The extensive use of gravel as a road surface in Sweden and forestry having been a key part of the nation’s economy are the main reasons gravel road biking is one of the hottest topics in the world of bikes in Sweden right now.
Swedish as well as international bikers have realized that Sweden’s dusty gravel roads, blue mountains and large forests create a paradise for biking lovers. There’s literally been a worldwide boom with more riders than ever heading out exploring their local forests and hillsides on their favorite gravel bikes.
A gravel bike is a sort of mix between a road bike, a cyclocross and a MTB. With wide tires, drop bars and a pretty comfy geometry these bikes are the perfect adventure companion both on and off-road.
Related: Picturesque Biking in Sweden
A thing of fear
For many Swedish bikers, gravel has almost been a thing of fear. The reason being that truckload after truckload of a particularly nasty type of gravel is strewn across urban areas here during winter, ss if it was the result of a secret conspiracy with tire manufacturers who want to up their sales of delicate road tires.
If there is anything which is in abundance in Sweden, it is blue mountains, winding gravel roads and water. With miles and miles of small roads and little traffic, Sweden is heaven for gravel biking, and there are roads there for everyone.
A young discipline
Gravel biking is a young discipline, having only been around for less than a decade with the first gravel-specific bikes created in the early 2010s. And since then, this kind of riding has captured the wheel-addicted hearts of both roadies and mountain bikers alike as it blurs the lines between road, gravel and singletrack.
However, mountain bike marathon riders, the second largest group of cyclists in Sweden, have been riding these gravel roads for many years. To this group gravel is yawn-inducing, a necessary evil to take you from one stretch of singletrack to the next.
The early gravel bikes in Sweden were made for tough conditions: to carry lumberjacks through the Swedish forests, so that they could do the logging. Today, all paths and roads are different and you will soon realize that you would need several different bikes to discover all of them, for instance the so-called “bicycle string” outside Sorsele in northern Sweden.
A boost in gravel addiction
Sweden has seen a huge boost in gravel addiction lately and is the perfect place to discover and enjoy this discipline. Sweden has become a country filled to the brim with pure biking pleasure – and gravel events have exploded.
But even if this young sport is growing at record-pace it’s still a fairly new and unknown community around it. So, to find out more about the Swedish gravel scene, the sport itself, and of course, where to go graveling, we digged into the grvl.se – a community and website for gravel routes.
One of the very few events that actually took place last spring, due to the pandemic, was the Gravel Challenge Bauerskogen at the end of March 2020.
The best tours
The whole idea of the website is to promote the best tours in their area, which have been tested, don’t cause any problems with landowners etc. Bauerskogen is named after the artist John Bauer, who spent a lot of time out in the deep forests common to the area. It was there he was inspired to illustrate the Swedish fairytale book Among Gnomes and Trolls at the beginning of the 20th century.
Gravel biking is usually done over a day, so it’s easier and more accessible, but some prefer to go for overnight rides to explore the routes further. When bike packing you go on multi-day trips and bring your own equipment.
Gravel biking in Stockholm
An easy route of 50km recommended by grvl.se is biking around Stockholm’s national park but without ever going into it (as it is forbidden to ride bicycles in this national park). Beautiful gravel dipping in and out of suburbia, this route has it all and a must to any biker living or visiting Stockholm.
Gravel Road Biking in Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Photo by Redbull