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Highway Biking
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Say Raow
Highway Biking on 06/09/2009 18:40:27 MDT Print View

Can a road bike handle gravel shoulders for short periods of time?

Edited by lordrasov on 06/09/2009 18:41:18 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Highway Biking on 06/09/2009 19:56:30 MDT Print View

A road bike can handle gravel shoulders forever.

The tires, on the other hand, can be an issue.

A 700x26 at 90 psi is pretty forgiving.
A 700x21 at 110 psi is just looking for a sidewall cut.

I have ridden 700x23s at 100 psi, in gravel, at 20 mph, for hours. Typically, in a group of 15, no one flatted. YMMV

Specific scenarios may elicit specific answers.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Yep on 06/10/2009 04:12:15 MDT Print View

The momentary transition from road to gravel can become very exciting however.

Say Raow
highway riding on 06/10/2009 18:02:15 MDT Print View

I am on a work term in a part of Canada where everyone drives trucks and i'm sure would push a bicyclist off the highway. SO i feel i need to hit the shoulder whenever someone drives by. That being said, I want to buy a road bike for when I head back to the city for school, but I am here for a few more months. Any tips on what I should buy or strategies for the highway riding?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: highway riding on 06/10/2009 20:20:27 MDT Print View

Not knowing much about your goals - racing, touring, commuting, fitness - I suggest looking at bikes that can accept beefy tires. You can always run 700x19 if you want.

Most road bikes accept 700x28 which will be more than enough for most riding conditions.

Also look at "cross bikes". They are are designed for bigger tires and are quite stable in snow and ice, inasmuch as you can run some pretty significant treads, unlike a typical road tire.

Last on the list are the 29" Wheel bikes. You can put on an even large tire that still rolls pretty well.

Most importantly, though, I suggest searching for a Good bike shop. You should feel listened to, not patronized, not preached. If they don't mention the three options above move on to the next shop. A good shop is invaluable, especially to someone just starting out.

How to ride? That's a hard call from here. Only you know if the truckers, RVers, and cellphones are dangerous. If your lane doesn't have a white line on the edge, is only 4 meters wide, and is posted at 100 kph you may be better off driving.

But, if you ride like you drive - straight, predictable, signaling, solid (not aggresive), most drivers will recognize that and give you your due.

I advise against hopping on and off the shoulder. Sooner or later you'll crash. All the traffic coming up behind you will give you No respect. You're scaring them. Ride 12" to the left of the line like you own it.

Oh yah - let common sense prevail.

Take care out there.

Edited by greg23 on 06/10/2009 20:40:28 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: highway riding on 06/11/2009 04:01:05 MDT Print View

By happy coincidence I'm also a neophyte who is looking for a similar bike. I'm about to move to Colorado and I want a commuting bike that can handle the occasional non-challenging trail- something like a "cross bike" or "hybrid", or whatever you want to call it.

After reading a little, I've decided upon a hard-tail 29er of some sort:

The 29-inch wheels help a lot when you're cruising on a paved road, as I will usually be doing. They aren't as agile as 26ers or smaller if you are doing serious stump-jumping in Moab, or whatever, but I won't be. They also make it easier to just ride across smallar obstacles without jumping them, as would be common on a well-used trail. The only downside is that many smaller bike-shops don't stock 29-inch wheels for mountain bikes, but they are available on the internet and at bigger shops.

Also, you obviously don't need a rear suspension for road biking, and can get away without it for occasional off-road forays, thus I'm thinking hard-tail.

I'm divided on the need for a front suspension but, heck, it is easy to add one later if you want it, so I can live with buying solid forks to begin with.

Personally, I'd rather have straight handlebars than curved road-racing bars. Also, I'd rather have disc brakes than V-brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes take far too much maintenance, so I want mechanical ones.

Anyway, a good candidate that I thought I had found was the Cannondale Synapse, but I just looked at their website again and they changed it! So I'm still looking...

Cannondale has one actually called "the 29er", which might be a candidate, but it's MSRP is $1100, so it's a bit pricey. It DOES have a front suspension, I think.

