Keeping up with bicycles

Having never ridden a bike for distance before let me pose a question to you guys.

How plausible is it to tour with bicycling companions? On a geared 29"

If the bikers are slow and like to wait around a lot, then you’ll be fine.

get them to carry your luggage too - it’ll hinder them and help you…

What type of bikes will your bicycling companions be riding?

If they’re riding cruisers or comfort bikes along a canal path you’ll be able to keep close to them much easier than if they are riding racing bikes and like to go fast.

If it’s a loaded tour style ride then make them carry all the gear like Mike suggested and you should be able to stay close as long as they’re casual and don’t want to go fast. Fully loaded touring bikes don’t like to go fast.

You have to be a fair bit stronger of a rider to keep up with bikes while on a uni. You’ll also find that you don’t stay close but will end up passing them uphill and having them pass you downhill, assuming everyone is keeping an even pace.

edit: I mean you’ll have to be a fair bit of a stronger rider than the bikes you are riding with

If they carry a bit of your gear and you dont have much on your back or uni to carry then you should have no problem keeping up.

Touring bikes weighed down with gear will make the rider slower, especially on the uphills. Also, if it is a tour, the rider will not be going as fast as he/she can.

I ride with my friend on his hybrid bike and we can keep a nice speed together when I am riding my geared 29, he probably could be going a little faster, but its no big deal for him to ride at my speed. On the geared 29 I am faster than some of my friends on their bikes (they use comfort bikes and aren’t as into cycling as me), I also pass a lot of bicyclists on the trails. When I was training for RTL, I passed a group of road bicyclists on the trail who were riding in a group (I guess they were riding slow at around 16/17mph). The key as others have said is to ride with friends who are using hybrid/comfort bikes and don’t mind slowing down a few mph.

If you’re a fairly good XC Muni rider then you’ll definitely be able to keep up, and be ahead of, a lot of mountain bikers. In my experience, from competitive endurance mountain bike races and some local fat tire festivals, the deciding factor is skill level and endurance not speed. On my own home trail system I seem to be always be able to keep pace, more or less, with the mountain bike riders here. They’ll get ahead on the easy terrain but I seem to be in better shape overall since they make frequent breaks and I’m able to catch back up. On the more difficult terrain most are a lot slower and so they don’t get as far ahead and sometimes I’ll actually be quicker! Then when it comes to hike-a-bike sections, nothing beats hike-a-muni!!

I’m not sure about the speed of larger or geared unicycles, but I know if they are riding road bikes or tri-bikes, they can get pretty speedy.

it depends on who you are riding with and where you are riding, i can keep up with all bikers i have riden with offroad on my 24". but that would be a different story on road especially if they were experienced riders…

so it depends

I sometimes ride with my friend who has a carbon specialized Tarmac Pro.
For road riding, when both have no baggage, there is really no contest. If you are riding with an athletic road biker, they will have to go much slower than they otherwise would, uphill and down.

On the upside, I bet i could go down stairs faster and more safely than he could!

I wish I could write something encouraging

Bikes blow by me on my 36 with 140’s. I sometimes race kids on paths in a local park, riding a 20. I don’t always lose, and I find it hard to believe 4 year olds with training wheels are being so deliberately patronizing, but they don’t challenge me anymore, they have moved on…

I challenged a jogger recently, I didn’t say anything, but it felt like we were racing. It was level ground, and at first I followed my usual contorted path, on and off the sidewalk etc. But then I got serious and figured I would pull ahead on the road, but it wasn’t to be. I wish I could say she was really big and lanky, but she was fast for a small woman, and gaped me by 200 yards in about a mile.

I am sure gunis are faster, and for that matter that I suck as a fast 36 rider, but IMHO, bike riders will have to slow down to match the pace of a 36 rider in most cases.

The average biker is slower than a fast unicyclist.

The sort of biker who rides much is faster than any unicyclist.

If it’s just some mates who don’t do much cycle touring, then there should be no problems. Just make sure they carry all your gear.

When I’ve been cycle touring, we weren’t in a hurry, we only used to average 10-12 mph when riding, which is a comfortable unicycle average, anyone who rides much should be able to keep up that kind of pace on a geared 29, or an ungeared 36.

I know Sam Wakeling has done several tours with bike riding friends (him riding his coker) with no problems. It might be worth asking him for any tips.


I’d agree with all of what Joe says, except the bike touring speed. I’d say only the slowest cycle tourists have an average riding speed that low, except on really nasty routes like coast roads with lots of short extremely steep hills (sorry Joe - not trying to say you’re weedy or anything :o).

Pretty much everybody who can ride both (possibly with a few exceptions for extremely fast unicycle specialists who hardly ever ride bikes) can go considerably faster on a bike than on a unicycle, so you’d need to be a faster-than-average unicyclist to ride with average bikers and not annoy them by being too slow. But, as people have mentioned, if you make them carry all your kit you’ve tipped the balance a bit in your favour.

If I go out with my wife on her bike I’m riding pretty hard on the coker to keep up, and she still has to ride in a pretty relaxed manner. I’m not much of a speedster on a coker though (I don’t go above 16mph and usually cruise at 12-13ish) and she’s probably a bit better than the average biker. If I’m on my bike I’m considerably faster than her, but on the coker I’m a fair bit slower. If she’s towing our daughter in a trailer though… :slight_smile:

Well that got a bit waffly… I think what I’m trying to say is you’ll be fine as long as the bikers are slow, or don’t mind slowing down and occasionally waiting.


I’ve always toured either with ‘normal’ people who didn’t ride bikes regularly, or with family when I was a kid. We didn’t often do more than 50 miles in a day, and there was an awful lot of faffing, looking at churches / scenery, that sort of thing.

I think you might be surprised at how slow normal non ‘serious cyclist’ people are though, especially when they’re carrying a tent and several days worth of clothing.


If you’re including the faffing, then 10mph is not so slow - I used to reckon on 10mph average “actual journey” time when planning tours. On a long day it’d be faster with less messing, but that was a good (slightly pessimistic to be on the safe side) general estimate. I thought you meant average riding (moving) speed.

I did tend to be a rather “sporty” tourist though - more into the riding than the looking. We used to have great fun on the (fully loaded) tandem embarassing poseurs on racing bikes :stuck_out_tongue: Anyway, drifting off-topic again.


I’ve ridden a number of the local charity rides. I normally cruise at around 14-15 mph, although my speedometer may show an average of, say, 13 mph.

It may help with that to know that my cruiser bike is geared 2:1 with 26" wheels. At 15 mph, I’m churning pretty good, but with a coaster function, I’m only pedaling 1/2 or 1/3 of the time unless it’s uphill or into the wind.

On these same rides, the fastest riders are probably hitting the low 20’s for average speed, typical young healthy guys maybe 18 mph average on road bikes. I once rode my front-loading industrial tricycle on one of these rides, averaged 8 mph, and actually passed people in the process. So there is a WIDE range of speeds that people ride.

I think the sum of it is, that for bike riders sort of taking it easy, you might keep up by really working hard at it. But it’s never going to be an even event.