One of the things that attract new riders to the sport of mountain biking is the speed involved. There is an adrenaline rush from racing through the trails in the countryside in control of that bike.
It can feel as though we go pretty fast but we don’t always appreciate our average speed or the potential for even faster speeds.
So, what is the average mountain bike speed?
The average mountain bike speed is around 30mph on a road and around 44mph in the right downhill conditions. The average maintained speed on long commutes is around 10-15 mph.
Let’s take a look at a few factors that determine the average speed as well as important elements that affect riding speed.
Mountain Bike Average Speed
The fastest recorded mountain bike speed may surprise you. In 2017, a French mountain biker called Eric Barone set the world record fastest time on a mountain bike. He rode down a snowy ski slope in the French Alps and clocked up a speed of 141.468 miles per hour. This beat the previous record, also set by Barone, of 138.75mph.
So why haven’t you cycled at anywhere close to 141 mph yet?
To put it bluntly, you will never reach those sorts of speeds while riding unless you head out to the Alps having stolen Barone’s bike. This was a spectacular world record attempt.
The average mountain bike speed in “normal” situations is around 30mph on a road and 44mph in the right downhill conditions. Even then, those speeds aren’t guaranteed. Those that race mountain bikes will tell you that your speed will change significantly as you handle different aspects of the course. You could fly off a drop on a descent at close to 40 mph but then slow down as you handle the corners and have to control your braking.
When we consider the top speed of a mountain bike we are looking at the forward motion of the bike under your own power with the additional effects of the gear system and gravity. Therefore, there are actually a lot of variations on top speed.
Factors That Affect Mountain Bike Speed:
If you can control the following variables, you might just manage to achieve these top mountain bike speeds yourself. Consider the following to increase your average mountain bike speed:
- your fitness
- the specifications of your bike
- the terrain
- your posture on the bike
- The Bike Weight
- Making your bike mud proof
- Your Tires
Your Fitness Level
If you are going to try and pedal your way to a better speed then you need the power and stamina to do so. You might need to start training for any serious speed record attempts. Improving your fitness can also increase your lactate threshold. This allows you to produce a higher power output at a similar heart rate allowing you to maintain a high average speed for long distances.
The Specifications Of Your Bike
The old saying goes that a good workman never blames his tools. But, if you are struggling to get up to high speeds than it could be because of your bike. Look at the tires that you have. A good tread is essential for safety but some tires can cause resistance, which will slow you down. The weight of the frame could also be a hindrance if you have a heavy metal frame rather than carbon fiber or aluminum. Then there are the gears. If you only have a 9-speed bike compared to a 12-speed model, you might not beat any speed records any time soon.
Also, if you are keen to gauge your speed and get a more accurate idea of your efforts in different conditions, you need technical help. A mountain bike computer system can offer data on your ride with the built-in speedometer and odometer. The accurate readings will help you tweak your bike and performance to make improvements. Take a look at our detailed mountain bike guide.
The Type Of Terrian
The terrain is also important when figuring out the top speed on a mountain bike. Mountain bikes can be pretty good for downhill descents on the right surface. But, if you end up going through a lot of and bumpy terrain then this can slow you down. Corners will also slow you down as you work your way through a course. A flat road won’t offer the same problems and you can just concentrate on your pedaling.
However, a road bike is better suited to faster road riding. The average speed for road riding can increase by as much as 10mph with the right road bike. That is because these bikes are built for this environment. They are lighter and don’t have as much resistance on the road surface because of the thinner tires.
Body Position’s Effects Speed
Your body and position could influence your mountain bike speed too.
Don’t forget to alter your posture when riding to help increase your speed and performance on a mountain bike. Lean into it with your body low, your head over the bars and your arms bent. You will be surprised at the difference this can make. There is a decrease in wind resistance that means less drag.
Aerodynamics plays a crucial role when it comes to increasing your speed on a mountain bike. Wearing tighter riding gear will have a massive impact on reducing drag, the overall goal is to have smooth airflow around you & your bike reducing any chance of drag. Wearing baggy clothing can definitely cause disruption to your aerodynamics thus increasing drag and reducing cycling speed.
Lighter Bike For Improved Performance
With a lighter bike, you will almost always see an improvement in speed uphill and on a flat surface while putting in the same effort.
Weight, in general, will reduce speed weather that’s from you or the bike. So shedding a few pounds will certainly help increase your average speed.
Make Your Bike Mudproof
Mud & dirt collected on your bike will add extra weight thus reducing speed. Mudguard is an obvious but effective option for protecting your bike from collecting mud. To further protect your bike from collecting mud a helpful tip would be to apply silicone spray to the undersides of the mudguards and on the back end of the frame. This can significantly reduce added weight which in turn will reduce effort the cyclist would need to put in to increase his/her average speed.
Cut Your Tires
When it comes to your downhill performance tires are a big factor. Cutting tire tread has become widely popular for improving performance. Simply trim down the center knobs of a mud spike tire for faster rolls as well as good cornering performance.
While it can be an exciting prospect to take a mountain bike out to the hills and try and break some speed records, you need to do so responsibly. Make sure that the terrain isn’t too dangerous. A slippery surface area, such as dry grit, could lead to some accidents. Make sure that your brakes are in working order and that your suspension can take the impact. Also, make sure that you wear plenty of safety equipment. This means elbow and knee pads, not just helmets.
It is understandable that all riders will want to know the average mountain bike speed for their bike and try to beat that. This is a high-octane sport after all. You might not have much chance of getting close to Barone’s world record speed. But, you can enjoy some exhilarating average speeds between around 30 and 44mph depending on your conditions. If you want to go faster, consider those variables that are outlined above and look at ways of improving your ride and performance. Above all, enjoy the attempt in a responsible way.