7 Ways To Improve Your Average Speed On A Road Bike
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7 Ways To Improve Your Average Speed On A Road Bike

(upbeat funk music) – Average speed can be really
important to a cyclist. It’s quite a good measure of our ability, and because of that, it’s also
therefore a really good way of measuring your improvement
as you get fitter, and therefore you get faster. – There are also plenty of benefits to improve in your
average speed, not least, that you can become a bit more adventurous ’cause you can travel further
in the same amount of time. So if you have reached a bit of a plateau in terms of the speed
that you can average, we’ve got some tips coming up for you now. – Yup, some of which focus on improving your ability on the bike, and therefore how you get faster. And then some of them, well, they might also be called cheats because you don’t have to get any fitter, but you will still go faster. – Happy days. (upbeat funk music) First up, we have body position. Now if you want to
improve your aerodynamics, you could buy a swanky new frameset or some deep dish wheels, but by far the biggest difference is your position on the bike. So the difference between being upright on the tops, like this, and down on the drops,
elbows bent, quite flat back, is absolutely huge. And actually, as well,
the faster you are going, the more important it is to be aero and the more benefit you’ll get. (upbeat funk music) – Next up we have another
one that doesn’t necessarily require you to be any fitter, your pacing. If we imagine our theoretical
ride is an hour long, we have a finite ability over that hour, but how we actually distribute our effort can have a huge bearing on
our ultimate average speed. So if you set off too fast, you will inevitably be
going slower by the end. And that kind of pacing
strategy will be slower then if you measure an even
tempo for the whole ride. But it’s particularly important
when you’re doing things like climbs, and actually, one
of the most striking things that I noticed when I did
my first ever pro road race was comparatively how slowly
the Peloton rode up the climbs but how quickly we rode on
the flats and the descents. And you can take that strategy
for your own rides as well. So actually think about
actively backing off when you’re going up hills, and instead, putting the effort in
when you’re on the flat and maybe even, when it’s safe to do so, on descents as well. (upbeat funk music) – This next one will, I’m afraid, require a little bit
of effort on your part. If you get fitter and more powerful, you’ll go faster on your
bicycle, that is a fact. However, to get fitter, you
will have to go training. However, we will recommend to you that you do quite a lot
of training at sweet spot. That’s at 90% of your
functional threshold power, or a little bit under the maximum power you would put out for an hour. Now the reason this is so effective and we say is the best bang for your buck is because while this is very potent, it’s not so intense that you can’t do back to back days training at sweet spots. So you can get a large volume of it done each and every week. If you do that, you should see some very positive training adaptations. You have more power, and
therefore, more speed. (mellow jazz music) – Eating whilst riding
is a paramount importance when you’re on your bike
for more than 90 minutes. And yet, despite that,
experienced riders and beginners forget about this for quite consistently. You see, when you’re riding,
you’re obviously using fuel and the harder you ride,
the more fuel you will burn. And so, if you’re really serious about improving your average speed, you need to make sure that your muscles have enough energy to actually keep going. And so at the simplest, that would be taking an energy drink
with you to give you about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour, or an energy gel as well. It really, really can make
quite a sizable difference, particularly about maintaining your speed as you get into the closing
dying minutes of your ride. (mellow jazz music) – The less weight you are
carrying around with you, the faster you will go on any ride that involves some uphill gradient. Just a few kilograms can
make an enormous difference, as Matt and I found out
on the experiment we did in Andorra a couple of years ago. Or willing to that, at
the end of this video. Most people have got some
weight that they can lose, so you can over-exercise a bit more or cut down your calories slightly, or do a mix of the two. The other option is to lose
some weight from your bike. But that as you know, (musical notes descending) is darned expensive. (mellow funk music) – Yes weight is important but
as Dan’s already touched on, so too is aerodynamics. And actually on rides where
there’s less elevation change, aerodynamics is even more
important than weight. Now once you’ve got your
body position sorted, and let’s face it, that is quite quick, easy, and certainly cheap to do, there are other avenues you can go down even though it will require
a little bit more investment. So your clothing, for a start. Make sure you have really
tight fitting cycling kit. Then, of course, there’s your helmet. You can invest in aerodynamic helmet. And then when it comes to your bike, there’s almost no limit. So aerodynamic wheels, for a start, aerodynamic frames, certainly, and then of course is the addition of aerodynamic time trial bars as well. That, of course, helps with
your body position too. (mellow funk music) – I don’t think so that it’s
escaped our viewer’s attention that we start this video by the sea, and therefore at sea level, and we’re now, well, we’re quite high up, aren’t we? Probably 800 meters here. – Yeah, it’s quite a long
climb, this, isn’t it? And so this ride is definitely not conducive to a high average speed. But therein lies a little bit of a lesson because if you are really, really keen on setting record average speeds, then you need to pay careful attention to the route that you do choose. – Yeah, not just the terrain but also the weather conditions. So if it’s particularly windy out, you might want to choose to go out into the headwind or more sheltered road and then use the nice
luxury of big open roads where the wind is right behind you. – Yeah, and one last little cheat, which actually I use regularly, is that my average speeds now are pretty much the same
as when I was training when I was a full-time bike rider. But the secret is that my
rides are probably a quarter, or maybe even half, as
long as they used to be. But shorter rides, it’s
definitely easier to go faster. – Yeah, so less climbing, shorter rides. That’s what I call a
cheats there, isn’t there. I could probably do quite
a good average speed, one kilometer.
– Yeah, but therein lies also another lesson and that’s that average speeds are not necessarily the be all and end all to fun bike rides. Just something to bear in mind. – In all seriousness,
we hope that these tips have helped you improve, or at least, will do if you implement them. If you enjoyed this video,
give us a thumbs up down below. And as I mentioned previously, just down here is the video that Matt and I did in Andorra to see how much difference
weight makes up climbs.


