When it comes to bicycle tires, you need to understand how they work.
Air generates pressure, and that pressure is what keeps the tires rolling. But that’s not everything pressure does. The more pressure, the easier it will be to ride the bike. Too much pressure, however, can lead to accidents.
The pressure in your tires can also influence your speed and traction. It is something of a controversy among cyclists.
Some say that tires with lower pressure are the best because they are faster, while others say that tires with higher pressure will give you the best speed possible.
In today’s guide, we’ll tell you all about bicycle tire pressure, from what it is to how it impacts your riding experience. We’ll let you know the dangers of having low tire pressure and too much tire pressure, as well as what is the ideal level for your tires.
What Is Pressure?
The pressure is the force or stress per area of the item, and it is an essential part of physics. There are branches of science dedicated to studying the aspects of pressure and its qualities over objects.
Like many physical sciences, there are different units you can use to express the amount of pressure in a given situation. For example, you can use the Pascal (Pa) or the Newton per square meter (N/m2).
Additionally, the one we use the most in cycling is the PSI or pound force per square inch.
PSI is a unit of pressure most commonly used in North America. A PSI is the force of a pound applied against a square inch of an object, hence its name.
However, you should keep in mind that atmospheric pressure over the sea level should also be considered when measuring PSI.
How Does Tire Pressure Impact Riding Experience?
Tire pressure can impact the speed of your bike.
For example, a common thought in the past was that higher tire pressure meant that your bike would go faster than with lower tire pressure.
The reason for this thought was that the more you inflate your tires, the easier it would be for them to roll over the road.
High tire pressure can increase your speed, but only if it doesn’t cancel out the suspension. The suspension absorbs the road’s impact, and it makes riding more comfortable, but that’s not all it does.
By absorbing the impact, the suspension also allows the bicycle to go at a higher speed.
The problem comes when you have a full-suspension or par-suspension bicycle. If you use high tire pressure, what you are doing is eliminating the benefits of suspension.
That’s the reason why high pressure in your tires won’t give you a faster ride.
High tire pressure won’t make you go faster, but what about low tire pressure? Well, low tire pressure creates a lot of bending, making the tire go a lot slower. The lowest pressure in a tire is a flat tire, and it won’t get you far.
When it comes to cycling, the tires’ pressure is a topic that generates a lot of debate. Some tires work best with low pressure, like wide tires that require less air to roll smoothly.
On the other hand, narrower tires need more pressure to give you a reasonable speed.
In the end, it is all about your type of tire and what it needs. Just avoid too much pressure or too little, and you’ll have a better riding experience.
What’s the Ideal Pressure In Bicycle Tires?
The ideal bicycle tire pressure will enable a smoother ride and will help you avoid flat tires.
Depending on the type of your tire, you’ll need different PSI. For instance, a narrow tire will need lower pressure than a wide-rim tire.
Here’s the ideal pressure for the most common bicycles and tires:
- Road bikes: This type of bike has narrower tires, which means they require more pressure. The ideal pressure for road bikes is between 80 and 130 PSI, depending on your preference.
- Mountain bikes: Unlike road bikes, mountain bikes use wider tires. Wider tires require less pressure than narrower tires, so between 25 and 35 PSI should do the trick for your mountain bike.
- Hybrid bikes: This type of bike is in the middle of a road bike and a mountain bike. So its ideal pressure is between 40 and 70 PSI.
If you don’t know the ideal pressure for you, determine the type of tire you have and start with the manufacturer’s PSI. Once done, you have to factor in your body weight, for the more you weigh, the higher the pressure you’ll need.
Tip: Tire manufacturers usually list the ideal pressure for your tire. The number will be listed on the sidewall of the tire. We recommend never to go above or below the recommended tire pressure given to you by the manufacturer.
If you do so, you risk damaging the tires and their mechanisms.
Low Tire Pressure Dangers
As we mentioned before, having low pressure in your tires can bring some problems for your bike.
Low tire pressure can lead to slower rides and even flat tires, making them a significant complication for cyclists.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider low pressure for your tires, but you should keep it as low as the tire’s ideal pressure dictates. If you go below the perfect pressure, you risk damaging your bike’s entire mechanism.
On top of that, you’ll get flat tires a lot more often.
High Tire Pressure Dangers
You should always keep your tires at the ideal pressure, and for that, you need to know what’s the perfect pressure.
Low pressure can lead to many problems, but the same can be said for high pressure.The most significant risk with too much pressure is that it can eliminate the traction of the tires.
