English Forum Switzerland

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-   -   Cycling in Switzerland (https://www.englishforum.ch/sports-fitness-beauty-wellness/9793-cycling-switzerland.html)

ChrisW 11.07.2007 14:03

Cycling in Switzerland
This thread is a collection of information on cycling in Switzerland, most of which is specific to Switzerland. I have divided this extremely long post into four sections, and because it was too long as one post, I had to divide it into one post for each section. The first section is about cycling – where to go road and mountain biking and how to get there, plus some information on accommodation options for bike tourers. The second section is about bicycles – buying, renting, importing, maintaining, and getting parts. The third section is about laws and politics – the rules that apply to cyclists, insurance, and promoting cycling. The final section is about cycling events – professional cycling and mass-participation “cyclosportifs”.

There is a lot of information about cycling on this forum now, the most useful parts of which I have tried to collect together in this thread. If you want to search other forums for information about cycling in Switzerland, then you could take a look at the Europe regional subsection of BikeForums.

About Cycling

It is difficult to find a bad place to ride your bike in Switzerland, and just exploring on your own with the aid of a map can be a lot of fun. However, some rides are certainly nicer than others and it is often useful to get some advice about the nicest places to ride in your region. This section is divided into the main types of biking (road biking, mountain biking, and bike touring) and it finishes with a discussion of maps and other route planning aids.

Before we get started, I wanted to include the link to the thread about the social gathering for cycling enthusiasts on the forum that hillseeker organized: Cyclists Meet-up in Zurich. It was a lot of fun, hopefully there will be more such events in the future.

Road Cycling
The best resource for where to ride on Swiss roads is the network of well sign-posted national cycling routes, and many regional routes. These can be viewed on the Cycling in Switzerland web-site (also known as Veloland Schweiz and La Suisse à vélo) by clicking on “Cycling routes” in the left-hand panel. The routes mostly stay on paved roads, but they do occasionally use unsurfaced roads for short sections. They avoid all busy/major roads, but sometimes do this excessively, that is, they often take a much longer, hillier route with minimal traffic rather than a more direct and flatter route with moderate traffic. In some places, part of the sidewalk is used as a bicycle lane, which can cause several problems, which were discussed in the thread Rollerblading in cycle lanes.

There is a thread here on EnglishForum devoted to Road Cycling Routes in Switzerland, but there are also many other threads that contain information about road biking in specific parts of the country:

Basel: Cycling alone, Road cycling Basel area, and Cycle friendly cities in the world - Basel rates #11.
Bern: Fitness in Bern, and [Bern] Anyone up for a bike ride to Wohlensee?.
Central Switzerland: Zurich to Andermatt by bike, Road cycling in mtns this wknd (day-trip from Zurich), Cycle route advice wanted, The Big Passes-proposed Multi-day road bike tour, and Klausen Pass- Late Notice Roadbike ride.
Lausanne: Cycling the lake (Geneva).
Neuchatel: EF Mountain Bike Tour (Jura).
Zug: Canadian cyclist May - early June
Zurich: Zurich - road cycling event, 12th August, Cycling Info/Roads, Canadian cyclist May - early June, Roadbiking from Zurich, Biking related advice/questions, Competitive cycling in Zurich, Group Road ride every Saturday from Thalwil (Zurich), [Zurich Area] Flat Cycling Routes, Sunday Road Biking Ride (13-April) - Any takers?, Zurich Road Biking Ride, [Zurich Area]English-speaking cyclists, and Zürich Roadbike Ride-Sattelegg.

Bikely and MapMyRide are websites that maintais an index of cycling routes all over the world, and include a lot in Switzerland that you could try. You can also try the routes suggested on mySwitzerland.com or tourenguide.ch (German or French).For those that love to climb the mountains and the passes on a road bike, then climbbybike.com or CyclingCols are excellent websites with information on many routes in Switzerland and the rest of Europe, AlpineRoads is similar but aimed at motorbikers. They give detailed profiles of most climbs, plus many statistics, and sometimes a report from someone who has rode the route. The TCS website shows which passes are currently open and closed in German, French, and Italian, as does swissinfo (German, French, Italian), and AlpineRoads has similar information for all the Alps (see also the thread "Swiss mountain pasees - Indexes & Opening Dates"). Another interesting web-site within this genre is Cycling Challenge, which is a blog about cycling in the Alps and has lots of information.

