdakAzdak Posts: 8,101Member Member Posts: 8,101Member Member
    Are you questioning the accuracy of the speed readings or your ability to ride the bike faster?

    Bike speed is affected by terrain, road surface, wind, equipment, and conditioning.
  • Gearhead01Gearhead01 Posts: 12Member Member Posts: 12Member Member
    Azdak wrote: »
    Are you questioning the accuracy of the speed readings or your ability to ride the bike faster?

    Bike speed is affected by terrain, road surface, wind, equipment, and conditioning.

    I would say the accuracy of the speed readings.

  • Gearhead01Gearhead01 Posts: 12Member Member Posts: 12Member Member
    Machka9 wrote: »
    The average speed of a bike on the road isn't 20 mph ... probably more like 20 km/h. :) Taking all road cyclists into consideration.

    However, 11 mph is 17.7 km/h and is at the beginners / recovering from injury / recovery ride end of things.

    If your bicycle is heavy, it might be part of it ... or it could be you.

    What's the terrain like where you are?

    Did you check to see if your brakes were rubbing?


    I live in San Francisco, the roads are pretty rough.
  • ThormodoThormodo Posts: 7Member Member Posts: 7Member Member
    18 km/h seems perfectly reasonable on an old mountainbike frame (even with decent road tires).
    Your brakes could indeed be rubbing (slightly), given that it's old. Easy to check by just giving your wheel a spin (preferable while your bike is hanging/ standing up straight).

    A regular (non "racing") person doesn't cycle at 20 km/h (let alone 20 mph) , it's more sub 15 km/h. Especially if we're taking hills into account.

    For reference, my last gravel ride I did (on a Canyon Grail AL gravel bike) I hit 20.3 km/h on average while going reasonably fast (including stopping for traffic, hills etc).
    On my previous cross-hybrid bike (essentially a mountainbike frame with thinner tires) I'd be happy to hit that.

    So no reason to question your speed readings in my opinion, especially with two devices giving the same reading.
    edited October 12
  • dewd2dewd2 Posts: 2,161Member Member Posts: 2,161Member Member
    Running well does not mean riding well. I run all the time and ride occasionally. When I ride my lungs can keep up but the rest of my body is not conditioned for riding so I'm not nearly as efficient at it. And 20 MPH on my very light road bike would be a challenge (not sure where you got this number as 'average' but I can assure you it is not for us mere mortals).
    edited October 12
  • vivo1972vivo1972 Posts: 20Member Member Posts: 20Member Member
    If I rode at 20 mph I would think I was on fire lol. My average is 12mph on a cyclocrossmixed terrain. I'm also fat and ride a lot. My GPS watch is far more accurate than Strava, I just log on Strava to see how much I have done each year. There is a lot of machismo in the cycling world so just push yourself and make your own challenges :)
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,378Member Member Posts: 15,378Member Member
    Highly unlikely both GPS and Strava are wrong - so yes you are cycling slowly.

    Change to road tyres if you are on knobbly tyres and you will see an improvement.
    Change to a road hybrid and you will see another improvement.
    Change to a skinny tyred road bike and you will be faster again.

    No idea where you get the idea that 20mph is an average! There's loads of serious and good standard club riders that won't manage that apart from when taking part in a time trial.

    As a 5,000 miles a year cyclist 20miles in an hour was one of my big performance targets and I only managed that on a closed roads event after many years of trying. Most of my solo rides are in the 16 or 17mph range.
  • Gearhead01Gearhead01 Posts: 12Member Member Posts: 12Member Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    Highly unlikely both GPS and Strava are wrong - so yes you are cycling slowly.

    Change to road tyres if you are on knobbly tyres and you will see an improvement.
    Change to a road hybrid and you will see another improvement.
    Change to a skinny tyred road bike and you will be faster again.

    No idea where you get the idea that 20mph is an average! There's loads of serious and good standard club riders that won't manage that apart from when taking part in a time trial.

    As a 5,000 miles a year cyclist 20miles in an hour was one of my big performance targets and I only managed that on a closed roads event after many years of trying. Most of my solo rides are in the 16 or 17mph range.


    Alright thanks
  • JJB_AUJJB_AU Posts: 8Member Member Posts: 8Member Member
    Hi,

    I've signed up for the 2019 Great Cycle Challenge to ride 250 km this month to fight kids' cancer!

