Bicycle Tire Pressure

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Bicycle Tire Pressure

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Bicycle Tire Pressure

Bicycle tire pressure is often one of the most overlooked aspects of cycling that a beginner addresses, and this could lead to an overall compromise on performance and comfort in addition to faster wear and tear of one’s tires and multiple punctures. When this occurs, the first thing that comes to mind would be to question the quality of the tires, and not the fact that continuous use of the bicycle with incorrect tire pressure is what could be a contributing factor. This article will address the importance of the right tire pressure keeping in mind the rider’s weight, the kind of bicycle and the type of tires used. Read on for more.

The importance of tire pressure on bicycles

Tire pressure influences performance on two levels: 

Grip: When it comes to tires, the area of contact of the tire with the surface and the grip provided are related, i.e. if a tire has the right amount of pressure allowing the entire width of the tire to make contact with the surface that it is rolling over, the steadier the grip of the tire will be, conversely an over-inflated tire is likely to roll only on the central strip, and hence not have a good grip of the surface.   

Rolling resistance: Rolling resistance is how much friction occurs between a tire and the surface i.e. more friction leads to more rolling resistance. Both under-inflated and over-inflated tires tend to provide too much contact with the surface, and hence an increased rolling resistance. This can affect one’s energy levels and overall performance as one may find themselves pedalling with great difficulty without yielding significant results or speed.  For an optimal grip and rolling resistance it is necessary to get the correct tire pressure based on the kind of bicycle you ride, your weight and your tire type.  

Bicycle Tire Pressure-1
Bicycle Tire Pressure-2

Inner tube vs. Tubeless tires

When considering tire pressure, one must consider the type of tire that their bicycle has - namely clincher tires with inner tubes, or tubeless tires. Tires with inner tubes are more susceptible to 'pinch flat' punctures when under-inflated. These occur when there is a large impact on the tire which causes the tire's bead to pinch the inner tube and puncture it. 'Pinch Flats' are not possible on tubeless tires, because there is no tube to pinch. With an inner-tube set-up, it is advisable to use a slightly higher tire pressure to reduce the risk of ‘pinch’ punctures. 

The correct tire pressure based on the type of bicycle

The type of bicycle and the ideal tire pressure for it go hand in hand as the intended use, surface ridden on etc. varies across categories.

Mountain bike tire pressures    

Mountain bike tires require lower pressure than road tires so as to provide a better grip while decreasing rolling resistance. The increased volume of a mountain bike tire means that despite lower pressures, the tires are less susceptible to pinch flats. The ideal tire pressure for a rider, weighing upto 70 kgs would be: 

  • Inner tube tires - 36 PSI (Front)/ 38 PSI (Rear)  
  • Tubeless tires - 26 PSI (Front) / 28 PSI (Rear)  

Weight Adjustment - Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg.    

Road bike tire pressures    

To reduce the likelihood of ‘pinch flat’ punctures and rolling resistance, it is ideal that road bike tires run at a higher pressure when compared to mountain bike tires. The ideal tire pressure for a rider, weighing upto 70 kgs would be: 

  • Inner tube tires - 90 PSI (Front)/ 93 PSI (Rear)  
  • Tubeless tires - 80 PSI (Front) / 83 PSI (Rear)  

Weight Adjustment - Add 2 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg, and subtract 2 PSI for every 5 kgs under 70 Kg. 

Bicycle Tire Pressure-3
Bicycle Tire Pressure-4

Cyclocross/Gravel bike tire pressures   

For an ideal balance of grip and rolling resistance, cyclocross tires require a higher pressure than mountain bikes, but a lower pressure than road bikes. This is ideal as cyclocross bicycles are usually ridden over a mixture of surfaces requiring a balance between added grip (for off road riding, and rugged surfaces), and lesser rolling resistance (when ridden on roads). The ideal tire pressure for a rider, weighing upto 70 kgs would be: 

  • Inner tube tires - 48 PSI (Front)/ 50 PSI (Rear)  
  • Tubeless tires - 36 PSI (Front) / 38 PSI (Rear)  

Weight Adjustment - Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg 

Hybrid/City bike tire pressures   

Given that hybrid bicycle tires are similar to those on cyclocross bicycles, the pressure requirements are similar too. The ideal tire pressure for a rider, weighing upto 70 kgs would be: 

  • Inner tube tires - 50 PSI (Front)/ 55 PSI (Rear)  
  • Tubeless tires - 38 PSI (Front) / 40 PSI (Rear)  

Weight Adjustment - Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg 

Bicycle Tire Pressure-5
Conclusion

In all cases, the front tire requires lesser pressure than the rear tire, this is because tire pressure and the ability to carry a load are directly proportional, and considering that the rider sits towards the rear portion of the bicycle, an increased tire pressure is optimal. All tires have a range of pressure indicated on the side and it recommended to stick within the range specified and not exceed it, no matter what. The most precise way to achieve the right tire pressure is to use a bicycle pump with a gauge. Check out our range of bicycle pumps here.

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