With no traction, you risk sliding and not being able to stop. Too much pressure can also increase the possibility of something puncturing the tire. As there’s more pressure, an object like a nail could easily penetrate the rubber.
Should You Always Carry a Pump?
Experienced and professional cyclists know that it is essential to carry certain items.
Packing a pump with you on every ride can be the difference between an enjoyable time or a walk back home dragging your bike alongside you.
A pump is an essential tool for cyclists. It will allow you to inflate your tires if you need to, and some pumps also offer the possibility of reading the PSI in your tires.
A pump with a pressure gauge gives you all the necessary features to keep your tires at their ideal pressure.
There are different types of pumps, but you should focus on getting the one that fits your tire’s valve. Your tire should have either a Presta valve or a Schrader valve. Choose the right pump depending on which one you have.
The first thing you should do is to determine the type of valve your tires use. Once you’ve done that, you should get the pump that fits your necessities.
For instance, there are compact pumps that you can carry anywhere, and there are pumps that offer more PSI but are heavier and bigger.
If you have more than one bicycle, we recommend getting a pump that supports both a Presta and a Schrader valve. This type of pump will make it easier to pump air into any kind of tire.
Most models offer the possibility of using them for other items like sports balls.
Another option you have is to carry a CO2 inflator. CO2 inflators are a lot easier to use, and they will inflate your tire in seconds. All you need is to attach the inflator to the valve, and the inflator will do the rest.
However, CO2 inflators are a lot more expensive than regular manual pumps.
Other Items You Must Carry Alongside Your Pump
You have your tires at their ideal pressure, you have your gear ready, and you have your pump.
But then the unthinkable happens. Glass is all over the road, there’s no way you can avoid it, and then you get a flat tire.
You can either go back home dragging your bike or use your tools to fix the problem.
There are a lot of products saying they are the best tire boot in the market.
However, if you only need the functionality, duct tape is your go-to option. Pump up your tire, check where the air is leaking, and duct tape it. Now you are ready to keep riding.
One more thing to carry with you is a chain tool containing the necessary items to fix your bike on the road.
You should pack some wrenches, some oil tubes for your chain, the duct tape, and other things you think you’ll need to fix your tires or bike if something terrible happens.
Tips To Keep Your Tires In Good Shape
You can do a lot of things to make your tires last longer and keep them in excellent shape.
Keeping an eye on the pressure is the main step you can take to make your tires withstand more use. Additionally, you can also avoid overinflating them and determine the proper pressure for your bike.
Here’s everything you can do to keep your tires at their best:
Check On The Pressure
To keep your tires at their best, you should check on the pressure regularly.
Try to always aim at having your tires at their ideal pressure, and if they are not, inflate them as soon as possible.
Having your tires at the ideal pressure for them will make riding a lot more enjoyable, and it will help you keep the tires in good shape for a long time. Keeping an eye on the pressure will also enable you to go as fast as you want when riding.
Avoid Over Inflating
Over inflating your tires can wear them out a lot faster than low pressure.
When you overinflate, you make the tire lose its stability, leading to it trying to get back to normal. The tire will leak more air, which can cause the rubber to wear out faster.
Depending on what you inflate your tire with, overinflating can cause the tire to break the internal chamber that keeps the air inside. If that happens, then you will need to replace your chamber or your tire.
Determine The Right Pressure For You
Determining the correct pressure for your bike is easy. You only need to check what the manufacturer says or check the ideal pressure for your tire type. However, determining the perfect pressure for you is a different story.
To achieve the right pressure for you and your bike, you must consider your size and weight. Once you know that, add it up to your bike’s ideal pressure, and you should get approximately the pressure you need.
Then, all you need to do is try it out and see if it’s good enough or not.
Knowing the ideal pressure for your bike’s tires is an essential part of owning a bicycle.
It will enable you to keep your tires in the best shape possible and help avoid flat tires or damage to the tires’ internal chamber. That’s the reason tire pressure is so important for cyclists.
The ideal pressure for your bike may vary depending on the type of bicycle you use. Bikes with wider tires, like mountain bikes, need lower pressure. On the other hand, bikes like road bikes need more pressure because they have narrower tires.
Overall, you should always aim to keep your tires between the ideal pressure given by the manufacturer. Remember that too much pressure can lead to loss of traction and some accidents.
Too little pressure can lead to flat tires and damage to the tires’ internal mechanism.
- Wikipedia.org Pounds per square inch
- Wikipedia.org Pressure
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic