Why Does My Bike Feel Sluggish? (Beginners Guide)

Bike Feel Sluggish

Riding your bike is great when you can cycle as fast as you deem fit without feeling a drawback during the ride.

However, when you use too much oil consistently or do not, your bike feels sluggish during use.

This can be because of different reasons, ranging from your bike tire pressure to your drivetrain efficiency. So, if you want to know why your bike feels slow, you are in the right place. 

If your bike feels sluggish, it is usually due to mechanical issues like brake friction, loss of power, loose cranks, low tire pressure, or wheel issues. It could also be because of extra weight on the bike or a flappy jersey. You can fix these issues without difficulty if you know the origin of the problem.             

Reasons Your Bike Feels Sluggish

Bike Feel Sluggish

A slow bike is very frustrating to ride, especially if you are cycling with your peers.

Though getting a new bike might come to mind, you should check the bike for mechanical issues and try to fix them.

Below are some of the reasons your bike feels sluggish:

#1. Low Tire Pressure

The first thing to check is your tires. A slightly flat or leaking tire is often the reason bikes feel slow.

The tire increases its resistance to roll smoothly as you ride with low tire pressure.

However, if your tire does not feel or look flat, it might be softer than usual, with low friction power. 

The outer surface of your tire that touches the ground carries when you are cycling. That part rolls, leave the ground, and cycles back to the ground again.

As the tire consistently rolls, it loses kinetic energy to the bump and traction absorption. This reduces the hard tire texture, creating more rebound absorption and generating energy loss.

This continual process makes your bike feel sluggish.

#2. Dirty Drivetrain

The drivetrain of your bike comprises derailleurs, chains, and gears. The grease in the drivetrain component can also dry up with use.

These will cause your bike pedals to generate pedaling resistance, causing the bike to feel slow during usage. 

You can remedy this problem with constant lubrication and drivetrain cleaning.

Some issues that can arise from drivetrain dirt build-up and loss of lubrication include:

  • The debris wears down the metal surface of the drivetrain component and reduces its efficiency.
  • The teeth of the gears become difficult to slide through the chain links.
  • The chain links cannot hinge as freely as they should.

You can use lubricants like Syn Lubricant to increase your drivetrain efficiency and reduce friction.

#3. Brake Pad Alignment

When you do not properly adjust the brakes in your bike, they might drag on the rotor. This is the same as lightly braking while riding your bike.

Thus, it will make your bike feel sluggish while cycling. The adjustment for your brake depends on the style of your brake. 

If the pad comes in contact with only one part of the rim, then your wheel alignment is wrong and requires truing.

The tire can also be in contact with the frame and slow your bike down. This also signifies an incorrect wheel mounting and will require immediate truing.

#4. Under-inflated Tires

With under-inflated tires, your bike will generate road friction and rolling resistance. This will reduce the rotation of your wheel, and you have to cycle harder to keep up with your speed. 

According to tire manufacturers, 100 psi is the maximum pressure of your tire, and a minimum pressure of 85 psi should be in your tire.

To find your tire average tire pressure, check the side of your tire or consult the manufacturer. 

#5. Loose Cranks

Loose cranks create a drag on the pedals and bottom bracket. This will cause your bike to feel sluggish when you are cycling.

Tighten your cranks with an Allen key tool before riding your bike.   

#6. Flappy Jersey

Wearing an ill-fitting jersey can also make your bike feel slow. Your kit might be why your bike feels sluggish, especially if it is an oversize kit.

It could also distract you, slowing you down when you are cycling. Get a comfortable and also fit riding kit for better and more efficient bike speed when cycling.        

What Is Average Cycling Speed?

The average cycling speed is 15 miles per hour ride.

The average cycle speed for a beginner cyclist is ten mph, but as you keep training, you can get up to an average of 18 to 22 miles per hour.

However, the average cycle speed for a professional cyclist is 25 miles per hour

This indicates that the average cycling speed actually depends on your level as a cyclist. 

How Can I Make My Bike Run Smoother?   

For your bike to run at a smoother pace, the highest speed upgrade is to increase the aerodynamics of your bike.

Increasing your bike aero will give it a significant speed boost. Though this is very efficient in making your bike run smoother, it comes with a high cost.

You can also clean your bike, lube your drivetrain and lower the front end of your cycle.

#1. Clean Your Bike

A clean bike gives you a smooth and fast ride; therefore, cleaning and maintaining your bike is essential.

As your bicycle accumulates grit and debris, it will make your bike feel sluggish and also reduce its efficiency on the road.

You can clean your bike by giving it a quick rinse after every ride and a more thorough cleaning once in a while.

Make sure you scrub off the dirt in your drivetrain components, especially the constantly moving parts. This will allow the wheels to spin freely as you ride your bike.

#2. Lube Your Chain

The chain transfers energy from the pedals to your bike wheels. Therefore, you can not afford to lose power in your chain as it will reduce the drivetrain efficiency.

To avoid losing energy, clean your chain and apply lube to it every once in a while after rides. If you lube your chain occasionally, it will increase your bike speed.

However, do not apply too much lube to avoid rust in your drivetrain components.

#3. Lower the Front End of the Bike

Lowering the front end of your bicycle involves taking off the excess spacers between your bike stem and headset. You can do this in any local bike mechanic store.

Lowering the front end will increase the aerodynamic position of your bike. However, it cannot be productive if you are not comfortable and efficient when you are cycling. 

If you can keep up with the power your bike will require, this method will make your bike run smoother and faster.

It is a good practice to reduce the spacers gradually to allow them to accommodate the new setting of the bike aerodynamics.

If you feel pain in your neck or back while riding, raise the stem back to normal and work on your riding flexibility and strength. 

How Do I Increase My Cycling Speed?                

You can increase your cycling speed by increasing your tire pressure, if low, your drive efficiency, and reduce the weight on your bike.

As a rider, you should be able to ride your bike at an average speed of 15 miles per hour. If you can’t reach this average, here are some tips to increase your cycling speed:

#1. Increase Your Tire Pressure

This is one of the essential steps to increasing your cycling speed. If your tire pressure is low, correct the tire pressure by pumping the tires.

You can increase your tire pressure from 85psi to 100psi to get a higher cycling speed.

#2. Drivetrain Efficiency

A dirty drivetrain can be a distraction and make the bike feel sluggish. Therefore, clean out the grease and debris that are clogging your drivetrain.

Also, lubricate the chains to ensure smooth and better cycling speed.   


Your bike can feel slow because of its low tire pressure, dusty drivetrain, faulty brake, and wheel alignment, or wearing the wrong riding kit.

However, you can increase the speed and efficiency of your bike by using lubricants on the chains and using the correct tire pressure for your bicycle.

Josh Matthews

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *