On certain back-country gravel roads, a combination of erosion and tire-tread seems to create these 4-inch ripples that can repeat for long stretches of the road. Riding over them at any speed at all creates a horrible vibration that is, to say the least, extremely uncomfortable.

However, not only is it extremely uncomfortable for me as a rider to be jostled around in that manner, it also can't be good for the safety of my bike.

Is there a proper way to go over these annoying ripples without damaging either me or my bike?

  • 2
    The ripples are commonly refereed to as "Corrugations".
    – mattnz
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 0:20
  • 1
    Can you skim the edge of the road? Usually washboard tapers out at the end... or heck, can you just ride off the road a few inches? I know everywhere is different, but...
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:01
  • @Matt Drainage ditches, fences, and tall grass are most inconvenient things, sometimes.
    – Gwen
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:05
  • Another possibility is to complain to the local authority about that road. Most councils / counties / boroughs / districts have graders that will smooth off the corrugations, and possibly touch up the shingle / gravel in any low spots. Of course they'll only do it if money allows, and the road is past due for maintenance.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 9:47

3 Answers 3

  • stand on pedals
  • knees bent (not straight) keeping your butt 10-20cm from the seat
  • your hands should be very relaxed on the handlebars (your body should be supported 95% with feet and just 5% with hands)
  • keep your back straight (do not hunchback)
  • look ahead
  • enjoy

This works on all bicycles.

enter image description here

sketch from http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Mountain-Bike-Skills-Edition/dp/0736083715

  • 2
    +100 :) Those are exactly the things that I do, with one exception. On longer stretches of uneven terrain (e.g. 20 minutes) I get tired standing up. Then I move my knees inwards, "grabbing" the saddle with the thighs. This provides an excellent compromise between being supported by the saddle and being suspended above it.
    – Vorac
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 12:46

I find it helps if I stand on the pedals and stop pedaling for a bit. I can use my body to absorb the shock and keep the bike light on the ground. Sometimes riding on the sketchy gravel shoulder is even an option.


Larger tires and lower pressure will help a bit, staying out of the sake is good for your bum.

Other than that, your going to have to grin and bear it.

  • 3
    Lowering pressure too much has some bad sideeffects and in this particular scenario may cause snake bites (pinch flats). Also, grinning and bearing it is not an appropriate solution.
    – cherouvim
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 5:39

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