Road Surfaces

Discussion in 'Local Variables: Roads, Seasons Tyre Choices' started by Kiwi Cruiser, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. My first visit to Thailand impressed me in terms of the quality and extent of the roading network. Initial travels (by car) from Bangkok to Nong Khai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Kanchanburi etc really amazed me - I'd always thought of Thailand as "3rd world" but many of the lesser roads were far better than State Highway 1 back in New Zealand! Highway 2 from Bangkok to Nong Khai shocked me - I'd never previously seen a road that ran 4 to 6 lanes for 600 kms!!!

    The first visit to the north included tours to Doi Inthanon, Doi Suthep and tourist attraction out from Mae Rim etc. I was immediately in love with those roads from a motorcycling perspective. I think my subconscious mind started working then and there on how to engineer quality time here to explore. After a few years of extensive riding and exploring, I've observed some significant differences in roading networks here that have a major impact on rider safety. Some things for 1st-timers to consider are;

    In many western countries, roading engineers use coarse crushed rock aggregate (chip) surfaces on asphalt highways and lesser roads. In New Zealand, chip size ranges from 10 to 20 mm! Hot mix is only used on city streets, concrete is almost never seen at all. The asphalt chip is a uniform size, and very durable. Regardless of conditions such as heavy rain, snow or ice, tyre adhesion is maximised! If you fall off - heaven forbid - its going to be like going down a cheese grater and you are going to loose severe amounts of skin and flesh! Engineers conduct annual "road roughness" surveys in specially fitted vehicles which measure, amonst other things, the adhesion potential in the surface. Once its worn to a pre-determined level, re-sealng is scheduled.

    Thailand is very different, and asphalt roads are almost always sealed with very fine chip with little surface "texture." Therefore, the anount of adhesion potential is far less than I'd expected when I first started riding here. Worse, there is almost no maintenance on rural roads until the surface has deteriorated to the point that the ratio of potholes exceeds that of pavement!!!
    - Hot mix is used in some very strange and unexpected places and adhesion is sharply reduced on rainy days
    - Concrete surfaces are used in many places, on highways large and small as well as expressways, toll roads, and raised carriageways.
    - Small rural roads may have very fine surfaces created from sand with spray-over of a watery, bituminous slurry.

    For a rider new to these surface variable, some very nasty surprises lie in store here!
  2. Another thing worth mentioning might be the build up of rubber and diesel on the roads...

    I know in Australia, this isn't really a problem, other than looking out for pretty rainbows in the first rain after a dry spell... I have noticed that in Thailand, rubber often builds up on the road through the long dry seasons, heavy trucks trying to carry high speeds through very tight turns, and this, on top of the smooth surface makes it very slippy in dry weather...

  3. Thanks for sharing..its very useful tip for my thai ride..
  4. Kiwi,
    I wish I had read this post BEFORE I learned to ride in Thailand.
    The concrete is very dangerous in the mountains, especially in the rainy season. Moss on concrete is like ice!

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