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Best strategies for riding on rough "chip-sealed" roads?(11 posts)

Best strategies for riding on rough "chip-sealed" roads?Rick S
Jul 13, 2001 12:29 PM
I live in a exurban area that is served by chip-sealed roads. Riding on these surfaces causes significant vibration, most notably in my hands. Over long rides (40+ miles) the vibration really wears on my neck and shoulders. I have a carbon fork on my bike (the much-vaunted-for-comfort Serotta F-1), which in theory should help dull road vibration. Would an all carbon bike or a bike with carbon stays help address this issue and increase rider comfort? I'm currently riding a ti bike - I shudder (pun intended) to think what it would be like to ride a rigid aluminium frame on these roads.

Thanks for your thoughts.
I would think...MrCelloBoy
Jul 13, 2001 12:57 PM
that your Ti bike and carbon should be doing a pretty good job at damping things. You could try putting some fatter meats on the wheels, add a layer of padding under your handlebar tape and get some gel gloves and shorts.
doesn't...Jofa
Jul 13, 2001 1:29 PM
make any difference what frame you've got. Tyres, handlebar padding, saddle, arse, etc, do.
bigger tires and lower pressure works for mecory
Jul 13, 2001 1:31 PM
we don't have a lot of them where I live, but I run into them fairly often. I'm a clydesdale anyway, so I almost never use tires skinnier than 28mm (labeled--actually they're rarely wider than 24 or so). Using 700x32s at 95 psi really takes out the sting. If you're closer to average size, maybe try 25s.
Some CF frames are actually pretty goodLC
Jul 13, 2001 2:25 PM
Some all carbon bikes are really good about taking out chip seal buzz, the Trek CF frames are not one of them though. Look and Kestral seem the best on chip seal to me, along with some of the carbon fiber frames that have the tubes glued into a larger joint. The theory is that the glued joint can dampen the vibration with the glue and the different materials/and or thinkness meeting together. An old CADEX bike of mine with those CF tubes glued into aluminum joints is fantastic on taking out buzz, but has quite a bit of flex when hammering up a hill. Titanium and aluminum can both transmit alot of vibration, but they have a different natural frequency that will be most noticeable when your at a certain speed. For a long time we were lead to believe that Titanuim was some wonder material that would take out all that vibration, but now we are finding out otherwise. Bicycling magazine did a pretty good job of comparing the materials here: http://www.bicycling.com/magazine/buyersguide/bg_materials.shtml
Some CF frames are actually pretty goodcycleguy
Jul 14, 2001 6:31 PM
I ride the same roads as Dino. Have been riding bikes all my life. From Raleigh three speeds to Gitanes in the early 70's. The first Fuji Dura Ace cromly in 73/74. Al. Treks from the 80's to their 5200 CF last year. And I just purchased a lugged steel Italian frame this week. To say that a Trek CF frame does not take out the buzz of chip seal is funny. I find it the best at doing just that. At least in the frame and set up I have tried till now. I just ordered a lugged Italian Nemo frame. Will know how it rides later this year. The proof is in the pudding. And the Trek CF is the best riding bike I have been blessed to ride, so far! But then so many bikes and so little time LOL
Where I live they now have a version of chip-n-seal that...3kidney
Jul 13, 2001 3:22 PM
is little more than a gravel road with some tar on top. They have switched to gravel that is about 3X the size of the normal mix. It is horrible. It makes the regular stuff seem smooth.

First go for cork handlebar tape. Second (and this is hard to do), ride faster in bigger gears. You float over the top better that way. Third get different tires. I just switched from Axial Pro to Vittoria open All Weather and they are WAY more comfortable at the exact same pressure. Fourth, rather than a new frame I would try a different fork. I just got an AME straight blade with extra light blades and it is actually pretty good even on the "improved" chip n seal. I was actually on the bad stuff for a while before I noticed the switch. But tires and cork tape (2 layers if necessary) are obviously the cheapest route.
A couple of things...DINOSAUR
Jul 13, 2001 4:21 PM
I ride an al bike on a lot of chip seal roads. I get banged around so much that it fractured one of my Utegra brake dust caps (sore subject). One thing I found was adjusting my set up so I ride in a more layed back position. My weight ratio is about 50/50. When I encounter a rough section of road I can scoot back in my saddle and take the weight off of my upper body. Some roads are so chewed up that I can't pedal, I just have to ride through them and hang on. I love my Klein, it's great on smooth asphalt, but that dream bike I will be buying in the very near future will be lugged steel, as I think that steel will serve me better for my type of riding.
I've never riddden an al bike with cb seat stays, but they say it takes out a lot of the vibration and stiffness out of the al ride.
Riding with larger tires will help somewhat, although I use 700x23's.
Try experimenting with your tire pressure. Too much air can mean a rough ride, too little can result in rim punctures. My LBS owner says cb bikes don't beat you up, I dunno, never rode one.
I'd say a cheap alternative would be wheel and tire selection, a longer stem, followed by your set up. The rough ride doesn't bother me so much, I just worry about rim puntures, I get them once in a blue moon. I'm real religious about changing my rim and bar tape. Gel gloves don't seem to make much difference.
re: Best strategies for riding on rough "chip-sealed" roads?Steve Bailey
Jul 13, 2001 5:24 PM
Ditto the bigger tires at lower air pressure.

I spent 10 spring/summers in New Mexico, where chip seal was the preferred pavement method. Usually followed by a 2 week delay in the actual steamroller comin' round to do it's thing.

In a nutshell, the rural roads suck.

When I was riding certain routes - namely Rt 503 east of Nambe, Rt 4 past Bandalier and one year the Santa Fe Ski Basin road, I would switch to a second set of wheels with Avocet Cross K's - 700/32's. They actually run around 27mm wide, but as my bike was a lightened up tourer, clearance wasn't an issue. I'd put no more then 80 psi up front, and 85 rear just to get a degree of float in the gravel.
My experiences out west (also in Colorado) and on well packed dirt roads in Vermont led me to purchase a Rivendell/Heron due to the increased clearance for larger tires.

FWIW, I knew a local in Santa Fe who rode with 2 layer's of cork bar tape just to increase the padding

SB
re: Best strategies for riding on rough "chip-sealed" roads?chas1
Jul 13, 2001 9:42 PM
vittoria cx tubulars REALLY take the edge off.
tips from the masters of Paris-Roubaixclub
Jul 14, 2001 4:58 AM
Hold the bar lightly on the tops with elbows bent to absorb shocks. Run wider tires at lower pressure -- big fat sewups rule, but 28c clinchers a little below the normal pressure are fine. Push a bigger gear, this puts more of your weight on the legs and lightens the load on yer butt. Stay loose, let the bike move under you.