Mountain Biking
There are a lot of mountain bikers in Switzerland, and although there are very few dedicated trails for them, many of the hiking trails are amenable to mountain biking. However, making a trail multi-use inevitably causes issues, and these have been discussed in the following two threads: "Mountain bikers" and "Where to find decent mtb single track close to Zug".

Some folks here on EF have been trying to build up an index of mountain bike routes on the thread: Mountain Bike (MTB)Tours/Trails in Switzerland, and there are other threads that contain information about specific parts of the country:

Bern: Mountain biking trail with 'boardwalk'
Davos: Cycling in Davos
Geneva: Mountain bike in Geneva
Lausanne: In Lausanne 2 years...new to the forum though, Mountain bike in Geneva, Lausanne V. Zuerich, and Mountain Biking - Lausanne - 2008.
Verbier: "Mountain biking trail with 'boardwalk'", Le Tour du Mont-Fort
Winterthur: Any mountain bikers in Winterthur?
Zug: Where to find decent mtb single track close to Zug, and Mountain biking in Zug
Zurich: Easy access mountainbiking in Zurich, "Lausanne V. Zuerich, Mountain biking trail with 'boardwalk', Mountain bike meet in Zurich, [Zurich] Mountain Bike Meet Ups (2008), Mtn Biking in Zurich, Mountain Biking Tue 29th April[Zurich], [Kuesnacht, ZH] Mountain Biking, and [Zürich/Filzbach] Mountainbiking - Gravity powered.

Eire often organizes EnglishForum mountain bike rides near Zurich, like this one, but check the calendar for upcoming ones.

There are several websites with indexes of mountain biking routes, including:
English: mySwitzerland.com
German: ride.ch, trail.ch, tourenguide.ch, Touren, mountainbiker.ch, and traildevils.ch.
French: Guide VTT Online, AlpAvistA, RandoPleinAir, Utagawa, Guide VTT Online, tourenguide.ch and lyoba.ch.

The Swiss mountain biking magazine Ride also has a website with lots of useful information in German. For advice on mountain biking skills and technology, have a look at the site iBikeRide.

Bike Touring
Multi-day, overnight bike trips are very popular in Switzerland. The national cycling routes mentioned in the Road Biking section above give the best advice for route selection. There are nine national routes that total more than 3,300km. There was a discussion about how much of the routes are unpaved, and in what condition in the thread Any cycling enthusiasts out there?.

Veloplus is an excellent supplier of all bike touring equipment in Switzerland, from touring-specific wheel rims to sleeping bags. See the section below on Bike Parts for more details on Veloplus and other suppliers. There is also a thread on EF devoted to Bicycle panniers.

An important consideration when bike touring is where to stay. The main options include:

There are several free options. First, you can wild-camp. That is, find an un-used piece of land near the side of the road where no-one can see you and set up your tent. The legality and tolerance of this in Switzerland was discussed in the thread “Wild camping allowed?”. Rather than wild-camping, many bike tourers approach people in a house with a bit of land and ask for a place to pitch their tent, and are frequently very well received. Rather than approaching random strangers, you can find welcoming places to stay through an organization called “Warm Showers”. According to their website, “the Warm Showers List is a list of internet cyclists who have offered their hospitality towards touring cyclists. The extent of the hospitality depends on the host and may range from simply a spot to pitch a tent to meals, a warm (hot!) shower, and a bed.” By clicking on the “Map” link in the left hand panel of the site you can navigate to Switzerland and see that there are a fair number of places listed.

Alternatively, you may pay for a place to pitch your tent at an official campground. These are dotted all over Switzerland and many maps will have their locations marked. There is a list of websites with information about camping in Switzerland on the mySwitzerland.com website.

If you prefer to stay under a solid roof, then the cheapest option is staying in a youth hostel or backpackers. Both offer dormitory accommodation and some private rooms. Youth hostels are affiliated with the international organization Hostelling International, whereas backpackers are independently run and so are less standardized and generally have fewer rules.

There are some hotels in Switzerland that are geared specifically towards cyclists, which are known as velotels (but anyone can stay there), and see also Bike-Hotels.ch. These are often on the national cycling routes, have a place to store bikes, and sometimes a workshop equipped with a bike-stand. These are normally quite basic hotels and so are not very expensive.

There is obviously plenty of the more standard accommodation like hotels and bed and breakfasts. "Swiss Budget Hotels" is a good index of reasonably-priced hotels.

A more unusual, but very Swiss experience is to literally “sleep on straw” at one of over 200 Swiss farms. However, allergy sufferers should be wary of this option.

