# 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 Sep 21 '10 at 12:02
• @Jonny, I will update the question but if I want to be more generic what should I say? Sep 21 '10 at 16:37
– Amos
Sep 21 '10 at 17:19
• @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
Sep 21 '10 at 17:59
• Try Strava - strava.com for keeping track of your rides and tracking your fitness and progress and seeing what speed your buddies are riding. Oct 21 '15 at 18:13

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.
– Will
Sep 23 '10 at 18:14
• +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. Sep 16 '12 at 22:11
• 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. Jun 4 '15 at 10:30
• Also, mean average is fairly meaningless, as said traffic lights etc make a huge difference to a mean average. Jun 4 '15 at 10:31
• +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) Sep 17 '15 at 13:32

Average speed is extremely dependant on:

• Weather (particularly wind)
• Interruptions like traffic lights, dog-walkers on bike-lanes
• Accumulated fatigue over multiple days
• How hilly the terrain is (although this can be balanced out by the faster descent)

As you mentioned, best way to see is using a GPS and seeing how fast you go.. I've found over the course of about 6-months of riding, my average speed over long rides is around the average of my shorter rides (I'm classifying "long" as around 150-200km, and "short" as maybe 30-80km)

For example, here is a plot of my distances vs average speed:

(the axis's are in km/h and km)

The >50km rides averaging 25-30km/h are mostly group rides. Ignoring those, beyond about 80km begin to converge to an average of 20km/h (although at 80km I've ranged from about 15-25km/h, but this includes when I just started riding..)

These numbers are all specific to me, and even still they vary (particularly over time):

These averages are spread over a few different bikes (start to April was on a hybrid bike, April to mid May was on one road bike, and the rest was on a different road bike) - but, the spikes are almost all related to either terrain (there's a large dip in July related to a Strava hill-climbing challenge), fatigue (the dip in August was another Strava challenge, to cycle long distances over consecutive days), or other factors mentioned above

Sorry for the rather rambly answer, but it hopefully conveys that average speed depends on a lot of factors, and it's hard to give a specific answer

• Are these rides on the same bike? Sep 16 '12 at 22:13
• @mattnz good point, it was on different bikes, but they are all comparable (two road bikes, and a hybrid which has road tyres) - other factors caused far more noticeable variance
– dbr
Sep 17 '12 at 13:26

Randonneuring or Audax riding is about riding audaciously long distances for the pleasure of riding audaciously long distances. (www.audax.org.au)

One method involves riding at 22.5km/h (14mi/h) in a peleton for up to 1000km. Another method involves riding at any pace above 15km/h (9.32mi/h) (up to 600km) or 13.33km/h (8.32mi/h) (1000 / 1200km).

I would suggest that the reasonable speeds for very long distance riding are 15km/h total average including breaks up to 600km, or 13.33km/h for 1000/1200km/h rides.

As a result I feel good when I make 15km/h of actual time when riding long distances, and try to improve my riding so that I'd be able to make 15km/h of actual time including sleep for longer distances.

• Good point, and well worth pointing out the differences between average speed to get from A to B, versus average rolling speed that many use (e.g. stops excluded). Did a first Audax week before last and 210k took me 11 hours, whereas my average rolling speed reported by the computer was 21.7kph Sep 24 '12 at 9:25

I've already answered this question, but this is a different answer; I've recently started using a website called Strava (they do also have iPhone/Android apps as well as accepting GPX uploads which can be generated by many platforms and devices - I use MotionX-GPS for the iPhone).

Their (I think unique) central point is to allow users to defined specific 'segments' of their ride and then anyone whose uploaded route passes over that segment is included in a virtual league table. This allows you to easily compare yourself to others over short routes, climbs, sprints and so on.

So long as you cycle in reasonably populated areas, you'll be amazed at how many segments your ride already covers, at least around the London area, I was.

(I've no connection to the website, apart from being a satisfied, paying customer.)

• Strava, good find Sep 14 '12 at 17:17
• The only caution is that Strava users tend to be more serious riders and thus faster than average. Jun 9 '19 at 16:28

How long is a piece of string? Your speed is totally dependent on your surface, equipment, bike type ... and you!

I keep a record of most of my training ride (for the last few years with GPS, but summary data going back further) and compete with myself. If you're interested in what you should/could be doing, maybe liaise with a local club.

On my commute my rolling average with lots of braking and accelerating, is a good mph or two lower than training rides (further, but quieter roads) with race pace being another mph or two higher; cyclo-cross and off-road is completely terrain dependent so your mileage really will vary enormously

And if you have professional road aspirations, you'll want to average at least 25-27mph.

• Don't be put off by these fast sounding averages.. I got much quicker in just a few months of trying to be as fast as someone else on Strava. Most of it's just in your head. I also recently got an HRM so I could get a handle on how much effort I was putting in - it's very easy to think you're trying fairly hard when you're simply not, it's quite fun. Jun 4 '15 at 10:33

Here's an article with average speeds for various different cases.

When doing longer than 100km distances, I find it useful to guide by heart rate not speed. Pick a sustainable heart rate and stick to it, regardless of momentary or average speed. In long distances, if it's not racing with tactics and all, it is important to go steady.

• The linked article gives a very thorough list, including commuting speeds, world records, and averages for different races over time. That was very interesting. Sep 14 '12 at 15:21

Lots of great answers, but one variable not mentioned is whether you are riding alone or with others. The effects of drafting is significant. I'm at least 2 mph faster riding with others since I can spend much of the time in their wake.

• I thought this would be a duplicate answer, but its not. Good spotting!
– Criggie
Aug 4 '18 at 21:15

If if you live somewhere where the law lets you ride on the pavement, you should not be going over about 8mph as pavements are for walkers.

• Sorry, I meant pavement interms of the surface (in North America it would be correct to say: "our roads are made of pavement"). What would you you call the material that the road is made out of? Do you pave your driveway? Sep 21 '10 at 16:40
• haha. I suspect the original poster is from North America and thus meant "road" when they said "pavement". US vs. UK English. Sep 21 '10 at 16:50
• No, Tarmac is an airport thing in the US.
– freiheit
Sep 21 '10 at 18:51
• @Ian In the US, "pavement" generally means a hard surface for a road, such as asphalt or concrete (it can also refer to a hard surface of a sidewalk). sixtyfootersdude was using the term to contrast it with a gravel road. "Tarmac" in the US refers to airport runways; the term is actually obsolete, as the actual material called Tarmac has generally been replaced by asphalt (though I believe in British English asphalt is commonly called tarmac). In the US, the place where cars drive is called the "road", and the place where pedestrians walk is called the "sidewalk". Sep 21 '10 at 20:59
• @BrianCampbell -- Except in New York, where pedestrians walk in the street and cabs drive on the sidewalk. Apr 30 '12 at 10:41

my averages are 28 - 30 km/h asphalt surface flat terrain 23 - 25 km/h asphalt surface rolled terrain 23 - 25 km/h gravel surface flat terrain 18 - 20 km/h gravel surface rolled terrain

pavement is not an area definition, roads has it as well as sidewalks. there are a lot of pavements some of the are: asphalt concrete, hydraulic concrete, stone blocks, concrete blocks, gravel, etc

The vast majority of bikes have gearing. Its depends on the ratio of your gears, which is where it starts getting mathematical.

I used http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/ to get this table of "metres developed"

``````For 700 X 25 / 25-622 tire
With Shimano 7-speed "ai" 11-12-14-16-18-21-24 Cassette

46   36   26   <-- Front Chain Ring
11  8.2  6.5  4.7
12  7.6  5.9  4.3
14  6.5  5.1  3.7
16  5.7  4.4  3.2
18  5.0  3.9  2.8
21  4.3  3.4  2.4
24  3.8  3.0  2.1

^ Rear cog selected
``````

So in 46/11 my road bike will roll 8.2 metres for each full rotation of the pedals/front chainring.

`````` 8.2 metres x 90 RPM x 60 minutes/hour / 1000 = 44.3 km/h
``````

Going up a steep hill, I might be in 26/24, which is very close to one wheel rev per front chainring revolution.

`````` 2.1 metres x 90 RPM x 60 minutes/hour / 1000 = 11.3 km/h
``````

Answer It comes down to what gear ratio can you drive for long periods at ~90 RPM?

Why 90 RPM? That's the commonly held sweet spot for cadence. Newbies tend to pedal a lot fewer revs per minute. Some pros advocate 120 as a better target, which is a normal marching or walking rhythm. Touring might be a bit lower RPM.

• Gear ratios are not the primary determinant, and to a large extent once you have more than 5 or so they don't matter. Long distances are about comfort, power output, hydration and food much more than about "do you have exactly the right gear ratio". So this answer is focussing on the wrong thing.
– Móż
Jan 3 '16 at 6:59

My average is 20 mph to 22 mph on pavement while not going hard, but that's if there's a lot of lights, stop signs, etc. Today on pavement I went 28 mph to 30 mph over a distance of 24 miles. I'm really not too sure about tarmac. I think one might be a little slower on that, idk. Not really sure if these speeds are good or not for a rider, though, as I have health problems, including about 35 percent heart function ( so my doctors tell me, I never get out of breath on rides ) and that may make me slower, I don't know.

• "28 mph to 30 mph over a distance of 24 miles" is roughly at professional time trial speeds. Health problems or not, you should probably sign up for national team.
– ojs
Nov 9 '17 at 9:35
• For comparison, 2012 world championships were held in flat-ish place. Men's time trial track was 45.7 km or 28.6 miles. Winner's average speed was 46.75 km/h, or 29.2 mph. So, either you confused miles and kilometers or just made up some numbers and didn't bother to do a reality check.
– ojs
Nov 9 '17 at 20:45
• Is it possible that your speedometer was incorrect? Dec 19 '17 at 5:53
• Sorry but there's no way on earth that somebody with heart problems who's riding casually, focusing on the view and not getting out of breath is doing 28-30mph for 24 miles. I don't know what the cause of your error is but I'd say you're off by a factor of two or more. As pointed out above, you're claiming to be riding at world championship levels without even breaking a sweat. You're simply not doing that. Aug 3 '18 at 22:24
• Downhill all the way Aug 4 '18 at 8:42