    Why am I doing this? Because cancer is the biggest killer of children from disease in Australia. Every 2 minutes, a child is diagnosed with cancer.

    My challenge will be tough, but it's nothing compared to what these brave kids face every day of their lives as they battle this terrible disease.

    Kids should be living life, NOT fighting for it.

    And so I am taking on this 250 km challenge to end childhood cancer and save little lives.

    Justin 🚴🏻‍♂️💨🚴🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️💨💨

    [edited by MFP Mods]
    edited October 13
  • Machka9Machka9 Posts: 14,772Member Member Posts: 14,772Member Member
    Gearhead01 wrote: »
    Machka9 wrote: »
    The average speed of a bike on the road isn't 20 mph ... probably more like 20 km/h. :) Taking all road cyclists into consideration.

    However, 11 mph is 17.7 km/h and is at the beginners / recovering from injury / recovery ride end of things.

    If your bicycle is heavy, it might be part of it ... or it could be you.

    What's the terrain like where you are?

    Did you check to see if your brakes were rubbing?


    I live in San Francisco, the roads are pretty rough.

    That can be a factor in speed.
  • mthwbrwnmthwbrwn Posts: 30Member Member Posts: 30Member Member
    Just got back from my ride. I ride pretty hard and pass many riders on the trail and seldom get passed myself. (Burke-Gilman in Seattle so pretty flat)
    My average for this ride was 13.5 mi/hr with a top of 25.5. More importantly, my average HR for the ride was 172 over a duration of 1 hour 4 minutes.
    IMHO your heart rate is the number you really should be looking at.
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,184Member Member Posts: 9,184Member Member
    The #1 thing slowing most people down is air resistance. That's why road bikes are faster, they put you in a more aerodynamic position.

    In San Francisco, it's gravity. You lose more time going up the hill than you make up coming down the other side. That's just a fact of math. Your MTB is probably helping you on this front because it's geared for steep hills.
  • vivo1972vivo1972 Posts: 20Member Member Posts: 20Member Member
    Don't forget wind resistance as well as aero as mentioned before. I'd rather ride up steep inclines than face a headwind anyday - good for strength though.
    PS check your tyre pressure for drag, chain cleanliness and lube.
    PPS mixed terrain can help your strength muscles. A lot of my roadie mates ride MTB in winter so in summer they fly!
    Good luck and enjoy the fab world of riding :)
  • NorthCascadesNorthCascades Posts: 9,184Member Member Posts: 9,184Member Member
    By the way, you've now learned why average speed is meaningless on a bike. There are way too many variables affecting it. Somebody in Florida where there are no hills might be able to average 20 mph with a tail wind and TT bike while 11 mph isn't bad on SF hills and a MTB.
  • amandaeveamandaeve Posts: 616Member Member Posts: 616Member Member
    Average riding time and average elapsed time can be pretty different, too. Not sure if you are taking that into consideration. I spend most of the time riding my bike between 17-19mph. However, my "average" time in the city is 11mph and 15mph in the country. Traffic lights, hills, and stops bring average speed down.
  • Gearhead01Gearhead01 Posts: 12Member Member Posts: 12Member Member
    Thanks for all the responses guys
  • BruceappleBruceapple Posts: 1,920Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,920Member, Premium Member
    Remember a clean bike is faster. Clean and oil your chain and gears. Chain may need replacing, it stretches. Also an MTB is geared for hills not flat ground. Make sure you are using your gears properly. Flat / down hill = big chain ring Front and little gear in the back.
  • PDKL45PDKL45 Posts: 10Member Member Posts: 10Member Member
    Hey OP, if you were relying on your watch and a smartphone, just remember that to calculate your speed they use an algorithm. Do you have an odometer/speedometer on your bike? When I compare the numbers between my bike's Odo and GPS numbers, there are often discrepancies between the two, sometimes quite big.

    Also, remember to optimize your trackers by telling them exactly how large your wheels and tires are. Both your Odometer and GPS devices are doing calculations and wheel-tire diameter is a significant part of that.
  • sijomialsijomial Posts: 15,378Member Member Posts: 15,378Member Member
    Neither Strava or dedicated GPS devices need to know wheel diameter - it's not part of how they measure your location and speed.
    Only devices that count wheel rotations do that.
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