  • Jack Samurai

    So you're saying if i didn't carry a six pack of beer and 2 pizzas in my knapsack whilst I am riding I could go faster?

  • Hello Hello

    Pacing isn't how you go faster. Pacing yourself only makes you last longer. Like if you're riding really long distances, you want to learn to pace yourself. You'll last longer & it'll be easier but it won't make you faster.

  • Hello Hello

    You rock your bike side to side way too much. If you ride on rocks, sand or pebbles, you'll slip & fall easier. If you really wanna rock your bike that much, ride a bmx bike. They're better & safer for that.

  • Gerard van Reekum

    8. Only switch on your bike computer after the warm-up and switch it off again before the cool down… and you'll notice an immediate improvement of your avg speed.

  • Jon Foster

    My favourite way is to ride in a group. This makes it much easier to go faster, especially if you sit at the back which I usually do. For some reason this is unpopular with my friends but it does keep me fresh for a sprint finish and they should know their place by now.

  • Kerry Blueher

    Those are some butt ugly cheap looking black bikes! Cheap to mfg., sold by marketing. Can't believe grown men would ride such. But, I'm the dinosaur here and the odd man out. If I should chose to modernize my 20 & 30 year old bikes (& my 1 year old) I'll buy a rattle can of flat black primer and I'll be up to date.

  • Alán Alán Apurim

    . . . I lost respect for your advice, when you discussed expensive aerodynamic features of a bicycle, but are riding bikes that absolutely waste drag at a wind-tunnel-proved 50+ grams at 40kph because you have mounted on the frame old-fashioned water bottles in cages! Even before Camelback and its imitators came out with water-carrying bladders worn flat on the back, with a tube to the mouth, I invented the same thing in the 1970s using an oval styrene bottle in my back jersey pocket with a medical plastic tube through its cap, under the shirt to the neck and mouth. It's one reason that I did ITT 40 km for one hour. All I lacked that the modern ones have is a bite-valve; I had to use a medical pinch-screw on the drinking tube. But water bottles on the frame are worse turbulence-drag than standard spokes in non-aero wheels! And you didn't emphasize hard tire (Brit. tyre) pressures, either.

  • Richard Race

    I hate to disagree with you guys. But, its not good for normal people to bring food on a short bike trip. You guys NEED it because you already weigh about 130 lb. No offense. The average couch-sitting youtube watcher is much higher in body fat content. I also think its better to teach your body to run off body fat… You will get in the habit of not overcoming the initial fatigue if you bring food with you.

  • Mark willmot

    Understand about weight, you talk about 5 kg difference. I weigh 90 kg , my mate who I cycle with, 70 !!! How can I compete ??

  • G U

    They type of road makes a huge difference. A well surfaced, straighter Major road is faster than a bendier bumpy and Pot hole ridden single track minor road.

