Cycle tourism

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Trekking bike loaded with panniers
360 ° panorama of a packed bicycle
Display as a spherical panorama

Cycle tourism is a way of organizing holidays with bicycles that has been growing since the 1980s, especially in Central Europe. This branch of tourism includes cycling holidays as a holiday with cycling tours and cycling tours .

Types of cycle tourism

Touring cyclist in Estonia
Mountain bikers on a dirt path between Val Müstair (Switzerland) and Bormio (Italy)

Cycle tourism encompasses a multitude of design options in which the bicycle plays a role as a travel vehicle or sports equipment.

A cycling holiday can have two basic structures:

  • Bike tour , consisting of several sections from one place to stay overnight to the next
  • Cycling trips from a convenient head-quarters of

Some cycle tourists travel by other means of transport (train, car, plane) to a holiday region in order to do a multi-stage tour.

A combination of cycling and mountain sports is the mountain bike tour .

Framework conditions for a bike tour or a cycling holiday

Cycle routes and networks

Signposted and developed routes and networks are not absolutely necessary for cycling tours, but they are the best way to promote cycle tourism. With the appropriate effort, attractive routes can be created even in narrow valleys with heavy traffic on the main road. Today, cycling networks are also a means of hitherto little known holiday regions to make themselves better known, or of already known countries and regions to get away from a previously rather one-sided image. Switzerland ( Veloland Schweiz ) and Austria demonstrate that they not only have high mountains - but also that these mountains can be hiked by bike, and the island of Usedom that it is not just a seaside coast.

In a number of European countries, plans for nationwide networks began early on. At the European level ( ECF ), the English, French and Scandinavians conceived a Europe-wide network as early as the 1990s. In Germany , the first cycle paths were built as a regional initiative in the early 1980s. Networking within the federal states came about early in Baden-Württemberg, but only later in other states. The nationwide cycling network Germany came last and is based on existing routes. Germany is now also involved in the EuroVelo network.

As early as the 1980s, long before official network concepts, detailed route descriptions for long-distance travel were on the market in the Netherlands, e.g. B. from the Netherlands to Scandinavia or to Rome.

Means of information

Signpost with various bike tours in the Grafschaft Bentheim district

Bicycle travel guides and cycle touring maps are now available nationwide for western and central European countries. This is part of the market trend towards printing cards for specific audiences rather than one card for everyone. Existing signposts can be evaluated and used much better if they can be traced using a map. In some cases, however, the cartographic information takes a back seat to advertising tourist logos. In addition, spiral notebooks have been developed in landscape format that fit into the viewing window of a handlebar bag.

There is also plenty of information on the Internet for cyclists, both free and paid. Some of this is just advertising for a print product, but a lot also includes detailed route information. There are map servers, route planners like the one in North Rhine-Westphalia , mapped routes and GPS tracks.

Route selection and route planning

Cycling tours are popular because of their low gradients along the large river valleys (e.g. Danube Cycle Path ) or historical routes, e.g. B. along the old Roman road Via Claudia Augusta . In the lowlands, river routes can be marketed well because of the well-known river names, but they are often less varied than river-independent routes. Especially in the lowlands, cyclists can struggle with headwinds for days . It may be more grueling than a mountain pass , which first requires strength, but then rewards you with a long descent beyond the top of the pass. But hilly terrain with constant ups and downs also leads to challenging routes. In the case of mountain passes, routes without heavy motor vehicle traffic are advantageous for the ascent, in order to reduce the inhalation of harmful exhaust gases during exertion . On the other hand, travelers should avoid gravel and steep stretches for the descent, here too motor vehicle traffic is a particular safety risk for cyclists.

Topographical and similar maps with contour lines are advantageous for the preparation of the tour ; special cycling maps are particularly suitable . On weather experienced cyclist addition to the possible wind directions are considering yet other such. B. Cold spells in the mountains, generally lower temperatures on higher mountains, cooling down on long downhill drives, heat in valleys and on southern slopes. Paths on dykes are particularly exposed to wind . Forests offer good protection from wind and sun. After heavy rainfall, riverside paths can be flooded and ferries stop operating due to high water. The motor vehicle and thus exhaust emissions on some streets and the number of pedestrians on promenade paths are very different on Sundays and public holidays than during the week. On busy routes, this also applies to cycling itself. For mountain bike tours off the streets, the availability of To pay attention to which are passable and on which cycling is permitted - most alpine clubs maintain lists of mountain routes suitable for cycling.

