Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

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Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby AUbicycles » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:03 am

I am exploring new areas and there are a lot of forests and woods, sometime the route I need is on a bike route on an unsealed path through the forests. But I am also riding blind and sometimes it seems best to ride through the woods.

Typically it is compact dirt surface, often tracks left and right with a ridge. Sometimes with gravel and commonly with stones compressed into the surface.

Except for less grip in slippery or muddy areas, the road bike pulls through well, 25mm Conti GP 4000 IIs with 100psi.

Being fairly confident with my handling skills and on the XC MTB, the only difficult handling is on mud and on fast downhills with the gravel and stone surfaces, otherwise the trail response through the carbon fiber bike is mord direct, bug not that bad that I want to drop pressure.

It us a far stretch from a technical sandy, clay or rocky singletrack but feels good. In my mind, a proper gravel bike was next on the list but I think I wont get he same speed on the road so wonder if I am better off?

Anyone here going offroad in their roadies and saying “screw you Gravel Bike”?

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby JPB » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:49 am

I went exploring through grass on my refuse road tires and picked up a heap of cats eyes. Puncture overload in both tires, had to ring for a pickup as I only had one spare tube.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby AUbicycles » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:42 am

I had the spare tube and a repair kit. At one stage over a stone that sent shockwaves through the wheel I thought I was done for... also on the fast but rough downhill. Can only put it down to my supreme skillz that I could avoid a flat :)

Seriously really enjoyed it... following the paths and trails that made sense.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby RonK » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:18 am

The quality of off road surfaces can be highly variable and are always unpredictable. If the track conditions deteriorate and become too rough/muddy/sandy/boggy for road tyres you may be in for a long backtrack.

This is where a gravel bike with 40mm tyres comes into it own.

There are more and more lightweight carbon framed gravel bikes available now with capacity for wide tyres, and which give little away to road bikes on sealed surfaces.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby Tequestra » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:34 am

Image

Some gravel roads are so slippery even the trees can't stay upright.

Good practice for ice-skating, isn't it? Road tyres in the dirt. Happy Monday!
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby Kronos » Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:50 pm

grated roads are doable, but I wouldn't make a habit of riding over unsealed roads, especially not with the weather we've been having in South East Queensland lately.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby find_bruce » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:10 pm

I'm happy riding a road bike with 28mm tyres on gravel roads, firetrails etc. As you say mud or sand forgettaboutit.

I find its mostly about picking your line - firm pack is good & avoiding the washboard corrugations

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby madmacca » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:34 pm

Tequestra wrote:Image

Some gravel roads are so slippery even the trees can't stay upright.

Good practice for ice-skating, isn't it? Road tyres in the dirt. Happy Monday!


Ivan Milat after his licence was suspended, having to dump bodies in Belangalo from his touring set-up.

Sorry, is that in poor taste? :twisted:

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby Tequestra » Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:26 am

madmacca wrote:Ivan Milat after his licence was suspended, having to dump bodies in Belangalo from his touring set-up.


Your timing wasn't bad. It was about that era roughly - 2001. I'll never know why cheap 3-man tents look like bodybags when they get wrapped around surfboard trailers.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby AUbicycles » Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:18 pm

Peoples, this is poor taste.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby sobmal » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:22 pm

Yes I’ve done a fair share of dirt on road bikes with road tyres over the years, but sometimes you need to pick the right tyre.

I did a 20k-ish gravel section north of port maquarrie as part of the Sydney to Surfers last year, the road surface was fresh (sharp) gravel, I destroyed 2 new conti GP4000’s (23mm) with torn sidewalls. :(

There are roads made and maintained to a standard for 2WD cars with road rubber and then there's fire trail type roads or tracks maintained as 4WD access; I would think long and hard about taking the road bike on the later.. thats when you need to pick the right bike? for example my CX bike that has pretty much road bike geometry (I do use it as a road bike) I would take anywhere, but its very very stiff and built with heavy wheels to take a hard hit or three.. CX bike = great in the gravel/rocks and short road rides but equally great at being horrible on long road rides.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby owly » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:42 pm

Went down the path of modifying my road bike so it could fit 32mm tyres for a bit of extra cush, but mainly to ride it on gravel. Was ok in the dry on hard pack, but any downhill surfaces with small loose gravel over the top and things got sketchy quickly in the turns.

Stuff it! Purchased a proper gravel bike frameset and built it up, for road (he whom shall not be named tyres) and gravel.

