Average Bicycle Riding Speed on a Commuter Bike

Last Updated on January 8, 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol

Ever pondered about how fast is a commuter bike? Join the club.

If you get a new bike, you can be shocked at how quickly you can feel the difference in performance, handling, and acceleration.

With most average bike set-ups it’s possible to exceed 20-25mph (30-40km/h) but, sadly, these types of high speeds cannot be maintained over longer distances. There are variables such as terrain, traffic, inclines, declines, and the inevitable stops.

Don’t be fooled by the pace you can achieve when hitting your high speeds on a bike, or else you are going to be in for a disappointment.

Looking at Google Maps and working out how far it’ll take me to get 3 kilometers doesn’t always stack up based on my calculations.

And that’s mostly due to buses and traffic lights. No one likes buses or traffic lights.

We do love commuter bikes and we’ve put together a pretty sweet guide on them here.

An average bike speed in the city at a commuter bike pace is somewhat different from the fastest speed you can attain while you are on an open road. Generally;

– The average speed of a commuter bike is 11-18 mph (18-29 km/h).

– If you cycle 8 miles (13 km) in each direction, the average time spent on the bicycle will be approximately 25-45 minutes each way.

Your physical fitness is an important factor in the measurement of average speed. However, you can work on bettering your average speed by some external factors as well.

Let’s discuss all the factors that can help you improve your speed.

Fitness Level

This one is perhaps the main element. The quicker you will ride, the faster your overall riding speed would be. You’re the engine; you’re going to push your power straight into the bike. With fitness levels in mind, you’ll need to understand how fast an average person rides a bike.

A fit rider on a lousy bike is quicker than an unhealthy rider on a performance bike. If you begin with no previous experience as well as low fitness levels, you’ll need to increase power and stamina along with your level of fitness.

However, you also keep in mind that it does not magically happen. It comes with a strict regime and training. Conditioning and cardio is a brilliant way to increase your cycling performance and therefore speed up your commuting time when cycling to work.

Adjustment Phase

You should expect muscle stiffness to set through after 2-3 days, and it won’t go away for another 1-2 weeks. This adjustment phase is when most newcomers give up. Fight the pain; your muscles will soon develop into a team of commuting powerhouses that get you clocking in much earlier than your shift start time.

Remember, it is a critical time to be persistent. After this initial bump, you will start to get a feel of how far your average commute time is when riding a commuter bike. Saving time on your journey is crucial and you’ll soon be able to shave valuable minutes from each journey.

Must Try

Trying to stretch the quads a few times during the day and consuming protein-rich foods can certainly help. It will minimize this adjustment process.

Type of Bike

The kind of bicycle you ride would also have a tremendous influence on your commuting speed. The various models of bikes are made for different conditions, riding modes, and speeds. Their properties decide how relaxed and quick they are.

The question that you may be asking is ‘how fast is a bicycle’, but there are variations that can get from A to B and it’s important to understand the differences when on a commute. So, if you’re concerned about which bicycle suits your journey best then here are some of the types of bikes that may cover exactly what you need to look for.

Dutch-style Bikes 

  • These bikes are straight, come with a fender, a flashlight, a stand, and ideally a pivot gear.
  • They are convenient, low maintenance, robust, reliable, heavy bikes that are usually used in flat cities.
  • The exchange for comfort and usefulness of Dutch bikes is that they are slower than other bikes due to their weight and riding convenience.
  • The expected commuting speed of Dutch-style bicycles is 8-14 mph (13-22 km/h).

Mountain Bikes

  • Not only great for the trails, but this bike is also used for commuting.
  • Mountain bikes have a diverse range of speeds, but they typically have smaller gear ratios. This indicates that you’ll have to ride harder so that you can hit the same pace as on road bikes.
  • These bikes are perfect for climbing very steep hills and wrestling rough ground.
  • Their lateral stiffness is also better than most other forms of bikes.
  • You should expect to ride a mountain bike at an average pace of 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h).

