A bike can go only as fast as the rider can pedal. Most people wonder about how fast a bike can go because they probably want to get the fastest bike available to them. But if all bikes go the same speed, namely as fast as the rider, then none of it matters. So that leads us to our key question today: do all bikes go at the same speed?
Different bikes can reach different speeds ridden by the same cyclist. The geometry and the weight of the bike, the tread pattern and tire thickness, the available highest gear, and the terrain all determine how fast a bicycle can travel.
Below, we’ll look at all this in greater depth and provide you with a list of the fastest and slowest bikes out there. But remember, the biggest influence on speed will always be the rider themselves.
Experience and Fitness Matters
A bike will only ever be as fast as the rider that’s using it. That’s because in cycling, experience matters. You learn how to get the most out of the bike based on your position on the road, when you choose to exert energy and save some, and how you sit on the bike, to begin with.
None of this is something you’re born with, you have to learn it as you go.
Fitness level matters, too. That means increased stamina and more power, making you an even better rider. The fitter you are, the faster you’ll be – no matter what bike you’re on.
There are, however, some bikes that are just designed to be faster than others, and we’ll cover all that in the sections below.
A world champion on a Brompton can leave behind a seasoned rider on a road bike on an uphill climb, even though the road bike is designed for race and a Brompton is designed for city commuting. This video proves not only that experience and fitness level matter a great deal, but that Bromptons are great!
Some bikes are fast. These types of bikes put the speed at the top of their priority list, and things like comfort, strength, and size come lower down the list. The fastest bikes available are (usually):
- Road Bikes
- Fitness Bikes
Road bikes are quicker than your average ‘Sunday ride around the park’ bikes. Road fitness bikes ( the latter often called flat bar road bikes) are built for reaching high speeds. Some of the main reasons why they can reach higher speeds:
- Aggressive geometry forces the rider in forward leaning aero position
- Drop bars (not only the geometry) keep the torso of the rider in an aero position
- Thin tires reduce the make produce less friction and thus higher speeds can be reached
- Higher gears available to reach higher speeds
If you would like to find out more about why road bikes are faster than hybrids, and really all other types of bikes, read this article.
Medium Performing Bikes
But for some cyclists, speed isn’t as important. Sure, people might like to go fast on their bikes every now and then, but it isn’t a necessity in the same way as it is for road and fitness bike users. The bikes that fall somewhere between slow and fast are:
- Gravel Bikes
That’s because these bikes are for your middle-ground cyclists.
They want to be able to get places fast when necessary, but the robustness, comfort, and size of the bike are also important. Both of these types of bikes are known for their flexibility.
They have thicker tires, more relaxed geometry resulting in a more upright sitting position. All that results in less agile bikes.
They can go fast when they need to, grip well when they need to, and can pretty much handle anything you throw at them competently when they need to…
No, they aren’t the best at anything they do really, but sometimes an all-rounder bike is exactly what you’re looking for, and these medium-speed bikes are typically the bikes you’ll need to keep an eye out for when you feel like riding the middle ground.
There are also bikes that simply don’t need to prioritize speed above other things such as comfort, size, or strength/robustness. These bikes typically serve a specific purpose that isn’t concerned with how fast you can go. Look out for:
- Mountain Bikes
- City Bikes
- Cruiser Bikes
- Folding Bikes
You can probably already tell what we’re about to say here, but each one of these bikes has to prioritize something else over speed because of why we use them.
Mountain bikes, for example, need to focus on strength and maneuvering because of everything they go through in a typical lifespan.
Folding bikes need to focus on size above everything else because getting to work quickly is fine, but being able to reasonably commute with your bike is far more important.
We see the pattern emerge again with city and cruiser bikes. These bikes are designed for taking things slow around built-up environments, so the speed is the last thing designers of these bikes will need to think about, and comfort would be higher up the list.
Each bike given as an example in today’s post is different from one another because they’re designed for different reasons.
If all bikes were capable of the same speed, there wouldn’t be any need for competition between different manufacturers and different types of bikes – there would simply be one model of bike available to everyone that did everything.
And if you ask us, that’d be pretty boring. If you prioritize speed above everything else, though, then opt for a road or fitness bike.
But remember, no matter what bike you get, you, the rider, are the biggest influence on how fast the bike will go, so don’t expect to fly out of the gates right away – gain more experience and improve your fitness levels, and eventually, you’ll be rapid on your road or fitness bike!