This page contains what we believe are many of the most epic bike climbs in the world. We have listed our Top 10 World's Most Epic Bike Climbs in our summary at the bottom of this page. Note that this is our subjective ranking and is not based on objective data or formula, just our experience and personal opinion.
What makes a bike climb “epic”? Well, since this is a subjective issue, we will give you our thoughts on the topic, but by no means do we consider this an end-all list. And, while we can surely debate what are truly the most epic world bike climbs, we feel there is no reasonable debate that our Top 10 list clearly includes only epic climbs.
We also welcome your thoughts on this category via our Contact Page.
Epic used in our context means: extraordinary, exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list, and “must do”. The cleats-on-the-ground working definition of “epic bike climb”: At the finish of the climb you say to your riding partner with great enthusiasm “*&%$!, that was an EPIC climb!!!!”
Another rule of thumb on epicicity is: Would you pack your bike, leave your family behind, and fly at least 10 hours to a foreign land that speaks a language you don’t know, using your last five vacation days for the year to do this climb?
With that simple guideline, here we go . . .
#10 OF 10 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
PIKES PEAK, COLORADO, USA
Cycling Pikes Peak
Ride 24 miles gaining 8,037’ to elevation 14,115’ at 6.1% average grade.
We have ridden Pikes Peak three times and consider it one of the most epic climbs in the world. If we use the traditional and common definition of “epic” to equate to “legendary” or “monumental,” you would be hard pressed to ignore Pikes Peak. The climb is extremely challenging (#4 US/#22 World), scenic, and unique in that it is the second (a mere 15’ behind Mt. Evans) highest paved road in North America. The hairpins at 12,500’ are extraordinary and give us unobstructed views to the Colorado plains over a mile below.
This is one where you definitely high five each other just past that sign!
#9 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
GOTTHARD PASS, SWITZERLAND
Gotthard rivals Stelvio, Alpe d'Huez and Lacets de Montvernier . . .
. . . but it is the hairpin + cobble combination which makes this a Top 10 Epic World Bike Climb!
It’s that one-two punch of amazing hairpins and ancient cobbles that make this climb one of the most remarkable cycling experiences in the world -- and worthy of most bucket lists. This is a bike climb that deserves to be on every adventuring cyclist’s Must Do list.
#8 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
KHARDUN LA PASS, LADAKH, INDIA
Sign at the pass incorrectly states the summit elevation at 18,380’
Prayer flags adorn the summit.
Cycling Khardung La Pass, Ladakh, India
Ride 38.6 km (24 miles) gaining 2,220m (7,288’) at 4.8% average grade to elevation 5,329m (17,483’).
Elevation sensation! It is the altitude and stark plain beauty of the Himalayas that put this one in the World Bike Climb Epic Top 10.
Built in 1976, this is a relatively new pass, which is often referred to incorrectly as the highest motorable pass in the world. There are many shops at the top of the pass selling souvenirs and t-shirts proclaiming Khardung La as such. The error is no doubt perpetuated for economic reasons, but there are at least a couple of motorable passes in Tibet higher than Khardung La. Elevation signs at the pass incorrectly list the elevation of the pass at 18,879’ (this is the height of the summit, not the motorable portion of the pass).
#7 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
MOMBACHO, GRANADA, NICARAGUA
Cycling Mombacho Volcano, Nicaragua
Ride 6.1 kilometers gaining 860 meters at 14.4% average grade.
Steepest kilometer (29.5%) and mile (24.8%) in the world.
This was one of PJAMM’s great epic adventures -- not just the climb (epic, for sure!), but the entire effort just to get past the gate to get a chance to SUFFER!
29.5% - Yes, it is - I can vouch for that.
As a general rule, “No biceleta” means “No biceleta”
However, see our Climb Page for the work-around.
Hint: It helps to know the Mombacho Volcano National Preserve Director . . . and
. . . his best friend who owns the only Specialized bike shop in Nicaragua!
#6 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
MT. FUJI, JAPAN
Cycling the approaches to the four Mt. Fuji 5th Lines.
Cycling Mt. Fuji’s Subaru Line to Subaru 5th Station.
