Top speed on a bicycle – how fast can you go downhill?

Tuesday night during our Team ThinkCash ride, we had a nice tailwind on the 820 service road descent. So like most cyclists – we all tried to see how fast we could go. Comparing bike computer results as we soft-pedaled up to Chapin Rd., most of us fell between 40 and 45 mph. This started the conversation of, “what’s the fastest you’ve ever gone on your bike?”

I think I was the only one that had broken 50 mph on numerous occassions (no small feat since I only weigh 150 lbs). I know I’ve hit 50 mph while riding in the mountains of California a couple times. However, my most memorable 50+mph ride was in a Cat 4 race at Lago Vista (just outside Austin) last season. There was a steep downhill on the backside of the course and the peloton would hit 50 mph every lap. It’s definitely a little unnerving to ride in a pack when you’re doing 50 mph on tires the width of Scotch Tape.

As evidenced in the video above from the 2003 Tour de France (when Lance Armstrong does a little cyclocrossing), anything can happen (even to pros) when you’re going downhill that fast.

pros going downhill - don't try this at home

pros going downhill - don't try this at home

In fact, even the pros get a little skittish when speeds go north of 50 mph. In today’s Stage 6 of the Giro de Italia the pros hit ridiculous speeds on the descent off the Hochkrimml. The pros were even “comparing” their top speeds (just like the ThinkCashers on our Tuesday Nighter) after the descent. So who had the top speed? Saxo Bank’s JJ Haedo hit 117 kph – that’s 72.7 mph!

36 responses to “Top speed on a bicycle – how fast can you go downhill?

  1. 72.7 MPH!! That is insane!

  2. i hit 61 kmph on my 87 falcon riding home from work today… thought i was bookin it. that guy went almost twice as fast!@

  3. I’ve done 67mph in a race in Ireland down Mount Leinster. Spinning out a huge gear that day.

  4. There’s a hill near my house that I use to train for the Mount Washington Hill Climb. Coming down it I can break 60 mph. If you want to see the terrain on a map go to

    maps.google.com and seach on

    County Rte 51, Morris, NY

    if you pan left and zoom in a bit left to the wooded portion then click terrain you will see a 1,000+ ft stretch that drops 200 ft – for an almost 20% grade.

  5. I hit 65.9 mph on the Galibier (after climbing up from the Vallios side). Too much french food, I needed to find a rest-station…stat! The poor, fat german in his beemer pissed himself as I blew by him.

  6. 165km/h so I guess just around the 100mph mark. Mind you, this was on a real big ring and in the slipstream of a team car, going downhill.

  7. Fricking WOW…that’s incredible 117 kph?!?! my record is something 65kph on the national highway.. but i had a mountain bike, not a road one.. but still 117??

  8. 72mph is nuts. On the BHF London to Brighton cycle ride this year I hit 48.5mph on a hybrid and though I should stop peddling before I fell off and died.

  9. I managed 43mph (68kph) on a Specialized Hardrock Sport, not the most areodynamic of machines, still felt very sketchy though!

  10. In Cumbria on my way to John O Groats.
    37 mph on a Specialized Sirrus loaded with front and rear panniers (bike and gear weighed 30kg)
    I hit a bump and thought the bike was going to snap.

  11. I used to hit 52 mph routinely as a kid, now even the low high 30s leave me worried and the low 40s can cause me to think of panicking. So, enjoy it while you can. (I did crash a number of times as a kid, broke a number of bones, but I was never scared and always enjoyed it. Now I am afraid that often I prefer going uphill).

  12. 32 MPH through Bay Area traffic, level grounded on a fixed geared Bianchi. Hit Nob Hill breakless, breaking the 50 mark. Now that’s a sport. Call it the Death Games. If you have a wife and kids, you probably aren’t gonna hang. Cycle first, family and loved ones will be in the after life.

  13. I clocked 58mph when i was 15 and did faster without knowing actual speed I recon and on a mtb too. Trying to get round a bend at those speeds is ridiculous. I remember being almost on the curb and thinking ‘this is gonna be messy!’ I got away with it fortunatley. At 28 I’m now building a racer for beating 58mph, never wore a helmet and as a dad I may change that for the attemts. I really hope that I don’t feel like OLD GUY when it comes to it, if I do at least I will have a nice bike for climbing them hills :)

  14. Not an enthusiast, so I don’t have a bike worth more than a few bucks (it’s a mtb) nor do I do anything to decrease my drag (clothes, position, etc), but with a light tailwind on level ground, in my lowest gear I can maybe peak at 30 mph in a half mile stretch of road and at that speed I’m having to pedal pretty fast. Average cruising speed is probably in the 15-20 mph range.

    72 mph is sketchy in a car, let alone on a bike. At those speeds the chances of something going wrong are high (hell even a small pebble and you’re done), and you’d be lucky to walk away alive.

  15. 84 kmh is my record. I was 25 then. Nowadays (33) I dont go over 55 kmh. I see no point…

  16. My record is about 60 mph on my boardman bike.

  17. I have hit 54.5 mph coming down of the Elan Valley Wales, 3.5 miles down hill, from 280m. Great fun, I have overtaken cars and kept up with motor bikes coming down there, you should see there faces. Do be carefull if you try it there are two left handers on it, there are sheep on the road and even cattle in summer and just to top it of, watch out for falling rocks. Good luck !!

