Road bikes on rough surfaces.


Rain magnet.
Costa Clyde.
How do you guys on road bikes with skinny high pressure tyres manage on roads with less than perfect surfaces (and that seems to be just about ALL roads nowadays)??

Reason I ask is that I recently changed tyres on my Tricross from 700x32 to 700x28 which I inflate to about 90 psi. Now a Tricross is supposedly a cyclocross bike and you would think it should be better able to soak up the odd bump or two. A lot of the roads around here have been tarred with that horrible surface that is mostly small stones held together with tar. Fine when in the car. Not pot-holed, but just very rough, uncomfortable and really hard going on a bike, if I am getting my description across here! You certainly notice a huge difference when you do find a smoother bit of road.

It has really made me think again about any aspirations I had of getting a proper road bike. In fact, because there are so many badly surfaced roads about here, I would probably tend to go the other way and get a mountain bike with road tyres. The Tricross was meant to be a compromise but even that is hard work. Why can't they put down decent road surfaces these days??


Just about surviving
Just put up with it. I've not got 700's but 27" 1 /14" and know where I'm going to have my a**e rattled. (FNARR don't see this):ohmy:. I'm just ready for it and lift my bum up a little when I see the surface I'm going over.
The roads I ride on aren't that brilliant but I cope and so do lot of others. I live and ride near the juction of National Routes 52 and 63 so there are a lot of cyclists using local roads so don't know if they have a lot of pressure to bear. If they do the roads are that good, especially Route 52.
I just ride the rough as I would off road on MTB lift up if needed and check wheels regularly. Mine are 25 year old Mavic Module E rims and still OK.


Cycle Camera TV
South Croydon
Get on the drops and POWER!

lol in all seriousness don't do that, just get light and let the bike roll, might be uncomfortable but the bike should take it if it's only minor stuff.


Well-Known Member
I've got a Tricross too and have just change to 700x25's. Some of the roads I was on today were atrocious and made me wish I'd stuck with the knobblies at times. With the broader tyres it seemed to cope very well with rough road conditions. That said, even though I hit some potholes quite hard the road tyres seemed to cope OK. It's mostly just a case of trying to avoid the worst of it and being ready for it when you can't, ie brace yourself and try to "ride light" by lifting yourself out of the saddle slightly. I know what you mean about that gravelly stuff though - if you get up to speed it can feel like it's going to shake the eyeballs right out of your head.


Bird Saviour
on my commute, one road is so bad with deep crevaces that it makes me wince for my poor bike everytime i have to go over one. i'm thinking of finding another road... only thing is, i don't think i'll have much luck unless i want to venture on to very fast A roads.

on the road

Über Member
You just have to grin and bear it. I've got 23mm tyres and often ride on really bad teeth shattering roads, it's no fun but I put up with it.


Legendary Member
Have a look at Specialized Roubaix tyres. They're made a bit deeper to give more comfort on bad roads, hence the name.

Your wheels have a lot to do with it too, I have recently upgraded to stiffer wheels and I did notice that my bum was correspondingly a little painful after Saturday's 48 miler on the same kind of roads where the top dressing is wearing off leaving a horribly rough surface.


New Member
One of the reasons that I stayed away from road bikes was the feeling that the ride must be terrible on the roads, as they are in such a state. I have a hard enough time on my Giant M1 with 26 ins road/off road tyres.

I was pleasantly surprised when I took out an Allez Elite on a test, that it was actually more comfortable than my Giant on the same roads.

Gerry Attrick

Lincolnshire Mountain Rescue Consultant
Frame design has a huge influence as to how road surfaces are perceived in the saddle. My old Dawes Shadow with its frame tubes cut from gas pipe and 27 x 1 1/4 is sheer hell on anything but the smoothest surfaces, whilst my CF Cannondale on 23mm Vittorias just glides over the rough stuff. Generally (sticking neck out) aluminium tends to be a somewhat harsher ride than a quality (say 631) steel frame or that provided by Ti or CF. However, because of the stiffness required by out and out race bikes, some of those very expensive CF also have their tooth-chipping moments.


I think it comes down to what you're used to. I managed fine for years on 700x23 tyres. This winter I built up a cross bike and put 700x30 tyres on it due to all the water/crap filled potholes that I seem to find. Bike felt like luxury. I recently brought my summer bike out of hibernation with 700X23 - I don't half notice the bad surfaces now.


Über Member
Gerry Attrick said:
Generally (sticking neck out) aluminium tends to be a somewhat harsher ride than a quality (say 631) steel frame

Damn right it is. Even with 37s on my Kona Dew and replacement steel handlebars rough surfaces are far from fun. And there seems to be a lot more rough surfaces out there than there used to be.

But yes, at the end of the day, MTFU.
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