Instead of heading off independently, you may prefer a more organized trip with a tour operator. The advantage of these is that you have a group of people to ride with, the route is already planned (sometimes there is a choice of ride length/difficulty each day), there is mechanical support, the accommodation is booked, and you can often rent a bike if you do not want to bring your own. Operators include Bike Switzerland and Swiss Bike Tours, but you'll find many more by doing an internet search.

There are a couple of websites that contain journals of bike tours, including many in or through Switzerland. The main two appear to be Trento Bike and raph.nl.

There is an Ironman event held in Zurich each year called Ironman Switzerland, and there are many other shorter triathlons held all over the country. Triathlon training was discussed in the threads Ironman Training In Basel??? and Hello! Any cyclists out there?.

ChrisW 11.07.2007 14:16

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Taking your Bicycle on Public Transport
Trains: You can explore a lot further afield on your bike if you use the train to do part of the trip. There's lots of information about taking your bike on Swiss trains, including how to do so without paying anything extra by putting it in a bike bag in the thread Taking a bike on the train for free, and Bringing bicycles on trains, trams, boats, .... You may also buy a day-card to take your bike on the trains for 10 CHF, or a half price ticket for the trip you need to do if that is cheaper than 10 CHF, or if you will travel a lot by train then you can buy a one-year pass for your bike for 195 CHF. Information on taking your bike on a train in other parts of Europe can be found on this website (click on English in the bottom-right, then on “Passengers with Bicycles” in the left-hand panel).

Other types of public transport: You can take a bike on many post-buses for a small extra charge, and on most boats, but the train passes are not valid on these. Some cities allow bikes on city buses if you buy the right ticket (e.g., Lausanne), but most cities don't allow this currently. To take your bike on a plane, you should put it in a bike box or a properly protective bag or case, there are discussions about this in the threads Wanted: Bike bag and cycling travel bags.

If you have a folding bicycle, then it should be allowed on all public transport at no extra fee.

Cycling Maps
There are a lot of good maps available for Switzerland, and for cycling anything with a scale from 1:50,000 to 1:120,000 is appropriate, with the smaller scale better suited to mountain biking. A map that shows contour lines, spot-heights, and/or average gradients is essential in the mountains. There are some cycling-specific maps, but these are not always necessary, see Ken Kifer's page on how to get more information from a map for the purpose of cycling than is initially apparent. There's also discussion about cycling maps in the thread Cycling long distance in April?.

Kümmerly+Frey make an excellent series of 1:60,000 maps intended specifically for cyclists, with road and mountain biking routes marked on them. They can be seen on the Swiss Travel Center website. The other main map manufacturer is Swiss-Topo. They make excellent topographic maps, the ones at 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 are the most useful for cycling, I now almost exclusively use their 1:100,000 composite maps for riding on the roads.

There are also some maps made specifically for mountain biking, including “Swiss Singletrail Maps” and "Bike-Explorer", although neither of these provide coverage for all parts of the country. If you're not sure of your navigational capabilities then adding a GPS to your bike might help. GPS's were discussed in the EnglishForum thread “Hand-held GPS”.

It's good to know what the weather will be like before you go out. So check out the weather web-sites, MeteoNews or MeteoSchweiz. You may also want to look at some webcams to see what it is currently like up in the mountains before heading up there, so try those listed on westwind.ch, Webcam Galore, and SF Meteo. If you want to know about current wind conditions, go to this page at MeteoNews and select "Wind Speed" from the drop-down menu, or this page at NZZ.

Google satellite maps can give you a good idea of what sort of environment and terrain to expect in different areas that normal maps do not show you, and you can also use it to give you navigation directions. You can also plot your route using the “My Maps” feature in Google maps (click on the “My Maps” tab in the top left of the maps screen, or go here for help), or in Google Earth. If you use Google Earth then you can fly around the 3D world with your route clearly marked on it (particularly useful for feeling proud about the size of the mountain or pass that you climbed over). Similarly, you can also plot your route on a site called G-maps Pedometer, and this will also measure the route (in miles by default, or click “metric” in the top left to get it in kms) and give you an elevation profile, which Google maps does not currently do.

Cycling Magazines
It is difficult to buy English-language magazines on cycling in Swiss shops, as was discussed in this thread: "cycling magazines, Geneva". However, the "world's leading bike magazine" called "Bicycling" from the US is available via a one-year overseas subscription for US$40, see this site. Bicycling also maintain a good web-based version of their magazine, and BikeRadar.com is a similar site that is run by the company who produces several British cycling magazines (Cycling Plus, Mountain Biking UK, Pro Cycling, and What Mountain Bike).

