Cycling in Kazakhstan can be hard. Central and West Kazakhstan are empty. Really empty. The south and east of the country is more populated, and has more interesting features. I think it’s more fun there to cycle, but that’s a personal opinion.
Roads, repair and maps
The roads connecting the main cities are mostly in a very good state. See driving in Kazakhstan for more specific information.
If you’re looking for a decent cycling map of Kazakhstan, see the road maps of Kazakhstan section for an overview of your choices.
For bicycle repair, check the list of bike shops in Central Asia. Kazakhstan is well-provisioned compared to the rest of Central Asia.
Traffic in Kazakhstan
Every city has its personality when it comes to cars. Almaty is the most civilized, with cars stopping for red lights and even for pedestrians. There is a bicycle path on the main street, and you will see many other cyclists in summertime. Shymkent, called Texas by residents from other cities, is a bit more Wild West, with rule-breaking as the norm.
The rest of the country lies somewhere in between those two extremes. In between cities, on the long straight stretches of highway, cars and trucks tend to speed.
Also note that, due to the high level of corruption in the state bureaucracy, many people buy their driver’s license in Kazakhstan. So watch out for those rich ladies in big jeeps, because they are not watching out for you!
Cycle routes in Kazakhstan
The fantastic people of VeloAlmaty have produced a very good-looking free e-book with routes around Almaty (in Russian), detailing road conditions, elevation profile, … Most of them are mountain bike routes, since, well, the city ìs located in the mountains, but there are also a few flatter options. Download it, or check out this lot of gps routes around Almaty.
Renting a bicycle
You can rent a bicycle in Almaty and Astana for a day. Have a look at the list of bike shops.
Bike on train or bus
The train is the easiest solution in Kazakhstan if you want to skip part of the journey. You can store your bicycle in the space between compartments. For smaller distances, marshrutkas are used in Kazakhstan and they will not be able to fit your bicycle.
Large tour buses for intercity travel will probably be able to store your bicycle in the luggage compartment, but they are not so convenient as trains.
More information on cycling in Kazakhstan is coming your way! Let us know what you are missing here, or how your route was if you’ve been cycling here.