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Speed or how to increase it?

Old 06-09-22, 10:14 PM
  #1  
Frenzen
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Speed or how to increase it?

I have a general question on how to bike faster or reach a destination faster while urban riding. I am riding a hybrid marin bike with a rack and usually have a pannier that is full (18L). My destination is 14km one way or 8.669 miles and it takes me around 46 minutes and I average at most 11 mph but can never get more than 12mph. I feel like I can do better but my routes are a mix of dedicated bikes and painted lanes. The maximum elevation gain is usually 269ft. Is there anything I can do as I try to not carry a lot of weight
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Old 06-10-22, 12:02 AM
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Is it necessary to ride faster, or just desirable?
When commuting there are so many things that could affect your speed; any marginal gains could be wiped out by an inconvenient traffic light.
But that said, you could look at the ‘line’ you take on the road - less distance travelled means a quicker time.

Good luck!
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Old 06-10-22, 12:47 AM
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To ride faster you ride faster. During your ride pick up the pace to a higher speed for 1 minute, then back off and ride at your usual pace for a minute, then speed up again. After a few rides increase the time you ride faster, while keeping the same 1 minute normal speed period.
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Old 06-10-22, 03:26 AM
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I figured out a way for me to sometimes be faster. I ride one of my heavier bikes on mixed type rides for a week; then get on my lightest bike, ride good pavement, and really push the pace. It is amazing how fast I am!
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Old 06-10-22, 03:33 AM
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Maybe some faster rolling tyres and/or just get fitter.
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Old 06-10-22, 03:46 AM
  #6  
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Your average mph are my average in km/hr for about the same weight and distances. I'm not going to ask why you are in a hurry or if you are late all the time. I usually ride at a leisurely pace with a lot of coasting being passed all the time.

So my only suggestion is to pedal longer, coast less and stay on the high gears.
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Old 06-10-22, 06:18 AM
  #7  
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Urban riding in a city with traffic, pedestrians, and traffic control devices makes for frequent stops/slows and restarts which make "speed' hard to come by. You rarely get to reach or sustain "cruising speed".
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Old 06-10-22, 06:36 AM
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If you are concerned about being late you could always leave a bit earlier.
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Old 06-10-22, 06:37 AM
  #9  
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Running stop signs and red lights will shave some time. This D-Bag pillar of the cycling community demonstrates it nicely:

Or maybe faster tires.

Last edited by Kapusta; 06-10-22 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 07:22 AM
  #10  
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In urban cycling, it could depend on how comfortable you are in traffic. Sometimes a cyclist can safely "take a lane" and flow pretty well with the cars. On one of my commutes I had several miles of timed signals on a one-way city street, slightly downhill, with a dedicated bus/turn lane, and I could cruise at top speed with the cars, often drafting behind a bus. That stretch increased my average speed quite a bit, and gave me a great opportunity to sprint. Other city streets I would avoid at all costs.

In some suburban and rural areas where there is a multi-use path, I'll avoid the path on crowded weekends and take a road with a shoulder instead.
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Old 06-10-22, 07:56 AM
  #11  
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Frenzen I commuted for 28 years in Colorado Springs. My main routes were 8.6 to 9.2 miles with one 6.8 mile option. My average speed was 13.5 mph on my faster, lighter bike, and 11.5 on my heavier bike with the other bike falling in between at about 12.5 mph. My average ride times were in the 40-50 minute range.

While the time in motion decreased slightly on the faster bike, the main factor in overall time was traffic and traffic lights. During rush hour, crossing major streets took time, either waiting for traffic lights, or waiting for safe breaks in traffic. On those occasions when I decided to really push it I could achieve an average speed of 14.5 mph. This would get me to the office or home about 5 minutes sooner, but I would be spent.

In the winter I rode with studded snow tires, sometimes averaging as slow as 9 mph in fresh snow and ice. In those cases it might take 55-minutes to an hour and if there was more than 3-inches of snow my speed would drop even more and it might take 75-90 minutes to get home.

