Bike Tire Pressure – Complete Guide to the right PSI for Bike Tires

When it comes to your bike tires, it is crucial to have the right PSI. A more comfortable ride would come with less air, while a faster ride would come with more air.

In many cases, this is true, but the fact remains that individual riders will need different inflation pressures depending on the bike they ride. 

One mistake many riders make is not having the right tire pressure in their tires. Sometimes they also think having a lot of tire pressure will enable them to ride faster.

Well, this is not the case, as there are many things you need to understand about tire pressure.

 In this article, we’ll look at the basics of tire pressure and how tire pressure affects performance. 

The Basics Of Bike Tire PSI

You can find the recommended PSI for your bike tire by checking for the PSI on the sides of the tire close to where it touches the rim. It is usually written within a range, e.g., 100 to 125 psi. 

A higher PSI (pounds per square inch) makes the tire harder. While a lower PSI makes it feel softer. However it is, bike tire pressure has a huge impact on how a bike performs. 

Checking your tire pressure is the simplest and most important piece of regular maintenance you can perform.

You can also check with a pump that has a pressure gauge or use a separate digital or analog pressure gauge. The most common pressure measurements are bar and PSI.

It is the manufacturer’s recommendation that tires have a pressure range or maximum pressure marked on their sidewalls and/or rims. 

It is still advisable to follow the recommendations for safety reasons, regardless of how restrictive they might be.

Bike Tire Pressure Chart

If you cannot find the recommended pressure on your tire, pump them until they’re firm but squeezable. 

However, there are some generally accepted ranges that people use to judge these bikes based on bike types.

Bike TypePSI Range
kid’s bike tires20 – 40 psi
Narrow / Road bike tires80 – 130 psi
Medium / Hybrid bike tires50 – 70 psi
Thick / Mountain bike tires 30 psi – off road50 psi – on road

Road Bikes

Road bikes have tires that are built for speed on smooth surfaces. Their high air pressure allows them to roll faster and easier. 

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These tires range between 80 and 130 psi, but top racers can use a 160 psi tire. 

Mountain Bikes

The mountain bike should be your choice if you want to ride perfectly over bumpy and loose roads. The mountain bike is perfect for such rides because it doesn’t have too much air.

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Too much air in tires will cause them to bounce too much, leading to a wobbly ride. 

Low pressure in the mountain bike tire will help with shock absorption while causing more traction since more of the tire touches the ground.

The recommended pressure for a mountain bike tire is between 30 and 50 psi due to its balance between off-road and on-road riding.

Hybrid Bikes

The Hybrid bike tire requires a pressure level between the road bike and mountain bike. The range for this pressure is between 50 – 70 psi. 

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The bike with the smallest range is the kid’s bike which is between 20 – 40 psi.

Bear in mind that these ranges are recommendations meaning that before these ranges were picked, a lot of factors were put together to get to these points.

Let’s consider these factors.

Factors That Influence Bike Inflation 

Keeping your bike tires in good condition is never as easy as it seems, so here are a few things to consider when handling your bike inflation.

Weight

The more weighty your tires, the more pressure it has. Whatever event you’re participating in, heavy riders should use a higher psi than light riders to get a higher performance from their bike tires.

This means that a rider weighing up to 200kg will likely pump around 20 more psi than someone weighing 150kg. For this rule, there is no slide to it.

It would help if you played with the tire pressure to see what suits you. Also, remember that the rear tires carry more weight than the front tire, so remember when pumping your tires.

Temperature

From studying physics, you would know that temperature affects air pressure. This means that people biking in higher-temperature regions would need higher pressure on their tires than those in lower-temperature areas. 

Also, sustained deceleration in tires using rim brakes can generate friction that will increase the temperature inside the tire’s tube.

Unfortunately, this pressure cools off quickly, but you must note it during the long descents.

Frequency

Many bikers usually ask the question of how often they should inflate their tires. The answer to this depends on how hard your ride and how often. 