Technical equipment

Since the 1980s a lot of special equipment for cycling trips has been developed. Much of it, however, is general recreational and outdoor equipment, the market for which has grown significantly over the past few decades. Durable, weatherproof panniers have been specially developed for cycle tourism and are now used by many cyclists for shopping and commuting.

However, some particularly high-performance and durable parts have disappeared from the market again, as the number of small bike tours has increased more than extreme tours. Although the proportion of luxuriously equipped bicycles on offer has increased significantly, ergonomic quality and durability are more geared towards driving performance below 1000 km per year. So parts have traded mostly still and other changes are made to a standard bicycle tailored to the respective cyclists touring bike to make. Trekking bikes , which are combinations of touring bike and mountain bike , are suitable for use away from public roads .

Baggage and weight

Overload: 60 kg of luggage

In addition to clothing and food, sleeping bags , tents , sleeping mats and cooking utensils are often carried along, as well as map material / GPS equipment and camera equipment, if you are not staying overnight in accommodation facilities. The use of waterproof panniers is practical, but also increases the weight. The complete luggage also includes tools and spare parts, as well as a first aid kit for accidents. The provisions cover the need for drinks and food for one to two hours to several days, depending on the travel area and individual preference.

The total weight of a normally loaded touring bike is between 15 and about 30 kilograms, depending on the bike, equipment and duration of the trip, with heavy luggage a maximum of 50 to 70 kg, in individual cases even more. The driving behavior depends on the total weight of the bike and luggage. An experienced driver can easily handle loads of up to 40 kg if the luggage is properly distributed.

A lot of exercise is required up to 60 kg, especially when driving very slowly or very quickly. 80 kg are just barely manageable on a 'real' (heavy) touring bike . The bike can start to wobble. With heavy luggage, punctures are more common and more dangerous when driving; if the construction is too light and the material is poor, the number of spoke breaks or even fork or frame breakage can occur. Some cyclists prefer a bike trailer for a lot of luggage .

Single rider or driving in a group

The single rider is more flexible in designing the stages. Breaks and short stops, e.g. B. for taking photos, can be inserted spontaneously, provided the traffic situation permits. The route can also be changed spontaneously. The experience of the landscape can be more intense as there is no need to pay attention to passengers and the view, especially to the front, is not restricted by passengers. To do this, the individual driver must also carry the pieces of luggage that are only needed once in a group. This applies in particular to maps / GPS equipment, first aid kits and tools and, if you are not staying overnight in accommodation facilities, also to tents and cookware. In the event of an accident or breakdown, the individual driver must help himself or, if that is not possible, wait for help. In addition, the single driver constantly drives in the wind.

Driving in a group provides a group experience. Equipment that is only required once can be distributed to the group, which reduces the luggage load of each bike. In the event of an accident or breakdown, help is available immediately, provided that the entire group is not affected. For this, breaks, short stops and the choice of route must be coordinated. Groups made up of drivers with very different levels of performance are problematic, as some drivers are overwhelmed or under-challenged. Rail transfers with larger groups can cause difficulties, as there is often not enough space for all bicycles, especially on busy trains.

Driving in a closed group is usually not done in the cycling fashion, as the group is exposed to traffic from motor vehicles on roads and bike paths usually offer little space in width. Slipstream driving is widespread, but requires all drivers to pay close attention to the passengers, as the safety distance is not exceeded. Regular changes at the top should be a matter of course, but are not always possible due to traffic and route reasons. The group can fall apart when driving uphill. Then it is customary to wait for all drivers at the end of the uphill stretch. Downhill descents are usually not carried out in a closed group, so that every driver has a sufficient safety distance from the vehicle in front and enough space to steer. The group then gathers at the end of the downhill stretch.

Organized bike tours

Official meeting point for cyclists in Bad Kissingen

A bike tour means reaching a destination with your own muscle power. At first glance it appears to be a contradiction in terms when tour operators sell bike tours. But since quite a few cycle tourists neither feel like adventures nor do they want to take the trouble of meticulous organization, there is definitely a market for it.

If the tours are guided, they offer the participants even more advantages.

  • They convey a group experience.
  • They open up holiday regions with a poorly developed infrastructure that many people do not dare to go to as single travelers, for example the Romanian Carpathians .
  • They enable major sporting events in the sense of a long-distance cycle race as a fun run, for example Munich - Cesenatico .

