Biking is like floating on air since there’s only a thin circle of rubber separating you from the road.
The bike tire pressure plays an important role in speed, traction, and overall ride enjoyment, so setting it correctly can make all the difference between a fun Saturday morning ride and a painful slog.
The pressure in your bike tires can’t be just set and forgotten because they lose air over time. But the question is how to know the right air pressure for the bike tires.
Don’t worry this guide will tell you everything from what PSI is to how to maintain the correct pressure in your tire.
So, let’s get started!
What is Bike Tire Pressure
Bike tire pressure is the amount of air pumped into your tires – measured in PSI (pounds per square inch) or bars. The higher the PSI, the harder the tire, while the lower the PSI, the more squidgy the tire. Therefore, how much PSI is in a bike tire significantly impacts how the bike performs and behaves.
The process of checking your bike tire pressure is extremely simple and should be done before every ride. With this in mind, you may wonder where to start, especially since many different kinds of bikes exist.
Luckily, the sidewalls of all modern bike tires indicate the various pressures that should be used for their proper performance. Before moving ahead the question arises, how to calculate the bike tire pressure? Let’s dive in.
How to calculate the Bike Tire Pressure
Tire pressure gauges or you can say the bike tire pressure calculator measure the tire pressure of bikes or vehicles that have inflated tires.
When estimating maximum tire pressure with your eyes alone, you could get misleading results.
Gauges provide accurate and reliable readings in either a standard or digital format. Drivers can use the gauge to determine whether their tires are under-inflated, over-inflated, or just right.
The tire pressure is measured in PSI, or pounds per square inch. Using this number, one can determine the tire’s pressure.
How to use Tire Pressure Gauge effectively
You can easily attach the tire pressure gauge by removing the valve cap. Be sure the gauge is securely attached and evenly distributed. For each tire, the gauge will display the PSI.
You can now refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations to determine whether the tire is underinflated, overinflated, or just right.
Make sure the valve caps are re-attached to each tire once you’ve finished, preventing dirt and moisture from damaging them.
Bike Tire Pressure Chart for various Bike types
In order to determine what tire pressure is recommended for your bicycle, you should refer to its intended use. Make sure you stay within the range given. A mountain bike tire will generally work best between 25 and 50 PSI.
The road bike tire pressure is usually between 80 and 120 PSI. Gravel tires typically have a PSI of 40 to 80. Good starting point tire pressures should be based on these ranges. Identifying your sweet spot requires some research.
Mountain Bike Tires PSI
Mountain bike tires need lower pressure to improve grip and reduce rolling resistance than road tires. A mountain bike tire’s larger volume reduces the likelihood of pinch flats, even when the pressure is lower.
For a rider weighing up to 70 kg, the optimal tire pressure would be:
|Inner tube tires
|36 PSI (Front)/ 38 PSI (Rear)
|26 PSI (Front) / 28 PSI (Rear)
|For every 5 kg over 70 kg, add 1 PSI
Road Bike Tires PSI
Road bike tires should run at a higher pressure than mountain bike tires to reduce the likelihood of punctures and rolling resistance.
Riders weighing up to 70 kg should have the following tire pressure:
|Inner tube tires
|90 PSI (Front)/ 93 PSI (Rear)
|80 PSI (Front) / 83 PSI (Rear)
|For every 5 kg over 70 kg, add 2 PSI
Hybrid & Cyclocross Bike Tires PSI
For a rider weighing up to 70 kilograms, the ideal bike tire PSI would be:
|Inner tube tires
|50 PSI (Front)/ 55 PSI (Rear)
|38 PSI (Front) / 40 PSI (Rear)
|Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg
Kids Bike Tires PSI
Inflating kids’ bikes is very easy due to their small size. Generally, they can maintain a good balance between 20 and 40 PSI.
Here is the chart explanation for better understanding:
|Inner tube tires
|35 PSI (Front)/ 40 PSI (Rear)
|20 PSI (Front)/ 25 PSI (Rear)
|Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 25kg
Triathlon Bike Tires PSI
You may find that it’s faster to ride a triathlon bike with high tire pressure, but you’re taking a risk if you do so. In the event of a stone or hole in the road, the air has nowhere to go, resulting in a pinch flat.
Hence, you should weigh up your bike tire pressure before the race.
|Inner tube tires
|100 PSI (Front)/ 110 PSI (Rear)
|80 PSI (Front)/ 86 PSI (Rear)
|Add 1 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg
Gravel Bike Tires PSI
There are various factors that influence gravel bikes’ PSI. For example, you have to take into account tire width, bike weight, terrain classification, and the degree of coarseness of the landscape.
However, most people find the following PSI suggestions to be genuine. So, you can give them a try too:
|Inner tube tires
|35 PSI (Front)/ 40 PSI (Rear)
|20 PSI (Front)/ 30 PSI (Rear)
|Add 2 PSI for every 5 kgs over 70kg
Maintaining correct Tire PSI optimizes bike performance
Despite the fact that very high tire pressures may feel fast, in reality, they aren’t. When your tires reach a certain level of inflation, putting more air in them actually reduces grip, increases high-frequency vibrations, and causes muscular fatigue. Having to deal with all of these things slows you down.
