How "off-road" can you safely take a road bike?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by babybunny, Oct 29, 2004.

  1. babybunny

    babybunny New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0
    This question has been plaguing me recently. Ever since I got my road bike I've been trying to stay on pavement as much as I can. I don't even ride on grass because I'm scared for my thin little tires that are so fragile-looking compared to the mountain bike tires that I'm used to using.

    Where should I draw the line with terrain that I should avoid on a road bike? A LBS guy once told me that he's gone down stairs on a road bike and it was perfectly fine!
     
    Tags:


  2. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2004
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    In spain, I have cycled on roads which were only about half-paved on the average. On my first day there, between Yunquera and El Burgo, the road was totally gone for about 10km, just a dirt road. All that time I was riding with a rack and panniers and quite a heavy load for road bikes...
     
  3. fixit

    fixit New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah right.
    :rolleyes:
     
  4. fixit

    fixit New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah right. :rolleyes:
     
  5. babybunny

    babybunny New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    151
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, so stairs are a no-no then. But unpaved roads are fine? What about moderate trail use, like over some tree roots or something?
     
  6. adamallstar

    adamallstar New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    i doubt your wheels could take a beating like that for very long. I've ridden on dir t trails before without problems, but if you're gonna be hitting roots and big drops you might want to look into heavier tires or maybe even a cyclocross frame. Then again your bike might be ok, but i'd imagine you'd loose your balance more often on thin tires.
     
  7. sparknote_s

    sparknote_s New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    1
    I dunno, the people I ride with hop over railroad tracks, ride down curbs, and one guy even rode up the side of a driveway entrance and used it like a ramp...

    I however try to avoid bumps. I even shift my weight when going over road bumps.
     
  8. keydates

    keydates New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Messages:
    882
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wouldn't recommend going over tree roots, boulders, etc, at least not on a regular basis. As for unpaved/gravel roads, limestone paths, etc, the bike can probably take it...you may not. It depends on your handlings skills, which I have found (for myself) aren't exactly as good as I would like.
     
  9. Ottis

    Ottis New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    0
    it all depends on the bike! i have this ~15 year old bike and give it too much abuse. i.e. riding in woods, unpaved surfaces rails etc... It holds like a new born baby :p as soon as it breaks i am buying a new one...
     
  10. neednoexcuse

    neednoexcuse Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2016
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    12
    I really love the off road cycling. I am one of the guys who love challenges. Most people simply like to ride the bike on a plain road, but in my opinion, the off-road cycling is much more interesting than the simple road by. I don't take the bike too far but off-road makes me more interesting.
     
  11. SirJoe

    SirJoe Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2016
    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    27
    Road bikes are more robust then what they look, but they aren't off road bikes. It doesn't mean that they will brake if you ride on grass or on a little dirt, but I would avoid large stones and roots. The distance between the tire and the rim isn't that big.
     
  12. north woods gal

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2016
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    10
    I do a lot of off pavement riding with a wide variety of bikes, including road bikes with typical 700x25 tires.

    It is important to understand that even though there are many types of pavement, there are many, many more types of surfaces you'll encounter when you go off pavement. Things get more complicated when you leave pavement.

    In general, though, it's mostly about surface hardness. Road bikes do just fine on firm, hard dirt without a lot of ruts and without too many obstacles such as roots, rocks and such. Have ridden my road bikes on many an unpaved bike path with firm, very fine gravel, too. If you have such trails in your area, well worth exploring. Have even managed typical gravel roads with larger sized gravel as long as the gravel wasn't too deep and soft or the road badly rutted.

    When surfaces get soft/mushy/loose or deeply rutted or less than smooth, things get tricky for a road bike with typical 700x25 tires. Still sometimes (key word, sometimes) doable for an experienced rider, but sometimes even an experienced rider will have to throw in the towel and walk in order to be safe. (By the way, loose sand and gravel and cracks or ruts are also dangerous on pavement, so keep that in mind when riding a road bike.)

    It won't take you long to know you have the wrong bike when you try some offload surfaces with your road bike. You'll loose traction, fishtail and overall find the bike very hard to control and ride, safely. That's when you need a different kind of bike.
     
    #12 north woods gal, Jul 10, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2016
  13. sharkantropo

    sharkantropo Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2016
    Messages:
    305
    Likes Received:
    20
    Thin tires are not up for the rough road punishment, in comparison to fat tires. I will assume were you live, the roads are generally well paved, so I guess is unlikely you will find a neglected road with craters instead of holes and rough dirt instead of asphalt. Uphill road can put both you and the bike into a strain, so you can consider that too. Avoid steep rocky roads and drive over puddles of mud.
     
  14. Steve5

    Steve5 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    15
    I just avoid rough terrain as much as possible. I don't want my bike to get injured or damaged over time. It's just not meant for that. Best to stay on the right path.
     
  15. DenisP

    DenisP Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2018
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    7
    Call me a bit of a softie, but when it comes to road bikes, I would honestly avoid riding over someone's well-trimmed lawn, let alone terrain any rougher than that. It's going to vary depending on your tire size and traction, but in my experience, every road bike I had road terribly on anything other than perfectly smooth asphalt.

    Sometimes even transitioning to sidewalks is difficult, especially when people have pathways with those smooth pebbles in them. Between poor suspension and tire traction/surface area, road bikes simply aren't made for anything but the road, in my opinion.
     
  16. cyclintom

    cyclintom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    83
    You can always tell the full suspension guys, they're afraid to ride off a curb or over bridge gratings. And yeah, I've ridden down stairs on the streets.

    As for riding off-road: get some good endurance tires such as Continental Gatorskins and just about your only limitations on 23 mm tires is deep gravel or mud and steep, slippery downhills. A cyclocross bike with 32 mm knobbies will go just about anywhere.
     
  17. Henrywrites

    Henrywrites Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Messages:
    327
    Likes Received:
    9
    All you need to do is to get comfortable with your bike. This is the same way that I used to behave as well back in those days until I got comfortable.
     
  18. Henrywrites

    Henrywrites Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Messages:
    327
    Likes Received:
    9
    Avoiding the rough roads is the best especially when you are riding with a simple tyre that is not that strong. You've got to understand how everyhever with your bike to be able to enjoy your ride.
     
  19. Steve5

    Steve5 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2018
    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    15
    That's true. Some people just go anywhere they want. They don't think about the damage it does to their bikes. As a result, their gears don't last very long.
     
  20. Pilot321

    Pilot321 New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    My Cannondale Road Bike has 700x25c tires, and my personal limit is to gingerly ride over a few feet to maybe 20 feet of short grass from one stretch of pavement to another, but that is rare.
     
Loading...
Loading...