Reader Question: What kind of average speed should I expect as a beginner road cyclist?
Stan Purdum replies:
Many beginning road cyclists ride at average speeds between 10 and 14 mph on the road. It’s certainly possible to sustain a higher speed, and some new riders who were already runners or some other type of endurance athlete may pedal at 15-18 mph or even higher. Professional bicycle racers can usually maintain 25-28 mph on flat ground. But for a beginning road cyclist, an average of 13.5 mph is very respectable, especially on a longer ride.
That said, your average speed is determined by factors including your age, fitness level, weight, the capacity of your cardio-vascular system, and, to a lesser degree, the quality and efficiency of the bicycle you are riding.
On any particular ride, your average speed is also affected by traffic, route chosen (number of traffic lights and stop signs), terrain (hills), distance, road surface, and weather conditions (riding into a stiff wind, for example, will bring your speed down).
Whatever your average speed when you first undertake cycling, it will likely increase as you continue to ride regularly and gain fitness. Getting a better bike may help, but losing pounds off your body is likely to increase your average speed more than just switching to a lighter steed.
Preexisting health issues could also affect your average speed. I know a man who has a minor congenital heart defect. While it is almost no hinderance in his everyday life, it does serve as a kind of “governor” when he cycles. He rides regularly, but he says that no matter how much he trains, he cannot ride faster than 14 mph for more than a short burst.
That doesn’t matter, he says. He enjoys his rides, and the pedaling has an overall positive impact on his health.
Want to learn more about improving your average speed on a road bike?
Road Biking for Beginners: Our Ultimate Guide
How Can I Improve Average Speed on Long Bicycle Rides?
How Can I Boost My Top Speed by 2 mph?
How Much Faster Is a Road Bike Than a Hybrid?
I have been riding for years (no training) at 13-15 mph. I lost 33 lbs this year. Now I weigh 145. Still the same speeds. Winter time definitely slows me down. Something about cold weather that makes me slower. IME, I think one’s body will only do a certain speed without training.
The air is heavier in the winter & it makes distance riding difficult. In fact, it is ill advised to ride extensively in the cold due to potential damage to the lungs and bronchial tubes.
As a beginner rider and at 69 yo l have been averaging about 13 – 14 mph. I thought that was rather poor. I certainly feel a bit better but would love to average 16 – 17 mph by the end of this summer. It’s difficult to ride consistently in winter in Maine
I bought my first bike when I retired at 70.
I started out averaging around 10mph that first year. I’m 74 now and have been averaging 15 consistently for the last two years. It’s a lot easier riding because I’m in a lot better shape than I was but I don’t think I will ever get any faster. I’m just going to be satisfied with what I can do and be grateful for my health.
Such a nice story, wow. 🙂
Wonderful and inspirational, I just started biking so have new goals!
Robbie Hawes says
I’m 75 now and still riding. I ride with my 16 year old granddaughter for over a year now. She rides to stay in shape for running track. I try to make 4 rides a week. When she’s in school I ride alone. I try to ride 75 miles a week. It doesn’t always work out that way though. Anyway I’m on my sixth year riding and I’m not any faster than I was. Still averaging around 15 when I ride alone and around 13 when I ride with granddaughter. Total knee replacement in 2017 and rotator cuff surgery 2020. We just rode 30 miles this morning and I feel great. Best thing I ever did getting a bike.
awesome. Go robbie. You are doing great and inspring to read for lazy guys like me in 30s to get moving!
Dan Whitted says
Roger Fentem says
I started riding at 70, the first ride I recorded was 7 miles and at an average speed of 10.9 mph. I repeated that ride exactly a year later, 14.1 mph. I was chuffed but what was the reason? Motivation? Fitness? Lighter, newer bike? All three I suspect since most of my rides are at about 12 mph. It is a it hilly around where I live, in the last 25 rides I have climbed Everest!
Bob Cunningham says
I have been a road biker for years, now at seventy two years old I find a road bike cumbersome it sit on so I switched to mountain bikes they are very comfy for me, I like vintage mountain bikes from back in the day that I could never afford then I customize them to my needs and am able to average between 13-14 mph. With mtb gearing I have several courses that are either 10 or15 miles long and get a good barometer of my current health on a monthly basis.
I took up road biking when I retired to Florida 6 years ago. I bought myself a nice, mid-priced Bianchi road bike. My goal has been 100 miles a week and I have hit that a majority of the time. However, my times have not drastically changed. Just in the past month, I have been averaging 15-15.5 mph. This has been disappointing to me, as I haven’t seen much improvement. I ride alone most of the time, so I suspect that may be holding me back. I’m told that riding with stronger riders would push me harder.
