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What happens when cyclists hit potholes?

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What happens when cyclists hit potholes?

Old 01-12-24, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Korina
There are places where pothole repair is so far behind that they grow and merge together, until you can't go around them. There are some rural roads out here where you can see where the potholes were patched, and then the patches developed holes.
We have that too. However thankfully in my case, the routes I ride are thankfully some of the better maintained or the road just doesn't seem to get potholes.
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Old 01-12-24, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Potholes vary tremendously, and likewise the effects of hitting them at various speeds. So, other than the conclusion that they're not good, there's not much to summarize.

Actually, there is one bit of useful advice, which is not to use the front brake as you're hitting a pothole.
And - have a good grip on the handlebars. Hands slipping off rarely works out well. The old, cursed vertical brake cables emerging from the early brake levers saved many from bad crashes. Nobody ever talked about that rude awakening as that cable rammed our hand between thumb and index but we all did it once and knew our butt had just been saved.

In pothole country, I ride the drops a lot.
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Old 01-12-24, 04:22 PM
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I did note that when I changed back to 38cm wide drops from the 42cm wide drops I'd been riding for about 4 years, that I was able to dodge pot holes and other road hazards seen at the last moment better. Though that's not the reason I went back to 38cm wide drops.
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Old 01-12-24, 05:08 PM
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That is one of the hazards or obstacles, so ride vigilantly at all times, and avoid riding at night! If you truly want to ride, you must accept there are risks, but with smart riding you can beat these odds. Always use a helmet and all gear to give yourself the best chance for survival without bad injuries . Keep God in your life with much prayer and dedication, and you'll be blessed.
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Old 01-12-24, 06:32 PM
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In my childhood, I used to carefully guide the thread through a needle's eye, and stitch clothing for fun. Today, I carefully navigate the bike through debris, stones, pointed objects, and potholes, for fun as well.

Never have I been more attentive and vigilant to the streets I am traveling on. Never has my focus and concentration been so high.
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Old 01-15-24, 11:34 AM
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Most cities, and I know mine should have signs when entering the city that say -----remove dentures and tighten bra straps, rough road ahead!!!
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Old 01-28-24, 02:48 PM
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Another tip, also in the obvious category - don't ride through puddles that can hide potholes.
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Old 01-28-24, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Potholes vary tremendously, and likewise the effects of hitting them at various speeds. So, other than the conclusion that they're not good, there's not much to summarize.

Actually, there is one bit of useful advice, which is not to use the front brake as you're hitting a pothole.
And, hit that pothole with a good, solid grip on the handlebars. Firm with the hands but not with locked or rigid arms. And because we do not always plan our pothole hits, this means doing the majority of our riding with that good grip. I had this drilled into my brain in my early racing days by the club vets. Because 1) that made their rides safer since I would be less likely to take them out and 2) crashes often negatively affect training and conditioning, often costing the rider the most important objectives of the season.

So, I was told to do some now unpopular things. Especially - ride the drops in all iffy situations; that it was far better to hit that unseen pothole and come out still riding and physically unhurt if our hands stayed on the bars and in positions where even if our grip wasn't enough; we still had bars in the crotch of our thumb-fore finger. (Modern brake levers; our hands can slip off completely unless the levers are mounted far back and near vertical. In the old days, levers weren't very comfortable and if we hit that pothole, we jammed that crotch on the brake cable. Rude awakening but our hands stayed on! And we all did that at least once.)

In the '90s and '00s I read how the modern thought (by some rather famous big names) was that you rode the brifter hoods with relaxed grip to maximize blood flow to the legs. My former coaches were probably reading that and cringing.
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Old 01-29-24, 12:11 PM
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32 minutes of discussion on potholes and bikes? That's even better than a Larry thread.
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Old 01-29-24, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
Potholes vary tremendously…

Actually, there is one bit of useful advice, which is not to use the front brake as you're hitting a pothole.
In the land of Boston potholes, I have yet to grab the front brakes.

So your useful advice is more or less, really?

Get off your saddle if you can is the only, only, only, useful advice.

-mr. bill
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Old 01-29-24, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mr_bill
In the land of Boston potholes, I have yet to grab the front brakes.