Bicycle as a piece of luggage

Bicycle transport on public transport in Vancouver

Many cycle tourists want to cycle in regions that are too far away for them to travel by bike. This turns the bike into luggage for part of the journey.

  • Rail: More environmentally friendly than cars and airplanes, regular service, despite the network thinning to some extent, the railroad is actually predestined for motorized travel for a bike tour. Problems are currently causing problems with restrictions on taking bicycles on long-distance trains. (e.g. Germany: Bicycles cannot be taken on the ICE, reservations are required for IC). There may be obstacles in long-distance cross-border traffic. Problems with platform stairs are increasingly being solved across Europe by customer elevators and special cyclist ramps.
  • Bus: Because of the difficulties of taking bicycles with you, especially in international rail traffic, several bus companies have specialized in bicycle transport. Buses with bike trailers run from some Dutch and German cities to popular holiday destinations. In buses off the main cycle routes, the bike usually has to be stowed in the limited luggage space.
  • Cars: Many holidaymakers transport their bikes on the roof of their car or on the rear bike rack of their own car. This means they have no handling problems, but they can only go on tours that bring them back to the location of their car. Transporting it on the car roof increases air resistance and thus fuel consumption. To avoid accidents, the bike must be properly secured. If the bicycles are hanging on the rear of the car, the air resistance is lower, transport is safer and the bike is more protected. A rear bicycle rack is useful in which the tailgate or trunk lid can still be opened in the assembled and loaded state.
  • Airplane: In international air traffic, taking bicycles with you is usually less bureaucratic than taking the train. However, the use of a bicycle case or other packaging is often required. The prices for taking bicycles with you vary greatly depending on the airline.

Cycle tourism data

Economical meaning

While bike tours used to be considered poor people's tourism, the gastronomy and accommodation industry have now recognized that bike tourists leave on average more money in a holiday region than car tourists because they are much smaller due to the limited radius of action and the need to transport everything with muscle power supply. Cycle tourists are more likely to visit monuments and museums than car tourists due to the slower movement in the region they have just traveled. There is a possibility to distribute the tourists in the area by signposting cycle paths.

Cycle tourism is of particular economic importance in scenic areas without outstanding attractions, such as large parts of the Danube Valley from Germany to the mouth or the plains of Europe.

Age distribution of cycle tourists

In the past almost only teenagers and young adults went on bike tours. In the meantime, a not inconsiderable number of cycle tourists are 50 to over 70 years old. Quite a few have long since grazed the sights of the world. After a life full of duties, others now have more time and are significantly fitter than their peers thirty years earlier. In the classic pre- and post-season, when people without school-age children prefer to go on vacation, the weather is more suitable for bike tours than for beach holidays or high mountain tours. The proportion of vigorous retirees among US cyclist tourists in Europe is particularly high, who cycle to the homeland of their ancestors and often cover considerable distances.

Parents with young children are also well represented among cycle tourists. A bike tour with children, however, requires good preparation and a good pedagogical feel. There is now a wide range of child trailers for the little ones and trailers for the little ones to step on themselves. But many things cannot be solved technically: You can take fewer toys with you than z. B. on a road trip. Some children are more interested in a way to play by the wayside than a stage destination. A lot of breaks have to be taken into account. More productive children can either be reluctant or overwhelmed by excessive ambition. Young people often prefer to go their own way than go on vacation with parents and small siblings.


The General German Bicycle Club speaks of a turnover of five billion euros a year in Germany alone. About 40 percent of vacationers name cycling as the most popular activity on vacation. The Federal Ministry of Transport points to a turnover in bicycle trade alone of four billion euros. 50,000 people are employed in 6800 factories.

In a study presented in 2005, the ADFC analyzed the German bicycle vacationers:

  • In 2004, 2.45 million Germans spent their holidays of several days “mostly on their bikes”. That is 8.9 percent more than in the previous year.
  • Short holidays by bike were taken by 1.4 million Germans in 2004, that is 5.9 percent of all short holidays. For 61 percent of these 1.4 million, this was the most important short trip in 2004.
  • More than three quarters (76 percent) of cycling holidays are main holiday trips.

Organizations: Dachgeber (network for cyclists) Path
network: D-Route


Every year over 60,000 cycle tourists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland spend a cycling holiday in Mallorca .

See also


Web links

Commons : Cycle Tourism  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Bicycle  Travel Guide