Besides traffic and traffic lights, and weather, the other big factor limiting speed on my commutes was the factor of "not out-riding my brakes"...that is, not riding faster than I could brake or react to traffic and other elements of the route. Along some stretches there'd be numerous side streets with limited visibility due to high fences and such and where experience taught me cars often come flying into the roadway coming to a sudden stop across the bike lane (if there was one) or just ignoring their stop sign altogether. Even when visibility was good, and even though I have daytime flashers and hi-vis clothing, some drivers seem to judge the situation with their "lizard brain" and figure their larger and more powerful mode of transportation gives them the right of way.

Also, tight, turns, curbs, sand or dirt on the roadway, broken pavement and non-paved sections also limit speed.

I think the only ways to really make meaningful travel-time improvements over 9 miles are e-assist and careful route management. The e-bike advantage of course would boost your average speed so much that even with the usual traffic impediments, you'd notice an overall ride-time improvement.

As bike infrastructure and traffic patterns kept changing over almost 30 years, I was always experimenting with different routes and variations. Besides looking for safer options, I also looked for routes with fewer traffic lights and fewer side streets where I could maintain speed over longer stretches.

I found one for the last few years of my commuting. It was 10.5 miles...almost 2-miles longer than the average lengths of my routes, but it had fewer lights, more right-of ways and incorporated a paved bike path away from traffic. While my overall average speed was only .5 mph faster, I got home in the same amount of time as my shorter routes. I kept trying to shorten that route, but each shortcut put me back on surface streets in traffic and adding time.

There are three other factors that help lower average speeds. Tires, position and gearing.

I have found that light, supple, smooth street tires help speed things up. Knobbies and tread will slow you down. On my MTB-based commuter I have big 26x1.85 smoothies which are faster than the thinner smooth street tires I tried.

When riding upright, your upper body catches a lit of air. On my MTB-based commuter I put the bars forward and eventually added inboard bar-ends plus an aero bar. I did this to give me more hand positions as my hands got "crampy" in my 40s. But the speed gains were noticeable. Stretched out forward on the aero bars was good for a full 1 mph speed increase. However I didn't have brake levers out there. Two years ago I converted it to drop bars like my other bikes, which is better on my hands.

I also found taller gearing works better for me. I've always been a bit of a "masher"...that is a slower cadence rider, more so when I was younger. When I replaced my hybrid with mountain bike back in 1997 my cruising speed on long slight downhills dropped from 21 mph to 14 mph. I was "spinning out"...I couldn't pedal any faster, nor did I want to. I put a larger "big" ring on the triple up front (the bike is 3x7) and solved that problem while retaining the lower gears I need for hills. And just last year, I bought a 20-inch folding bike and found the top-end lacking. I added taller gearing and my average speed is now in line with the dedicated commuter bike.

One other thought. When I was 48 I was off the bike for a year due to a non-cycling injury. Getting back in shape was tough and painful and slow. Based on some discussions I read here on BF I began listening to spoken-word podcasts in one ear at a reasonable volume. I found I could hear traffic just fine (I also use a glasses-mounted mirror) and if the podcast was interesting, I didn't care if I spent an extra 5-10 minutes on a commute, or and extra 30-minutes in the case of deep snow and ice.

Those are my thoughts.

In my experience, even a slow, frustrating bike commute, even one with a flat or other mechanical issues, is still more enjoyable than driving..."your mileage may vary".

Good luck and ride safely.
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Old 06-10-22, 08:29 AM
  #12  
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Is the bike a good fit for you and set up properly? A bad seat height could really impact your ability to put power down.
After that I'd get the bike serviced and make sure everything is running smoothly, a stiff bearing or badly adjusted gears can really slow you down.
Next I'd maybe look for smoother rolling tires - basically something that looks smooth rather than knobbly, and at a suitable pressure (higher pressure is a bit faster but less comfortable).

Beyond that you're looking into getting lighter bikes (probably not worth it) or improving your fitness and cycling more. . An average cycling speed on road bikes is about 12mph so you're not that far behind the curve.
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Old 06-10-22, 08:31 AM
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What's keeping you from going faster?

If you are spinning out in the highest gear ratio ( which I doubt) then you need a higher gearing .

Otherwise it's pretty much the motor. Need to do some rides that aren't commuting in urban stop and go conditions. Find some routes where you can do a couple hours of easy riding with few stops. Do a few high effort sprints and climbs during the ride. At least one such ride per week if not two.

After a while your speed for anything will improve. However urban riding in stop a go is going to always average out slow.

And work on a good range of cadence too. A 60 - 75 rpm range will mean you'll have to have lots of muscle. 60 - 120 rpm range will let you go faster with less muscle.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-10-22 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by bobbyg View Post

in my experience, even a slow, frustrating bike commute, even one with a flat or other mechanical issues, is still more enjoyable than driving..."your mileage may vary".

Good luck and ride safely.
+1
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Old 06-10-22, 09:38 AM
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josh poertner Has a station on YouTube dealing with Marginal Gains. He interviews and discusses all the various ways you and your bike can gain speed. It’s not about training but more about equipment changes or modifications and clothing. If you query Josh Poertner Marginal Gains, it should get you to his video series.
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Old 06-10-22, 10:24 AM
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11-12 MPH sounds about right for a hybrid with a loaded pannier in the city. My average when commuting is only a couple MPH more, and that's with road bikes and eschewing panniers whenever I can! Those stops just kill your average speed.
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Old 06-10-22, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Running stop signs and red lights will shave some time. This D-Bag pillar of the cycling community demonstrates it nicely:


Or maybe faster tires.

Maybe im wrong, but i would be amused to see a little silver haired lady in a 80's Buick door this guy
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Old 06-10-22, 10:50 AM
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A different style bike would help. Hybrids are not really built for speed.
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Old 06-10-22, 11:00 AM
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In my case speed is not all that it is cracked up to be. When I got my first recumbent, I went out and rode one of my usual routes. I got home a lot faster, and was disappointed that the ride was so short. I had to learn to plan longer routes.

Last edited by rydabent; 06-11-22 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 06-10-22, 01:28 PM
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Grind bigger gears, it will hurt at first but you will eventually learn to spin them and then youll be faster
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Old 06-10-22, 02:21 PM
  #21  
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Are you running late ??...Why do you want to go faster ??
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Old 06-11-22, 01:43 AM
  #22  
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You may find a different style of pedalling helps, especially if you are fairly old (40 or 50 plus), using your glutes with a push forwards pull back style as explained on this thread. I am 57. I have found I have gone back to speeds I achieved about 10 years ago by using push pull rather than quad-centric stomp stomp. I don't think it would result in increased speed in younger riders though, maybe. I am not sure.
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Old 06-11-22, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Are you running late ??...Why do you want to go faster ??

Because OP wants to go faster. Why do you ask? Why do you use two question marks instead of one? Is your question mark key stuck on repeat?
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Old 06-11-22, 04:21 AM
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Personally, I find the biggest variable in urban riding speed is how fast I can accelerate off of a traffic stop. I'm a high gear guy, but I suspect that people telling you to increase the gearing might actually be steering you in the wrong direction. My best tip would be to make sure you shift down before the stop so you can spin it fast when the light turns green and then shift up to your cruising gear.
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Old 06-11-22, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by SpedFast View Post
A different style bike would help. Hybrids are not really built for speed.
Au contraire, a good fitness hybrid is a terrific commuting bike. I used to ride a FX 3 in the 20+ mph range. The posture on that is not much different than riding on the hoods, and I doubt that the OP is likely to ride the drops on a commute. Also, panniers are probably negating any marginal aero gains.
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