The average person goes around 12-14 miles per hour on a bike. The statistic varies due to a range of variables, the most important of which is your fitness level. But before we discuss the variables affecting how many miles an average person can bike in an hour, it is important to set some ground rules first so that outliers and unforeseen circumstances do not come into the picture.
First, when we say how many miles the average person is able to bike in an hour, we certainly do not mean biking in a busy street with congested traffic. We also do not take into account more than a few reasonable breaks in between — halting for a moment to drink some water is fine, but not prolonged rest periods or stopping to receive long phone calls.
On the flip side, we also do not mean a sprint. It is neither possible nor practical for the average person to bike as fast as they can for an hour. Doing so even for 5 minutes is extremely exhausting.
In short, the question is not how many miles can the average person bike in an hour if they go as fast as they can. And nor is it how many miles can the average cyclist cover in an hour in an obstacle course or in heavy traffic.
Instead, we are taking the middle ground and discussing how many miles the common cyclist covers — in general — in an hour, taking into consideration a minute or two of natural stops or minimal terrain difficulties, but disregarding heavy snow or storms or prolonged amounts of rest during the ride.
With that out of the way, let us consider the variables that impact the number of miles the average cyclist can cover per hour.
It is not uncommon for people to bike for multiple hours on end. Besides avid cyclists, many people also ride their bikes for 2-4 hours or more on journeys. They typically have consistent speeds of 15 miles per hour or higher. As for pro cyclists doing training, they can easily go over 25 mph.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, An out-of-shape person may not even be able to bike for an hour. But assuming that they can bike for an hour without taking multiple breaks in between, such people can cover around 10 miles in an hour.
Now coming to the beginner cyclist who has learned to cycle recently, or who normally doesn’t cycle, such a person — with average fitness levels — biking an hour can cover about 12-14 miles.
Before moving on to the other variables, let us bring some national health guidelines into the discussion. The American Council of Exercise (ACE) says that cycling at 12-13 miles per hour is a moderate level of exercise and that a speed of 16-19 mph is considered a racing speed. A minimum speed of 5.5 mph (consistent speed, not with long breaks in between) is labeled by ACE to be the most leisurely pace of cycling.
Considering these guidelines, it can be said that a person of average fitness levels can average out at around 12-14 miles per hour. But also remember that cycling is a great form of exercise that increases fitness levels. So, if you are struggling to maintain a 12-14 mph speed, simply practice some more and you’ll find yourself quite comfortably reaching such speeds. Even a 70-year-old can reach 15 mph with reasonable practice!
Although there are as many as around 20 types of bikes, we will only talk about the three most important ones here: the road bike, the mountain bike, and the hybrid bike.
Road bikes are designed to be speed-efficient whereas mountain bikes are built robust for safety purposes. That is not to say that the road bike isn’t safe, but that the purpose of the mountain bike is for riding off-road on unpaved terrain and hilly areas. Obviously, to be able to handle such rocky and obstacle-filled terrain, the mountain bike is made sturdier and heavier — leading to decreases in speed.
Specifically speaking, the mountain bike has thicker tires and is built stronger. The tires also have rubber padding which makes for a rougher texture than that on-road bike tires. In addition, if the frame is made of carbon instead of aluminum, you’ll see an increase in speed, but still less than that on a road bike.
Even the geometry of the bike types affects the speed, as the road bike is designed for the rider to sit in a more streamlined posture to take advantage of aerodynamics, whereas the mountain bike prompts the rider to sit more upright. This is, again, for safety purposes.
Yet another difficulty in using the mountain bike is that it requires extra effort on your part. The reason you average a lower speed on the mountain bike is that you need to pedal harder to move the heavier bike. Add to that the fact that mountain bikes also often have suspension technology, and you have to exert force not only to move the weight of the bike but also to power the suspension!
For all these reasons, the road bike is significantly faster than the mountain bike, but the speed isn’t so significant that you cannot be able to use a mountain bike for normal commuting. Yes, if you only have a mountain bike, that’s better than nothing even if you don’t plan to trek hills for the moment.
The difference in speeds is about 3 mph, which means that if you were able to average a speed of 13 mph on a road bike, then you would be able to cover 10 miles an hour on a mountain bike. Not too bad, but still significant.
What about the hybrid bike which tries to make the best of both worlds (of the road and the mountain bike)? Well, there has been an experiment conducted which unfortunately shows that the hybrid bike, while producing slightly more speeds than the mountain bike, is still significantly slower than the road bike.
The results of the experiment yielded some more interesting results. The average number of miles covered per hour on all three bike types was 18.6. Although the road bike averaged over speeds of over 3 mph in comparison to the other two bike types, it was found that the mountain bike and the hybrid bike provided much more comfortable riding experiences, due to them offering more stability.