Your tires will run more smoothly and efficiently if your pressure is right.
Having a tire pressure gauge in your track or floor pump is ideal for setting the correct tire pressure on your bike. It doesn’t need to cost a lot, but you’ll use it for a long time, so getting something high-quality makes sense.
You may also want to invest in one of the best tire pressure gauges for your bike if you want to fine-tune your tire pressure.
Considerations for the correct Bike Tire Pressure: A Checklist
It’s impossible to have a “one size fits all” bike tire pressure since rider weight and riding surface affect tire pressure. Tires with the proper inflation are more efficient, safer, and will last longer than those with an under or over-inflated pressure – we’ll discuss this more below.
For the timing, let’s discuss the main factors that affect tire pressure in the cycle:
1. Tire Width
Aerodynamic wheels are faster wheels, but wide tires can also improve speed in other ways. There are thousands of tiny bumps on real roads that riders and bikes hit almost constantly.
By combining a wider tire with less pressure, the tire is able to absorb these deflections, so they’re not absorbed by the wheels, the bike, and, subsequently, the rider.
This reduces the unsprung mass on each surface impact that needs to be moved and thus reduces kinetic energy loss.
The width of mountain bike tires typically ranges from 30mm to 44mm. On the other hand, road-bike tires are usually narrower, somewhere between 19mm and 30mm. Remember the wider the rubber, the stronger it is.
Other factors, such as usage, also play a role. As a result, you will be able to figure out when your pressure is dropping after a while.
2. Rider Weight
Generally, the heavier a rider is, the faster their front tire pressure will decrease, so bulkier cyclists need more air pressure in their tires than those who are lighter.
As a general rule of thumb, you should take approximately 10% of your combined body weight with your bike.
For example, a rider who weighs 80kg and a bike that weighs 8kg should use 127.6psi, with the front slightly lower than the rear to compensate for weight distribution. The rest is up to your instincts.
3. Type of Terrain
Depending on the terrain you’re riding on, the ideal tire pressure will vary, but in general, you want the tires to be firm but not hard. You risk puncturing the tires if the pressure is too low; if it’s too high, the ride will be uncomfortable, and the rims may be damaged.
Make checking your mountain bike tire pressure part of your regular maintenance routine to avoid flat tires and other problems.
It is generally recommended to use more PSI on smoother trails. You will be able to move faster this way.
In contrast, harder, higher PSI tires will be used for rougher trails with more hills, as they will provide a better grip on the surface and will be more comfortable to ride. This makes your ride more controlled because the tires won’t bounce so much.
Mechanically, the air temperature in a tire can change as a result of the sun’s radiation, friction while riding, or brake heat. A tire’s temperature naturally increases when the sun’s rays hit it, which increases the temperature of the air inside.
In other cases, bicycle tires deform near the contact patch as you ride. The deformation causes friction, which increases tire temperature and, consequently, tire air temperature.
Finally, friction between the brake pads and the rim transfers heat to the tire’s air when you brake.
Every 10 degrees, tire pressure changes by 2%. Therefore, if the temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit and you increase it to 80 degrees, the tire pressure will rise by 2%.
In the same way, if the temperature starts at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and is lowered by 10 degrees then also PSI will be lowered by 2%.
5. Tubeless Bike Tires
Using a tubeless tire will allow you to run the bike at slightly lower pressures, which further will allow you to have a more comfortable, smoother ride.
In fact, running lower pressures on tubeless setups is not only quite safe but can even be preferable as there is no fear of pinch flats.
Having lower tire pressure also makes the tire more in contact with the road surface. It provides better traction and grip, which is particularly useful off-road.
6. Tire Casing
There are several layers in a tire’s casing, called “plies,” which are usually described with a thread per inch count, or “TPI,” to hold it all together, seal in air, and offer some abrasion resistance.
The tire casing will deform more if you drive with too low pressure, causing friction between the tire and the road to absorb more energy.
Furthermore, it increases the risk of pinch flats.
The principle behind the advanced tire pressure concept
It may actually be possible to go faster with the same effort by reducing tire pressure below the maximum recommended pressure. Recent studies have even shown, that lower pressures lead to lower rolling resistance on actual roads.
So, make sure you experiment with different pressures and roll-down tests to determine what works for you.
Decreasing bike tire pressure indeed improves traction in wet conditions. When the tire’s pressure is decreased, the contact patch on the road is increased. You’ll have more grip if you lower the pressure since the tires will be closer to the road.
Furthermore, proper air pressure varies based on riders’ and bikes’ weights. We suggest removing 10 PSI from your tires when racing in the rain if you don’t know your bike’s right pressure setup.
Best ways to ensure correct Bike Tire Pressure
Falling leaves, rain, and ice will make roads slippery, and you won’t want to worry about whether your tires are in good condition in such scenarios. This is because people find it tough to check the tire pressure in such conditions.
Fortunately, checking tires is easy. In order to maintain good tire condition and avoid a disastrous tire failure, it is crucial to check and adjust your tire pressure. The following tips will help you learn how to maintain the proper tire pressure for your bike before your next ride.