My wife and I took up riding. We started when I was 210 lbs and we struggled to hit 10 miles and could barely get to 9 mph. A year later, I had dropped to 172 and we were averaging 12 mph and riding 35 miles. Two years later, we’re sitting at 15-16 mph and my weight is back up to 185, though I’ve added a lot of muscle bulk and while I still have a bit of an annoying gut, I’m back to getting into 34 waist pants where I used to wear 40. My wife has seen similar results. I’m to the point now where riding with my wife is enjoyable but I’m not improving in speed but ultimately, we’re healthier, we’ve hit our century ride and we’re happy maintaining what we have now. My point, (sorry, I’m long winded) is that getting out and riding is the important part. It is a positive impact on your mental state, keeps you healthy and ultimately leads to a better quality of life. I spent last year stressing because our speed wasn’t improving, then we rode a 54 mile gravel ride with 2700’ of elevation gain and our 21 year old daughter could barely walk (she’s extremely in shape FYI) and we just took the win. I’m 50 and in the best shape since I left the Army. Speed isn’t that important in my opinion.
Daniel Mccartney says
Started out kinda slow on the aluminum mountain bike. Recently recorded 35 mph in the Specialized I ride around on currently. Only know this when looking up at auto speed sign by a Middle school. Quite surprised by this
Marcus Cornelius says
Once you get up beyond 15 mph, wind resistance is a major factor, The power needed to go faster ( watts) goes way up for each additional mph. Big difference riding at a 45 degree angle vs low , in the drops of the handlebars.
Add in some wind and some hills and you can throw out your times and MPH
David Wallace Jones says
I’m 103 and have been peddlin’ faster than the Nazis and the Commies, hell I’ve even smashed through systemic racism in the 60’s. I average 18-20 mph on my rides in the mountains by my property. If there’s one thing I can say about cycling, fear of dying is one hell of a motivator. F*** the grim reaper.
LMAO nicely done
Lars Hagen says
I am a 16 year old and I have just started to ride my bike regularly to work (3 miles away) my current speeds are ~14mph I am hoping to increase my speeds to 20mph by october.
Jumping from 14mph to 20mph in a few months is probably not realistic, especially if you are only riding around 6 miles a day. Then again, everyone is different. Just don’t be bummed if you didn’t accomplish that goal.
Personally, looking back on Strava, I improved at a rate of about 1.5mph a year.
I m 37 years old female. I m doing from last 4-5 years regularly and my average speed is 18-19 km/hr… I do cycling 170 km in a week. I do alone… And enjoy to do riding, exploring new areas of my city. I have lost too much fat.
Sanjeev Bajaj says
I am 62 ( suffering from Osteo Arthritis in left knee) and started bike riding a month ago.
My average speed is 19 kmph and I cover about 105 km every week.
I believe I will achieve an average speed of 25 kmph within next six months
I just got a new hybrid bike, I know how to ride but I guess you can say I’m a beginner again. My average speed 11 mph, I would like to get up to 15, perhaps I need a road bike? My gears aren’t correct ? If anyone could give me feedback it help tremendously.
I’m 77 years old I ride a 26 inch trek mnt bike. I have swabble. 80 pdf pressure tires the best I can do is 15 miles in one hour riding around the mall parking lot all flat I’m 5. 11 and weigh 245 I think I should lose some weight what do you think
That’s great! I hope you’re reaching new goals!
Mark Sullivan says
If you are new to cycling, I think a hybrid is a great bike on which to start. Work on building up your conditioning first, and don’t worry about speed so much. As you get stronger and more comfortable in the saddle, lengthen your rides for endurance. Hybrids with straight handlebars, make you sit upright, which means more wind resistance. So even a strong rider will probably top out at 15 to 17 on a hybrid. Once you can do a 25 to 30 mile ride easily at a good pace, then consider upgrading to a road bike with drop handlebars, which will put you in a more aero position. See how dedicated you are going to be towards putting in the miles before you immediately jump to a fast road bike. It’s more about the motor ( you) than the bike. Take your time, do it right.
Roger Fentem says
After a 30 year break from riding, I got a hybrid in time for my 70th. I rode that for nearly a year and averaged about 10 mph. I replaced the hybrid with a road bike (endurance) in time for my 71st birthday. I celebrated the 100th ride on that doing 40 km in under 2 hours climbing 1500 feet in the process. But my average speed over the 100 fides is between 11 and 12 mph. Hope this helps.
Dede Zig says
Taking time off to raise kids and work, finally back in the saddle. My bike is almost as old as me – at 60 yo I still ride and avg of 17 to 24 mph depending if the teens have gotten to me or not! I get to ride an avg of 25 to 50 miles per ride, 3 to 5 times a week Trying to loose that baby weight -LOL – I hope to get faster. Always have been competitive. When I was young they didn’t have women’s racing and everyone thought I was nuts.,
I’m 42 and have been riding about 6 months and lost about 30lbs. I’m 6’2 230 when I started it was a struggle to stay at 13mph and now up at about 18mph on a 20 mile ride.