The road bike is gathering cobwebs.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby m@ » Tue Mar 20, 2018 7:25 pm

I've taken the roadie on the Yarra trails before when my cousin was visiting and borrowed my mtb. It was fun and gave a new dimension to trails that I was very familiar with - though very tame in the grand scheme of things.

Otherwise I'm with @RonK though - my next n+1 will be a gravel/adventure rig that will do double duty as a roadie.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby trailgumby » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:00 pm

find_bruce wrote:I find its mostly about picking your line - firm pack is good & avoiding the washboard corrugations


I did an unplanned gravel ride down near Yass last year. Really enjoyed most of it.

The corrugations, not so much. They were a little difficult to avoid, and unfortunately caused the tendonitis in my wrists and shoulders from the Mont 24 locked fork episode to flare up. Got me a lot more interested in that Spesh disc road bike with the shock damper built into the upper steerer tube though. :)

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby eeksll » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:24 pm

trailgumby wrote:
find_bruce wrote:I find its mostly about picking your line - firm pack is good & avoiding the washboard corrugations


I did an unplanned gravel ride down near Yass last year. Really enjoyed most of it.

The corrugations, not so much. They were a little difficult to avoid, and unfortunately caused the tendonitis in my wrists and shoulders from the Mont 24 locked fork episode to flare up. Got me a lot more interested in that Spesh disc road bike with the shock damper built into the upper steerer tube though. :)


have you seen these? https://redshiftsports.com/shockstop-suspension-stem

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby eeksll » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:25 pm

owly wrote:Went down the path of modifying my road bike so it could fit 32mm tyres for a bit of extra cush, but mainly to ride it on gravel. Was ok in the dry on hard pack, but any downhill surfaces with small loose gravel over the top and things got sketchy quickly in the turns.

Stuff it! Purchased a proper gravel bike frameset and built it up, for road (he whom shall not be named tyres) and gravel.

The road bike is gathering cobwebs.


thats dissapointing, on another thread I was hoping the 32mm was good enough on gravel.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby Duck! » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:40 pm

Bike geometry and your setup can affect how well it can be ridden off road as much as anything else. Aggressive racy geo bikes are relatively front-heavy, which is good for cornering grip on sealed surfaces, but with narrow tyres will tend to just want to bury in softer stuff, when you really want to be able to unweight the front and "float" it over the loose surface.You'll also tend to plough into corrugations more, which is just plain uncomfortable.

Endurance geometry, being typically more upright than race geo, will take a bit of weight off the front and allow it to float better, but if you run a low stem to get a little racy on it, you'll get back to the compromised handling of a racy bike.

Well-travelled gravel roads will typically have fairly defined wheel tracks relatively free of loose stones, and with a quite firm surface, and these can be ridden pretty well even on narrow tyres. Looser, softer surfaces are definitely more manageable with wider rubber, even if only for the greater contact area to prevent you from sinking in to soft stuff.

As far as puncture resistance, tyre construction has more part to play than width. Lightweight race tyres, whether they're 23mm road tyres or 2" MTB race tyres, will offer little resistance to sharp objects. Some things like three-corner jacks will get through just about anything. But generally heavier-grade tyres with some form of puncture-resistant layer will cope with most stuff. A few years ago while away for a sailing regatta, I took my commuter roadie for a lap around Raymond Island in the Gippsland Lakes on a rest day (had the bike for easy transport from accommodation to the yacht club) on 23mm Conti Gators. As per the notes above, handling was a bit hairy on some of the looser stuff, but didn't have any punctures. On another occasion, a few guys we dealt with a lot at work did a charity ride from Sydney to Melbourne. One of the guys only had a TT/Triathlon bike, and being similar height to me, I loaned him my other roadie, also fitted with 23mm Gatorskins. There were some gravel roadwork sections on the route, and my bike was the only one to not suffer any punctures.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby mikesbytes » Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:29 pm

I've ridden around Waiheke island, New Zealand on 23c's. While not ideal, it was achievable
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby JPB » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:46 am

Would you change your wheels to to something that would take a bit more punishment with trade off probably being a bit more weight?
I currently ride a Giant Revolt which is marketed as a low end cyclocross bike, with 28c road tires. Not a light weight by any means but I have no hesitation about dirt, grass, gravel etc. But I think the stock Giant wheels are not that great and I could do with something that rolls a bit better but can still handle my off road excursions and not hurt the bank balance or over capitalise a $1200 bike.
Any suggestions?