25.4 kilometers (15.8 miles) 2,281m (7,485’) gaining 1,279m (4,195’) at 5%.
Summit of Mt. Fuji: 3,776 m (12,388’).
Mt. Fuji is likely the most distinctive volcano (and perhaps mountain) in the world. The route to Mt. Fuji’s Subaru line (one of four staging areas on the mountain to hike to the summit) is by far the most popular route up Mt. Fuji. This is also the most scenic as we are in site of this iconic mountain much of our climb. We traveled to Japan just to ride Mt. Fuji and we are SO glad we did -- EPIC!
#5 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
Outside of Tibet, there is no higher road than Uturuncu in the entire world.
That’s the starting elevation!
As we say in the legal field, Res Ipsa Loquitor, “The thing speaks for itself.” This is a quintessential EPIC bike climb. See our Climb Page for the full story.
This abandoned road formerly led to a sulphur mine.
End of the road, top of the world.
That is a correct reading!
We camped in the Andes at 15,600’ to prepare for the climb.
#4 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
PASSO DELLO STELVIO, TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE, ITALY
The most famous hairpins in the world.
Looking down from just below the pass area.
Aerial drone view looking towards the Passo Stelvio.
Stelvio is nothing if not EPIC! This is the most famous of our Top 10 World Most Epic and rightly so. We love Stelvio and have travelled to Bormio and Prato Allo Stelvio three times to climb this extraordinary road.
Stelvio is our favorite bike climb finish in the world.
#3 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
PICO DE VELETA, SPAIN
Cycling Pico de Veleta -- a top world bike climb.
Ride 31.3 km to 3366 m gaining 2,689 m at 7.7%
THE NUMBER SEVEN MOST DIFFICULT CLIMB IN THE WORLD. It is not often that we are blessed to climb “the” of anything, whether it be the “hardest,” the “longest,” the “steepest,” or, in this case the highest. Yet we can honestly claim that Pico is a “The” climb: The highest paved road in all of Europe -- now that’s saying something! And it’s not just high, it’s H A R D and E P I C!
Virgen de Las Nieves -- peak above altar.
#2 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
WULING PASS EAST, TAIWAN
Cycling Wuling Pass East
Ride 87 Kilometers gaining 3,459 meters at 3.6% average grade.
#76 Most Difficult World; 2nd Longest Bike Climb World.
While the challenge of this climb alone justifies its inclusion on all road bike climbing bucket lists, it is Taroko Gorge that separates Wuling East from nearly all other climbs in the world. Taroko Gorge is within Taroko National Park (est. 1986; 355 square miles/227,000 acres), one of nine National Parks on the island of Taiwan. Taroko Gorge is composed of metamorphic rocks, including marble. It is the smooth polished marble walls carved by the Liwu River which is absolutely remarkable. We’ve never seen anything like it -- stunning!
This is a Top 10 World Most Scenic Climb, yet it is also a top EPIC climb -- I specifically recall yelling to my riding partner (who had been waiting a long time for me at the top) “Wuling is $%#&@*^ EPIC!” when I finally rolled up to the pass.
The climb continues to inspire awe as we climb out of the gorge and to the top,
87 km ( 54 miles) from our start point.
#1 OF 10 WORLD’S MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMBS
DEATH ROAD, BOLIVIA
Hands down the MOST epic bike ride in the world.
This may very well be the greatest road of all! Words cannot describe this climb, but thankfully our photos and drone video do it some justice. It is a magnificent and otherworldly experience: Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park-like surroundings. North Yungas Road, nicknamed “Death Road,” was carved out of the mountainside in the 1930s by Paraguayan prisoners during the Chaco War with Brazil. The road connects La Paz with the town of Coroico, effectively connecting the Amazon rainforest and those who dwell there, with Bolivia’s capital city (Curiosity).
This is just one badass road!
During rainy season be prepared to forge rivers.
There are numerous memorials along the Death Road. See slideshow widget for photos.
Second half -- no sheer cliffs but a lot of crazy drivers!
At the finish -- Will and I looked at each and said “!@#$% EPIC!!!”