How Fast Can a Bicycle Go? 8 Videos Brings Us Up to Speed


Just love the shape his shadow casts. Image source

We do prattle on about how the bicycle is the world's most energy efficient vehicle, but just how fast can a human go on a bicycle?

It depends on how you are measuring that speed. Are they rushing downhill added by the press of gravity? Are they riding an upright style bike in the position familiar to most of us, or are they reclined in the recumbent pose most suited to streamlined rocket profiled two wheeled vehicles? Are they drafting or slipstreaming along in the partial vacuum created by a non-human powered craft? So many ways to feel the need for speed on a bicycle, and to measure that rush. Below we take a peek at just a few.Apparently the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1984 record the faster speed achieved on a bicycle as 204.73 kph (127.243 mph). They attribute this feat to Frenchman, Jose Meiffret, who in 1962 reached this dizzying record in the slipstream of a car on a German Autobahn. But there are many other contenders for the title of fastest on a bicycle.

Fastest Man on a Bicycle?

Bruce Bursford, a Brit managed a speed of 334.6 km/h (207.9 mph) on an upright bicycle. Which is very impressive, but he wasn’t contending with turbulence, road surfaces and wind resistance, because he set the record indoors on rollers. And he was on bike worth about £25,000 (approx $37,250 USD) that weighed a scant 4.9 kg (10.8 lb), had silk and kevlar tyres and ceramic bearings. Not the sort of thing you’d easily pick up at your local bike shop.

Apparently the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1984 record the faster speed achieved on a bicycle as 204.73 kph (127.243 mph). They attribute this feat to Frenchman, Jose Meiffret, who in 1962 reached this dizzying record in the slipstream of a car on a German Autobahn. But there are many other contenders for the title of fastest on a bicycle.

International Human Powered Vehicle Association Races

The International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) list Canadian Sam Whittingham as the world's fastest cyclist. Just this year on 18 September (after they last updated their stats) he clocked 82.33 mph on a real road near Battle Mountain, Nevada, The speed is recorded over 200m, which commenced with a ‘flying start’ down 8 km (5 miles) of almost dead flat road. Sam was encased inside a purpose-built bullet shaped recumbent bicycle. Here’s a brief flash of Sam’s recording clinching ride.

This next video is of Sam Whittingham attempting to break an earlier record. It has a lot more background on how such events are run.

Sam also hold the record for the fastest average speed for an hours worth of road riding: 58 mph! (Surpassing a record previously held by Freddy Markham.) Here’s that video.


More bicycle speed records on page 2!

Tags: Biking | Car-Free | Contests

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