Snow on the Alpine passes © Alamy
What you need to set off on the RGA
Preparing your bike for the RGA © Arnaud Bachelard

What equipment do you need to cycle along the Route des Grandes Alpes®?

Choosing suitable equipment to cycle along the Route des Grandes Alpes®

Which bike to choose?

Choose a comfortable bike on which you’ll feel at ease for a minimum of four to five hours in the saddle every day.

For sporty types, choose a touring or sport touring bike – forget aero or time-trail bikes. Opt for low-profile wheels (40mm max). Note that you’re likely to encounter all manner of conditions along the route, including rain, mud, hail and even snow!

For those tackling the route more as tourists than as seasoned cyclists, choose a touring bike equipped with panniers. An upright position is more comfortable on the back, but avoid remaining too straight-backed, as that can lead to experiencing pain in the buttocks. Some suspension in the saddle helps smooth over the bumps in the road.

Which electric bike, or e-bike, to choose?

How to choose an e-bike is a subject all of its own. See the dedicated section on the matter.

What kind of repair kit to take?

As conditions on this cycle route aren’t easy to predict, best be well prepared!

Take a repair kit including, as a minimum: a multi-tool with a bike chain tool; an inner tube suitable for your tyre size; a mini-pump; a puncture repair kit; a tyre lever; quick link chain repair links; suitable derailleur hangers; a spare tyre; and lubricant.

Remember to replace any items you’ve had to use at the next possible opportunity.

What basic checks should you carry out before heading out?

  • Ask a professional to service your bike.
  • Also have a postural assessment done to make sure your bike is adapted to your body shape, helping avoid those little aches and pains.
  • Test out your bike under various conditions (in sunshine and rain, heat and cold, etc).
  • Test out your bike with the panniers full, to appreciate how differently they’ll make the bike function.
  • Try out basic repairs on your bike, for example changing a tyre, repairing a puncture, repairing the chain or bleeding the disc brakes…

What equipment should a cyclist take on the trip?

This route is a challenge! You may be climbing almost 20,000m (or four times the height of Mont Blanc!) if tackling the whole route, so any unnecessary gram of weight is a burden. To be clear, choose light, efficient items, taking the bare minimum:

  • helmet
  • gloves
  • 1 complete, comfortable cycling outfit + 1 extra cycling outfit
  • windcheater
  • long cycling shorts or leggings
  • shoes adapted to your pedals
  • knife
  • waterproof bags (in case of rain)
  • an outfit to wear in the evening
  • toiletries bag
  • a light

Extra tip for comfort: take shoes that allow you to walk easily (suitable road cycling or mountain biking shoes).

Extra tip for safety: wear bright-coloured clothes so that you’re easily visible to others using the route.

What to eat and drink?

Never forget to hydrate yourself regularly and to eat regularly!

Carry two large water-bottles on your bike, always replenishing them when the level goes down.

Carry some energy bars with you. (Test out which you prefer before heading out!)

Don’t forget to leave a bit of space for picnic stuff, unless you always plan to eat lunch at a restaurant.

Are you going to be camping?

It’s said that independent travel forges the character and enriches the experience. You can put this to the test! 

There are numerous campsites along the route, some with spaces dedicated to cyclists. The camping equipment you’ll need includes: a lightweight hiking tent; a sleeping bag; an inflatable travel mattress; essentials for cooking – portable stove, gas cartridge, lighter and mess kit… not forgetting food to prepare one or two meals.

If you’re going to bivouac on occasion, don’t forget to respect good practice – discretion, cleanliness, private property…

Don’t forget to take good care of your electronic devices!
If using a bicycle GPS device, remember to take what’s needed to recharge it. The route’s GPX tracks can be downloaded here, via our website.
Place your mobile phone and charger in a waterproof pocket, avoiding humidity.

Extra tip: take a suitable adapter (220V or USB) to help ensure you can recharge your devices easily.