Cannondale's F4 with a Caffeine frame might be a candidate, but again, it's pricey.

They also make an F7 with a "CO2" frame that MSRP's at $660, and an F5 with that frame for $700. That might be better.

Anyway, I'm still looking.

Edited by acrosome on 06/11/2009 12:06:43 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: highway riding on 06/11/2009 07:31:30 MDT Print View


>Also, you obviously don't think you need a rear suspension
>for road biking, and can get away without it for
>occasional off-road forays, thus I'm thinking hard-tail.

Suspension Seatposts are a great compromise for hardtail mountain bikes and a great compliment for road bikes.

For mountain bikes look at the Cane Creek Thudbuster. It has 3" of travel and can be tuned to the weight of the rider and/or the terrain in about 15 minutes by swapping elastomer slugs. You pay about a 1# penalty over the stock seatpost. It accepts any saddle. There are shims or specific seatposts for any bike.

For road riding it is hard to beat a Rock Shok 'in-line' mountain suspension seatpost. The 'mountain' seatpost has about an inch of travel, has a little tunability, and is wonderful at sucking up cracks, chipseal, and lumpy pavement. Worth Every dollar.

>I'm divided on the need for a front suspension but, heck,
>it is easy to add one later if you want it...

Possible, but Not cheap, and sometimes a challenge. Most likely you will need new cables and housing, possibly a new stem, plus bar tape. Adding a suspension fork will also change the geometry of the bike, raising the front end by 3+ inches, which changes the handling characteristics, and moves rider weight back a bit, also changing handling. If you are doing off-road, start out with front suspension. It's easier on your wrists, elbows and shoulders, keeps the tire on the ground, and makes for a better riding proficiency, as well as comfort.

>Personally, I'd rather have straight handlebars than
>curved road-racing bars.

Off-road - absolutely. Road riding - maybe. Unlike mountain biking where there is a lot of body movement, unweighting, shifting around, frequent standing, etc., road riding is pretty static. If you are riding more than an hour, having multiple hand positions is a very good thing. Moving from the shifter/brake hoods to the flats, to the center, occasionally to the drops, and back again alleviates a lot of hand and wrist issues. It also provides some relief to the shoulder and lower back muscles by getting them into slightly different positions.


Edited by greg23 on 06/11/2009 07:33:15 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: highway riding on 06/11/2009 12:15:25 MDT Print View

Rats. I'm sort of hijacking this thread...


I've come across suspension seatposts in my research, and considered mentioning them in my post. They do seem like a decent compromise.

I thought it was easier to add a front suspension. Hmm. I may have to rethink that one... Luckily many of the bikes I'm currently looking at DO have a front suspension.

I'm rather attached to the idea of mountain-style handlebars. It seems like a true cyclocross bike with the road bars would be hard to control on anything but a very well-groomed off-road trail, and while I'm not going to Moab or anything I would like to hit the occasional sedate singletrack. I'm probably going to live in either Fountain or Broadmoor and commute to Fort Carson so it's only a few miles, thus hand fatigue is an unlikely problem, and especially from Broadmoor I understand that there are some trails. So I think the curved bars aren't the best choice for me.

Feel free to try to convince me otherwise.

Edited by acrosome on 06/11/2009 12:16:35 MDT.

Jay Well
(jwell) - F

Locale: Willamette Valley
Highway Biking on 06/11/2009 12:49:37 MDT Print View

To both Dan and Dean, I am a big fan of touring bikes. They are the most versatile bikes out there as far as what type of terrain they can handle (road, gravel, trail) and how they can be set up (drop bars, flat bar, disk brakes). Check out the bikes by Surly, they have some very utilitarian bikes that could be set up in a way to suite your riding style.

Also when you select a bike pay special attention to your wheels. If you are going from pavement to gravel to urban minefield make sure the bike has sturdy wheels, at least 32 spoke 3X, preferably 36 spoke 3X. Also tires that suite where you ride the most will make your biking experience more enjoyable. If you get a bike with nobbies and ride on the road 90% of the time your ride will be unnecessarily harsh. Look at schwalbe, they have a great selection of tires to fit any type of riding.