  18. I hit 45mph yesterday on the frame. Best descent of my life. And I’m only 15!

  19. I’ve done 86 km/h = 53.4 mph once, down from the Kata viewpoint on Phuket Island, towards the south. Chances of surviving if you hit anything at all must be below 10%. I never did it again. The guy above who has “overtaken cars and kept up with motor bikes coming down there” must have nerves of steel!

  20. I’ve hit 39.9 mph! Short but steep down hill drop in San Antonio, Texas,
    Going down 1604. Pedals were useless at that point, sure got the adrenaline going! Fun Fun Fun!

  21. Slower than you guys, but plenty scary. This was done on a downhill. I was just about topped out as far as rpm on both. the fixed gear could have gone a little faster, but I am new to the fixed gear thing so I don’t use clips yet and one foot slipped off. I am sure glad I have hand brakes.

    36.4 mph on a 17.8 pound specialized s-works langster with a 48 x 13 fixied gear.

    39.6 mph on a 44 pound lowrider with whitewall knobbies and a 65 x 20 gearing with an internal 3 speed hub and coaster brake.

  22. I managed 50.3mph today on my Trek 1.2 out of Harrogate (UK) down a modest, but nice and long hill. I’ve ridden this route so many times, I know exactly where every road imperfection is to attempt this safely. I’m 38 and a big guy which will obviously make this a bit easier though! Pleased to manage to get over 50mph though.

  23. 52mph on the A30 just before the Bodmin turn off. traffic overtaking on the
    right and then I got wheel wobble, the front wheel oscillating alarmingly and the only thing I could do was ride it out.Strangely I was calm enough to consider whether or not it was better to pre empt a crash by throwing myself
    off to the left on the hard shoulder or risk not having the choice and being pitched into the traffic.
    Luckily it didn’t come to that !

  24. I can’t get over 36 mph on a hill where others speed past me. My bike and I weigh about 130 lbs, my top gear is 52/12, cadence is 120-125. Could anyone tell me what I should try to go faster downhill? Higher gears, pedal faster, faster wheels, more aero bike/position…lead water bottles? ;-) I have a specialized allez elite road bike.

  25. I was cranking down this cat 3 in NH. Hit 12.2MPH!!! Crazy right. A little over 12 mph. Had to shut it down though because I started to get nauseous, and the death wobble in the front. Thanks Trek, the 5.9 Pilot is really what a speed demon needs.

  26. I feel pretty good after reading these…34.7mph on a stock GT Avalanche mountain bike, no clips (age 40 thank you very much!)

  27. I hit 51 mph last month at Crawford Notch in NH. What a blast, but still a little freaky for this old guy. (But I liked it so much I did it 4 times. 2 times each on 2 separate days, the ride back up was a bitch though LOL) My bike is a 2004 Giant OCR 3, so while I love it, it’s nothing special.

    My advice (for what it’s worth) for anyone going for a personal down hill speed record, (I’m jealous of you guys hitting 60), is just don’t lose your nerve. Just ride out the hill. Believe me, you’ll get to the bottom. Relax and let the bike ride itself, you just steer a little. I believe if you try and “adjust” your speed too much by braking or any other “business”, then you’ll probably skid out and crash. RELAX.

    Also know the road you are riding. You need to know where there are side roads if any, or sandy patches, rough patches, sharp turns, and, as someone else mentioned, cattle, and so on.

    Oh yeah, Relax and be careful.

  28. I hit 47mph mountain biking down a ski trail on a specialized stumpjumper a few years back. It was beyond sketchy; lots of rocks and ruts.

  29. I tee boned a car that came out of nowhere 71kms, I didn’t see it as I was on a massive hill near Wollongong Australia and was checking my speed which I thought was fast. Result compound fracture tibea, fiber and fema. 3 months in hospital 2 major operations later. I now cruise and I am ageing

  30. Eric Barone

    Barone tried but failed to break his record of more than 220 kmh (118 mph) on a bicycle on the slopes of the Les Arcs ski resort in the Alps

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4368844/mountain_bike_high_speed_record_accident/

    Nicaragua volcano

  31. I once hit 55 MPH on an old road bike i picked up at a garage sale. it was not intentional as I didn’t think the bike would take it, but the brake line broke after i was already at about 35 MPH on a steep grade and there was no way of slowing down until the next hill where i coasted to a stop. I walked the rest of the way home

  32. wanna go faster, you just need a skateboard. 70 MPH int he wenachee valley. https://vimeo.com/27472642

  33. The fastest I ever did on just a cheap old trek (70$), just over 61km/h (38mph) on a level ground. The bike weight over 14kgs itself, and was 20yrs old. Hoping that one day may get chance to race some pro competition… Never actually tried and now truly regret.

  34. Thing you gotta think about when going down hill above 40mph.
    With just cycling lycra on you are going to not just lose skin, you can go through the skin to the muscle.
    The momentum is far more than on a flat surface and you will slide a lot further damaging skin and muscle.
    Anything in the 50-60mph your gonna need a wheel chair if you come off.

  35. I knew I had no chance to place or win the 1986 Cascade cycling classic in Bend Oregon. I was a 17 year old junior when I finally got the chance to race with the professionals. I decided I’d lead the pack down the mountain. I clocked out at 62.7MPH, a personal best which was a huge feat due to my gear limitations of 53×15. Back in the day, I could spin my legs at 206 RPM’s.

  36. 55mph down a hill above steeton and heading down to the addingham bypass , west yorks. I did this on a raleigh activator in 1994 . If my memory serves me right its called dob lane

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