About Bicycles

Buying a New Bike
It is not that much more expensive to buy a new bike in Switzerland than it is to buy a similar quality machine anywhere else in the world. However, there are certainly exceptions to this, particularly at times when the Swiss Franc is strong and other currencies are weak. There are local bike stores in every reasonable-sized town which typically have very knowledgeable and passionate staff who can help you to decide which kind of bike would be best for you. To read about different styles of bike, and what would be best for the kind of riding you want to do, see the Wikipedia article Wikipedia reference-linkList_of_bicycle_types, or this section of the CTC's web-site (the CTC is a cycling advocacy group in the UK). There is also some information in the thread Buying a racing/road bike advice needed, which includes a lot of discussion about the choice of gearing on a road bike. A few different bike brands are discussed in the thread Bike NOT to buy, etc..

Instead of buying from a local bike store, you can buy a bicycle at the big chain stores, where you'll get a slightly cheaper bike but probably worse service from the less knowledgeable staff. Such stores include: Migros Sport XX, Athleticum, and Coop Brico-Loisirs/Bau und Hobby, Aldi, and Decathlon (who currently don't hve any stores in Switzerland). The pros and cons of buying a bike from a department store versus a local bike shop were discussed in the thread Buying new Bike - specs and advice plz. For info on children's bikes, see th thread Buying affordable kid bikes?.

Buying a Used Bike
If you want a used bike then you may occasionally be able to find a local bike shop that has some used bikes for sale (here is info about one in Bern), but this is not typical because it is very difficult to make much money on used bikes. The cycling advocacy group IG Velo / Pro Velo (for more about them see the Cycling Advocacy section below) organizes bike markets in different cities across the country throughout the year, check this page for the next one in your area.

Alternatively, there are several websites that list bikes for sale in Switzerland: velomarkt.ch, veloplus, marktplatz.unizh.ch (Zurich), velomaerkte.ch (Basel), occasionsvelo.ch, veloboerse.info, eumeta.de (Europe-wide site). Plus, there are the online auction sites Ricardo and eBay.

If you want a VERY basic bike then you may be able to find one at a salvation army store (Heils-Armee / Armée du Salut). Visit their website to find your local store. Finally, the “Rent-A-Bike” company (see the Renting a Bike section below) sells their ex-rental bikes for reasonable prices in spring and autumn, see their website for details.

There are several threads on EF about finding a used bike, which is where I got a lot of these links from. The most informative of those threads are "Need a bike - Veloboersen [bike markets] and stores", "IGVelo - 2nd hand bike markets", and Where can I find a used bike in Geneva?.

Renting a Bike
The main bike rental company in Switzerland is called “Rent-A-Bike”. Most of their locations are at train stations, and you can rent a bike for a half-day, full day, or much longer, and even return the bike to a different location than you rented it from. They rent mountain bikes, trekking bikes, town bikes, and kids bikes, but they do not rent road/racing bikes or high-end mountain bikes.

Many bike shops in tourist regions also rent bikes, as do a few hotels and youth hostels. See these threads for more info [Zurich] Where can I rent a decent Mountain Bike?, Re: Renting a bike in Zurich?, and [Zurich] renting a road bike?.

In some of the larger cities, there are places where you can rent a very basic city bike for free (although you'll probably have to leave a deposit and ID). Such facilities exist in Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Zug, Zurich, and maybe others.

Swiss Fun Rent, located near Thun, rent a diverse range of bikes (tandems, electric bikes, kid's trailers, and more standard bikes) plus touring gear (panniers, tents, sleeping bags, backpacks).

Importing a Bike
The issue of importing a bike from abroad, whether bringing it in personally or having it shipped, has been discussed in the threads Importing a new bicycle from America, Bringing a bike into Switzerland... do I need to be aware of something?, Cycle Tour Switzerland Importing my bike, and buying new marathon bike. In summary, if you are entering the country for the first time with a bike that you bought abroad and you will stay here with it (i.e., you are not just a tourist), then officially you should pay Swiss sales tax (VAT) of 7.6% on it if you have not owned it for more than 6 months, and the way to prove this is with an invoice. In practice, you probably won't be asked for such proof or to pay the taxes, and if you want to make absolutely sure that you are not then ride the bike across the border, because then they will never ask about it. If you want to buy a bike from abroad and have it shipped to Switzerland, then the procedure is that the seller should not charge you the sales tax in the country of origin, then when it arrives here you will be charged the 7.6% sales tax on the value declared on the customs form by the seller, plus a processing fee of between 20 and 50 CHF.

