Without a doubt, one of the best bike parks in the Alps and host to the world's largest E-Bike festival.
Riders: Morgane Charre, Emilie Siegenthaler, Camille Balanche, James McKnight and Trifon
Verbier is, without a doubt, one of the best bike parks in the Alps. Anyone who’s ridden the sculpted and wild tracks and trails in and around the Swiss resort will agree.
Nestled high up above a stunning valley in the aptly named Valais region of Switzerland, Verbier is notorious in wintertime for its official off-piste skiing areas and as a home to the Freeride World Tour. The town’s summer activities reflect the progressive nature of its snow season: a constantly evolving mountain bike offering caters to riders of all abilities and tastes.
There really is something for everyone, from its classic downhill tracks to its perfectly shaped jumps and its flow trail to its shared-use hiking-biking singletrack. And if one thing is clear, it’s that Verbier takes mountain biking seriously – recently opened trails, entire new zones launched for backcountry adventures, and substantial investment in e-biking puts the town at the forefront of resort-based riding in Europe.
But hang on, isn’t Verbier too swish for mountain bikers? While it is true the town is popular with mountain sports-loving highflyers (we spotted Richard “Rocket” Branson once when we were riding there – not on a bike, unfortunately), it’s a relaxed and welcoming place. There’s a range of options for differing budgets.
Stay a night in town and you are entitled to the Verbier Infinite Playground (VIP, baby) pass, which gives you free or discounted access to a great number of activities. This includes skills sessions and guided rides (by reservation) with local instructors and ambassadors (such as Ludo “Ludicrous Switchbacks” May – but don’t worry, you won’t be required to ride 180º turns feet-up). With the VIP, mountain bike lift passes are reduced by about 50% to 25CHF per day for an adult. So, Switzerland is still pricey for foreign visitors, but there are plenty of ways to get the most out of a visit.
One of the biggest draws to Verbier Bikepark is its long season. As with many Swiss destinations, there isn’t really an off-season; the lift from Le Châble in the valley up to Verbier even welcomes bikes throughout winter. The main bike park lifts (there are six covered by the lift pass) are open from early summer (snow-dependent) right until late October (some of the lifts close earlier).
We recently headed over to Verbier for a few days shredding the bike park and exploring the newly opened Bruson lift area. The verdict? Yep, it isn’t cheap, but it definitely is a playground in the Alps. A visit is highly recommended.
Fast cars and muddy mountain bikers. What a mix.Hitting the bike park
Verbier’s lifts have been running for mountain biking for decades; the time has been used well to create dozens of official downhill, freeride, and enduro runs.
You can jump on a lift straight from town (or from down in Châble if you’re staying in the valley) for direct access to eight purpose-built tracks (soon to be nine with a new DH addition set for 2022). These include a full-on downhill racetrack, lines of sculpted jumps (tables, hips, doubles – all well-built), rooty and rocky tech in the woods, and plenty of typical Alpine features like massive, high-speed berms.
A rider’s favorite trail is “Wouaiy” (pronounced “wooheyyyy” – like, think of a celebratory chant in semi-drunken-sports-fan English). This one’s marked as a red-graded line (advanced), and it’s great fun no matter whether you’re on a downhill or enduro bike. Natural and man-made gaps, fun line choices into countless turns, and a just-right gradient make it a memorable ride.
From the high point of the bike park at nearly two-and-a-half-thousand meters, Rôdze is another red-graded blast with jump after jump, a bonkers view over the surrounding mountains and glaciers, and some highly shred-able corners. There are also two blue runs that pretty much anyone could have fun riding and other black-, red-, and yellow-graded trails to dive into.
Going up to the top of the bike park, gaining about 1000m of elevation.
As we descend further towards Verbier, the trails enter the woods with many natural features.Heading out into the mountains
One day we hooked up with local legend Trifon, the man-with-a-plan who is literally shaping mountain biking in Verbier and the surrounding Val de Bagnes as he fronts the trail building and mountain bike development for the area. This was a chance to tap into Trifon’s expert knowledge and learn a bit more about riding outside the main lift area.
New for 2021, the Bruson lift on the hill opposite Verbier is open for bikes. This gives access to a swathe of fantastic singletrack riding that was previously only accessible by jumping on a once-daily bus ride or through pure grunt power (it’s a long way up).
As Verbier has recently been lauded for the annual Verbier E-Bike Festival
, which attracts brands, pros, and public from all over the world, we thought it was only fitting to get out for a spin on assisted bikes – not-so-grunt-powered, then. The festival is the largest E-bike festival in the world, hosting more than 30 of the biggest brands & more than 500 e-bikes to test. There are three stops as part of the E-Bike World Tour - Tignes Val D'Isere in France, Flachau, Austria and Verbier, Switzerland which takes place this week from 12th-15th August.
Starting from the top of the Bruson lift, Trifon took us up a series of fire roads and trails towards a distant high point somewhere in the clouds. The mist swirled around us as various pointy peaks briefly came into view before disappearing back into the weather. We rode through meadows of flowers and heard only the occasional ding of a cowbell in an otherwise silent mountain scene. What a place to be riding bikes!
