Usain Bolt’s top speed of 12.27 meters per second would be fast enough for him to take off on Titan. Bolt could actually fly like the man of steel on one of Saturn’s moons while wearing a wingsuit.
Why you’re not as fast as Bolt yet
Over 100 meters, Bolt is estimated to accelerate to a top speed of 27.8 miles per hour. Fast enough to be pulled over for speeding in a school zone. And 25% faster than Tyreek Hill’s 40.
According to researchers in the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory, Bolt has a unique stride. With every single step, he generates a tremendous amount of force with his legs and flicks his feet into the air – critical for elite sprinters in order to achieve top speed as quickly as possible.
Bolt’s right foot generates a lot more impulse than his left. The force of the impact is more concentrated, strikes with greater speed and Bolt’s left foot hits the ground later than his right—all of which might lead to Bolt exerting greater force on his right leg than on his left.
This may have inspired a spring-heeled concept that could see Bolt (or you) rocket upwards of 50mph, after computer simulations showed it was possible to dramatically increase the amount of energy people put into each stride by improving performance while their feet are in the air.
“We wanted to see what physics allows and then explore it further by developing a device. This shows us how far we can push the boundaries and what key features we should focus on to develop the new technology.”David Braun
Breaking Down Amazing Speed from an Unlikely Sprinter
The prototypical elite sprinter is typically a compact athlete, not a tall and lean one. At 6’5″, Bolt is often literally head and shoulders above the other competitors. He should be last out of the blocks and out of the race before it starts. Yet Bolt is the fastest man on this planet by a wide margin.
The ability of an athlete to produce power, speed, and endurance when running is determined by their make-up muscle fibers. The dominance of one specific type of muscle fiber over another, specifically the ratio of fast-twitch to slow-twitch muscles, is in a sprinter’s DNA.
Fast-twitch muscle fibers produce no more energy than slow-twitch fibers when they contract. Still, they do so more rapidly through anaerobic metabolism. This allows for maximal power in short bursts or over brief distances, but at the cost of efficiency over long, sustained periods of use.
The average human has a nearly equal ratio of fast to slow-twitch muscle fibers. While top sprinters possess as much as 80% fast-twitch fibers. And their counterparts, top long-distance runners, show upwards of 80% slow-twitch.
Usain Bolt’s top speed between 60-80 meters
Forgetting simulations and limitations for a moment, the man is faster than the estimated average traffic inside Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. Without traffic lights and stop signs, at peak acceleration, Bolt hits a top speed three times greater than that of an average human.
His average speed throughout his record breaking 100 meter dash was 37.58 km/h or 23.35 mph.
So in 2011 Belgian scientists used lasers to measure Bolt’s performance at different stages of a 100-meter race held in September. They found that 67.13 meters into the race, Usain Bolt top speed reaches 27.78 mph.