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Fast or Slow: How Long Does it Take to Bike a Mile?

Carlos Glover
December 10, 2021

The amount of time it takes to bike a mile can vary. There are several aspects that determine how long it takes to tackle a mile. On average, it takes someone to 11 minutes to bike a mile, regardless of the factors.

I have a naturally competitive streak so when I first got into cycling, I was determined to beat the best time to cover a mile. This led me to do some research on the average rider, as well as the factors that can impact the overall time.

In this post, I will look into bike type and weight, gearing, wheel size, tire type, slope, surface type, weather, and fitness level that may impact the answer to our question: how long does it take to bike a mile?

riding a mile

What Impacts the Time it Takes to Bike a Mile?

Most people agree that it can take anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes to cover this distance. Each of the factors below can affect bike speed and the average time:

1 . Bike Types

There are many types of bikes available today and each type is designed to tackle a different type of terrain and weather condition. The time it takes to bike a mile on an aero road bike is vastly different from the time it takes to complete the distance on a single speed beach cruiser or 20" BMX bike.

Cyclists with the fastest average speeds and fastest mile times are likely on an aerodynamic ride. Competitive racers or those involved in triatholons use carbon road bikes with sleek tubing that place them in a riding position that allows them to slice through resistance.

Average Time to Bike A Mile By Bike Type:

Bike TypeAverage SpeedTime it Takes to Bike a Mile
Fat Bike8-10 MPH6-7.5 Minutes
Mountain Bike9-30 MPH2-6.66 Minutes
BMX Bike11-18 MPH3.33-5.45 Minutes
Folding Bike10-12 MPH5-6 Minutes
Electric Bike15-28 MPH2.14-4 Minutes
Commuter Bike11-18 MPH3.33-5.45 Minutes
Comfort Bike3-15 MPH4-20 Minutes
Gravel Bike12-16 MPH3.75-5 Minutes

Mountain Bikes and Fat Bikes

The mountain bike and fat bike both typically have wider and knobbier tires, allowing them to tackle off-road terrain. They also weigh more than other designs, which means that it will take longer to cross a mile on them.

It has taken me an hour to go a mile over soft snow and sand conditions on a fat bike. Some mountain bikes are specifically designed for downhill riding, but are heavier. If you're trying to complete a mile on a trail, packed sand, or snow, this category of bicycle may be fitting.

Bikes with Smaller Wheels: Folding and BMX Bicycles

BMX bikes and folding bikes have smaller wheels. They are not the the first choice for tackling a mile quickly. They have a limited gear range, with usually only a single speed. This makes them best for short distances, flat and even terrain, and smooth, dry weather and road conditions.

Comfort Bicycles

Cruiser, hybrid, and city bikes are other common types. Bicycles in these categories can maintain a steady average speed, if they are geared correctly. They are best for cruising around town or maintaining your basic fitness.

Gravel and Touring Bikes

Gravel and touring bikes are designed to cover longer distances. The features for these bikes include comfort, exploring a variety of terrain, durability, and maintaining a decent speed. I have a gravel bike and though it's not the fastest, it's comfortable and versatile.

The time it takes to cover a mile on it is not as quick as it takes on a road bike, but it allows me to obtain a faster average speed than my mountain bike, BMX bike, or beach cruiser.

Electric Bikes

Electric bike riders will have some of the fastest ride times for a mile split, with minimal effort. These bikes can have pedal assist functions and throttles that allow riders to go 15mph-28mph will less effort than a bike without a motor.

An electric bike gives any person an advantage when it comes to average bike speed in comparison to most non-motorized road bikes.

There are numerous types of electric bicycles including beach cruisers, downhill racing bikes, and step-through electric bikes. The type of bike you have will determine your answer to how long does it take to bike a mile.

red city bike

2 . Weight

Bikes come in all shapes, sizes, and weights. The weight of your bike can affect your average riding speed.

On a flat road a lighter bike makes it easier to maintain a consistent speed. A heavier bike allows you to speed through a segment in a downhill race faster. A light, agile bike allows a rider to go faster up a climb.

There are several factors that impact the overall weight of your bicycle. The most notable factor that contributes to the weight of a bicycle is the frame material.

Bikes can be made of aluminum, carbon, steel, wood, and titanium. Carbon and titanium light compared to aluminum. Steel is heavier than any of the three. Wood is not the most common material for bicycles. It lies somewhere in the middle for bike weight with aluminum.

The components that make up the build of a bike greatly impact the weight of a bike. A heavy bike often has heavier cranks, wheels, handlebars, and heftier fork. Just like the materials used to construct a bike's frame, components are made of different materials.

If your bicycle has aluminum or steel components, swapping them out for titanium or carbon can greatly reduce the bike's weight. Reducing the bike's weight makes it easier to bike faster when tackling any distance, with the exception of taking on downhill, lift served trail.

Bicycles can vary greatly weight. Lightweight road bikes can weigh as little as 15 lbs. This is UCI legal for professional cyclists. Mountain bikes tend to be around 30lbs. A steel beach cruiser or electric bike can easily weigh over 40lbs.

3 . Gearing

Every bike has a different gear setup Bikes can come in different gear configurations. These range from single speed to an 3x8 setup with 24 gears on most bikes. The number of speeds on a bike help determine how easy it is for riders to go up an incline, maintain speed on a flat surface, and tackle specific obstacles on the trail.