Somewhere near the Col de Mille, we bumped into Trifon’s trail team as they worked on a shared hiking-and-biking trail (here, you can legally ride any path that isn’t categorically out of bounds to mountain bikes – just remember to be polite to other trail users). If you ask us, the fact there are people dedicated to the upkeep of wild trails so that we can have fun riding our bikes is one of Verbier’s most genius aspects.
Anyone who has ridden the descent from Col de Mille will tell you how awful it is – don’t bother, it’s rubbish, you might as well stay at home. That’s right, if you hate the idea of thousands of meters of descending, flowing through the woods with loam and roots under your tires, and some of the most impressive scenery in Europe, well, please leave all the fun to us.
The Col de Mille ride is just one part of the “Val de Bagnes Challenge,” an epic 100km loop for e-bikers (or beast-level humanoids) rideable in one day. The Challenge and several other rides (gourmet tour, anyone?) are spin-offs of the Verbier E-Bike Festival events, and the routes remain marked throughout the season.
There are dozens of similarly excellent “enduro” itineraries mapped out – some you’ll need to pedal to, others you can access via lifts or buses. If never-ending technical singletrack sounds exciting, you aren’t going to get bored soon.
From Le Chable, we took the newly opened Bruson lift and then began a 45-minute climb.Getting the stoke flowing
It’s worth mentioning the flow trail that drops over the back of the mountain from Verbier down to Tzoumaz. As is the case with flow trails, this track, called “Chotatai,” is built to be fun for all levels. The difference here being that Verbier has really got it right.
Turns on turns on turns link together with pretty much zero pedaling required. We had a lot of fun hitting a couple of laps here and, judging by their smiles and shouts of joy, so did the countless families having a blast and perhaps discovering mountain biking for the first time.
Experienced riders won’t spend all day on it, but who wouldn’t enjoy several hundred proper corners and the fact that more people are getting to experience the best side of the sport? Around town
Back in Verbier, there are numerous bike shops for rentals and repairs, a supermarket, bakeries, and plenty of places to eat out.
Head to one of the spots around the main lift station for a decent pre-ride coffee, roll two minutes into the center to grab a wrap or burger at lunchtime, and celebrate the great ride on a sunny terrace at the end of the day.
We’d recommend Verbier to pretty much any mountain biker. Beginner or full-blown pro, bike park ripper or singletrack fiend, you’ll have a great time. If you want to stay up to date with the E-Bike World Tour you can give them a follow @Ebikeworldtour
on instagram!Verbier Bike Park mountain biking trails
VERBIER E-BIKE FESTIVAL
AUGUST 12 TO 15 2021
The Verbier E-Bike Festival will open its doors in the heart of Verbier for the third time this summer. During 4 days, Verbier and the Val the Bagnes will live to the rhythm of E-Bikes with a rich programme that offers you 6 different experiences to test E-Bikes.
On top of this, a number of animations will take place in the centre of Verbier, such as concerts and a kids’ races.Register now here
.E-TOUR DU MONT BLANC - NEW: Now part of UCI Calendar!
The E-Tour du Mont-Blanc is the flagship event of the Verbier E-bike Festival. The Grande Finale of the E-Bike World Tour will bring together elite e-bike riders and the teams who have proven themselves at the previous stops of Tignes-Val d'Isère (FRA) and Flachau (AUT). A 3 day long, 300km race, (including 260km of single tracks) around Mont Blanc; through Switzerland, Italy, and France. The E-Tour du Mont-Blanc is the only event in the festival reserved for experienced e-bikers, and is an exceptional e-race. Follow the race highlight on @ebikeworldtour
social media channels.E-BIKE TEST
E-Bike Test: The 100% E-Bike Expo village will offer you the exclusivity to test all the new models on the market. It’s the perfect occasion to try and compare different types of E-Bikes and discuss with the pros of the market. Learn more
Rando Gourmande: A great loop accessible to everyone with the perfect compromise to discover the Val de Bagne’s culinary specialties and the region's charm.Learn more
Discovery trails - full day: A selection of loops for all levels on extraordinary paths, to enjoy independently or guided, the best way to experience e-bikes.Discovery trails - 2 days:
From Verbier or Le Châble, an extraordinary adventure over 2 days including a night in a mountain refuge awaits you. Accessible to experienced E-Bikers, with or without a guide, come and discover the most beautiful trails in the region!Learn more
.DÉFI DU VAL DE BAGNES BY ALTIS
Défi du Val de Bagnes by Altis: Forget the stopwatch, instead take on a unique challenge over 100km or 60km giving you the opportunity to ride a 100km electric powered trail taking you through the most iconic spots in the Val de Bagnes. Learn More
.BOSCH E-MTB CHALLENGE BY TREK
A challenge for everyone! 35km through which technicality, orientation and battery management will be key ! Timed fun race to push yourself and your friends.Learn more