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Chip Seal
Last Post 04/21/2014 05:43 PM by 79 pmooney. 15 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:1190

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04/10/2014 05:45 PM
I went on the BikePortland website yesterday for the first time and saw threads concerning my county's chip sealing of asphalt roads.  There was at least one reply from a county official explaining that real money can be saved sealing asphalt roads while they are still in good condition, delaying the very expensive tear up and repave quite a few years.

I have been hearing complaints of chip seal for a while now.  It is nothing new.  I haven't been very aware of the changes and didn't give it a lot of thought until I started riding Cycle Oregon and listening to the complaints about the surfaces we were on.  Then I started noticing the bikes of those complaining.  Aluminum and CF almost always. 

Got me thinking - why are we not riding bikes suited for the roads we ride?  In the early part of last century, roads were bad.  People rode bikes with steel frames, generous angles, multi-spoked, multi-crossed box rims and big tires.  People with money and contacts rode the wonderful, big Clement Del Mondo tubulars.

Now?  Why are we riding enormously stiff bikes, rigid wheels and tires that are as unforgiving as the narrowest tubulars.  (Those Del Mondos "feel" as cushy as a 28c clincher.)  I ride steel and ti bikes.  The steel bikes are less than stiff.  All my wheels are 3X or 4X, 32 or 36 spokes to aluminum rims.  I rode 24c Open Paves two years ago at CO and 23c Continetals last year, both times on ti frames.  And road conditions were never an issue for me.

I'm thinking chip seal is here to stay as this country becomes less wealthy and oil products more expensive.  I think we should get used to it, make our bike purchases accordingly and make it known to supplies and manufacturers what  we want.  (And I see a real opportunity for custom wheel builders to make good old-fashioned wheels with light gauge spokes as super chip seal wheels.)

Ben
longslowdistance

Posts:724

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04/10/2014 09:43 PM
Ben, is chip seal relatively new out west? It's been a plague in the east for a few decades. Probably helped to sell a few carbon and ti bikes.
It eats car and especially motorcycle tires, too.
jrt1045

Posts:362

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04/11/2014 09:09 AM
Around here (PA) the chip seal is pretty prevalent - we have thousands of municipalities and they are all broke and run by the local pennsyltucky rednecks. I have found that if the do it in the spring, they smooth out real nice in the heat of the summer and they are good to go for a while. As a result, tons of paved back roads without traffic - everyone sticks to the state highways
Spud

Posts:216

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04/11/2014 11:08 AM
More like $hit seal. Even 100+ degrees, don't smooth it out here in the desert. More and more roads here have started cracking. And when I say cracking, I mean ast least a half inch. More than that on some roads. So bad, I avoid them all together.
zootracer

Posts:319

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04/11/2014 11:46 AM
A good way to fix the problem is to have a major bike race come through your area. We had the Tour Of Ca come through our neck of the woods two years ago. They repaved some of the lousy chip sealed roads with a coat of smooth asphalt. One of the roads (which I ride everyday) which was like a wash board is now smooth as glass.

My Trek 5.9 rides better on the harsh roads than my Colnago Master X-Light. The MXL tends to beat the cra* out of me. However part of it is my age.
Orange Crush

Posts:1235

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04/11/2014 11:13 PM
forget about chip seal; the toughest surface to ride on are Belgian concrete roads; constant vibrations and rolling resistance infinity.

The cobbles in between are relaxation.
79pmooney

Posts:1190

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04/12/2014 01:53 AM
O.C., chip seal, except that with the sharpest crushed gravel, can be much faster rolling than smooth asphalt. Jarring, yes. But older chip seal with rounded stones is low rolling resistance. And that sharp stuff? Wow, can you corner on it! (Good thing too, You really don't want to slide your body on it.)

Ben
Dale

Posts:514

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04/12/2014 02:57 AM
meh, it's a way of life out here. Learn to embrace it…

Lizard skin bar tape, 25mm tires, 90psi
--or--
Cross bike, 32mm tires, 60 - 70psi
THE SKINNY

Posts:423

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04/12/2014 11:42 AM
chip seal is that really coarse asphalt, basically gravel and tar? i bet that takes some meat off when you hit the ground.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
zootracer

Posts:319

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04/12/2014 11:49 AM
hmmm, got me thinking about rolling resistance and chip seal. I found this article.

kentsbike.blogsport.com/2011/07/road-surfaces-chip-seal-rolling.html
Master50

Posts:246

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04/12/2014 07:22 PM
My biggest reason to go to 25mm tires. We have a lot of gravel sealed roads. They use a 1/4 inch or 6 mm smooth gravel. They put a layer of gravel down on top of the current surface and even newly paved roads, then oil then more gravel. In about 2 weeks it is OK for bicycles. Biggest issue is the stuff that is loose and migrates out of the wheel tracks to make piles at the shoulder. it needs to be graded a couple of times too.
Gonzo Cyclist

Posts:225

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04/12/2014 11:38 PM
happens here (New Mexico) quite a bit also, they take out the rough cracks, holes, etc....then they lay down this honey like asphalt liquid, then they come over it with the gravel. The cars basically work it smooth, total nightmare for at least a week, or closer to two maybe as Master50 states. They did this last summer on the road to the ski area, we get a ton of tourists here looking to do that ride, it was a mess.
We are used to having crappy roads, always been that way, as long as I can remember, 25's make total sense here, even 28's if you could get away with it
79pmooney

Posts:1190

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04/12/2014 11:54 PM
Funny, I was just reading that Omega-Pharm is going 27 in front, 30 in back tomorrow. (And about a paper's width from rubbing the rear brake.)

Maybe the day will come when the high end bikes will have clearance for bigger tires. (And we all get to be winners!) Sky brought only 25s to Australia this winter.

Ben
C2K_Rider

Posts:172

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04/13/2014 12:22 AM
Dont get me going on chip seal. IMHO chipmseal is a scam. It does absolutely nothing to improve a road and is unlikely to prevent any weather damage. I've always felt it is just a jobs program for some local politicians brother in law

Here in Nor Cal they chip seal with abandon. Only rarely do they actually repair the road before doing so, so all the defects are exactly the same as before within a few weeks. No benefit what so ever

That is proven by a road I ride frequently that crosses through two counties. One county chip seal their half every three years. The other has not done so in the 12 years I've been riding it.. The overall road quality and surface quality is absolutely identical in each county.. Therefore, one county has wasted huge amounts of money for worthless road resurfacing

Maybe they use more tar here than I other places because a newly chip sealed road is pretty much unrideable for 4to 12 weeks afterwards. Tires get coated with tar and gravel very quickly. And they only clear off the excess gravel once, not weekly as they should. Thats another waste - 90 % of the gravel is pushed right off the road. thats money in the ditch. They chip sealed 40 miles of my regular routes in two weeks last year. Really pissed me off.

The only good thing about is that it is better than 30 years ago when they would just mix dirt with oil and spread that on the road. That really sucked.
THE SKINNY

Posts:423

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04/21/2014 05:06 PM
they would sometimes use the old oil from power transformers to coat the road to keep the dust down. the problem was that the oil was full of pcb's which are pretty nasty.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
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