Eight alternative ways to go faster on your bike

Can't be bothered to go on a diet? Can't afford all the latest aerodynamic kit? Well, you don't need them

Ask a cycling expert how to go faster on your bike and they'll often come back with the same old advice.

"Lose some weight," they tell you. "Get lower on the bike. Upgrade your wheels"...and so on. But if all that sounds a bit of a faff there's always a few alternative things you can do to get some extra speed.

We don't necessarily encourage you to try them all - or any of them - but it's our duty to give you all the options.

Only ride downhill

A wonderfulk descent in Bradfield (Andy Jones)

A wonderful descent in Bradfield (Andy Jones)
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

The problem with going on long rides is that your average speed takes a hell of a beating in the hills. Unless you've got thighs like Sir Chris Hoy then the chances are that you slow down on the ascents.

The easy way to rectify this is to plan routes that are either flat or entirely downhill to make the most of the speed boost.

It may require a bit of a logistical planning, with someone probably having to be on hand to pick you up in the car when you reach the bottom of the hill, but you'll have some great stories to tell about your speed on the drive back home.

Ride a bigger gear

Big Gear Effort

Big Gear Effort

The reason you're not going fast enough is that you're not using a big enough gear. Ditch the compact chainset and replace it with a customised one with a 58-tooth big ring.

Also get rid of the 11-28 cassette at the back - you're not going to go very fast in the granny gear. Possibly replace it with an 11-11 cassette or just get rid of the cassette altogether and just have the single gear.

It may be tough to get going on a 58/11 gear, but once you get up to speed you'll be flying. Just don't brake...

Shave all your body hair


(Image credit: Jesse Wild)

Some studies have shown that shaving your legs makes you more aerodynamic, but why stop at the legs? Get the razor out on your face and while you're at it get rid of the hair on your arms, chest, eyebrows etc.

Think of the seconds you'll save when you have no eyebrows holding you back!

Shave weight off your bike

Jack Pullar's hill climb bike

Jack Pullar's hill climb bike

Why should you have to go on a diet when you can shave a few grams off your bike instead?

Get rid of anything that you don't need. Your saddle bag? Gone! Water bottles? Gone! Saddle? Get it off the bike.

Chat to a hill climb expert and they'll tell you some of their tricks. Some of them drill holes in various parts of their frame to lose weight. Some of them lop off the drops on the handlebars.

Try it yourself!

Hang on to a car


(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

If it's good enough for Vincenzo Nibali, it's good enough for you.

Hanging on to cars to get back into the peloton after a crash isn't a new phenomenon, but make sure the driver of the car doesn't mind your clinging on to their wing mirror.

Alternatively, go old school and tie some fishing wire to the car and then attach it to a bottle cork to clench between your teeth.

Brush up on aerodynamics

Francesco Moser's Hour Record attempt (Watson)

Francesco Moser's Hour Record attempt (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Turn off Eastenders for an evening and pick up a book on amateur aerodynamics. Tape up the vents on your helmet; wear a skinsuit no matter what your body shape. Chisel your frame into a more aerodynamic shape and you'll simply fly along the roads.

Ride through rough areas

Photo: Flickr/spDuchamp

Photo: Flickr/spDuchamp

Inner city cycling can be bad because of traffic, but head towards the dodgy ends of town and you'll feel the need to ride a bit faster.

There are few things that make you turn the pedals faster than the fear of being lynched by the local gangs. The more expensive your bike, the more likely someone is to want to get it off you, so take your best steed with you.

Just ride your bike more

sportive hill spring

You don't necessarily need a structured training plan to get faster at cycling. Simply getting out on the roads more often will see you improve your efficiency and fitness, and as a result you should go faster.

This article was originally published in 2016

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.