1. Pump-Up as per Tire volume
Usually, the side of each tire has a maximum inflation recommendation (in PSI or bars). A number like this can tell you how much air you need for your road, mountain, cruiser, or hybrid bike.
Different inflation pressures are needed for different bicycle tires, so you should check before you pump. As long as you follow this number, you should be fine. It is possible to get pinch flats if you ride with too low tire pressure.
When an underinflated tire hits a bump, the tube gets pinched between the rim and the tire casing, resulting in a pinch flat. Two spots on the tube are torn and look like snake bites.
Conversely, you may experience rough and bumpy rides due to poor traction if you ride with too much pressure.
So, pump up as required every time before going out. Below listed are some types of pumps to help you out.
a. Floor Pumps
Track pumps, also known as floor pumps, are designed to inflate tires quickly and easily.
A small, lightweight pump is ideal for carrying when riding, but a track pump is ideal for home use.
b. Mini Pumps
Every ride should be accompanied by one of the lightweight and compact mini-plastic pumps. These pumps are compatible with Schrader and Presta valves thanks to their switchable heads.
This pump has a mounting bracket and screws for firmly mounting it to the bike frame.
c. High-Pressure Pumps
A high-pressure pump moves smaller volumes of air per stroke, so it is best suited for filling skinny road tires.
It is generally recommended that you use a high-pressure pump if your tire pressure is higher than 60 PSI. Because their maximum pressure is between 160 to 220 PSI.
d. Booster Pumps
Tubeless tires are easier to install with booster pumps. A special chamber in these pumps lets you store a one-liter charge of air, up to 160 PSI/11 bar, in order to fill your tires quickly and ensure they are correctly installed on tubeless rims.
The air bypasses the chamber as soon as you switch from “CHARGE” to “INFLATE” mode.
2. Check for the Bike Tire Pressure Regularly
It is important to check the tire pressure regularly. You should make it part of your regular routine since tires lose approximately one pound of pressure per square inch (PSI) each month.
Remember your vehicle’s maximum load is determined by the PSI, or pounds per square inch.
It is also possible for tire pressure to change drastically in winter temperatures. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to check tire pressure when the tires are cold, which means they haven’t been driven for at least three hours.
3. Tire Inflating Frequency
Inflating tires allow you to get close enough to live a full and happy life. Underinflating your tires poses the greatest danger of missing your mark.
When tires are underinflated, they create more friction on the road, which causes them to run hotter.
It is also possible for the tire’s belts to separate and come apart due to heat.
It is thus best to maintain the recommended tire pressure when filling your tires to ensure the highest level of handling, comfort, fuel economy, and safety.
Nevertheless, it’s fine to go up to 1PSI over the recommended inflation. A little over is always better than a little under.
4. The Ultimate Goal is Tire Balancing
You can consider balancing your tires as a tune-up for them and their wheels. This tune-up ensures that the weight is evenly distributed between the rear wheel and tires. You can experience undesirable side effects if you don’t balance your tires and wheels regularly.
While proper tire inflation prevents accelerated tire wear, it is also crucial to safety and prevents premature tire replacements.
Next time, make sure to ride on ideal bike tire pressure for good balance.
Final Words — Bike Tires Pressure
Throughout the preceding sections, it has been demonstrated how important it is to maintain the bike tire pressure. So, make sure the tires are inflated correctly and at the appropriate pressure.
You should also have your tires regularly checked for signs of wear and tear. Your bike tires are your bike’s insurance. Using one of poor quality and not maintaining the other could lead to big problems in the future.
Conversely, failing to monitor both is asking for trouble. Hence, start giving them importance and maintenance today itself.
Still, if you have any suggestions or doubts, feel free to drop a comment below. I will be more than happy to assist you with your query. Please follow our Facebook Page for more guides like this.
Have fun riding…
Bike Tire Pressure — Frequently Asked Questions
Is 40 PSI good bike tire pressure?
MTB manufacturers recommend 30-50 PSI on most bikes since it offers a good balance while on the road (less than 50) and on off-road rides (less than 30).
What is the air pressure for a 26-inch bike tire?
Tires with a diameter of 26 inches (generally used on a road bike or a comfortable bike) have a wider pressure range, say 35-60 PSI. The tires can be used both on and off the road.
The latter’s material can withstand pressures of 60 PSI because it is perfectly stable when rolling over a surface.
Do I need a pressure gauge for the bike?
The tire pumping process is made easier with a track pump that has a built-in pressure gauge. Most riders can get proper tire pressure using this method.
What are the three types of tire pressure gauges?
A tire pressure gauge comes in three types: stick, digital, and dial. The gauge should have a wide range to be able to measure the pressure in a temporary spare, which is usually 60 PSI.
Can you check the bike tire pressure without a gauge?
Yes, this is possible. Road bikes tire can be squeezed on each side, pump up until you can barely squeeze it, and then you are most likely good to go.
For mountain bike riders, it’s important to check the tires for any signs of protruding out more than a millimeter or two on each side of the bike.
Note: Results without a gauge are not precise. So, using a gauge meter is highly recommended.