Bike Parts
Your local bike shop can probably order any part that you might need for your bike, or you can try the major sports stores which have bicycle sections: Migros Sport XX, Athleticum, and Coop Brico-Loisirs/Bau und Hobby.

However, for a full range of good quality components and accessories then the best place that I've found within Switzerland is Veloplus. They have an online store plus stores in Ostermundigen (near Bern), Wetzikon (near Zurich), Basel, and Emmenbrücke (near Luzern). Their staff generally speak English, but their website is only in German. They also have a very good catalog (500+ pages) which contains pictures of all of their products, and so is quite enjoyable to flip through. You can buy it for 8 CHF, or they'll give you one for free once you buy a reasonable amount of stuff from them. Their prices are not as cheap as other online retailers (see below) but other online retailers are outside of the country and so the advantage of Veloplus is that you don't have to worry about import taxes and the products are delivered to you very quickly. Other online retailers within Switzerland include bike-import.ch and bike-sports.ch, which can have more competitive prices than Veloplus. They are all German-only, but see this page on the Park Tools for the definitive bicycle parts translation guide here (they have an Excel spreadsheet with 450 bike terms in 9 different languages).

You can pay significantly less if you buy bike parts from online retailers in other countries. However, when you add shipping, import taxes, and processing fees to the prices that you see, then you can only really save money if you are buying a reasonable amount of stuff at one time. In general, you will not be charged the local sales tax by the seller but you will still have to pay shipping fees, plus 7.6% Swiss sales tax and a processing fee of between 20 and 50 CHF. However, sometimes items will a very low value will not be charged the sales tax and processing fees, the cut-off for this seems to be about 70 CHF, but there is a lot of inconsistency in this. This is discussed in more detail below in this thread, and in the thread "Ordering eBay from abroad - customs fees?"

If you do want to order from outside of Switzerland then some useful shops that are based in the UK are Chain Reaction Cycles, Total Cycling, and Probikekit. Some German stores have an English-language interface, including Action Sports and Bike-Components. There are obviously many other websites and a quick internet search for any item that you want to buy should turn up loads of sites. However, I don't recommend having anything shipped over from North America as it normally costs way too much money to do so – you can often find similar prices from European stores if you shop around. Once you've figured out how much it will cost to buy online and get it delivered, then check with your local bike shop because they may well be able to offer you a competitive price.

Maintaining your Bike
Some basic bicycle maintenance issues have been discussed on English forum, including: cleaning your bike, flat tyres (plus here), oiling your chain, and worn-out gears. Bicycle mechanics have been recommended in Bern, Basel, Geneva, and in Zurich here and here.

There are several other good websites with information on bicycle maintenance and repair, including Sheldon Brown and Park Tools. Also, there are several cycling forums that each have maintenance sections: for example, BikeForums and CyclingForums.

The third section "Laws and Politics" follows in the next post.

ChrisW 11.07.2007 14:28

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Laws and Politics

Rules & Regulations
If you live in Switzerland and own a bicycle then it needs to have a sticker called a “velo vignette”. If you are just traveling through Switzerland then this is not required. The cost of the vignette varies by canton, but is about 5 to 7 CHF, it is valid until May 31st the year after you buy it (which means that you should buy a new one every Spring while doing your Spring maintenance), you need one for every bike that you own (unless you stick it to something that you move from bike to bike, see this post), and you can buy them from several places including the post office, Migros, bike shops, train stations, etc. The vignette covers third-party liability insurance Wikipedia reference-linkLiability_insurance, but provides no insurance for you or your bicycle (see the Bicycle Insurance section below). You probably won't be stopped by police just to check whether you have one of these, but if you are stopped for another reason then they will probably check and give you a fine if you do not have one, and if you are involved in an accident and do not have one then you may have a large problem.

The other regulations for bicycles are the standard ones in that you must have a front and rear reflector and if riding at night you must have a front (white) and rear (red) light. Wearing a helmet is not compulsory, but is strongly encouraged (even if you trust yourself not to cause an accident, you cannot control the actions of others). Modern helmets are very light, have good ventilation, and are quite stylish so there is almost no reason not to wear one. Children need to be at least 7 years old and attending primary school before they may cycle on the road (and then they also need a velo vignette, which they don't need before that, but there is contradictory info on this point between this post and this one).

Regulations for bicycles have been discussed in the threads “Does bicycle need license" and “Velo vignette: A few questions”.

