Monday, October 19, 2009

Bicycle Speed vs Horse Speed

On a trip to Malacca last week, I noticed two mountain bikers resting by the road. This scene brought the word 'rider' to my mind, which in turn brought up images of Mongol horse riders, inspired by a series of Genghis Khan novels I read not so long ago.

And then the inevitable question rose in my mind. What is faster? A bicycle, or a horse?

So i did some searching on the WWW, and this is what I found:-

A reasonably fit, young person riding a road bike on flat ground could probably hit a top speed of about 30 mph (50 km/h).

An Olympic track cyclist could hit speeds of up to 40 mph (65 km/h).

A racing horse could hit 55 mph (90 km/h).

A cheetah can get up to 70 mph (112 km/h).

Someone on a high-tech recumbent bike recently broke the speed record for human-powered-vehicles with a speed of 80 mph (130 km/h). (Recumbent bikes are faster than traditional Olympic bikes because their design reduces drag).

Our average road car; 100 mph (160 km/h).

So, the conclusion is that a horse rider from Genghis Khan's army was probably about as fast, or a little faster than our Olympic track cyclist. But with a high-tech bike, the horse falls behind.

The beauty of this conclusion lies in the fact that with a bicycle, all the power comes from the rider himself, while with a horse, the power comes from the horse. Therefore, the bicycle as a contraption is able to take our measly strength and turn it into something comparable with a mighty horse. This is just astounding.

It just shows that sheer, brute strength is nothing compared to a little ingenuity.

We would find that there are many parallels to this concept in the business world. Credit facilities amplify the little capital that we have. Business systems amplify the vision of an entrepreneur. Computer programs amplify operational efficiency.

So, the next time we find ourselves up against some mighty obstacle (like being asked to race a horse, perhaps), know that as long as you still have the jelly between your ears, you are not dead.

Andrew Chua



  1. Hey, thats a nice topic, thanks! I was looking for this information like a few days and finally, here it is. You're awesome.
    I love cycling and doing it everyday. I've used to ride a regular bike, but now I've switched to an electric bikes, so now, I'm searching everything about it. Here are the links of my profiles plus the list of useful links I've found: