Latest News! 6th December, 2018

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Corrugations - a fact of life on gravel roads Corrugations - a fact of life on gravel roads - Photo: Google Images

The week that was:

* 2018 ABF Tour - Langeberg Conqueror

* Corrugations - the one feature of gravel roads that no-one enjoys. We show how how to beat the bumps.

* Podcast - a discussion on a range of topics from tiger fishing to Thomas Bain.

* Pass of the Week

* New passes added this week

Langeberg Conqueror Tour - 30th December, 2018

For those of you in the Western Cape or anyone from inland coming to the Cape for the holidays, we are putting on a spectacular final tour of the year on Sunday 30th December, 2018 that makes for a perfect opportunity to get the family out for the day before the New Year celebrations begin. The tour includes a full ascent and descent of the Langeberg mountains (1493m ASL) on a private road not normally open to the public. We got special permission for this one, so it promises to be a fantastic fun filled family day that will include a range of other passes, mostly gravel, as we work our way through a wide 165 km long loop along the Karoo escarpment. Our last 3 tours were all sold out within 48 hours, so book online right now: LANGEBERG CONQUEROR TOUR

Corrugations and Safety

As many South Africans gear up towards the annual holiday rush to the coast, we are focussing on road safety - not just on the tarred roads, but especially on the gravel back roads. In today's news letter, we have a look at the topic of corrugations and how best to deal with them. Corrugations are abhorred by all drivers (and passengers) and can ruin a great country style drive, but there is a way to reduce the shaking and improve the ride. Corrugations are one of the main culprits causing rollovers.

It won't be the gnarly hills, flooded river crossings or the axle deep sands of Namaqualand that test the endurance of your vehicle, but the gutted corrugations of the roads that lead to many iconic off the beaten track destinations.

It's these corrugations that will see mirrors rattle apart, aerials come adrift, roof racks rub through paint and the contents of your camping kit eventually disintegrate until they resemble nothing of the finely organised packing system that you started with.

There are a hundred theories on how dirt roads become corrugated and they encompass everything from over-zealous truck drivers, to braking too hard before corners, to overloaded vehicles and over inflated tyres. Regardless of how corrugations form, driving on them is uncomfortable and eventually shakes your vehicle to pieces.

If you plan on travelling the backroads of South Africa then you are going to encounter endless kilometres of corrugated dirt roads, but you can take a few measures to reduce their bone-rattling affects.

Get Your Tyres Down and Your Speed Up

It's not often that you're advised to go faster during an unpleasant driving experience but it is fact when driving over corrugations that 60kph may be a lot more comfortable than 30kph and 80kph - 90kph may be even better. We aren't suggesting you belt around the bush at 140 because when you eventually put your car on it's roof - you'll blame us, but there is a distinct speed that is 'right' for every vehicle.

The key is to synchronise all the elements of your car with the corrugations - the pressure in your tyres, the weight of your car and its suspension and handling characteristics. Finding the best speed for your particular vehicle will see these variables all align in some sort of harmony that sees you floating on top of the corrugations rather than rattling between them. [Read more lower down...]


Of course this increased speed and increased comfort means your tyres are spending less time in contact with the road. Be aware that too much speed will cause the vehicle to 'drift'. Driving over corrugations requires finding a balance between comfort and control.

Tyre Pressure is Everything

Reducing tyre pressure turns your tyres into big cushioning shock absorbers that soak up the bumps and smooth out the ride. There is no golden number for the correct tyre pressure for either tar or gravel roads. Each vehicle is different and each tyre is different. Inflation pressure should be adjusted to load. A big fully laden 4WD may require as much as 2.0 bar in each tyre to accommodate the load while a small city commuter may find 1.2 bar is all that's required.

As a general rule of thumb try decreasing tyre pressure for corrugations by about 20 percent. If you're running 2.0 bar on tar, try 1.4 bar for corrugations. Lower tyre pressures and high speed creates heat build up in tyres which can cause damage or premature failure. Under-inflation can also cause tyres to 'roll' off the wheel when cornering. Don't reduce so much pressure that the tyres look flat. Just a slight bulging of the sidewall is all that is required.

Corrugations are worst where people brake or accelerate. For instance: the entry and exit of corners, the crests of hills or the entry to river crossings.

Country roads often run through wide open expanses where visibility extends for miles and on-coming traffic can be seen well in advance. There's no need to slavishly 'stick to the left' if it means you must drive on the worst sections of the road. Pick the smoothest line and anticipate badly corrugated sections by the changes in the road. By anticipating the changing conditions you will slow down naturally where required, without braking, and create a smoother ride.

4x2 or 4x4?

Logic says that 4WD is the safest and most stable method of traversing loose dirt roads and in reality it probably is. Of course not all corrugated roads are slippery gravel or powdery dust and hard-packed, well compacted dirt byways can offer similar levels of traction to that of tar or concrete. If safety is paramount then select 4WD. At MPSA we always drive in 4WD on any dirt surface.

[Adapted from an article on OutbackCrossing.com]

Listen to the podcast:

This week we discuss a range of topics - Sani Pass; Jozini Pass, Ben 10 Challenge, New search functionality and the Rooihoogte Pass on the R318.


Pass of the week:

We recently refilmed this high altitude pass on the R318 between the N1 near Touws River and the town of Montagu. We have reconstructed the entire page and are sure the history will pique your interest - especially the fact that all four versions of the pass dating between 1800 and 1967 are still visible along parts of the pass but clearly visible on Google Earth if you follow Mr. Coyne's hand drawn map.


* * * * *   R O O I H O O G T E       P A S S    * * * * *


New passes added this week:

Weenen Pass - A big gravel pass offering sweeping vistas over the Eastern Cape Highlands (Provisional video only)

Vaalheuwel Pass - A long gravel pass with a big altitude variance near Bulletrap in the Northern Cape (Provisional video only)

Addo Heights Pass - A gravel pass along the southern border of the Addo Elephant Park (Provisional video only)

Trygve Roberts

Thought for the day: "Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited of what could go right" ~ Tony Robbins

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Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.

Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.

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