An unscientific experiment into the effects of the wind when cycling


Everyone who rides a bike will have battled against headwinds at one time or another.  I remember one occasion when cycling along the seafront on a particularly windy day, that it was so strong, I almost came to a standstill. It wasn’t quiet that bad when I was out a couple of weeks ago but it was strong enough to make me start to ask the question ‘just what effect did the wind have on my speed / time’.

Now before I get into the data (or what there is of it), I must point out that the bike (Ridgeback Motion) I was riding is about as aerodynamic as a brick. It’s a very comfortable ride and does exactly what I bought it for, mainly leisure and getting around town when I try to be more environmentally friendly. It has a very upright riding position, so the effect of the wind will be amplified.

And there was no methodical timing, doing the route several times to get an average, making sure the wind was blowing at a constant speed (although goodness knows how I would have done that!). And to cap it all off, the road was not perfectly flat. Pretty flat, but not perfectly flat. But at least the distance was exactly the same coming back as it was going out.

So with all of that in mind:

  • Wind speed: 10mph
  • Time going out: 37:35
  • Time coming back: 25:29

So the time difference was 12:06.

Now if the effect of a headwind slowed me down as much as a tailwind assisted me, then a 10 mph wind over a 6 mile journey could either get me there 6 minutes quicker or make me six minutes late.

I am sure this is completely flawed, but hey, this is about bikes isn’t it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s