Bicycles are considered vehicles and so all of the same rules of the road that apply to all other vehicles also apply to them (except that bicycles cannot go on restricted access highways or through some tunnels). You can obtain a "Handbook of Swiss Traffic Regulations" for about 12 CHF from cantonal vehicle registration offices and some bookstores. The fact that many cyclists don't always obey the laws of the road has been discussed extensively on the thread Cyclists who don't follow the laws of the road. Vehicles obviously pose a major threat to cyclists, and there is an excellent article on this at Bicycling.com - Broken: Bike-car crashes, cycling laws, and cycling deaths. One important rule that falls into this domain is drink-driving, the same limit applies to cyclists as for drivers. This has been discussed in the thread “Drink driving on a bicycle”.

A useful resource for information on how to safely ride a bicycle on the road is the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia reference-linkVehicular_cycling, which is defined as “the practice of driving bicycles on roads in a manner which is visible, predictable, and in accordance with the principles for driving a vehicle in traffic.” Also, BicycleSafe.com has lots of useful information on how to cycle safely.

Bicycle Insurance
Bike theft is not a huge problem in Switzerland. In fact, the locks that people tend to use are not nearly as beefy as the ones that are typically used in the UK or North America and yet the bikes are generally more expensive (see this tread: I'm pretty sure someone has stolen my bike!). Even so, bike theft certainly does happen and you should make sure that you have a good lock, always use it, and that your bike is insured. Furthermore, a few people on the forum have had bikes stolen for their cave (cellar) or garage (see this thread: Stolen Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Disk), so it is always a good idea to use a bike lock as an extra layer of security even when the bike is being kept in a locked room.

Most household contents insurance policies will cover a bicycle that is stolen from your residence or anywhere else up to a value of about 1500 CHF. Check with the insurance company regarding any bikes that are more valuable. If your bike is stolen then make sure that you file a police report and satisfy any other requirements that your insurance company has. The threads Bicycle insurance and Bike Insurance deals with this topic in more detail.

You can also get insurance for crashing your bike from the Swiss automobile clubs TCS or VCS/ATE (these are like the AA in the UK or AAA in the US), which can cover the cost of repairing your bike, transporting you and your bike home, and legal fees. However, don't pay for additional insurance that you already have - be aware that theft should be covered under your contents insurance, and the cost of transporting yourself home after an accident should be covered by your accident insurance.

Along with the vignette for your bike (see the Rules & Regulations section above), you will receive a sticker labeled “BikeRefinder”. If you activate this by sending an email or SMS, which costs a few francs but is completely optional, then the bike and owner information will be stored in a database. If the police find your bike then this will make it easier for them to locate you and return your bike.

Cycling Advocacy
Switzerland's cycling advocacy group is called Pro Velo, they have some basic information in English, but their main site is only in German or French. They also produce a magazine in German called Velo Journal. The Transport Club of Switzerland (VCS/ATE/ATA) also do a lot for bicycle advocacy and political lobbying (they have information on this in German, French, or Italian). They are also heavily involved in the national and regional cycling routes mentioned in the "Road Biking" section above, and the cycling maps mentioned in the "Maps" section above. The Europe-wide cycle advocacy group is the European Cyclists' Federation.

The two main types of organized events to promote cycling in Switzerland are slowUp events and the Bike-to-Work month. In 2008, there will be 15 slowUp events held in different locations in Switzerland. For one Sunday, the roads in the region are only open to cyclists, rollerbladers, or any other human-powered transport. They tend to be very family-friendly events. Each June, cycle commuting is encouraged through the bike to work program, organized by Pro Velo.

Interesting comments on cycling and why cars are not necessary in Switzerland are contained in the thread “Why buy a car in this country?

Critical Mass Rides
"Critical mass" rides take place in over 300 cities all over the world, see the Wikipedia article: Wikipedia reference-linkCritical_Mass, and an article at Bicycling.com. Their main purpose is to promote cycling and any alternatives to cars and congestion. Typically, the rides start at 6pm on the last Friday of every month, always starting in the same place, but normally then taking different routes around the city and are essentially without an organizer or leader. Because so many riders take part, they tend to disrupt traffic flow thus bringing attention to themselves from the public and the authorities, which is their goal. Websites with information about critical mass rides around the world are critical-mass.org and critical-mass.info, which list events in Biel, Basel, Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchatel, Winterthur, and Zurich.

The final section "Events" follows in the next post plus a general discussion about this thread.

