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I have been cycling for quite some time now (an MTB - hardtail) and I intend to go for higher speeds above 45kmph (on road). I typically cruise around 38kmph (on road). I can endure my cruise speed pretty well and for very long durations about 2 hours continuous pedalling. But whenever I try to maintain my speed at something above 45kmph like trying to cruise at 50kmph, I run dry pretty fast. Is there a good procedure that I should follow to attain this goal

! - I am specific here about the hardtail mtb. Not the road bikes. ! - I have good aerobic and cardiovascular as well as muscular strength. Applying force on pedals is not the problem. Consistently putting that output for a good duration is.

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    Training is certainly on topic here. The main issue I see is clarity on what you are asking, and support for the surprising speeds you claim. See questions tagged training and power.
    – andy256
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 12:07
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    A bit of calculation gives ~400 W for 38 kph on an MTB, ~500 W for 45 kph, and >800 W for 50 kph. If your figures are correct you should switch to road bikes and turn pro immediately!
    – andy256
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 12:54
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    Also consider using something like Strava to record your rides. With a tool like this you'll be able to see where you're flagging, and how you compare with other people.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 13:22
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    Fabian Cancellara's gold medal winning TT effort in Rio was just over 45kmh for an hour and 12 minutes. I think your numbers may be off.
    – alex
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 15:51
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    My advice is to start doing 50-100m sprints while riding as fast as you can. You should do them as often as you can and as fast as you can. They do not need to be for a long distance. Also, you can try to save weight from heavy parts. You will notice the biggest difference in the wheels(rims, tires and hubs). However, that would cost you much.
    – SuperMan
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 14:30

2 Answers 2

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The critical factors are rolling resistance, wind resistance, gearing, and body posture.

Rolling resistance is minimized with smooth, high-pressure tires. It's not required that they be super-narrow, but narrower than 2" is probably best for wind resistance. You should generally run 80-100 PSI.

Wind resistance is minimized by a head-down posture, with arms fairly close to the body. Changing out the handlebar, or installing bar extensions, may be necessary to optimize this.

Gearing is important if you "max out" your high gear, or you can't find a gear to let you run at optimal cadence.

Body posture (over and above issues of wind resistance) involves having the body "fit" the bike in a way that lets you pedal efficiently at high cadence (and with your head down). This is more a function of the bike than the other factors, and likely harder to optimize on a mountain bike.

(Remember, maintaining speed on the road is not a matter of putting out maximal force, but rather sustaining power output over a long period of time. Higher cadence with less force is generally better than maximizing force. A cadence of 80-100 RPM is generally considered optimal, and a reasonably good first take at balancing force and cadence is to be doing two revs of the crank for every breath you take.)

Oh, and lock out the suspension.

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  • So, tires do play a role. My pressure is normally around 70 - 75 when off road for traction, and around 85 when on road so I don't have to push. I never locked the suspension? Body posture is low while onroad. Handlebar extensions, I am not familiar with, can you point me in a bit more specific direction
    – user14633
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:09
  • @yawar That's exceptionally high pressure for a MTB tyre. Most have a posted maximum of 60 PSI. Handlebar extensions sound like barends, bolt on bits that poke forward, like mini-sized aerobars.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 1:50
  • @criggie, the tires are 3 inch ones (kenda tires). I get, the handlebars, now let me find 'em and buy them
    – user14633
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 4:17
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    @criggie, I too doubt myself, so got it checked again by a bike mechanic instead of me this time. The markings are fade, but we figured out the model of tire and got it from the book. It's (26 x 2.10) and the pressure is min(40) and max(65), he said my pressure gauge is not calibrated correctly or maybe the spring isn't fit well. I checked again with him about the pressures, turns out, I ride at 50 - 55psi offroad and around 63psi on road. Sponsors ah!. I would maybe look for one if I get super serious about pro cycling.
    – user14633
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 7:00
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    @Criggie - Opie just said his tires are 2.1". Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 22:34
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I can't go that fast on my mountain bike on the flat, but if you want to increase speed at that rate, aerodynamics is what you need to work on. So put your elbows in, duck lower and get into a more aerodynamic position.

I doubt it will give you that much extra speed, but it will certainly help.

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