What Tire Pressure

Updated on June 2, 2022

Between 80 and 130 psi is common for them, but racers might go as high as 160 psi on occasion. At 100 psi, a tyre can hardly be compressed with one hand.

Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikers, as opposed to those on motorbikes, have little trouble navigating the rough terrain. Having too much air in a tyre causes it to bounce excessively, resulting in a jarring ride. When you drive with a lower tyre pressure, you get better shock absorption as well as improved traction because the tyre makes more contact with the ground. This is a good compromise between on and off-road riding because it is between 30 and 50 psi on most MTBs.

Other bikes

Between road and mountain bike tyres, hybrid bike tyres demand lower pressures. This is usually in the 50 to 70 psi range. Inflating a kid’s bike to 20 to 40 psi is the lowest suggested pressure. Do not forget that they are simply suggestions and should not be taken as gospel. Inflation is influenced by more than simply the type of bike you ride.

What pressure actually does to your tires

The geometry of the contact patch area and how the tyre absorbs impacts from the road surface and debris are both influenced by tyre pressure. The section of the tyre that makes direct contact with the ground is known as the contact patch. A tyre with a higher air pressure is firmer and has less of its surface area in contact with the ground. When you lower the pressure in your tyres, they get softer and spread out.

tire contact patch based on pressure

The tire’s rolling friction is lower when the contact patch is smaller. With the same amount of power, though, you’ll be able to travel at a faster rate. While rolling, a greater contact patch deforms more of the tyre. As a result, rolling friction will drain more of your power, causing you to slow down.

The static friction between your tyres and the road will be increased if you have a greater contact patch. There is a greater chance that you won’t slip because of the increased grip. The smaller the contact patch, the less friction it will be able to provide. As a result, your tyres will be able to slip more easily.

Your tire’s ability to withstand different types and amounts of impacts is also influenced by tyre pressure. If you have too much air in your tyres, they will bounce and lose contact with the road when you ride. To smooth out your ride, a lower pressure can absorb some of the bumps, but if you hit anything too hard, it could cut through your tyres or tubes.

Scientists in the field of cycling have discovered that 15 percent sag, or how much the tyre squishes when it is loaded, is the perfect number. Sag, it is said, will improve the tire’s stress absorption and reduce its rolling resistance.

Fortunately, the scientists who developed the graph also provided us with a nice summary of their findings. A single wheel’s weight is referred to as its “Wheel load.” There is a good explanation of how to utilise it in the text that follows the graph.

Bike Pump Options

Floor Pumps

In the opinion of the pros, floor pumps are the best option. They are significantly more convenient to use than a manual pump, and they can fill your tyres much more quickly. Some have built-in gauges, which reduce the need to go back and forth between a pump and a standalone gauge or, if you’re really lazy, outright guesswork. This saves time and effort.

The accuracy of the gauge can vary and be off by as much as 10 PSI, which is why some expert bikers are wary of floor pumps with gauges. Good news: you can change your target PSI if the gauge’s readings aren’t matching up consistently.

The air compressor at your local Exxon may be enticing, but it’s not always accurate and can overinflate your tyres (it’s a gas station, after all). The use of a hand pump can save the day if you have a flat while on a ride that takes you far from home. Using a carbon dioxide inflator is the same as using an air-in-the-can type of device.

Hand Pumps

A need for every serious biker, hand pumps require more effort and fill tyres more slowly. You’ll always be able to use your pump thanks to the fact that they’re easily portable. To begin on a long-distance bike ride without a hand pump and a puncture repair kit is plain dumb.

Thus concludes our short primer on bicycle PSI pressure, which we hope was helpful. As a reminder, find out what works best for your individual riding style. Let’s go with it. It’s important to keep an eye on your tyre pressure and to do so before each ride. You’ll get the hang of it with practise. In the most literal sense of the word.

What to consider

Weight

To recap, this is the most important component in determining how much pressure your tyres should have. You or your gear will put more pressure on your tyres, resulting in a larger contact patch and a greater amount of traction.

In order to obtain a reasonable contact patch, you will have to pump your tyres up to the manufacturer’s recommended maximum pressure. If you and your gear are light, you may be able to get away with using the lower pressure limit set by the manufacturer.

As a result, you’ll be able to maintain a higher speed when your tyres come to a halt. As a result, your rims will not cut into your tyres or tubes as a result of the increased pressure. According to how much influence they have, I’ve ranked the rest of these criteria.

Terrain

The wider the contact patch, the more difficult it is to maintain grip on wet roads, gravel, and other surfaces that are difficult to maintain. Having a reduced air pressure will provide you more control when accelerating, braking, and steering.

Dry paved roads are the best possible terrain for riding a motorcycle. Consequently, you don’t need as much of a contact patch to achieve the same level of control as you would on more difficult terrain. In order to maintain your pace and avoid losing it as quickly, increasing your pressure is a good idea.

Aggression

With aggressive riding, you’ll want to optimise your control over your bike. That necessitates a larger contact patch. So, lower the pressure in your tyres. Focus on quickness if you’re going to be less aggressive. That means a smaller area of contact and a higher level of pressure.

Temperature

When the temperature rises, the air expands, and when it falls, it contracts. Over-inflating your tyres by pushing them up to the correct pressure while they are still cool will cause them to burst. In addition, as your tyres contract, the energy you put into them is converted to heat. Consequently, once you begin to ride, the pressure in your tyres will rise.

In contrast, expect your tyres to be underinflated if you fill them up on a hot afternoon and then go for a ride the next morning when it’s freezing. When the temperature has changed since you pumped up your tyres, it’s a good idea to check the tyre pressure before each ride.

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