Appropriate tire pressure will allow your bicycle to run smoother, roll well on a surface and could keep flats at bay. So what is the appropriate tire pressure?
The proper tire pressure varies, depending on several factors. The norm followed is the narrower the tire, the more air pressure required and the wider the tire, the lesser air pressure required.
Every tire has a recommended range of pressure written on one side and it is recommended to stick within that prescribed range.
For the ideal tire pressure, start in the middle of the recommended pressure range and also factor in the rider's weight. The more one weighs, the higher the pressure should be. But, never go over or below the recommended pressure range given by the tire manufacturer.
RIDING SURFACE AND ROLLING RESISTANCE
Rolling resistance is the force resisting the motion when tire/wheel rolls on a surface.
The surface you ride on is a major factor when it comes to determining the ideal tire pressure for you. If you are riding on a smooth surface, like a properly laid road or a circuit/track, thin tires with a higher tire pressure is recommended. This lowers the rolling resistance, which will enable a smoother and faster ride.
Poor roads/ off-road riding requires wider tires with lower tire pressure. This lowers the rolling resistance because on bumpy/uneven surfaces tires deform less at lower pressures.
PUNCTURES AND TIRE PRESSURE
Under-inflated tires are more prone to flats or punctures because, upon riding onto a sharp object, the tire compresses to an extent that the inner tube gets pinched between the rim and the sharp object, causing a tear/hole in the tube and thereby instant loss of pressure.
FRONT AND REAR INFLATION
In most cases, when one rides a bicycle, their weight is unevenly distributed between the front and back wheels. Generally the weight distribution is about 45% on the front wheel and 55% on the back wheel. So going by this, it is logical to suggest that the pressure differ on each wheel. It is suggested to subtract 10% of the ideal tire pressure from the front wheel and to add 10% of the ideal tire pressure to the back wheel. This will lead to a more comfortable ride.
There isn't a one size fits all option when it comes to tire pressure and width. The ideal tire pressure depends on the rider and their goals. In a tight circuit crit race run on relatively smooth surfaces, the lower weight of narrower tires on higher pressure may be more ideal. However, training, especially on poorly surfaced country roads, the added comfort of wider tires and the lower rolling resistance over the course of a long ride might be ideal.