Here’s how to safely cycle through the Swedish winter

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Here’s how to safely cycle through the Swedish winter
Photo: Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix/TT

If you want to keep cycling once winter takes hold in Sweden, there are steps you can take to improve both safety and comfort.


It’s not just cars that benefit from adaptation for safe winter transport.

Bicycle tyres can also be switched to studded versions to provided firmer grip on icy or snow-covered Swedish cycle lanes.

“When winter truly takes hold, studded tyres are the clear best choice for cyclists,” Klas Elm, CEO of Svensk Cykling (Swedish Cycling), said.

Although many in Sweden chose to park their bikes over the winter months, the number of year-round pedallers in the Scandinavian country is increasing.

A survey conducted by insurance company If found that one in three people cycles during the colder half of the year.

“And more people are buying studded tyres for their bikes. In recent years, sales have been such that stores have run out of stock, even though purchases have been increased from suppliers each season to meet demand. It’s a very clear trend,” Elm said.

However, many winter cyclists are still not changing the tyres on their bikes between seasons, according to the If survey. The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) has meanwhile carried out a comparison of winter and normal tyres and found the studs to have an important effect when ice crystals are lying on the road.

“We can see from our tests that studded tyres provide much better friction on ice than normal tyres,” VTI head of research Anna Niska said.

Photo: Jonas Ekström/TT

Tyres are not the only thing to keep in mind when travelling on two wheels in sub-zero. Good headlights, taillights and reflectors are important for good visibility in the lower light levels, while suitable clothing is also important.

"It’s important to keep your hands, feet and head warm as well as your buttocks, for example with lined trousers. All contact with the vehicle itself should be kept warm,” Elm said.

A lined hat is also recommended for wearing under cycle helmets, which should be used regardless of conditions.

As always, it is vital to be alert at all times when cycling in winter.

“Some places become slippery earlier than others particularly bridges. There may be good friction elsewhere while bridges are hazardous,” Niska said.

READ ALSO: Eight essential rules and tips for cycling in Sweden


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