Polorise 11.07.2007 14:32

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Great post Chris ... one for the MTB'ers on here is Trail which gives guides to some of the best mountain bike tours (German)

ChrisW 11.07.2007 14:35

Re: Cycling in Switzerland

Professional Cycling
There are two major professional cycling events in Switzerland each year that are part of the Wikipedia reference-linkUCI_ProTour race series and so attract some of the best riders in the world. The Tour de Suisse is held over 9 days in the middle of June and covers most parts of the country. The Tour de Romandie is held over 6 days at the end of May in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Both the Tour de France and the Wikipedia reference-linkGiro_d'Italia sometimes pass through Swiss territory briefly, and always pass through the Alps reasonably nearby.

The international body that controls professional cycling, the UCI, is based in Aigle, Switzerland, see this website about their headquarters. It is located on the east bank of the Rhone river, and anyone can have a meal in their restaurant, look at the BMX track outside and the velodrome inside. The national Swiss organization is “Swiss Cycling”.

Good sources of news about what is happening in professional cycling are Eurosport and cyclingnews.

Mass-Participation Rides
Although most of us are not interested in riding like the pro's, it can still be a lot of fun to take part in a cycling event. There are many “Cyclosportifs” organized around the country, which are becoming very popular. These are mass-participation rides, some with over 1,000 riders, where for most people it is the taking part that counts, not how quickly you finish. Each event has a variety of distances to choose from so that you should be able to find something that suits you. Some are very mountainous, some completely flat; some are on roads, and some on trails. There is a separate thread devoted to these events in Switzerland: "Bicycling: long-distance, mass-participation rides", and hillseeker and I made an index of the main events in Switzerland and the surrounding countries that you can see here, there's also some discussion in the thread cyclosportives Swiss, France, Germany, Italy. Probably the biggest events in Switzerland, which each attract over 1,000 cyclists, are the Cyclotour of Lake Geneva in early June (start/finish in Lausanne), the Engadin Radmarathon in early July (in Graubunden), the Alpenbrevet in early August (in central Switzerland), the Gruyere Cycling Tour in late August (in western Switzerland), and the Zurich Metzgete in September.

The slowUp events mentioned in the Cycling Advocacy section above also fit into this category, but those are family or group cycling events with no racing or timing involved.

Other Types of Cycling

Bike Couriers
See the thread Salary of a bicycle courier in Zurich.

Cycling with Children
See the threads Cycling with kids -- trail-a-bikes and trailer bikes and wanted - swiss kid bike with no pedals.

Winter Biking
See these threads: snowy commute [biking in the snow] and
Mountain Biking at Ski resorts.


If you think that there is some information that is missing here (I'm sure that there is) or that some of the information is incorrect (also quite possible) then please post a reply to this thread, and I will attempt to correct any mistakes. If you would like to discuss a specific aspect of what is posted here (e.g., where to go mountain biking near Zurich) and a thread already exists then please don't reply to this thread, instead reply to the appropriate thread that is linked to here. If you would like to discuss something for which a thread does not already exist (e.g., road cycling around Geneva) then it would probably be best to start a new thread. However, if you have useful info or a link about cycling in Switzerland more generally then please post it here.

I took some time to decide which section of EnglishForum this thread should be in and also asked some of the moderators for their opinions. I originally considered either the Transportation/Driving section or the Travel/Day Trips/Free Time section, because those are the main purposes that cycling serves for me. However, I decided to go with a democrat approach and see where other people had posted threads about cycling, and the Sports/Fitness section was a clear winner there. I've therefore opted for that section although I certainly agree that there are good reasons why it also belongs elsewhere.

simon3717 11.07.2007 15:24

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Great post Chris, some really useful information there for us all to use. This country is superb for biking, and the cycle routes they have here look to be really well set up.

I recently bought a road bike from a shop near to Basel (in Therwil) called Velo-Schrade and would like to give it the thumbs up on this forum. If there are any Baslers looking to buy a bike then I thoroughly recommend this place. They are very knowledgable, speak good English and have a good range of all types of bike.

Happy biking!

Lob 11.07.2007 16:02

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Chris, you might enjoy the [Wikipedia ] tags

Wikipedia reference-linkLiability_insurance - quote my message to see more

ChrisW 11.07.2007 16:15

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Thanks Lob, very useful, I'll edit the posts to include that.

Nathu 16.07.2007 17:07

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Wow ChrisW, this thread was a lot of work and is very informative for sure!

