Average Speeds Cycling

A look at different average speeds in different types of cycling. All speeds are in km/h

A quick conversion:

  • 20 km/h = 12.4 mph
  • 30 km/h = 18.6 mph
  • 32 km/h = 20 mph
  • 40 km/h = 24.85 mph
  • 48.4 km/h – 30 mph
  • 50 km/h = 31.06 mph

If you look at current times of professional riders, as a rough rule of thumb, womens’ average speed tend to be around 4 km/h less than men.

My Personal Average Speeds

  • Commute into town, including stopping times at traffic lights – 12-16 km/h
  • Commute into town (slow) – 16-2o km/h
  • Commute into town (fast) – 20-28 km/h
  • Club run – 24-27 km/h – we used to average a pretty constant 24-27 km/h for long club rides in Yorkshire
  • Training ride on winter training bike – 24-27 km/h
  • Training ride in summer – 28 – 30 km/h
  • Threshold training ride 32-33 km/h
  • Threshold training ride on time trial bike 34-37 km/h
  • Hilly time trial on road bike – 38 km/h
  • Hilly time trial on Time Trial Bike – 40 km/h
  • Flat time trial TT bike, no traffic – 45-46 km/h
  • Fastest time trial on TT bike (fast course, + traffic)- 49km/h
  • Fastest downhill – 85 km/h

Notes:

  • A time trial bike in a very aero position can add an extra 3-4 km/h
  • Passing traffic on dual carriageways can add an extra 2-3 km/h
  • Very smooth roads – smooth tarmac can add an extra 1 km/h
  • With a tailwind of 20mph, I once averaged 56km/h. Into the headwind on the return, I averaged 36 km/h
  • If you can average 32-34 km/h on the flat on a road bike, you may find you can get close to 40km/h on a time trial bike on a fast course.
  • If you cycle in the wheels – behind another rider, you can save 20-30% energy. You can probably ride 3-6 km/h faster. Average speeds for team time trials are often 3-5 km/h faster than individual time trials.

Average Speeds for Hill Climbs

  • A gradient of 3% (Long Hill) – average speed 36 km/h
  • A gradient of 5% (box hill) – average speed 31 km/h
  • A gradient of 10% (Dover’s Hill) – average speed 22 km/h

World Hour Record (solo time trial on flat track)

The first official world hour record was set in 1893 by Henri Desgrange. He completed 35.3 Km in an hour. 100 years later, the average speed of the world hour record had increased to an incredible 56.37 Km. This was a reflection of improved training, improved aerodynamics and fitter athletes.

boardman-superman

The very aerodynamic superman position – 56.6 km/h

After Chris Boardman set a record of 56.375Km in 1996, the UCI change the rules. Using 1970s technology, Chris Boardman was just able to beat Eddy Merckx distance, covering 49.4 km/h. This shows the technology of Chris Boardman’s super aero position, added an extra 6 km/h on to his speed.

Boardman – UCI ’1970s’ position – 49.4 km/h

  • 1893 Henri Desgrange – 35.325 km/h
  • 1914 Oscar Egg – 44.247 km/h
  • 1942 Fausto Coppi – 45.871 km/h
  • 1972 Eddy Merckx – 49.431 km/h
  • 1992 Graeme Obree – 52.713 km/h (superman position)
  • 1994 Miguel Indurain – 53.040 km/h
  • 1996 Chris Boardman – 56.375 km/h (superman position)

Women’s Hour Record

  • 1996 Jeannie Longo – 48.159 km/h

UCI World Hour Record (limits on technology – no tribars like 1970s)

Men

  • Chris Boardman – 49.441 km/h
  • Ondrej Sosenka – 49.700 km/h

Women

  • - Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel – 46.05 km/h

In the 1970s, women were 7 km/h behind the men. Now, the womens’ record is only 3km/h behind the men, showing they have closed the gap.

