The Bell curve of cylists - how fast are the average TR users?

Keep in mind that the population is not a normal cycling population. By its nature, it attracts people who will be on then high end the bell curve.


Yes, both TR and IICU have userbases that clearly don’t represent the global cyclist population. That’s why I’m quite happy to be moving from the 1st percentile to roughly the 3rd, and to have (I believe) a reasonable hope of hitting the 8th or even 10th percentile with another year of training.

I’m thrilled to see these results PRECISELY because the userbase skews to the high end of the population’s bell curve, and I’ve been training for less than 2 years, and I’m still 50 pounds overweight, AND I have only 2-4 hours a week to spend on the bike. All things considered, I’m ecstatic. :grinning:


Unless you are accounting for age, I think that it is very much on the LOW end of what is possible.

ETA some data.

Here is maximal power for non-sprint trained kids and adults across a wide range of ages. On average, it peaks in young adulthood at about 18 Wpk, which would top the ICU chart.

Similarly, mean power for young untrained men during a 30 second Wingate test is usually about 10 Wpk, which would also top the chart.

Coggan famously calculated that the the average young person could achieve 4 Wpk for FTP, which would also almost top the ICU chart.

Coggan famously calculated that the the average young person could achieve 4 Wpk for FTP, which would also almost top the ICU chart.

He was saying that even with training, most people will top out at 3.9W/kg due to genetics.

As for the paper you mention: given that we can safely assume that people on ICU have at least had some training, and your numbers are supposed to be averages, there is no way to reconcile both datasets, because this would mean that any average untrained person would top the ICU chart. And that clearly makes little sense.

This brings me hope because after reaching 4wkg lat October I’ve declined to 3.7wkg and am having huge issue at Vo2max power which of course curbed my 20 min tests. Yet, my 1 min power went up from 377 to 544w (7.6wkg) - a huge jump and my 5 min power went up 10w to 341w (4.6wkg)

I’ve been Z2, then Z3 since October with 1 x weekly low cadence 1-6 min efforts (50rpm @3.6wkg) with the exception of some failed VO2max efforts between races although am much better a climbing lower hills and have greater endurance but my top end has gone.

My chart looks top 20% ish, but I never feel or race as good at that indicates.

1 Like

From the graph it looks more like 1/3rd, but anyway, the “problem” here is of course that if you go race you’re going to encounter more people from the top of that graph than the bottom!

I wonder how many people really top out at 4 genetically vs those who see diminishing returns and give up when they only gain 3-5w per year

I wonder how many people really top out at 4 genetically vs those who see diminishing returns and give up when they only gain 3-5w per year

He wasn’t looking at the distribution of W/kg numbers to make the prediction, so what you mention is largely not relevant to that estimate.

(Given the assumptions, I wouldn’t read too much into the exact numbers, I think his point was more that you definitely can’t assume everyone will be able to reach 4W/kg or whatever benchmark you have in mind.)

So where did the estimate come from?

So can I assume that I’m genetically gifted if I had 4 w/kg before I even started structured training? When I started structured a month ago I had a 260 ftp at 65kg. Up to that point I was riding unstructured for a year, 2-3 times per week, but some weeks with time completely off the bike. Mostly 40km rides, with the occasional 80ish ride mixed in.

32y/o, male, no real backround in endurance sports, only bodyweight excercise 3 times a week.

Really looking forward to my next ftp test in about 10 days!

1 Like

My apologies, I was referring to my 2/3hr which are not show there as I haven’t done anything that long with a PM for 42 days. I’m an MTB Marathon racers so thats my target watts - 84 day graph highlights that better.

Not sure if I’m a slow-twitcher or a middle of the roader who has turned himself into a TT’er over the last 40 years.

I have not done a 20min test this season, or anything hard under 20min. Bests last year were 420w for 5min, 390w for 10min, 350w for an hour (that PM read a little high – might knock about 10w off each of those).

I changed my Strava last fall. I no longer have the data from '12-'20.

1 Like

Definitely gifted, provided those numbers are accurate and not based off of virtual power or a bad power meter. Well done :tada:

1 Like

Yea I was worried about my smart trainer being off at first, but I recently also got a power meter for my bike and the reported numbers match :slight_smile:


So where did the estimate come from?

Read the original discussion. It’s linked in my post.

Looks like a lot of guessing based on guesses based on average guesses

1 Like

I’m now 49. I’ve not really given myself a good go at it over the past 3-4 years due to my rowing commitments. I stepped away from the rowing in 2019 and started with more consistent cycling - then got sick in early 2020 with a couple of bad colds (I don’t think either of them were Covid) and dropped to 215W.

My most recent ramp test was 270W, and I have got back under 80kg, so I am approaching 3.5W/kg. I am starting to feel like I’m getting into diminishing returns territory now, and my consistency may have to drop since I’m going back to commuting soon.

Before the rowing took over, I was around the same FTP at my best 8m test result. Maybe this is my genetic limit, though I think I can lose a bit more weight. There’s still upper body fat I could shed, I think.

Interesting you note this – I’ve had a few athletes who do both sports observe that 2k power should match up with FTP watts pretty well.

1 Like

I was actually referring to my best results on the TR 2x8m test coming out around the same as my current FTP, from before the rowing sapped all my cycling time.

However, you’re right, I have noticed the same thing you mention. My highest FTP on the bike has been around 275W, and my 2K PB is 7:13.1, which if you plug into the Concept 2 pace calculator, suggests a 276W average power. I do feel it’s a bit harder to get the same number of Watts out on the rowing machine, for sure.

I read that somewhere else as well and I feel like thats too low, but OTOH I have N=1 bias and its hard to be grounded. I have a suspicion though that most people mentally check out quick (like what another poster had mentioned) and that might be why he sees a “cap” at around 4w/kg avg.

I am a triathlete but these powers are based off of zwift races on a tacx neo, which i have double checked with a 4i and its accurate. It’s funny I am a Puncheur, but I have to admit my short 1min-5min power is quite good. Its funny because I do long course, but I think perhaps I am just physiologically gifted in sprints? Perhaps it’s youth? Or maybe its from years of soccer prior to triathlon? Who knows, but yeah I feel pretty lucky if 4 is the average cap hahaaha!

1 Like