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby baabaa » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:55 am

JPB wrote:Would you change your wheels to to something that would take a bit more punishment with trade off probably being a bit more weight?
Any suggestions?

I will throw in the standard answer before anyone else,
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a bombproof wheel set helps....
I dunno, all dirt roads are never the same and good gravel is not always good gravel at the end of a ride. Riding West Oz pea gravel is never fun even with plenty of width and low psi. Dirt roads in NSW, SA and Qld can be good in the dry, shocking in the wet but that also depends on the local council and its ability to grade a road to a quality that will not get cut up when wet or turn to corrugations when really dry.

It takes time to find what wheels and then the tyre combo which works for you. Before you buy some new wheels I would try using a set of kenda small block 8 and maybe some of the ritchey cx tyres first to see what you can get away with, both are pretty cheap and quite good tyres if you like to have wear and grip vs weight.

In regard to riding a road bike in the dirt, modern bikes are quite hard to break so even on 25 or 28 mm when the roads go south I just drop the seatpost/ saddle about two finger widths so you get the weight up back a bit. That said I have a mtn bike quick release collar on my fast / sportive bike just for that purpose*, sort of slows you down a bit and you can get up off the saddle and feather over pot holes and fallen tree crap a lot quicker than when at on road height.
* the only fault I have with my ritchey in the pic, is that as it is a breakaway (and I hope it doesn't break in any way) is that I have undo two seat binder allen keys to adjust my saddle down as low as it is in that pic. Once back on tar I do stop and move it up again or the legs just die on you.

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby trailgumby » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:23 pm


Rehash of the old Girvin flex-stem. There is a reason they died out. :)

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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby owly » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:57 am

eeksll wrote:
owly wrote:Went down the path of modifying my road bike so it could fit 32mm tyres for a bit of extra cush, but mainly to ride it on gravel. Was ok in the dry on hard pack, but any downhill surfaces with small loose gravel over the top and things got sketchy quickly in the turns.

Stuff it! Purchased a proper gravel bike frameset and built it up, for road (he whom shall not be named tyres) and gravel.

The road bike is gathering cobwebs.


thats dissapointing, on another thread I was hoping the 32mm was good enough on gravel.


Really depends on the surface/gradient/speeds.

At slower -just noodling around- speeds, its ok.

Once I started picking up speed on the rougher stuff, the tube punctures/snakebites became more frequent.
A wider tubeless-setup tyre was the fix.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby Thoglette » Thu Mar 22, 2018 12:09 pm

owly wrote:
eeksll wrote:thats dissapointing, on another thread I was hoping the 32mm was good enough on gravel.

Really depends on the surface/gradient/speeds.


Exactly. 32mm can get you just about anywhere (except soft sand/mud/deep-pea-gravel). And people got everywhere in this country on inch-and-a-quarter and inch-and-a-half tyres for the best part of a century.

But bombing through rock gardens is why MTBs run 2.5" tyres at stupidly low tyre pressures.

P.S. Re-read Duck's comments. I was going to quote it but it all stands. I can say from personal experience that 32mm is a whole lot easier and more pleasant than 23mm on unsealed roads and tracks.
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby cancan64 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:52 am

I went the otherway and use my gravelbike on the road, but I have 2 wheelsets and use 32c road tyres for commuting and 43c gravel tyres for Bikepacking.
Have no issues in group rides and commutes to and from home and I still like to go off the beaten path but some muddy tracks are a bit hair raising (well if I had hair) and sometimes I may wish for the gravel tyres but they are only short sections so battle on... bike is set up for off road bikepacking so I have wide flared drop bars and a big range in gears
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Re: Offroading on the roadbike (with road tyres)

Postby eeksll » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:23 pm

cancan64 wrote:I went the otherway and use my gravelbike on the road, but I have 2 wheelsets and use 32c road tyres for commuting and 43c gravel tyres for Bikepacking.
Have no issues in group rides and commutes to and from home and I still like to go off the beaten path but some muddy tracks are a bit hair raising (well if I had hair) and sometimes I may wish for the gravel tyres but they are only short sections so battle on... bike is set up for off road bikepacking so I have wide flared drop bars and a big range in gears


as an example lets say your on a 80km ride 50km road and 30km dirt (more like unsealed roads than a dirt trail, with parts covered in gravel, like at the bottom of a hill). what setup would you choose?

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