  • Peter

    Long legged people will always go faster long leg equals long stroke far more torque.Providing they are fit not too heavy and they train regularly long legged people will always go faster

  • smitajky

    Pacing correctly has always given me the biggest improvement in point to point times. As an example dropping 1km/hr along the level, and not powering downhills gives me more reserve sprint power to maintain speed uphill on the various undulations. That can save me 10 minutes or so on a 2 hour ride.

  • Tonevdp

    These are usefull tips! You can tell that you both are experienced cyclists. But what i rather find remarkable is that you guys have both very skinny white legs. Im just an amateur cyclist and my legs are much more muscular and colored by the sun. Most of my trainings are between an hour and 3 hours. Not very long distances id say. Is it perhaps that you build more muscles with shorter high intensive trainings then longer tours like you guys do? I dont know.

  • Flappy Paddle

    My 2 hour rides are always low average speed, but always with 1500 to 2000ft of climbing hehe. Cotswolds are great for Hill's 🐵

  • Road Racer

    I'll give you my seven ways to improve your average speed on a road bike.
    1. Grow more slow twitch muscle fiber.
    2. Increase your cardiac output (i.e. grow a bigger heart)
    3. Increase your lung volume (i.e. grow bigger lungs).
    4. Take lots of PED's (EPO, steroids, etc.)
    5. Choose your parents right. Genetics is a BIG factor in cycling performance. You either have it or you don't.
    6. If you are genetically gifted and have also done 1 through 5 above you still have to train your butt off. Sorry.
    7. Lose weight and shoot for a 30 minute 7W/kg power to weight ratio.

  • David Schwartz

    Lance was Lance.
    No one else was clean… no matter what they claim they were all dirty.
    So best of the all dirty group is still the best. So the hardest climb is still the hardest climb.
    p.s. name the 5 greatest riders of all time , ok each one was dirty but not dirtier the everyone of his day.

  • David Craig

    I am a fit 72 yr old and go out mostly at night for 25/35 km rides, usually after a day's work, but am struggling to get my average speed much above 25kph. Any tips or am I simply limited by age ?

  • Pedro Resende

    This video is a little bit stupid! Improve your speed by going down instead of going up??? Or improve your speed by shorter rides instead of longer rides? What advices are these?? The rest are pretty obvious, lose weight or being more aero. Come on guys, you can do better than this and should delete this video.

  • eigo bike

    Another thought concerning average speed , whether in a race or not. If you can climb fast , you should try. Albeit, without bonking. Why ? Because of the aero dynamics and input/output values already explained. PLUS , usually, there is a descent AFTER a climb. So, if you go for a strong climb, you get an increase of speed ( as a metric ) AND a lead on the pack. Then , in the descent, you use your bike handling skills and minimal pedaling in choice segments to maintain a maximum manageable downhill speed ( keeping that gap ) WHILE you RECOVER on the downhill so that when you hit the next flat or climb you are ready to repeat the routine. That is how puncheurs win lumpy race days. Most of us are puncheurs – we are not 65 kg Colombians or big thighed Teutons.

  • geeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzz

    I'd love to see some tandem bike racing. Probably is such a thing? I imagine they could go at quite some speed, racing versions anyhow. Maybe cornering a bit riskier but just imagine the downhills and sprint finishes. Wowzers.

  • Carl Andre

    Getting fat adapted and staying away from jels and sport drinks. May take a few weeks to get there but it pays off. A GOOD eloctrolite drink like nuuns is not filled with sugar.
    If you want to get faster do some very high intensity working out.

  • Mr .Creosote

    I cut off my dick and saved 000.2 mph. Unfortunately, my mate from the cycling club didn't cut off his dick and he ran off with my wife. I really miss him.

  • Fadil Aziz

    Plan a predefined route prior to long ride and reduce the time to stop & check the maps. This also reduces the elapsed time that also important in long ride. Komoot is my favorite app by now. Thanks GCN.

  • alittlesnag

    This may be a dumb question but I’m trying to get into cycling and don’t know any better, how do you guys keep a pump on your person while also having the spot under your seat taken by the water bottle and holder?
    Is there another spot on the bike that can be used to hold it? Or maybe you carry it on your body but that seems uncomfortable to me

  • Manila Martin

    can you make a video on tips to ride in the heat? I live in the Philippines and riding around in 40 degree heat is tough. Even in the early mornings it can be over 35.

