The Most Reasonable Cycling Speed for Long Distances

Posted by tan xiao yan on

Many of cyclists may get confused that what is the most reasonable speed for long distances on a bike? As we all know, too fast or too slow is not practical for bike riders. As for the most reasonable speed, it depends, actually.

It depends on the type of rider you are. Cyclists may be divided into 3 classes.


This kind of cyclists is in a high level of fitness. They are strong enough. They are capable of accelerating quickly. Class-A is the fast-speed pursuer. They can also maintain a high rate of speed over a long distance. Even they don't need to stop to rest. These long-distance riders are, in fact, competing. You know, competing speed is generally fast. The average speed of the whole ride falls between 19 and 22 mph. It will exceed 25 mph at times. Occasionally, some riders will sprint in order to reach the destination first. The sprint speed will exceed 30 mph sometimes. The reasonable speed is varying about terrain. Here they are.

Distance 25 + miles

Speed / Average

21+ mph average on flat terrain

16 to 18 mph average on rolling/hilly terrain

15 to 16 mph average on very hilly terrain

Rest Stops Every 15 – 20 miles


The riders in class-B are different from class-A. They focus on training. They emphasize the integrity of the group. Actually, it is easy for them to ride with class-A riders during warm up phase. But it may difficult for class-B riders to accelerate fast enough or maintain the pace of the faster riders. The average speed of the entire journey falls between 17 and 19 mph. In contrast to class-A riders, they need rest stops. To catch up with the pace of the group, every class-B rider needs to move at 20 mph. If you cannot maintain the speed, you should let your group number know. You are going to drop off. Here is some reasonable speed.

Distance 15 to 25 miles

Speed / Average

15 to 21 mph average on flat terrain

13 to 16 mph average on rolling/hilly terrain

12 to 14 mph average on very hilly terrain

Rest Stops Every 10 – 15 miles


To some extent, class-C riders are not so experienced. They aim at cultivating cycling skills. They need rest stops and other periodic breaks. In general, the average speed falls between 15 and 17 mph. Some speeds suggested are as follows.

Distance 10 to 15 miles

Speed / Average

12 to 15 mph average on flat terrain

10 to 13 mph average on rolling/hilly terrain

9 to 11 mph average on very hilly terrain

Rest Stops Every 5 – 10 miles

Find your class and then you will know your reasonable and average speed.

It also depends on:

Fitness( main factor )

Weather( particularly wind )

Road surface quality

Interruptions like traffic lights, dog-walkers on bike-lanes

Accumulated fatigue over multiple days

Here is a plot of a professional rider's distances us average speed:

(the axis's are in km/h and km)

The >50km rides averaging 25-30km/h are mostly group rides. Ignoring those, beyond about 80km begin to converge to an average of 20km/h (although at 80km I've ranged from about 15-25km/h, this includes when I just started riding..) — from the professional rider.

These numbers are all specific to him, and even still they vary (particularly over time):

These averages are spread over a few different bikes (start to April was on a hybrid bike, April to mid May was on one road bike, and the rest was on a different road bike) - but, the spikes are almost all related to either terrain (there's a large dip in July related to a Strava hill-climbing challenge), fatigue (the dip in August was another Strava challenge, to cycle long distances over consecutive days), or other factors mentioned above— from the professional rider.

There are more specific advice for you. For example, if you live in Manhattan, you can access cruising speed by timing yourself on a four-lap ride of the complete oval in Central Park( 24.4 miles ).

4-Lap Time (24.4 miles) = MPH

1:10 or less = 22

1:10 - 1:13 = 21

1:13 - 1:16 = 20

1:16 - 1:20 = 19

1:20 - 1:25 = 18

1:25 - 1:30 = 17

1:30 - 1:38 = 16

1:38 - 1:48 = 15

1:48 - 2:00 = 14

2:00 - 2:14 = 13

2:14 - 2:30 = 12

2:30 - 2:50 = 11

When you time yourself on a 25 mile ride, then you will know your cycling class and reasonable, average speed based upon your cycling class. Find your time and note the cruising speed.

Of course, you don't have to seriously follow the speed mentioned above. It depends on how long you've been riding and how much you train. For instance, a year ago, 17 mph was really fast for me. But now, I can ride faster than that on a 60 miler. Actually, 16 mph, for me, is a good speed for 20 miles. In effect, it is more important to ride at a comfortable and sustainable speed.

In conclusion, it is no noticeable fixed reasonable speed. If you don't know what is your perfect speed, ride at the speed mentioned above. And if it is comfortable to you, going to ride on. Anyways, this is for your reference only. Wish you have a good long-distance journey.