How Far Can You Commute on a Bike?

Every bike commute journey is different in terms of distance, terrain, traffic and so on.

You’re no doubt wondering just what kind of bike commuting distance is likely to be just the right amount for you, as we’ll answer now.

How far can you commute on a bike? For most people, a 5-mile bike commute each way would be a bike commute to do several times a week; this would probably take around 45 minutes each way. However, it depends on the time you have, your level of physical fitness, type of roads, traffic and the type of bike you use.

The time given above allows for hills, wind and traffic, as we will almost all come across these on a bike commute at some point so they need to be considered.

A 2-mile bike commute would be suitable for beginner bike commuters and likely something that they could do 3 or more times a week.

A 30-minute bike commute can provide great benefits of repeated over time, which it could easily be given that the average commuting time by car in the USA is one and half times more, at close to 45 minutes.

To look into all the factors affecting how far you might like to bike commute on a regular basis, let’s consider them in turn below.

Time Available

Many of you willl want to bike commute regardless of the time, but if it takes too long for you to do this then it might not be an ideal solution for you.

To get an idea of how long it would take you to cycle to work, Google maps cycling route function is the quickest and easiest way to find out.

From there, I’d suggest you add in an extra 10% of time time to make up for things like unlocking your bike at your house, locking it up the other end, and putting on wet weather gear.

The next step would then be to actually do a practice run of this to see your real time taken to bike commute.if you do the practice run outside of work times, like on the weekend, then remember to to add on a little bit more time again to allow for rush-hour traffic.

Remember that your time taken bike commuting might get slightly faster as you get better at it, more familiar with the route and perhaps physically fitter from doing it often. So the first few times you do it will probably be the slowest.

The questions for you answer here would be to decide:

  • How long is too long for you to bike commute?
  • Is riding for one hour something you think you could do often?

Clearly having the option of flexible working is something that will be a big help in terms of riding to work from far away.


Another factor in deciding how far is too far to bike commute is the amount of hills on your route.

This is noted here because hills, even on a shorter cycle to work, make your ride much more intense and tiring.

Yet again, Google maps cycling directions function can help you here because it shows you the elevation on your route.

This appears both in the elevation estimate and also as a graph, showing you visually the ups and downs on the route.

Once more, doing the cycle to work as a practice run a few times will give you an idea of just how hard it would be to cycle your distance to work on a regular basis.

Don’t forget that you could also get yourself an exercise bike or go to a spin class to improve your fitness in this respect if you find it a little bit hard to cycle from your house to work at the moment.


Another question about how far you can bike commute is actually about how often you can do it.

As such, the sustainability of riding on your journey is a question to consider in that you will probably want to ride to work more than just once as a challenge!

Even a 20-mile bike commute is possible, but it is unlikely to be sustainable unless either you have a very high level of fitness and/or an electric bike with few hills.

Once more, this comes back to practicing and finding out the impact on you for how far you need to ride for your journey.

if it feels like it will impact your performance at work, or even with your family when you get home, then you might think about changing your route, your bike or rethinking how you cycle to work that far.

In terms of the last point above, rethinking could come in the form of driving part of the way we and cycling the rest.

Equally, you could look into using public transport part of the way and cycling the rest, provided that you can take your bike on public transportation!


Your overall level of physical fitness will also determine how far you can commute by bicycle.

This is something that you can definitely improve over time, but obviously it takes practice and weeks or months before you will notice a real change here.

You can obviously take it easy to start if you are trying to bike commute long-distance.

Remember that to be able to ride long distances to work, you will need to be patient and and it will get easier with time.

In fact, you can see this full guide to long-distance bike commuting and how to break it down and make it easier for more hints and tips.

As mentioned elsewhere in this post, you could get an exercise bike or a trainer wheel for your existing bike to practice riding at home to give you the extra fitness without actually going out on the route.


The type of roads you have on your journey to work will also affect how far you can commute by bike.

For instance, roads with poor quality surfaces can slow you down dramatically, making your journey much longer and harder.

there may also be roads like three ways that you could commute by car easily but would have to avoid when riding to work on your bicycle.

This would again mean a difference in the route and the time it takes for you to get to work on two wheels.

Road surfaces will also make a difference in terms of your commute time.

This is because better roar surfaces allow for faster bikes like road bikes, whereas poorer surfaces will mean a slower ride for the same distance, likely being more suited to a gravel or mountain bike.

You may also find sections of your cycle commute journey are in cycleways, which is great for keeping things simple and less stressful.


As you can no doubt imagine, there is a huge difference in terms of riding on roads for 1 mile with no traffic compared to 1 mile of rush hour traffic jams.

The two key differences here are the time it will take you and how enjoyable it will be, as well as how safe it will be.

Weaving in and out of rush hour traffic can be a tiring and stressful task, so factor this in when you are thinking about the distance of your cycle commute.

Type of Bike

having the right type of bike can make a huge difference when you think about how far your commute is.

For instance, touring bike is much better suited to longer commutes them something like a comfort bike.

So if you do want to go further by bike, then you need to have the right bike for your journey.

I would suggest getting a touring bike or an electric bike for commuting 8 miles and over each-way.

Touring bikes are great because they are are extremely strong and built to carry heavy loads for long distances.

Electric bikes also good bad because they can can help you to maintain a higher speed for longer with a little bit less effort, although you will still need to pedal on them for the motor to help you.

If interested in an electric bike, check out this complete guide to getting the right one for your journey.


the local weather in your area can also slow down or make a short bike commute feel a lot further.

Cycling on rainy days is slower because you will have to change clothes at either end, so even though the journey time might not take any longer on the bike, the whole time it will take will be a bit longer than on good weather days.

In more extreme weather, snow and ice can again make even a short journey feel like I’m very long and stressful one.

As such, it helps for you to think about your local climate and where the conditions throughout the different seasons.

This can help you to judge whether this will impact how far you can bike commute for your journey.

People Also Ask

How far should I cycle my commute? Any distance is good, but if you’re looking to get fit it lose weight, then a journey that makes you break a sweat on a regular basis will help you.

How far is too far to bike to work? Too far is likely the kind of distance and journey time that you would affect your performance at work. This obviously varies for each person so try riding as a practice and see how you get on.

Is 12 miles too far to cycle to work? It’s not too far but it’s likely quite a long journey for most people of average fitness, especially with hills. To make it more manageable, you can look into driving part of the way or getting an ebike to help you.

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