Tour de France Average Speeds

tour de france

Tour de France before smooth tarmaced roads

  • 1903 – 25.5km/h
  • 1919 – 24.0 km/h (slowest ever tour)
  • 1937 – 31.768 km/h (first use of derailleur gears)
  • 1939 – 31.9 km/h
  • 1956 – 36.2 km/h
  • 1971 – 38.084 km/h
  • 1981 – 38.960 km/h
  • 1991 – 38.747 km/h
  • 2001 – 40.02 km/h
  • 2005 – 41.654 km/h (fastest tour)
  • 2012 – 39.83 km/h
  • Tour de France Average speeds

Fastest Ever Prologue Time Trial

1994, Chris Boardman – 7.2km time trial course of 55.152 km/h (youtube clip)

Olympic Road Race 2012

  • Women 140Km – 3.35 = average speed – 39.1 km/h
  • Men 250Km – 5.45 = average speed 43.5 km/h

Average Speeds Road Races

  • 3/4th Cat – 32-38 km/h Most common would be around 36 km/h
  • Elite 1,2,3 – 36-44 km/h Most common around 41km/h

If you can average 30-32 km/h in training on your own, you should be fine to enter 3/4th cat road races.

Pro Classics Average Speeds

  • 2012 – Paris – Roubaix – Tom Boomen average 43.4 km/h (though in 2010, Fabian Cancellara won in an average time of 39.3 km/h)
  • 2012 – Milan San Remo – average – 42.632 km/h
  • 2011 – Paris Tours – average 42.988km/h (though in 2003, the average winning speed was 47. 5 km/h)

Audax Average Speeds

Audax events are not races, but long distance events where the rider has to complete a set route at a particular average speed, emphasising route finding, mechanical reliability and the ability to ride to a schedule. Usually, the average speed has to be between 15-30km/h. – You can get penalised for riding too quick.

Cyclo Sportives

What average speed might you expect for a Cyclo Sportive?

Etape du Tour

  • The Minimum average speed to finish in time limit – 12mph – 20km/h
  • An average speed of 24 km/h would place you in around the top 1,000 out of 8,000 finishers.
  • The pros may average in the region of 32-34 km/h for a very mountaineous stage

Fred Whitton Challenge

For the 113 miles through the Lake District major passes, average speeds vary from a fastest of 30km/h down towards 15 km/h (10 hour finishing time) Fred Whitton results

Rolling Cyclo Sportives

For less mountaineous cyclo sportives, you will find higher average speed. A medium hilly cyclo sportive will be completed in average speeds of around 24-32 km/h.

What Average Speed for a 100 mile Ride?

For a fairly flat 100 miles

  • The record for a 100 mile time trial is close to 3 hours 20 – around 48km/h. However, this is with passing traffic and aerodynamic equipment.
  • On a road bike, a fast time for a 100 mile training times, would be 5 hours – 32km/h.
  • A decent touring pace would be 6 hours – 27 km/h

Miscellaneous Average Speeds

In the Race Across America Pete Penseyres, 1986, averaged 15.40 mph (24.8 km/h)

The fastest ever speed attained cycling downhill on snow or ice is 222 km/h (138 mph), by Eric Barone (France) at Les Arcs, France on 21 April 2000.

 

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5 Responses to Average Speeds Cycling

  1. Al-Bo July 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Good research.

    I had a related conversation with a non-cycling friend the other day. They wanted to know my speed on the flat. I said it was never flat, the road surface was never ‘normal’, there was always a wind and that it also varied depending on how far I was going. Not sure they were satisfied with this answer.

    It did make me wonder how fast I could go without wind or gradient assistance though. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet encountered suitable conditions to test this out. I probably never will.

  2. Hurumph July 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    “The fastest ever speed attained cycling … is 222 km/h (138 mph)” Utterly barmy! Or, perhaps, very courageous, if feeling generous.

    I’m very much looking forward to Graeme Obree’s landspeed record; I hope Auntie Beeb makes a documantary about it

  3. Headley July 30, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    The SI symbol for kilometre is lower case k, not upper case.

    • tejvan July 30, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      Thanks. I updated post.

      • ken Downing August 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

        tejvan,not very clever pointing out dif of upper/lower case. Love all of the topic`s covered in your letters/responsers. With regards to average speeds and speeds in general,there is this 4 mile flat stretch with reasonable surface not far from where i live in leeds(a village by-pass) where i love to select a big gear and put my feet on the gas. It`s very exciting and there is a pub not very far from the end.
        never the less i just love a good ride stoping when i feel like it to have chance to enjoy the views/coffee/cake/beer or a pee.
        Ken.

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