Key-Visual der Ausstellung "Räder, Rennen, Ruhm"

Wheels, races, glory

Swiss cycling

Exhibition | accessibility.time_to


Since its invention, the bicycle, known in Switzerland as the velo, has also been used in sport. Switzerland has achieved great things in the sport of cycling. The country has not only won numerous world titles and Olympic victories, but also devised other disciplines such as cycle ball. The exhibition journeys through various cycling disciplines: from road race time trials, to cross-country through mud and snow, and even the acrobatics of artistic cycling.

Blog articles


Wheels, races, glory. Swiss cycling

National Museum Zurich | 15.7.2022 - 16.10.2022
published on 12.7.2022

Whether on the road, indoors or out in the mud and snow, the bicycle has become a fixture of the global sporting landscape. And Switzerland can be proud of its many contributions to cycling’s success.

Ever since its invention in the 19th century, people have used the bicycle for sporting pursuits. Over the past century and a half, the bicycle has become one of the world’s most widely used items of sports equipment. And it’s not only the vehicle itself that has continued to evolve, but also its diverse range of applications. In addition to various road races, cyclists also compete indoors, cross-country, and even up and down hills and mountain trails. Completely new disciplines have been launched, such as Radball. Also known as cycle ball, Radball is a type of cycle sport devised by Swiss bicycle trick rider Nick Kaufmann at the end of the 19th century.

But it’s not only because of Nick Kaufmann and his exciting new way of riding a bike that Switzerland has accomplished so much in cycling. In addition to scores of international titles and medals, the Swiss have brought a number of highlights to the two-wheels game. For instance, in 1880 Hans Renold from Aargau invented the roller chain, an innovation that massively improved the energy transfer when cycling and contributed significantly to the bicycle’s rapid global spread. This type of chain is still used on most bicycles today, including in the sports sector.

The exhibition at the National Museum in Zurich invites visitors to take a short tour through the multifaceted history of Swiss cycling: from A for Arbeitersport (workers’ sport), to S for stars and Z for the Zurich Velodrome.


Six-day race, 1968

The aim of this six-day race is to travel the furthest possible distance on the track; riders split into teams of two.

© ETH-Bibliothek Zurich / Photo: Comet Photo AG (Zurich)

Well-earned break, 1966

Riders rest during a six-day race at the Hallenstadion Zürich-Oerlikon.

© ETH-Bibliothek Zurich / Photo: Comet Photo AG (Zurich)

Group Parade, 1930

The group Arbeiter-Touring-Bund, founded in 1916, promotes the group sport.

© Swiss Social Archives

Modern artistic cycling

Flatland is a subdiscipline of BMX freestyle in which tricks and moves are combined in an aesthetic sequence.

© Frank Schwichtenberg, 2017

Military cyclists, 1938–1945

From 1891 to 2003 the Swiss Army included bicycle infantry units. In the pioneering days, the cyclists were used for despatch duties and conveying intelligence.

© Swiss National Museum

Cyclo-cross, 1976

Since 1900, European road racing cyclists have been training off-road in autumn and winter in order to improve their fitness. This developed into a sport in its own right: cross-country racing.

© Swiss National Museum

Women’s cycle race in Geneva, 1950

There have been official cycling races for women since the 1950s. The first Tour de Suisse Women was not held until 2021.

© Swiss National Museum

Road racing, 1988

The most important road race in Switzerland is the Tour de Suisse, which was first held in 1933.

© Swiss National Museum / ASL

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

A view of the exhibition.

© Swiss National Museum

Key visual at the exhibition

Graphic: Res Zinniker, Bern.

© Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63

Exhibition imprint

  • Overall management Denise Tonella
  • Project direction and curatorship Jacqueline Perifanakis
  • Project support Luca Tori
  • Scenography Klauser Lienhard, Zürich
  • Graphics Thomas Lehmann, LDSGN Zürich
  • Scientific advisor and research Thomas Bochet, Michael Kempf, Selina Stuber
  • Advisory committee Heidi Amrein, Beat Högger, Markus Leuthard, Sabrina Médioni, Denise Tonella
  • Controlling of project Sabrina Médioni
  • Advertising graphic Res Zinniker, Bern
  • Technical management Henrike Binder
  • Exhibition construction Bachir Ezzerari, Janine auf der Maur, Ladina Fait, Marc Hägeli, Mike Roder, David Schwitter
  • Conservation management Tino Zagermann
  • Conservation and montage of objects Iona Leroy, Jürg Mathys, Tino Zagermann, Alder Stahl und Schweiss, Wädenswil
  • Lending and logistics of objects David Blazquez, Simon D’Hollosy, Reto Hegetschweiler, Markus Scherer, Samira Tanner, Angela Zeier
  • Picture library Andrea Kunz, Fabian Müller
  • IT | Web René Vogel, Danilo Rüttimann, Pasquale Pollastro
  • Media stations Alex Baur, Thomas Bucher, Ulrich Heiniger, Pasquale Pollastro, René Vogel
  • Marketing and Communication Andrej Abplanalp, Alexander Rechsteiner, Carole Neuenschwander, Sebastiano Mereu, Anna-Britta Maag
  • Translations Bill Gilonis; Marco Marcacci; Laurence Neuffer
  • Final editing Thomas Bochet, Laurence Neuffer

Items generously loaned by

  • Adrien Elmiger, Zollikon
  • David Graf, Grenchen
  • Alois Iten, Zürich
  • Kübler Sport GmbH, Adliswil
  • Nusshold AG Veloersatzteile, Zürich
  • Eliane Maggi, Möhlin
  • Remo Peter, Zürich
  • Joséphine Reitzel, Lausanne
  • Sette Sports AG, Schenkon
  • Trek Fahrrad GmbH, Dübendorf
  • Albert Zweifel, Rüti

We would like to thank

Nusshold AG Veloersatzteile, Zürich; Remo Peter, Zürich; Patrick Testuz, Trélex; Swiss Cycling - Verband Schweizer Radsport; Urs Schuler, Arisdorf; André Schwyn, Zürich; Bert Hulleman, Radsportseiten; Cosmos B. Schild & Cie. AG, Biel; Anne Schild, Musée de l'Hôtel-Dieu, Porrentruy; Hennes Roth, Frechen; Peter Fasnacht, memreg-das regionale Gedächtnis, Biel; Schweizerischer Verband Militär-Leistungssport und -Tradition; Markus Scherer.