Road Bikes

  • Road bikes are the fastest bikes available for commuting to work.
  • The pace comes with a cost: they are far less stable than any other form of bike.
  • The annoyance is not (only) due to the seating position, but to its various characteristics.
  • They hardly come with grilles, and it’s very difficult to find any of them with mounting for racks, which indicates that you’re restricted to holding your stuff in a bag.
  • This can be inconvenient if you’re driving in congested traffic.
  • They’re a lot of fun to ride, particularly if the roads are straight.
  • You can get up to very high speeds on straight road stretches, which increases the overall commuting pace.
  • You should expect to ride them at an average bike speed in the city of 12-18 mph (19-30 km/h).

Hybrid Bikes

  • Hybrid bikes seem to be a very popular approach for bike commuting these days.
  • They are a fusion between an MTB, a Dutch-style bike, and a road bike, though they come in various shapes and specifications.
  • Hybrid bikes are a very massive group.
  • From first time riders to professional bikers, you can find a hybrid that matches their desires and their cycling style.
  • They’re also easy to operate.
  • You should anticipate riding hybrid bikes at an average pace of 11-17 mph or (18-27 km/h).

Many other types of bikes are successful commuters, such as Cyclocross, trail bikes, etc. In terms of average speed, it is generally amongst hybrids and road bikes that perform the best.

External Factors

Terrain and Road Conditions

The form of the road you are driving also influences your average speed. Maximum speeds can be achieved on straight roads. In cities, you are continuously slowing down and waiting at traffic lights, road signals, traffic, and pedestrians.

•      The discrepancy between high and low days in terms of traffic results in an overall reduction of speed of 2-3 mph (3-5 km/h).

•      In cities with especially low traffic and peak traffic, the average commuting speed can decline to 5 mph (8 km/h) or even less.

•      It is easy to target speeds of more than 25 mph on small intervals, but it’s relatively difficult to manage.

Weather

Unfortunately, there is not much you could do with the weather beyond moan about it. And boy, do I love to moan about the weather when riding.

If you live in an especially windy, rainy, or snowy place, it is great to keep in mind that minutes will be piled onto your journey.

Wind

The wind is very hard to overcome. Without speed, aerodynamic drag forms a major part of your energy expended on a bike. The quicker you go, the less you see this effect of aerodynamic drag.

That is why at higher speeds, particularly above 20 mph (30-32 km/h), you do need to work incredibly hard to maintain speed.

Rain

Although the rain does not influence the commuting pace as much as the wind does, it plays a key role, mainly in terms of clarity and safe braking distance.

The bad part of the rain is that it drops into your skin, and the droplets will affect your vision. It makes exposure harder. Glasses will offer better viability. We’ve actually put together a great article that outlines some of the best glasses for cycling (you can go check that out right here).

What is the Normal Speed of Biking for Newbies?

Newbies should expect to travel at an average speed of 16-22 km/h (10-14 mph). The first time you start, your level of fitness will influence your pace. Other considerations can include age, sex, weight, and the condition of your bike.

Try to target for something over 19 km/h (12 mph) when you begin. Your average speed will improve as you grow your cardiovascular ability and body power over time.

How to Increase the Pace of Cycling when commuting?

The most successful ways to increase riding speeds usually coincide with the fight against aerodynamic drag. About 80 percent of the energy is used to combat air resistance when you ride.

How you do that?

When it relates to your body’s posture and size, there are three easy suggestions you can take into consideration:

The back should be straight with a low and long reach of the brakes. This ensures that the back cannot be bent or crouched.

Your shoulders should be rolled inside to secure your muscles next to your feet.

Your head must below, following your back. Try to look up with your feet instead of lifting your head.

If you’re wearing a suit or baggy clothing, you might want to consider investing in some riding apparel that improves your aerodynamics.

Putting it all together

If you are considering commuting by bike and you are curious how quickly you are going to get to your office and home, this article gives you some valuable information about it.

You may be able to determine an average bike speed in the city of 11-18 mph (18-29 km/h) based on the variables mentioned above.

To figure out what this entails in terms of time, it is better to do a test ride on a weekend and recognize the road and the shortcuts where time might not matter.

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