Bikeabout in Switzerland

I just got back from a week long business trip in Switzerland. One of the best trips I ever took. I mean, business is business, but apart from that.

The opportunity arose to do some cycling in the Swiss countryside outside Bern where I was staying. This isn’t in the Alps, but the hills were bigger and steeper than what you find in SW Ontario.


So I felt the thing to do is get an assist bike instead of a regular pedal bike. This proved a stroke of genius as I motored past the traditional cyclists when ascending the steep slopes


The bike was powerful and smooth and it’s hard not to feel a little ashamed when pedaling along on flat ground. That all disappears when you hit the first hill though.


Besides the pictures, I thought I’d also share some neat factoids about biking/ebiking in Switzerland.

The speed limit for un-licensed bike is 25kph. If your bike can assist at speeds higher than that, you need a plate and a helmet. The plate costs a yearly fee and requires insurance as well. The local experts I spoke with didn’t think that plates and insurance impacted the ebike usage because it was much cheaper and more convenient than plate/insurance on a car.


In many countries the absolute limit for assist bikes is 45kph even with the plate. In Canada/USA the limit for assistance is 32kph. There is no plates/insurance scheme to allow an ebike to go faster.

As you expect or maybe have experienced, priority is given to cyclists in most urban traffic settings. This felt great and I didn’t feel nearly as at-odds with the motorists. They simply waited their turn in most cases.

In Bern, parking a bike overnight on the street is very common. Most were locked through the spokes, but some were not chained to anything. It seemed no one was worried about losing their bikes but me. I brought mine into the hotel.

Indoor bike parking was available at the main train stations. This parking is staffed and is more or less like valet for your bike. It costs 1CHF and is right beside the train platforms. There is very little car parking available. No idea what it costs.


I used the assist bike to commute to work each day in addition to pleasure riding. Sometimes I biked in the rain was soaking wet on arrival. The locals had very cool pants with shoe covers built in that would keep their feet dry which I failed to get a picture of.

4 thoughts on “Bikeabout in Switzerland

  1. Rob: After riding an e-bike what is your thoughts on them, would you consider getting one?

    1. Definitely will consider it. Although it’s worth mentioning that I work for a electric drive train company and am far from neutral.
      For those who tend to perspire even at low commute speeds, it’s a dream. And, while I like to commute by bike, the ride home is sometimes a bit off-putting after a tough or long day. The ebike makes it much easier.
      My only holdup is that they are more expensive than bike I would typically purchase (around $0-$30).

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