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What’s faster, a mountain bike or a motorized bike?

Answer: Depends on the terrain.

Mountain biking in forest. Generative AI
Mountain biking in forest. Generative AI
romanv13/Roman -
There are a lot of situations in which a bicycle powered by a motor will probably be faster than a bike powered solely by humans, but there’s one place where it seems pedal power is the way to go: downhill mountain biking.

Red Bull recently set out to see which is faster by having Jonny Walker, one of the world’s best dirt bike racers, take on its Hardline course. Located in Wales in the UK, the Hardline is one of the most difficult and technical downhill mountain bike race courses in the world. The record speed for completing the 1.4-mile course is 2:20.5, set by Jackson Goldstone in 2022.

While Goldstone set his record riding a 37-pound Santa Cruz V10.8 downhill mountain bike with hp (human power) at the rear wheel, Walker was on a 235-pound 2024 Beta RR 300 two-stroke dirt bike with 39 hp (29 kW) at the rear wheel. While it might sound faster on paper, Walker’s bike has a distinct disadvantage in this scenario due to its weight, which can make it much harder to maneuver in technical areas like tight turns. Walker finished with a time of 2:33, not as speedy as the fastest mountain biker but enough to give him the third-fastest time on the course.