In addition to bikes having multiple gearing setups with front and rear derailleurs, riders can use different sized gear cogs. Smaller gears and larger gears make it easier or harder to gain cycling speed and maintain speed in different sections of tarmac.

If you are trying to figure out how long it takes to bike a mile, consider your gearing and gear sizes. In each bike category, and on many models, riders get to choose from a variety of gearing options.

4 . Tire Type

Tire type can impact how fast you can go on any speed. There are thin tires. There are wide tires. There are slick and knobby tires. If you are on tarmac, a slicker and thinner tire would be a great option for riding.

Knobby, wide tires are great for rougher surfaces, but often slower. The time it takes to ride a mile on a bicycle can be greatly affected by this.

If you are hoping to go quickly, slick and skinny tires are most likely what you will want on your bike. If you are not concerned with speed, but want a great grippy tire and better stability, you should look for a wider and tire with greater traction.

5 . Gradient

The slope you want to tackle, whether up or down, will impact the time it takes to go one mile. If you are going uphill, at a steep gradient your time for a mile will be slower than if you are speeding downhill.

I go faster downhill on most of my bikes, unless I am maneuvering down tight, technical sections on mountain bike trails.

If you want to determine how long it takes you to go a mile, you will have to consider how steep or mellow the terrain is you go on.

Girl riding a gravel bike

6 . Surface and Terrain

Pavement, dirt, rocks, single-track, sand, dry, wet...these are all terrain and surface factors that you should consider when it comes to covering a mile at a specific speed. Depending on the terrain you want to cover, the type of bike you ride will be affected, and therefore your speed.

Not all bicycles are ideal for all types of terrain. If you want to ride a road or gravel bike on rocky singletrack for a mile, your speed will be slow. Paved surfaces often contribute to faster mile times, no matter what type of bike you are on. This is because paved surfaces have the least resistance.

Lastly, wet or dry surfaces will make a difference when it comes to the time it takes to ride a mile. If you are riding on wet trails or pavement, your times will likely be slower, as you will have to be more cautious.

If you are riding dirt or sandy surfaces, these can be loose during the dry season, causing you to be more cautious and slow the time it takes to ride a mile.

Different terrains can have a significant impact on the time required to ride a distance, such as mile. Flat, dry, downhill, and paved terrain is often quicker than rough trails or hilly terrain. Keep this in mind as you try to figure out how fast you can complete a mile.

7 . Weather Conditions

Weather conditions are crucial factors that affect biking speed for any distance. Rain, wind, snow, and more are concerns for riders and the average time to bike a mile.

Wind direction is part of weather that greatly affects your average time to go a mile. If you have a nice tailwind you might have your fastest bike time for tackling this feat. If you have bad headwinds, your time to bike a mile will be slower.

Rain and snow are types of weather that affect average biking speed. This is especially true on road bikes and bikes with skinnier tires. Riders on these types of bikes must be more cautious in hazardous condition, ultimately slowing their time.

If you do a mile time trial, it may be a good idea to consider what the weather is predicting. This can affect your time as well.

8 . Fitness (Physical and Mental)

Your overall fitness, both physical and mental, impacts the time it takes to bike a mile. If you have a stronger body, you will likely have a shorter time compared to someone who is out of shape.

Your head needs to be in the right place too, in terms of fitness. If your mental state is poor, that will likely affect and slow down the time it takes you to complete a mile.

Practicing mindfulness, increasing your training, and persistence is needed to ensure that riders are strong in all areas of fitness. This ultimately helps you improve on the time it takes to ride one mile.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does it Take a Beginner to Ride a Mile?

The time it takes a beginner cyclist to ride a mile is 5-20 minutes. This depends on the type of bike you are riding and terrain you are tackling. If you are a beginner on a pedal assist electric bike or road bike you will go much faster than someone on a cruiser on the beach.

Is Biking 10 Miles in 30 Minutes Good?

Yes, it is! If you are biking 10 miles in 30 minutes you are going 20 miles an hour. This makes your average riding time for a mile 3 minutes. That is fast on most terrain and bikes.

Is a 5 Minute Mile on a Bike Good?

Most riders would consider a 5 minute mile decent. It means you are covering about 12 miles in an hour. If you are touring, riding a XC bike, or cruising around town, this is considered adequate.

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Conclusion

How long does it take to bike a mile? It's unlikely that your time will be the same as your friend's. Weather conditions, a person's fitness level, slope, terrain, tires, bike type, and weight are all things that impact the time it takes to ride this distance or any distance.

Some riders need more time than others because they travel over hilly terrain or steeper courses. Some riders take a shorter time cycling downhill at top speed. If you have a lighter bike, your time will be slower than the average time of someone on a heavy bike.

Average speed is not the same for everyone. Some riders are faster while others are slower. Some are professional riders. Other rider are recreational cyclists. Where do you fit in? How long does it take you to bike a mile?

Carlos Glover
About the Author
I took up cycling in high school and haven’t looked back since. My love of cycling eventually evolved into an obsession with bicycles. From road bikes to mountain bikes, I have tried them all – and have the scars to prove it! I love sharing my findings with the rest of the cycling world as unsolicited as they may be.
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