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Here’s What Terrain a Road Bike Can Handle

A common fallacy among cyclists, especially beginners, is that road bikes should only be ridden on the pavement. However, road bikes may be ridden safely on many surfaces, including cobblestone, dirt, and gravel. What type of terrain can a road bike handle? 

Road bikes can essentially ride off-road. Though not as efficiently as a hybrid or mountain bike, cobblestones, dirt, and gravel can be safely ridden on. Without proper suspension, road bikes will have problems with rocks and other tremendous obstacles over the long run. 

Road bikes perform less efficiently on small obstacles such as sand and mud. When cycling on sand or dirt, you can expect lateral movement and feel your front wheel sway slightly from side to side. Keep reading to discover other things you need to know when handling a road bike!

cyclist riding a road bike

Can Road Bikes Handle Bumps?

Road bikes can manage bumps, potholes, and rough roads if the proper tactics and bike components are utilized. Changing the width and pressure of your tires and adjusting your riding style results in smoother rides and reduces the likelihood of mishaps and accidents that could cause harm to both you and your bike.

While we do not recommend having your road bike go through these types of terrain, here’s what you can do on your bike to reduce impact. 


Bumps are small, elevated, uneven road surfaces that vary in type. Examples of bumps include loose gravel, objects on the road, pavement joints, and curbs between the road and pavement.

Small bumps, such as cracks in the pavement, can be traversed by slowing down and standing on the pedals, therefore unloading the bicycle. You should flex your knees and elbows to absorb part of the impact of the bump.

As your front wheel rides over larger bumps, shift your weight rearward and pull up on the handlebars to reduce the impact on your front wheel. As the rear wheel traverses the bump, shift your torso over the handlebars to gently allow the rear tire to rise.

The same technique can be used to ascend a low curb. Never tilt the wheels while traveling over a bump. You can bunny hop over larger obstacles.


Potholes are holes in the road’s surface that are particularly hazardous for cyclists.

Road potholes may jolt, deflect, or trap the wheels of your road bike, which could send you flying into the road if you ride through them.

If the pothole has sharp edges or is surrounded by debris, your tires could be punctured if you drive through it. The best method for handling potholes on a road bike is to anticipate their presence and maneuver around them.

Rough Roads

road bike on rough terrain

Uneven roads with numerous cracks, minor dips, elevations, and loose gravel make your journey uncomfortable and rough.

Due to the additional effort necessary to ride through poor-condition roadways, riders frequently experience a drop in speed. There are several strategies to improve your comfort on deteriorating roads.

Changing to a lower gear lowers your cadence and increases the bike’s stability, making it less likely to shake and rattle. You ultimately place more weight on the pedals and less on the saddle, which improves the bike’s stability. Increasing your pace demands more effort but results in a more comfortable journey.

Can Road Bikes Be Used On Trails, Gravel Tires On Road Bikes?

Road bikes can readily traverse gravel and even unpaved terrain. However, the ride quality and handling will suffer the more you travel “off-road.” In terms of tires, the more “road” tires you have, the more flats you will experience.

Here’s a helpful video on riding your bike through gravel!

Can Rough Roads Cause Bike Damage?

Bad roads might ruin your bike. Your bike’s wheels are the most prone to damage.

A pinch flat occurs when a sharp object or the edge of a pothole causes a tire to be compressed. 

The inner tube of the tire is punctured due to the tire’s tube pressing against the rim with great force. If your tires are thin or underinflated, you risk experiencing pinch punctures.

Broken Spokes, Rim Destruction, And Cracked Wheels And Forks

Wheels and forks are susceptible to shattered spokes, rim damage, and cracking when subjected to severe shocks. Additionally, the front wheel can swerve out of place, causing the rim to scrape against the brake block. 

This rubbing action causes the rim to become more prone to cracking and shattering over time. If you frequently ride on bumpy roads, the repeated vibrations will loosen the crank arms, fenders, and forks.

Can Uneven, Rough Roads Cause Injury To The Rider?

Rough roads are frequently unpleasant to ride on since they force your seat to move about. Hitting a pothole increases the possibility of flying over your handlebars and landing on the asphalt. The resulting injuries may be minor scrapes or more severe in nature.

Frequent vibrations on poor roads can cause nerve and blood vessel damage in the hands and arms. Hand-arm vibration syndrome is characterized by numbness and blanching of the fingers, discomfort, and loss of grip.

Tips On How To Ride A Road Bike On Gravel

Starting to learn road biking or pursuing it as a hobby can be slightly tricky when you get started, but the tips listed below will help you get started on how to ride a road bike on gravel.

Pedal With Ease

Practice using a circular pedal stroke. The back wheel may slip if you apply excessive force to the downstroke. However, if you keep light pressure on the pedal, you can move more easily. 

Lower Cadence And Higher Gearing

Suppose you try riding one gear harder at a slower cadence. In that case, the bicycle is more likely to have greater traction, improving your movement on the gravel and ensuring a smooth biking experience.

Use Momentum

Do not slow down excessively when approaching a stretch of deeper, looser gravel. You may become bogged down and be forced to push your bike if you do so. Then, it is difficult to remount, and you are likely to get rolled on loose gravel. 

The same holds true when the road surface shifts from asphalt to gravel. You may not want to ride at 20 mph on gravel, but you do not need to slow down to 10 mph.

Make A Wider Turn

When you excessively turn the front wheel, the bike has a tendency to slide out from beneath you. Taking the longer route around a curve reduces the required front-wheel rotation.

Avoid Leaning The Bicycle

On the road, you lean the bike into the corner, but on gravel, doing so may cause the bike to skid. Turn the bike more upright and lean forward with your body more. First, practice on a paved road.

Use A Relaxed Grip

The front wheel will change position. If you have a firm grip on the handlebars, you will attempt to adjust for every slight movement of the front wheel. You could accidentally overcorrect and lose control of the front wheel. Hold the handlebars loosely and let the front wheel handle itself.


You need not be intimidated or concerned when cycling on challenging roads. Riders are frequently surprised by the capacity of high-quality bicycles to withstand severe shocks without breaking. 

Being versatile in your riding style and modifying your road bike according to the advice in this article will result in a safer and more pleasant ride.