So far, I have only two minor additions. First, the vignette is also sold for less than 7 Fr. (for example Migros Budget), and despite the difference in price always covers the same (2 mill. Fr. damages).

Second, a proposal for the cycle advocacy section: Other than IG Velo, they don't exclusively support cyclists, but they support the Veloland Schweiz maps and are politically active for bikers: Traffic Club Switzerland VCS/ATE.

alanbrito 07.09.2007 22:24

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Anyone know if there is an active amateur [roadie] racing scene around Zurich? I'm looking for work in the Zurich area, and I would like to continue racing if/when I move there. I'm not talking UCI ProTour or anything, I race the USCF circuit in the US [http://www.usacycling.org] for a local bike shop. I mainly do criterium races for lack of options, but also some road races and time trials. I look forward to the pain only mountains can deliver.

ChrisW?, litespeed?... you guys seem to be the resident bikers on the forum. Are there local clubs around, possibly sponsored by bicycle shops?

ChrisW 09.09.2007 20:32

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Hi alan, I can't offer anything more than suggesting that you take a look at what was said in the thread "Competitive cycling in Zurich", but I assume that you've already seen that since I included a link to it in the first post above.

Lewes 11.10.2007 23:44

Import Taxes bike parts
Hi All

Anyone know what the import tax is on bike parts?

I did a price comparison and a basket of goods from ChainReaction came in at
205 Swiss Francs (including 25 Francs shipping)
And the same parts (some slightly worse quality) from VeloPlus came in at
260 Swiss Francs

How much am I going to be stung by Import duties and VAT by ordering overseas? Does anyone know where I could find this info out from?

If I spend another 40 Francs with Chainreaction shipping is free!



Woodsie 12.10.2007 00:15

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
This is what I have been paying for my chainreaction orders:

Make sure that you select your address/location as Switzerland so that they know not to charge you UK VAT. I reckon you have to be making a saving on each order of 70-100chfs to make it worthwhile ordering from outside the country.

Lewes 12.10.2007 19:56

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Thanks for that.

Is that another 20 for handling even though ChainReaction says it costs 25 Francs to post? (so I pay 25 for ChainReaction shipping, plus 20 for Swiss Post handling?)



Eire 12.10.2007 20:28

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
I order quite a bit of stuff from Chain reaction.

Generally what happens is the package arrives... most of the time my orders are big enough that I don't pay delivery costs. About a week later you get an einzahlungschein in the post to pay the 7.6% VAT +10CHF administration fee +33CHF administration fee. so you pay the tax +43CHF for the delivery. Generally I find that parts are close to half the cost of what they are if I go into the shop here to buy them. For that reason I usually buy in bulk and carry spares for the things that tend to wear out like tubes and break pads etc... It makes life much cheaper then having to pay above the odds and buy disc break pads at twice what the cost on chain reaction!!!

Lewes 12.10.2007 20:41

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
My Bastket on ChainReaction included the shipping I am about 15 short of what I need.
However I checked out the same basket (almost) with VeloPlus and it came to 260.

ChainReaction was with an LX Crankset + BB
VP was Deore Crankset.
I checked with VP and I have to buy the BB in addition (53 Francs)
So the same basket is really 310 Francs.

What about the currency rates quoted on ChainReaction? Are they accurate or are they under egging them to make it look better in Francs.

Would it be worth us clubbing together and doing an order? - Are you in Bern? That would halve the fixed costs. - OK but then that brings "trust issues" into the equation!


Lewes 12.10.2007 20:44

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Sorry just seen you're in Zürich. Probably not going to work then!

Eire 12.10.2007 21:54

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
I don't need anything right now anyway..
..but if you get an LX crankset for cheaper then the Deore one with Chainreaction I would say done deal!!!

If you are only a few francs off the free delivery limit why not get some spare tyres, tubes, break pads, cleaning stuff, chain... anything that you will definatley need at some point. That way you will save having to buy it at a higher price in Switzerland down the road.

southie 20.10.2007 22:24

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
If you want cheaper priced bike parts then www.bike-import.ch is the place.Prices heaps under the rest with free postage,only packaging costs.
For some cool trikots with international breweries designs then www.skaide.de is a good site,we all have a outback coopers top.
Cheers Southie

southie 03.02.2008 10:20

Re: Cycling in Switzerland
Another Swiss used bike/parts online site is www.traildevils.ch but is mainly freeride/downhill stuff.With the low dollar i'm now buying components from www.speedgoat.com who are good to deal with.I have been buying 29er stuff which is not available here at all or very expensive.

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