Want to get faster on the bike? First, you need to understand all the things that can slow you down. Get rid of these eight speed killers to boost your average the next time you head out for a ride.
A Loose-Fitting Jersey1 of 9
On the bike, the wind is enemy number one. While it doesn't mean you need to wear a skinsuit on your weekend group ride (seriously, please don't), if you're wearing an ill-fitting jersey it could be slowing you down. Instead of a loose, baggy jersey that will act like a parachute in the wind, opt for a closer fit for better aerodynamics.
Under- or Over-Inflated Tires2 of 9
Rubber inner tubes leak around 5 to 10 psi per day. If you're using a latex inner tube, it's even more. If you aren't airing up your tires to the correct tire pressure before every ride, the lower tire pressure will increase the contact patch on the road and slow down your speed, acceleration and cornering. Likewise, over-inflated tires will cause unnecessary bouncing, which will not only fatigue your body but also slow down your momentum—particularly over bumpy surfaces.
Cheap Shoes3 of 9
All cycling shoes are not made equal. While the fit and closure are subjective, the stiffness of the sole will make a difference in how efficiently your energy is transferred to the pedals. Pricier cycling shoes made with stiff carbon soles are extremely efficient at transferring the power you're producing into forward movement. Shoes with a softer sole will lose energy the more the sole flexes, which in turn will keep you from going as fast as possible.
Your Weight4 of 9
Cycling, particularly when you are going uphill, is all about your power-to-weight ratio—or how much power you can produce per kilogram of your body weight. A few extra pounds on your mid-section isn't helping you produce power, and in turn, will slow you down significantly. To get faster, try to lose a few pounds while maintaining the same amount of strength.
Your Position5 of 9
Comfort plays an important factor in how fast you pedal on the bike. If your back or your neck hurts after a few miles, you aren't going to feel like pedaling for very long. Dialing in the fit of your bike will solve this problem, and it'll also put you in a good aerodynamic position.
If your current position is too upright, you'll expose your chest to the wind, which will also slow you down. Once you find a balance between a comfortable position and good aerodynamics, you'll be more likely to use the drops for longer periods of time. This will lower your center of gravity, expose less of your chest to the wind and make you faster on the bike.
The Stuff in Your Pockets6 of 9
There is a delicate balance between being prepared for what can go wrong out on the road and lugging a suitcase's worth of stuff in your jersey pockets and saddle bag. Carrying something you'll likely never use? That's extra weight you have to account for. A full size hand pump, 28-ounce water bottles and three inner tubes are all going to slow you down. Pair down your gear so you only bring along the essentials, and carry smaller bottles that weigh less. You can always find a place to fill those bottles up instead of carrying all that extra weight.
Sloppy Shifting7 of 9
Shifting at the right time can help you maintain forward momentum. This means shifting before a climb instead of waiting until you're on it, or before you slow down heading into a corner. But precise shifting also means your drivetrain is working correctly. If you try to shift and your bike doesn't find the gear you were hoping for right when you need it, it'll slow you down. Over time, cables stretch, derailleur springs wear and the teeth on your cassette eventually become round, so a regular tune-up is necessary to keep your bike shifting smoothly and on time.
Entry-level Wheels8 of 9
Even if you have a new, fairly expensive bike, there's a good chance you're still cruising around on entry-level wheels. The reason most companies include cheaper wheels on bikes is because it lowers the overall purchase price significantly. But with those cheaper wheels comes poor aerodynamics and an increase in rotational weight. While it won't be cheap, an upgrade in your wheels is one of the easiest ways to go faster while producing the same amount of power.