Whether learning to ride as a child, going for a trail ride to take in the views, or entering a competition to prove your ability, cycling is a lifelong activity that comes in many flavors. It is also one of the best ways to get fit and lead a healthier, longer lifestyle.
The humble bicycle is an iconic means of transportation internationally and a fantastic form of entertainment. But if the weather puts a damper on your cycling plans, many video games celebrate the popular pastime and let you enjoy it from the comfort of your couch.
Here are four of the best cycling-themed video games in history that, despite not always being realistic, always guarantee a good time.
Tour de France
Nothing says competitive cycling quite like the legendary Tour de France competition, which is bet on around the world at a. Starting in Spain, the 2023 iteration of the race takes you on winding roads through hills, valleys, towns, and a selection of hand-picked casinos to the finish line in Champs-Élysées, Paris.
The Tour de France 2023 video game is perfect for anyone who has ever dreamt of competing in the iconic race. Featuring the 2023 race map and all the riders that competed in the actual event, the game lets you test your skills against the best.
The game features all the best equipment from the best brands (such as DNP and Yamaha) and allows you to compete in all 21 stages of the race as you upgrade your skills and kit. With excellent physics, unique challenges, and rider behaviors that make each race unique, the game offers many twists and turns.
Visually, the game may not hold the realism of the latest AAA titles. However, the graphics are still engaging, and the backdrops of the regions you cycle through are stunning—it is evident that these especially got a lot of TLC from the developers.
BMX Streets: PIPE
BMX (which stands for bicycle motocross) is one of the most iconic forms of cycling. Using specially designed bicycles, BMX is defined by off-road racing that features incredible tricks, stunts, and bike movements that shouldn’t seem possible but are.
BMX Streets: PIPE lets you become a pro-BMX racer without worrying about scraping yourself up if you don’t land the stunt. Though it was released in 2017 and is only available for PC, a console version is currently in development.
Although the graphics aren’t phenomenal, the physics engine that showcases the fluidity of the stunts and realistic tricks is rated as one of the best among all cycling games.
You can try over 50 aerial stunts and engage with almost any area of the PIPE arena. This includes grinding on any rail, claiming crazy hang time when launching off of things like trampolines, and pulling off hidden tricks that can only be discovered by riding around and exploring.
While road cycling is a refined version of cycling and BMX adds plenty of stunts and edge, mountain trail racing offers breakneck action and speed alongside constant danger. And if real-life mountain races are a bit too extreme for you, Descenders is a great way to safely experience some of the thrills.
Starting you at the top of a steep mountain, the game gives you one objective—get to the bottom as quickly as possible, no matter what it takes. This may sound easy at first, but with a specially coded map generator that changes where the jumps and slopes occur each time a world is generated, mastering the art of racing down to the valley is even more challenging than it seems.
Offering incredible graphics that highlight the wilderness surrounding mountain trails, this game is action-packed and lets you all but fly down the mountain while you pull off jaw-dropping tricks and stunts. While doing this, you can increase your ranking on the online leaderboard, earn new bikes and equipment, and even unlock new skills and abilities that lead to more action and thrills.
If you’re a gamer who loves only the latest in graphics and gameplay, Uniracers likely won’t appeal to you. However, if you’re looking for unbridled fun and crazy cycling action, this game delivers in spades.
Released in 1994 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the game features 45 tracks across nine tours. Each tour will take you on two races, two circuits you’ll need to complete, and a single stunt track where you’ll need to pull out all the stops.
Featuring fun and colorful 2D graphics, the game allows players to pull off crazy tricks (which boost your speed each time you pull off a stunt) all on one wheel. That’s right—rather than traditional bicycles, players control rad unicycles (with no riders!) that come in 16 color variants.
The tracks offer unique attributes that increase the excitement and let players pull off gravity-defying stunts. From corkscrews to shortcuts that can cut time off during a circuit, the game has plenty of features to keep you on your toes—especially when playing multiplayer against friends and family.