Clean Your Bike1 of 14
Removing gunk from your drivetrain could save you as much as 8 watts compared with a grimy chain, cassette or chainrings. If you frequently ride in wet conditions, consider that you'll need to clean your bike more frequently than when riding in drier weather.
Lube Your Drivetrain2 of 14
A rusty and/or squeaky drivetrain could cost you another 10 watts of power loss. Once you've cleaned your bike to reduce unwanted friction, you'll need to apply chain lubricant. At 16 to 20 mph, a properly lubed chain could yield an extra half mph of "free" speed.
Proper Tire Pressure3 of 14
Do you inflate your tires to the maximum pressure listed on the tire sidewalls? If so, you're costing yourself some speed, as this pressure is rarely optimal for your cycling needs. Correct tire pressure considers many factors—and it's free!
Elegant Cabling and Wiring4 of 14
If your bike has a bunch of cables and wires bending about and hanging in the wind, you're doing yourself a disservice. Sure, these cables are small, but why would you want them to work against you? By lowering the amount of component exposure to the wind, you're reducing aerodynamic drag. You'll go faster on the bike with less effort if your cables are tidy.
Get a Bike Fit5 of 14
Although a bike fit might not be free—unless you get it from a shop that offers this service as part of purchasing a new bike—it could be the single greatest contributor to efficiency on the bike. A comfortable, optimal aerodynamic position costs less than a set of race wheels or a new bike helmet and usually will result in a reduction in aerodynamic drag.
Wear a Properly Fitted Cycling Kit6 of 14
Eat and Drink Like a Pro7 of 14
If you bonk—i.e. deplete your liver glycogen—you're definitely not going faster with less effort! A diet that meets your athletic needs, as well as proper hydration and nutrition needs on the bike, will help you be consistent, go faster for longer and enjoy riding more than you already do.
Reduce Mass8 of 14
Photo courtesy of Tanita
Another benefit of making smart food choices for cycling, both on and off the bike, is weight loss. Just 4 pounds of weight loss will result in faster ascents and easier speed on flats. Plus, losing just a little bit of bodyweight costs a lot less than reducing the same amount of weight on your bike.
Train Smart, Go Faster9 of 14
A little bit of dedication and some enthusiasm through a smart and focused bike training plan will result in getting faster. It might be uncomfortable, but pushing yourself on the bike only costs you sweat and calories and could yield big, speedy results. If you're not sure where to start, TrainingPeaks offers a library of plans that cover everything from beginner to advanced, in disciplines ranging from road cycling to mountain biking and cyclocross racing.
Rest and Recovery Is Essential10 of 14
If you're training smartly, you should be resting smartly. A good training plan for cyclists also includes rest days and adequate sleep. You won't be able to go faster if you're not recovering from workouts. After all, just a few more minutes of sleep every night is free.
Practice Cornering11 of 14
If you're constantly sprinting out of every corner to catch the group, you're probably spending a lot of excess energy. Control your speed on the bike going into turns, and accelerate out of corners. Pedal through the inside of the turn, but never leave your inside foot down at the apex of a corner. You can build up power and speed as you complete the turn if you're cornering properly.
Pro Tip: Check out our recommendations for an efficient cornering technique.
Let Someone Else Work for You12 of 14
What wins bike races? Not pedaling. The top pro cyclists might coast as much as 25 percent of a race. Pros can do this through drafting and letting others on their team—or opposing teams—do the work for them. Practice this cycling skill, and go faster for free.
Stay in an Aero Position13 of 14
If you're riding solo where drafting other cyclists is not an option, an aerodynamic position will help you go faster on the bike. But if you're not comfortable in this position, you won't be able to maintain an aero profile. Practice staying aero so you can be comfortable with bike handling and pedaling in a more aggressive position.