  • Onii-san

    I’ve been watching you for a while but so far I haven’t stumbled on a video about how to learn to ride as an adult. Have you done it or would you make it. That king of video can be pretty fun to make.

  • Im here because im bored

    I did 45 mph down a steep hill full of potholes and drains, I was hanging on to that thing tighter that a 25 year old on a 80 year old millionaires arm.

  • Hugo Brown

    Don't use computer on warm up or warm down. Or slowing down for pot holes, bad roads, stop lights and people. Average speed is a bit daft unless you have a clear good long road ahead.

  • Liofa

    The roads are the problem where I live… Crappy stone and tar roads, lots of areas where it's ripped out by cars…

  • roi joi

    Wind is NEVER symmetrical in its effect. It hurts you for longer than it helps you. Anyone with even a smidgen of pilot training will verify this. The same is true for gravity when riding up & down hills – up to 10X as much hindrance as help.
    A clever boy can sometimes arrange a course so that the wind is behind on a climb, and in the face on the descent. This pits the time disadvantages of wind and gravity against each other to great effect – about 2mph on some of my courses.

  • banna bua

    I cycle from 8am till 11pm six days a week for my job and I usually never eat while cycling I take a break from 4pm till 6pm and I eat one meal plus a protein shake then I work from 6pm till 11pm without eating and when I finish work I usually eat 2 meals and go to sleep and most of the time Im pushing my road bike hard I work in a small town but there still long roads to go very fast and have fun on the highest I go is 24mph for some reason I cant seem to get any higher

  • Stephen Dixon

    I am pretty new to cycling and love your videos i am currently 18 stone and cycle around 40km 2/3 days a week and do roughly a 80km on a sunday any advice or tips to keep me going ? thanks guys .

  • Cuckoo's Nest

    New to riding at higher speeds so trying to figure out how to allow pedaling at over 18mph, by legs just won't push the pedals any faster. What front sprocket will allow me to go faster?

  • Melissa Cunningham

    advocate for safer roads like this guy does with every purchase and show the strength of the cycling economy so that we will all be safer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRc_00-sbyw

  • Jake

    Hey GCN, newbie cyclist here. How about adding one or two teaspoons of instant glucose in water bottles? Is it bad? Like conditioning the body to rely more on instant energy sources than the stored energy? I find it way easier to keep the average with a bit of glucose in my water.

  • Jeremy Jefferson

    The thing that hurts my average speed the most is riding in the city. The constant slowing down, and even stopping (although my bike computer doesn't factor in the time/speed when I'm not moving) really kills my average. If I go on a country ride I can average 17-18 MPH but if it is all in the city it will be more like 14.5 and if it's a mix it will be around 15-16.

    I've only been riding for a little over 6 months though. I really do hope to improve my average in the country to around 19-20MPH this year.

  • Erik Lund

    The very best thing I've found to improve my average speed is to plan my ride. Drive my bike to the top of a large, long descending ride and ride DOWNHILL! And as Rob said, change to KM from MPH. HUGE improvements but I must also mention that one should only converse with other riders about your averages rather than actually ride with them. And there are several ways to minimize the likelihood of riding with those riders. Injury is a big one because if you're going to claim such huge averages one will be prone to injury so that gets you off the hook, I mean, is one way of defending your numbers without having to ride with the other riders. Sickness in the family and all the way down to a family pet's health issues. These are all good ways to defend your unrealistic averages while still giving you the ability to "one up" your friends. Of course you may want to plan to make new friends now and then as you'll probably be needing new ones from time to time.

  • Christopher Jenkins

    Aerodynamics is right. I wore a skinsuit in normal roadbike and was surprised by how much of a difference it made.

  • Subaru

    I have mountain bike and i really want a road bike but i dont have enough money should i trade my mtb for a road bike or just save more money?

  • james kindler

    Great bike for the price, and a great choice for a beater to just commute to school with▪▪▪>share4.photo/RoadBike?Ҟ    I needed something to ride to my university that was light and fast, so I decided to go wth this. It's light enough that I don't mind carrying it up the stairs with me into my apartment. This thing goes pretty fast and it's fun to ride too. I highly recommend this company over the other bikes at this price point that I've looked at which use crappiwr materials.

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