Many new riders forget about pumping up their tires. They simply ride their bike until the tires get really squishy. Only then do they bother to think about adding more air.
But checking your tire pressure each week is a great way to ensure a safe, comfortable ride and the longest life out of your tires.
But how do you pick the correct tire pressure?
Well, you do NOT want to just look at the sidewall and inflate your tires to the maximum inflation pressure. For most people, that pressure is too high and will lead to a stiff ride.
Instead, follow my guidelines:
On a road bike, you would want to use around 90-110psi.
Most road tires can be inflated to 120psi, but that’s usually not necessary. A pressure around 100psi usually gives a more comfortable ride.
On mountain bikes, 35-50psi.
A typical mountain bike tire is wide, which makes it a high volume tire. Since it will hold a large volume of air, you don’t need it to go to a high pressure like a road bike tire.
A good starting point is 45psi.
On mountain bikes with tubeless tires, 20-35psi.
Mountain bikes with tubeless tires can safely run low air pressures, possibly under 20psi. Generally I’d start out by trying 30psi in your tubeless tires.
Tire pressure adjustment tips.
I gave you general guidelines so far. You may need to tweak the suggested tire pressures to suit your body and riding conditions.
Here are the tips:
1. The heavier you are, the higher the pressure you should use. Let’s use a road bike as an example. A 120lb cyclist could ride on tires at 85-90psi and they would be plenty firm. However, a 200lb cyclist would want to run closer to 110-120psi to hold up to their body weight.
2. If you encounter wet roads, drop pressure by 5-10psi for increased traction.
3. If you are getting pinch flats often, those are usually due to running too low of a tire pressure. So try increasing your pressure by about 5psi.
4. Mountain bikers on rocky terrain may want to increase their tire pressure by 5psi to decrease the risk of pinch flats. It’s a trade off – the higher pressure will decrease traction a little bit, slowing you down, but it could save time by making it less likely you get a flat tire.
5. With tubeless tires on your mountain bike, you can drop your pressure down to around 20psi, but then see how squishy your tires feel. Gradually work your way up between 20 and 35 psi to find the sweet spot where the tires feel solid, yet still allow great traction.
Follow all those tips and put in some time on the bike to see what all the pressures feel like, and then you should have a good idea of correct tire inflation pressure.