Thus, the experiment acknowledges that the road bike is much faster, but stresses that the other types offer other advantages which may appeal to you more.
One of the ground rules that we set involved the terrain: if the terrain is too rocky or excessively riddled with obstacles, then the speed will naturally decrease. We said we would disregard such extreme terrain conditions. However, it is important to know that hilly areas may sometimes even make for an increase in speed!
Naturally, downhill roads are easier on the biker — as they don’t have to pedal. Therefore, if you ride on hilly terrain, then the downhill portion will tend to yield higher speeds than the flat routes.
On the other hand, going uphill will not only require the exertion of more energy but will also tend to produce lower speeds. But if the incline is relatively constant — say, 20 degrees — and also if the proportion of the incline is similar to that of the decline, then expect to average the same mph as a normal, paved route.
We say wind, not weather conditions in general because we are looking at the average amount of miles covered by the average cyclist in average conditions. That said, the wind does play a significant role, which you might underestimate if we didn’t list it here.
On a windy day, your bike speed will considerably vary from other days. If you go against the wind, then you might struggle to hit the 12-mile mark whereas you might comfortably go over 14 mph if the wind is in your favor. Also, it feels damn good to bike with the wind in your sails!
Additionally, we can’t talk about wind without talking about aerodynamics. If you modify your posture and make it more streamlined — which means you stoop down, like you see bike racers doing — then you will minimize the wind at your face. It is easier to do so on a road bike rather than a mountain bike due to the geometry, as discussed.
Is biking 10 miles in an hour good?
Considering the discussion till now, it appears that going 10 miles in an hour on your bike is not a good speed. However, we wouldn’t say it’s a bad speed either. Sure, it’s on the low side, but hitting double digits means that you are at least not slacking.
Also, if you are biking at 10 miles per hour now, you can very easily improve your speed by 5 mph or more if you keep at it. However, if you have a health condition, or if you’re quite aged, then we recommend you stay under 15 mph. 10 mph, then, is a good speed for beginners and old people.
On the other hand, even if you’re old and well past your prime, or even if you are sick, if you are comfortably able to cycle, then do so, for cycling is a very good exercise. Also bear in mind that a man in his 70s can also reach 15 mph. So, have confidence and keep on cycling!
How many miles can a person ride a bike in one day?
If you’re asking the maximum limit of a person riding a bike in one day, then just take a look at marathons or even charity events where non-professional cyclists ride their bikes for long periods of time. For example, there are four-to-six-hour bike riding events where the cyclists — non-professional ones — ride with an average speed of 15 mph.
By the way, it is important to note that by “one day,” we do not mean 24 hours. Sure, the world record for a 24-hour bike ride is there — which is 568.8 miles! But normally, people who ride for exercise or for journeys go for 2-4 hour rides. For such a person, the average amount of miles they cover is 60.
But this entirely depends on the amount of time someone rides. If someone is on a journey of 8 hours and bikes at a steady 15 mph, then 120 miles are covered in a single day! Is that possible? For a fit person, sure. For the average person, a 2-hour ride with a 12 mph speed would cover 24 miles and is quite fine as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
Is 20 miles in an hour on a bike good?
It is very good. But odds are, you won’t be able to cover 20 miles an hour unless you’ve had more than a little practice in. In fact, 20 mph is mostly only possible by semi-pro cyclists. If you practice for months and maintain a healthy lifestyle, then you might be able to go at 20 mph.
How far can the average person bike in 30 minutes?
On the surface, we just divide the mph by two to get that. For example, if a person can cover 12 miles per hour, then theoretically they would be able to cover half of that — 6 miles — in 30 minutes. However, the answer is actually slightly more complex.
You see, it’s easier to maintain a higher speed for 30 minutes than for an hour. But 30 minutes is still a long time. It’s certainly not a sprint that you can go at full speed for the entire duration. Therefore, how far the average person can bike in 30 minutes is slightly higher than half the distance they can cover in 60 minutes.
A Final Word
In summary, the beginner cyclist struggles to reach 15 mph whereas pros can comfortably go at over 25 miles per hour. The most salient variable is your fitness level, but your bike type, the terrain, and the wind may also play significant roles.
That said, whether or not you can go at 15 mph should not be a problem. 15 mph, not to mention 20 mph, is actually quite a high speed for beginner cyclists to reach. For the beginner and unfit person, a speed of 10 mph is fine. As long as you continue cycling, the benefits will steadily accrue and help you reach higher speeds.
Steven is a professional cyclist and his passion is cycling. He has been cycling for the last 6 years and he loves using bikes while outing as well. Based on his experiences with the different types of bikes; he is sharing his opinions about various bikes so that a beginner can start right away. Find him on Twitter @thecyclistguy Happy Biking.