So your useful advice is more or less, really?

Get off your saddle if you can is the only, only, only, useful advice.

-mr. bill
Gee, is this where I say, "in the land of NYC potholes, I've yet to ride through one seated".

So, by your standards, your triple "only" advice is no better than mine.

The reality is that we both endeavor to advise less experienced bicyclists, knowing that those who don't need our help will ignore it.
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Old 01-29-24, 06:43 PM
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I don't know about Boston or NYC, but Oklahoma potholes are as bad as anywhere. And in the little armpit of Kansas I grew up in, I was fortunate to learn about potholes at a young age on a heavy, balloon tired bike before I bruised easily and healed slow.

The ironic thing is where I ride my bike, I don't have a lot of problems with potholes. But my drive to work in the morning this time of year requires memorizing where the potholes are.
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Old 01-31-24, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes
32 minutes of discussion on potholes and bikes? That's even better than a Larry thread.
It's 32 minutes of discussion of the forces involved in hitting a pothole; how much force does it take to knock a bike rider over? How deep is that? The point is to give city governments solid data to base their repair policies on rather than "oh cars can handle that, no problem".
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Old 01-31-24, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Korina
It's 32 minutes of discussion of the forces involved in hitting a pothole; how much force does it take to knock a bike rider over? How deep is that? The point is to give city governments solid data to base their repair policies on rather than "oh cars can handle that, no problem".
I didn't read the complete study because it's of limited interest to me.

However, while the data may be useful, it still leaves a lot to subjective judgement because there are so many variables.

Do we design for the least skilled rider on the least stable bike, or seek a reasonable(?) cost benefit balance?

What speed do we assume for folks on bikes? How about E-bikes?

What is the wheel size mix?

These are important judgements that go beyond the physics of bikes and potholes. Critically important now with increasing numbers of small wheel (16-20") E-bikes in use.

Lastly, we need to make a value judgement about how much skill we want to expect of cyclists, who are rationally mist responsible for their own safety.
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Old 02-04-24, 10:14 AM
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I think it's great that someone is exploring this. Potholes are made by motor vehicles and the depth and size are commensurate with the pressure of a multi-ton vehicle over a contact area of something like 15-25 square inches. We all know that the hazards to a cyclist are very different from those experienced by a motor vehicle, yet there's little motivation in many cities to repair potholes until they pose a larger danger to motor vehicles.
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Old 02-10-24, 12:21 PM
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Broke a Campy Record axle many years ago hitting a pothole in southeastern Turkey. No flat or bent rim - just a broken axle.
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Old 02-10-24, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by axelwik
Broke a Campy Record axle many years ago hitting a pothole in southeastern Turkey. No flat or bent rim - just a broken axle.
That's because Turkish potholes are different than the ones here.
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Old 02-10-24, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY
That's because Turkish potholes are different than the ones here.
Yeah, those NY potholes are bottomless - probably wouldn't have survived!
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Old 02-10-24, 06:37 PM
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I recently read a post elsewhere about a cyclist who biked into a water covered street, hit a pothole, damaged himself and the bike, and wanted to sue. Others were telling him that he should not have attempted cycling on a flooded street.
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Old 02-10-24, 06:42 PM
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Being an all season cyclist in NYC had its unique challenges. Water filled potholes were my number one cause of dented rims.
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Old 02-11-24, 08:52 AM
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Old 02-11-24, 08:53 AM
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We're lucky in Florida, don't see many potholes, but we do have a fair number of sinkholes



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Old 02-15-24, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
When I hit a pothole, things spew from my mouth that I could never repeat here....
hopefully not teeth
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Old 02-15-24, 02:04 PM
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can help but remind myself, night riding opens one up to road hazards, just like this
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Old 02-18-24, 02:18 PM
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The more common road hazard has been the grates (cast or using rebar) that can swallow a bike tire. Railroad track crossing are another hazard and often there is not enough room for bicyclist to cross safely at a 90 degree angle.

A universal problem is highway personnel filling potholes with dry patch and tamping it down. It lasts a week or two and then the hole is back again. I contacted my local official and he has placed a special hot patch machine in the county budget for the next fiscal year. He is doing it for the motorists but bicyclists will benefit as well.
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