The ideal tire pressure for your bike depends on how wide its tires are. For bikes with narrow tires like road bikes, the correct road bike tire pressure is at 80 to 130 psi, but for wider tires, less air pressure is needed- 25 to 35 psi for mountain bike tires, and 40 to 70 psi for hybrid bikes.
Having the proper bike tire air pressure is important in order to ensure that you ride smoothly with quick rolling tires that don’t get flat. In fact, making sure that your tires stay at the optimal tire pressure is one of the most important things you can do for your bicycle, especially if you want to get the best performance out of it.
If you want more information on how to find the right road bike tire psi for your bike, and how to correctly inflate your bicycle tires, here’s a quick guide to help you out.
What is the ideal tire pressure for road bikes?
Road bikes typically make use of narrow tires, and as such, they require more air pressure to keep them fully inflated and rolling smoothly. This is usually at a range of 80 to 130 psi.
But, there’s actually much more to it than this.
Knowing what is the correct tire pressure for your bicycle tires also means accounting for several factors such as the width of the tires, the weight that the tires are carrying, and even the weather conditions on the day you plan to ride.
High tire pressure
For many years, it has been common practice to fix road bikes with 23c tires and pump those at the highest possible tire pressure while still ensuring enough grip for poor weather conditions. This means bringing the tire pressure up to 110 psi.
It does seem like a good practice, since there are many benefits to a higher tire psi. For one thing, there’s significantly less rolling resistance, so you can ride smoother and quicker. The tires are also less prone to puncture, excessive abrasion, and premature wearing.
However, many cyclists, especially nowadays, prefer to ride at lower pressures, often with slightly wider tires, and that comes with good reason as well.
Low tire pressure
We’ve shared with you the benefits of riding with high tire pressure, but how about for low pressure? What makes it so ideal that many riders swear by it?
Well, at a lower tire pressure, your riding experience becomes noticeably more comfortable. You also guarantee yourself a better grip since your contact patch is increased, which is also better and safer for riding under poor weather conditions.
Plus, if you make use of the right rims, you can also enjoy better aerodynamics. Asking yourself “at what psi should my tires be?” don’t make a decision just yet, since there are several more things you need to consider.
Road bike tire pressure by weight
The general rule when it comes to getting the right bike tire psi is that the narrower the tires, the more air pressure is needed. And, when road conditions are slick and less than optimal, letting out a little air pressure can allow for more grip, since more of the tire is in contact with the road.
All this, however, is not yet accounting for weight. When it comes to finding the ideal road bike tire pressure by weight, the total load must be accounted for, meaning, the weight of the bike frame, the rider, and the load he is carrying. More specifically, for every additional kilogram of load, the bicycle tire pressure should be increased by 1%.
Below is a bike tire pressure chart you can follow in order to get the proper tire pressure. The first two entries for the tire width (23c and 25c) are what mostly applies to road bikes, but you can also use this guide for other bikes, such as for finding the best mountain bike tire pressure and tires that require fat bike fenders.
|TIRE WIDTH||60 kg (132 lb)||85 kg (187 lb)||110 kg (242 lb)|
|23c||7 bar (100 psi)||8 bar (115 psi)||9 bar (130 psi)|
|25c||6 bar (87 psi)||7 bar (100 psi)||8 bar (115 psi)|
|28c||5.5 bar (80 psi)||6.5 bar (94 psi)||7.5 bar (108 psi)|
|32c||4.5 bar (65 psi)||5.5 bar (80 psi)||6.5 bar (94 psi)|
|37c||4 bar (50 psi)||5 bar (72 psi)||6 bar (87 psi)|
So, if your bike frame is made of heavy duty stuff, you are a heavy rider, or you are carrying a substantial load, it’s best to opt for the highest recommended tire pressure for your tire width, or at the very least, the highest pressure less one bar or 15 psi to account for bad weather. The same rule applies when it comes to mtb tire pressure.
Should you ride with a high or low tire pressure?
Well, it’s really up to you. The best is to choose a higher tire pressure if you have narrow tires, have a heavier overall weight (bike, rider, and load), and would like to get the best speed and performance out of your bike.
On the other hand, you can choose a lower tire pressure if you often ride under bad weather conditions and have less total weight. However, make sure that you use slightly wider tires such as 25c tires which have a shorter contact patch.
This way, you don’t experience the common issues of riding narrow tires at low pressure. Meaning, you’ll have less tire deflection, there won’t be any change in the rolling resistance and risk of snake bite punctures, and your tires won’t be exposed to premature wearing.
Other factors to consider
Aside from the tire width, the bike, rider weight, and the weather conditions, there are a couple of other things you need to take into account when finding the correct pressure for your bike tires. For example, carrying a lot of cargo on your bike can have an impact on bike tire pressure. It’s, therefore, a good idea to distribute evenly, for example by using a dog bike trailer. Now, these may not apply as much on road bike tires, but these are common deal breakers for other bike types.
For example, if you are using tubeless tires, these don’t come with an inner tube, so you can generally ride at lower pressures without having to worry about flattening your tires. You’ll also get much better traction, and your riding experience will be more comfortable.
Another important factor is the terrain in which you usually ride. This is really something that you can’t control, but what you can do is to adjust your tire pressure accordingly. If the road is bumpy and your ride feels clunky, the pressure is too low. On the contrary, the pressure is too high if the bike is bouncy on rough roads and skittish on loose corners.
If you really want to find the ideal road bike tire pressure for your bike, the simplest way to do that is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure on your tires’ sidewall.
But if you want to take things up a notch, you can start at the middle range and follow the tire pressure guide provided above. Just make sure to never go above or below the given range of the normal psi for tires.
You can also experiment with the tire pressure by trying out different numbers and riding your bike until you find your own personal sweet spot. Again, just remember to never overinflate your tires, and always make the front tire more inflated than the rear, if you’re riding a road bike.
And, be sure to check your tire pressure regularly by using a bike pressure gauge- preferably one that is better and more accurate than a floor pump. Moreover, if you are changing your tires to a different width, expect to make changes in the tire pressure as well.