Many people pump their tires every few days, while some pump once a week and others even less regularly. No matter how you ride your bike, if left alone, it will be seeping air out slowly.

Therefore, before you ride, it is not a bad idea to check your tire pressure, especially if it’s been left for a while.

Overinflation vs Underinflation 

Both of these are not necessary to do. If you over-inflate, you can blow your bike tube while riding or pumping due to immediate impact. 

If you underinflate, it could lead to pinch flats. This happens when a tube becomes squeezed between the tire and rim caused by hitting a bump with an under-inflated wheel.

This will damage the tire as well as the rim. Also, you will pedal fast using slow tires, which is not good for your ride. 

Bike Inflation Options

People use two types of bike inflation options all over the world. They include:

Floor Pumps

The floor pumps are the go-to pumps for professionals. They’re easier to attach and pump and will pump your tires faster than a hand pump. 

Some of these pumps come with gauges that eliminate the need to switch between a pump and a standalone gauge. 

However, many cycling experts are cautious of using floor pumps with gauges because the accuracy of the gauge may be off by 10 psi. 

You can also calculate the difference in psi level and adjust your target to compensate. 

Also, try not to use the gauge at gas stations as they’re meant for cars and can over-inflate your tires.

Recommend Floor Pump

Hand Pumps

Hand pumps are the opposite of floor pumps. These are best for cyclists who ride far away from home as they can help you change a flat tire immediately. However, they’re harder to work with to fill your tire and take time.

They’re transportable which is one of their good sides as it’s a bad decision to embark on a long-distance ride without your hand pumps and puncture repair kit. 

Recommend Hand Pump

How Tire Pressure Affects Performance 

The wrong tire pressure can lead to poor puncture performance, rolling resistance, comfort, and grip. 

As there are no other points of contact with the ground except through the tires, the tire’s performance is transmitted to the rider and the bicycle. 

To summarize our discussion on pressure, here are the pros and cons of high and low pressure in bicycle tires.

High Pressure

Pros
  • Less rolling resistance on easy terrain or asphalt
  • Less wear
  • Few punctures
Cons
  • Loss of energy in bumpy terrain
  • Less comfort
  • Less grip and traction

Low Pressure

Pros
  • Less rolling resistance on bumpy terrain
  • More comfort
  • More grip
  • Better traction
Cons
  • More rolling resistance on easy terrain or asphalt
  • More wear

Therefore, each rider must find the right pressure to balance rolling resistance, grip, puncture resistance, and comfort.

If you focus on one aspect, you forget another and will lose out on that aspect.

As tires, rims, and cycling equipment evolve, offering unprecedented performance, tire pressure remains an essential factor. 

You should experiment with all pressures in different circumstances and see what is best for you.

Bike Tire Pressure – FAQs

What PSI should I run my road bike tires at?

The typical range for riding your road bike is between 80 and 130 psi. However, many racers can push above this limit to as high as 160psi.

You can push above the 130 mark if you can handle the pressure. You can know when your tire gets to 100 psi without a gauge, as the tire cannot be compressed with your thumb.

Is 40 PSI good bike tire pressure?

Yes, 40 psi is sometimes a good tire pressure for gravel tires. But it doesn’t offer the balance you need to ride. 

While it is a good starting point, the range is too conservative and broad for many riders.

What tire pressure do pro cyclists use?

Pro cyclist racers race on tire pressure between 94 – 116 psi. However, they usually go lower when it rains.

You can also find many pro cyclists going higher than this range. It all depends on the weather and terrain they’re riding on. 

Conclusion

This is a quick guide on how bicycle PSI is important and useful to the rider. Before a rider selects a particular pressure, they need to find what feels most comfortable for them based on their riding style.

After choosing a range, go with it and keep an eye on the pressure. Check your tire pressure before every ride so that you can avoid any delays on the road.

5/5 - (2 votes)

I’ve been riding (bicycles) my entire life and am passionate about everything that comes along with it. I wouldn’t call myself a true “roadie”. I’m just a guy that loves riding because of the pure joy it brings.

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