As more of us take up cycling as a way to get around during the pandemic, many cyclists, especially beginners are asking “how long does it take to bike a mile?”
Whether you’re a recreational cyclist or are using a bicycle as your main means of commuting, it’s important to have an idea of how long it takes to cover distances.
As for how long does it take to bike 1 mile, there is no fixed answer. There are many factors that affect biking time, and we’ll look at them in this article.
That said, there are average speeds that the average rider can expect:
- If you cycle daily, a mile should take you about 6 minutes to cover.
- On a flat road takes a shorter time for someone who cycles daily, about 3 or 4 minutes.
- If you are racing downhill it’s even shorter – about 1 minute.
That’s for the average man or woman. How about for a professional rider?
It takes a professional cyclist about 2.25 minutes to bike a mile. On flat terrain it takes about 2.08 minutes. Cycling downhill usually takes a pro cyclist between 30 and 35 seconds.
What is the average bike speed per hour?
This depends on a number of factors – your own health and fitness, your experience, the type of terrain you’re cycling on and of course the type of bike you’re using. If you’re relatively healthy and fit and are using a good bike, you can expect to average 8 miles per hour.
A beginner usually averages about 10 miles per hour, and if they make cycling a daily activity they can easily make that 14 miles per hour in about 6 months.
If you become a really good recreational cyclist (you go out on your bike at least once a day and challenge yourself on different terrains) you can expect an average of between 15 and 18 miles per hour.
As you can see, there’s no fixed answer to this question. It makes more sense to look at the factors that affect cycling speed before you can answer the question of how long it takes to bike a mile.
Check out 10 Tips on How to Cycle Faster
What Factors Affect Cycling Speed?
There are several factors that affect how fast you’re able to get around on your bike:
- Your own health and fitness
- The terrain you’re cycling on
- What type of bike you’re using
- The steepness or incline of the road or path you’re riding on
- Weather conditions
Let’s get a better understanding of how these factors affect your speeds when you’re out cycling.
1. Health and Fitness
30 or 40 years ago health and fitness weren’t an issue for many. Life was such that they had to get out of their homes and offices and get about. Most people walked and in the process they would get some exercise.
Cycling even for short distances, especially for beginners, is a huge challenge if they live a sedentary lifestyle. Many people give up because of muscular aches and pains in the initial days.
If you’re unfit, it will take longer in the beginning and it will hurt, but you shouldn’t give up. Keep doing it every day for a few days so that your muscles can adjust.
If you can make it to a gym or get some other form of exercise it will help improve cycling speed.
My suggestion is to just go for it. Whatever your age and state of fitness, it only takes a few weeks for your body to be toned enough for you to cycle in comfort. Do it every day and before long you will feel great – no more pain after a ride.
I did a comprehensive post about cycling for beginners and you can get some tips from there.
If you’re convalescing, talk to your doctor about how much time you should spend on your bike each day.
The rougher the terrain you ride on, the longer it takes to cover a mile. For beginners who are trying to perfect their biking skills, it’s best to find a smooth road or path that doesn’t have ruts and dents.
After you learn how to handle your bike and are comfortable staying on and balancing, you can move to rough terrain. Rough paths and roads are great because they teach you how to handle your bike better.
Make sure that your bike is made for this kind of riding though. I did a comprehensive review of some great Schwinn bikes made for all kinds of terrain.
3. Type of Bike
There are many different types of bikes and they are designed for different uses. If you want to handle really rough terrain, for example, you should think about investing in a mountain bike. It will travel faster and smoother and you won’t tire too fast.
If you’ll be commuting on smooth roads you should be thinking about a road bike, and if you plan to move around on both rough and smooth terrain a hybrid bike is best.
Think about your biking needs carefully before you invest. The type of bike you buy can make the difference between whether you enjoy cycling and make it a part of your daily activities or give it up altogether.
4. Path Incline
Sometimes road gradient or steepness is put in the same category as terrain, but for purposes of how long it takes to bike a mile, I’d rather focus on it by itself because it has a big impact on riding speed.
The bottom line is the steeper the road or path you’re riding on, the slower you’ll be. It takes more energy to pedal uphill, you tire faster and you need to have a bike that’s made to tackle steep hills to have a comfortable ride.
If you’re just getting started it’s best to perfect your skills on flat roads and paths before you move to inclines. Once you learn how to handle your bike you can comfortably tackle steep rises.
Don’t go for the steepest hill you can find. You’ll get much better results if you tackle gradient in stages. Start with slight inclines and when you feel comfortable on those look for inclines that are higher and higher. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to cycle up steep hills with ease.
Remember, when it comes to inclines you also have to learn to handle to ride down. Downhill rides are challenging, and many a cyclist will tell you that they have had accidents coming down a hill. Take your time, increase the gradient gradually and make sure you wear a helmet at all times.
5. Weather Conditions
Wind is the most important weather factor to take into account. If you’re cycling straight into a strong wind it will slow you down. If there’s a nice tailwind, it will help you cycle faster. There’s not much you can do about it except learn how to tackle different types of wind conditions.
Rain and snow will also affect your cycling. Most people ditch their bikes for cars in wet weather, but if you get caught up, it’s a good idea to slow down because roads and paths become very slippery when it rains or snows.
The type of gear you invest in can have an impact on how long it takes you to cycle a mile. If you’re wearing spandex you’re lighter than if you go cycling in jeans and a jacket.
Some of the best helmets in the market are designed with aerodynamics in mind. They cost more, but they reduce wind resistance. You can learn more about different types of helmets here.
How much you carry on your bike also affects speed. If you only have a water bottle, a tool kit and a first-aid kit your bike is rather light. If you add a load of your weekly groceries the bike gets heavier and it takes longer to cover short distances.
How Can I Bike a Mile Faster?
There are no shortcuts; you have to practice, practice, practice. Whatever terrain you want to bike on, you have to put in the time.
Set goals for yourself. Do you want to be on the Tour de France, or do you want to cycle around your neighbourhood? Are you planning to use your bike to commute to and from work? If you are, you need to be relatively fast so that you reduce commute time.
If you are a recreational cyclist speed it may not matter that much, but you may want to think about all the fun activities you could participate in if you were able to ride faster.
The right kind of bike will also help you become a faster cyclist. With bicycles you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap bicycle it’s harder to manoeuvre, is uncomfortable and requires lots of stamina to cycle.
It makes sense to invest a reasonable sum into a good bike that’s designed for comfort and that can cover the terrains and gradients you have in mind.
Conclusion – How long does it take to bike a mile?
As you can see, the question of how long does it take to bike a mile isn’t a straight-forward one. The numbers I gave at the beginning of this post are just estimates.
It may take you longer or shorter depending on the factors we’ve discussed here.
The important thing is to go at a pace you’re comfortable with. If you cycle every day you’ll notice that you become faster and faster over time.
If your bike is the one that’s holding you back it may be time to invest in a new one so that you can improve your speed.