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Fed up of crappy road surfaces

bigmonkabigmonka Posts: 361
edited May 2015 in Commuting general
My commute is an 8mile mix of country lanes and city roads and there's barely a few metres of decent tarmac, and so after 10,000miles of doing it everyday I'm starting to get really fed up :(

The question is how much of the poor ride can be attributed to in being an aluminium flat bar road bike? Would it honestly be more comfortable with carbon forks or a steel frame? Internet wisdom suggests that carbon cuts down on 'road buzz' but I'm not sure if that's actually too subtle to help with poor roads.

Any advice/wisdom/abuse is welcomed!

Posts

  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,854
    I do an 11mile each way commute on similar roads on a road bike and just MTFU. However after riding into work the other day with a colleague on my MTB for a change on softish tyres, I am sorely tempted to use my MTB all the time as it was actually comfortable and didn't take much longer time wise.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • Depending on your clearances consider wider tyres/lower pressures. I'm running 38mm slicks on a CX bike at 50/ 60psi and the ride is lovely even on poor road surfaces.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    Yes, carbon forks can make a huge difference. So can better grips on the end of your bars too. And a compliant saddle can make a big difference too. Biggest difference by far would be bigger tyres though.

    I have carbon forks on my Boardman and this was a big part of the buying decision. The shaping of the frame and forks can make a big difference too. Trouble is that none of this is easy or cheap to fix without buying a new bike.

    Bigger tyres, different grips (I use the specialized BG Contour lock grips) and more compliant saddle (trial and error here though) may be easy, quick and cheap upgrades that can transform your ride.

    Oh - just a thought, bigger tyres only help through the ability to then run lower pressures - but you might be able to run lower pressures with the tyres you already have - running at 120PSI is never going to be nice...
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    bigmonka wrote:
    My commute is an 8mile mix of country lanes and city roads and there's barely a few metres of decent tarmac, and so after 10,000miles of doing it everyday I'm starting to get really fed up :(

    The question is how much of the poor ride can be attributed to in being an aluminium flat bar road bike? Would it honestly be more comfortable with carbon forks or a steel frame? Internet wisdom suggests that carbon cuts down on 'road buzz' but I'm not sure if that's actually too subtle to help with poor roads.

    Any advice/wisdom/abuse is welcomed!

    Tyres are always the first port of call. What clearances can you run? What tyres and width are you using at the moment? Fitting fatter - but slick - tyres will improve the ride no end at no cost of speed.
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,015
    Just switched from a hybrid with front suspension to a CX/gravel type bike with 37 or 38mm tyres at a lower pressure. Carbon forks too. IMHO it feels as nice to ride as my hybrid and is a lot faster too. You can get into a better aero position on drops over even bar ends. I reckon it saves me at least 5 minutes on a 35 minute ride.

    When I used to ride my 23mm road bike I used to have to true my wheel at least once a month. In fact one ride home I heard a rattling from my front wheel which I had to stop to look at. Turned out to be a spoke that had worked loose due to the road surface.
  • Hello Hello - can anyone see my earlier post? :lol:
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    Hello Hello - can anyone see my earlier post? :lol:

    Ah - I can now - I think you must have posted it while I was typing mine and I didnt notice!
  • davidmt83davidmt83 Posts: 218
    Moving from a Specialised Sirrus (alu frame + forks + 32mm tyres) to a Cannondale Synapse (carbon forks + 25mm) I can honestly say it's a night and day experience in terms of comfort and smoothing out the tarmac. Wouldn't go back.
    Cannondale Synapse 105 Disc
  • bigmonkabigmonka Posts: 361
    davidmt83 wrote:
    Moving from a Specialised Sirrus (alu frame + forks + 32mm tyres) to a Cannondale Synapse (carbon forks + 25mm) I can honestly say it's a night and day experience in terms of comfort and smoothing out the tarmac. Wouldn't go back.
    Finally someone who has realised the subtext to my OP was "tell me to buy a new, fancier, bike" :wink:
    But seriously, that's the feedback I was hoping for, I'm glad that a different bike does actually make a difference.
  • bigmonkabigmonka Posts: 361
    Thanks everyone, I'll try lowering the tyre pressures. I recently changed to Vittoria Randoneurs which have a max pressure of something like 80psi and I noticed the ride was much nicer. Maybe I'll try something a bit wider and even slightly lower pressure - does it really not have a noticeable effect of rolling resistance and effort required?

