Tyre Pressure 101

The correct tyre pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly and fend off flats. Are you riding the right tyre pressure for you?


Bicycling Staff |

Tyre_PressureThe correct tyre pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly and fend off flats. Are you riding the right tyre pressure for you?

– By Lee McCormack

The correct tyre pressure for you

Here is a guideline to the recommended tyre pressures for the various types of tyres. These are approximate figures, bearing in mind, you need to take terrain and your body weight into account.

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  • Road tyres typically require 80 to 130 psi (5.5 to 9 bar)
  • MTB tyres need 30 to 50 psi (2 to 3.5 bar)
  • Hybrid tyres 50 to 70 psi (3.5 to 5 bar)

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To find your ideal pressure, start in the middle of these ranges, then factor in your body weight. The more you weigh, the higher your pressure needs to be. For example, if a 75kg rider uses 100 psi on his road bike, a 90kg rider should run closer to 120 psi, and a 60kg rider could get away with 80 psi. Never go above or below the manufacturer’s recommended pressures.

Watch the terrain

Traditional wisdom says that higher tyre pressure equals lower rolling resistance, because on a smooth surface hard tyres flex less and create a smaller contact patch. But no road is perfectly smooth. Properly inflated tyres conform to bumps and absorb shocks. Overinflated tyres transmit impacts to the rider, which sacrifices speed and comfort. On newly laid tar, your tyres might feel great at 100 psi, but on a rough road, they might roll faster at 90 psi. In wet conditions, you may want to run 10 psi less than usual for improved traction. And if you’re a mountain biker who rides on the trail, keep in mind that while your bike rolls smoothly on the road with 50 psi, it might feel better on the singletrack at 38 psi.

The pent-up air in your tubes wants desperately to join its friends in the atmosphere. So here are some tips to keep it inside.

  • If you ride over sharp objects, immediately sweep your tyre with a gloved hand to remove debris. For ultimate protection, use tyre liners or puncture-proof inner tubes.
  • To avoid pinch flats (ie your tube gets pinched between obstacle and rim) when you ride over bumps, maintain proper air pressure and unweight your wheels by sharply pushing your bike downward before the bumps then pulling it upward as you roll over them.
  • For each 12 degree-Celsius drop in the temperature, your tyre pressure drops by about 2 percent. So if the temperature dips from 32 degrees to 15, your road tyres would drop from, say, 100 psi to 94 psi. Definitely noticeable and worth adjusting for. Get in the habit of checking your pressure before every ride.

 

READ MORE ON: bike advice MTB road

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