We have mountain bikes, road bikes and hybrid bikes. We average about 11, 13, 15 mph on the same roads. The gears make a huge difference, as well as the weight and drag. When we want distance, we ride the road bikes. Workout, hybrids. Fun on trails, mountain bikes, though we’ can interchange between the road and mountain bikes for the most part. Here’s the kicker. We did a 30 mile ride on the road bikes, averaging 15.4 mph and the same course on the hybrids the next week and averaged 12.1. The calories burned (estimate on Strava) was just over 1000 on the hybrids and just under 600 on the road bikes. That holds true in almost everything we do. We had a gravel ride that we hit 2700 calories on, about 54 miles. Our 100 mile road bike ride was 1900. Ultimately, I had the speed bug for 2 years and decided it’s not going to improve as long as I’m riding with my wife as she’s doing it for fitness and pleasure. We’ve improved from 13 when we first bought the road bikes to 15 or so usually. That’s in about a year. We had a fun ride one day where she was just feeling froggy and we hit 19 mph over the last 20 miles of a 40 mile ride. That was fun but she likes to chit chat while we ride so I’ve just gone into enjoyment mode and I sneak off by myself if I really want to push myself. 🙂
glad to see so many people are cycling just for fun and are not really too much bothered about their speed! However, whatever your average „cruising speed“ is, it is always nice to be able to „race yourself“ once in a while, and do a certain track just a little faster than usual – at least this is true for me if I am honest. So I am not competing too much with others of the same age (because I probably can‘t anyway) but rather with myself. That being said, I have found that varying the distance seems to do a lot for me. I do about 15 miles on my road bike almost every day (5 days a week), which really is a rather short distance for a road bike by any standards. I do this mainly because I want excercise on regular basis, but need it to fit my schedule, especially during the week. But on weekends or holidays, I like to do longer distances of about 45 miles or more. I have found that I regularly could improve my average speed on shorter distances after longer rides. Maybe it is something in the head – if I I am still somewhat under the impression of a much longer distance, a shorter ride all of a sudden doesn‘t seem like all that much, and I am much more motivated to put the little „extra“ in, as I know I won‘t have to keep it up for too long. Maybe this helps some of you who are interested to put a few mph on top, if you are interested. If not, just be a happy rider and keep on going anyway! Have fun!
I’m 70 but only average about 10mph , but a lot of my riding is along bumpy canal towpaths and around reservoirs, usually do 15 to 20 miles everyday but have done quite a few 30+ journeys , really enjoy it , only started during lockdown, never feel tired at all. John from Manchester
What a old fart community? Why every other comment here written by 60+ “beginner” rider??
Road Bike Rider says
Because we all screwed your mom and that’s what she likes best.
You forgot your viagra, 👴
Patrick Wentzel says
I am 69 years old. I started riding about 12 years ago when I was still working. It was more for fun. I would average around 10 miles over several sessions per week. The bike was to replace jogging. In December 2018 I suffered a heart attack while riding my bike. I crashed and burned on the road. The story is long, but by “chance” and there is no chance, a man was raking leaves in his yard and saw me go down. Two stints and I made a full recovery. Currently, I am riding 80 – 100 miles a week in 3 or 4 sessions. I start out with a 25-mile goal. I ride mostly in town so my miles per hour. is around 10.depending on the route. I can’t express to a non-rider the joy I receive on each ride. I take each ride as an adventure.
I’m 28, just got into road cycling a month ago (and I consider myself a beginner). I started at an average speed of 13.1kmh (8mph) over 3km (5m) distance… and I’m now averaging 26.3kmh (16mph) over 27km (16m). I try to ride everyday. I’m hoping to do 50km (30m) rides at an average of 30kmh (18mph) by years end.
Cathal Kenneally says
Since the beginning of the pandemic I was furloughed and rather than sit at home wallowing in self pity I decided to take up cycling again. I have loved every minute of it. I started off slowly averaging 10-11 mph doing short 20 miles plus rides in the winter months. I suffer from COPD but I don’t use it as an excuse. I’m overweight but I don’t use this as an excuse either. I have since added a smart trainer to my training regimen which is so beneficial. It has improved my cadence, speed and endurance on the road. I look forward to the long Sunday rides which are usually about 40-47 miles long depends on time constraints. Nine times out of ten my Sunday rides are priority before anything else or else it’s a wasted Sunday. My average speed on these rides is 12.5 -13 mph depending on the surface. I just usually start off on a canal towpath and then onto busy roads but it’s a challenge.
I have started doing weights as well in the gym as I want to shift some of the weight to help me climb better. Cycling is as every knows, a low impact exercise so I need to mix it up. So anyone reading this and feels disillusioned, remember how I felt. Cycling saved me. There’s been a lot of talk in the media about mental health etc, well cycling is therapeutic. I always feel ten times better and a good long ride.
I have a question regarding what “average” we’re talking about.
The very beginning of the article reference averages on the road, on the flats, then also says numbers are influenced by traffic, traffic lights etc.
There’s two “averages”, one is your average speed on flat smooth pavement, which could be 10-14 or 15-18 or more.
The other is the average for the entire trip, which includes all the start stops, climbs, coasting, turns, avoiding hazards, For me this is usually like 12-13mph.
The article isn’t clear on which average it’s talking about, but I believe it must the former as 15-18 is an average on the flats, not an average for an entire trip with climbs etc.