    I know that a lot of it is psychological MTFU stuff as on a nice day when I'm full of energy I don't mind too much, it's just after a long day at work when I'm tired I just end up realising how annoying and uncomfortable it is.
  • Daz555Daz555 Posts: 4,040
    bigmonka wrote:
    Any advice/wisdom/abuse is welcomed!
    What's the biggest tyre you can get on the bike?
    You only need two tools: WD40 and Duck Tape.
    If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
    If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.
  • bigmonkabigmonka Posts: 361
    Daz555 wrote:
    bigmonka wrote:
    Any advice/wisdom/abuse is welcomed!
    What's the biggest tyre you can get on the bike?
    Not sure, but its disc brakes and pretty big clearance. My winter tyres are studded 35s and there's loads more room if I take the mudguards off.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Aluminium forks don't have to be harsh, but cheaper ones are, I use Mosso and find them very comfy with 38mm (well 26x1.5" so the same tyre profile) tyres, that includes a lot of 'top dressed' roads where the top dressing is patchy so I continuously bump up and down between the original surface and the dressing.
  • bigmonkabigmonka Posts: 361
    The Rookie wrote:
    Aluminium forks don't have to be harsh, but cheaper ones are, I use Mosso and find them very comfy with 38mm (well 26x1.5" so the same tyre profile) tyres, that includes a lot of 'top dressed' roads where the top dressing is patchy so I continuously bump up and down between the original surface and the dressing.
    I vaguely remember reading somewhere that fork shape makes a difference, in that very straight bladed forks are harsher than curved ones - not sure how true that is though so I should probably go and test a few bikes :D
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Not sure why these 'work' but they are curved, tapered and butted so it could be any one of (or a combination of) those reasons! The Mosso are almost as light as most carbon as well at 616g (for the size I am using).
  • tangled_metaltangled_metal Posts: 4,015
    I'm running on 37mm or 38mm at the moment which I think are close to the hybrid ones i had before but a lot less than the ancient 23mm tyred road bike I used when I was getting my best times. However the new bike is a lot faster than the old hybrid purely because of the drop handled position being more aerodynamic I think.

    Back on the old road bike I was doing 21 and even 24mph average speed commutes. Now I am unfit and down to 16mph average. That is about 4 or 5mph faster that my hybrid and with getting back into riding after a few months off I think i am still to get as fit as back with the hybrid bike.

    What I am saying is i do not think there is as big a difference due to the tyres compared to the aerodynamics of you and the bike. If you are riding an upright hybrid or MTB then the biggest difference would come from switching to a more aerodynamic bike/position I think.
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    Wider tyres actually have been proven to have less rolling resistance, strange as this might sound. Aerodynamically they are not so good but obviously you wont notice this below a certain speed and if you are commuting with backpack or panniers that isnt really a concern anyway, I guess. They are also faster because they are more comfortable at lower pressures - the constant bumping and vibration of poor surfaces on skinny/hard tyres slows you down due to actual energy loss and body fatigue.

    Obviously you dont want to go full on, fat bike! but something like at least a 28 possibly more like 32 or 35 would make a huge difference.
  • jamescojamesco Posts: 687
    davidmt83 wrote:
    Moving from a Specialised Sirrus (alu frame + forks + 32mm tyres) to a Cannondale Synapse (carbon forks + 25mm) I can honestly say it's a night and day experience in terms of comfort and smoothing out the tarmac. Wouldn't go back.
    At the moment I interchange a a lot between a borrowed Giant Escape (hybrid) with an Al fork and 35c tyres and my Giant SCR1 roadbike with a carbon fork & seatpost and 28mm GP 4 Seasons.

    The hybrid is much, much, much more comfortable.

    The 28mm 4 seasons are expensive and at the plush end of roadbike tyres; the hybrid has cheap puncture-resistant - and therefore relatively stiff and uncomfortable - Vittoria Randonneur II rubber. Even so it's no contest.

    The Escape's original tyres - some floppy trail tyre - were like riding on a cloud. Unfortunately they wouldn't go round corners.

    In summary, when it comes to comfort on crappy road surfaces, tyres are the number one factor after suspension. I'm shopping for a bike now and taking 35c tyres is my number one priority :)
  • apreadingapreading Posts: 4,532
    Well worth repeating though that bigger tyres are no more comfy if you run them at the same pressures. The key is ghat you are able to run lower pressures without risk of pinch flats.

    And 4 seasons aren't that plush - they are narrow for a supposedly 28mm tyre and have lots of puncture protection. 4000s are much more supple, and the 25mm 4000s come up almost as wide as the 28mm 4 seasons and are actually plusher. 4 seasons are very good given their puncture protection and low wear rate though.
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