How Firm Should Bike Tires Be?

By Rachel Lee
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Any regular bike rider would be concerned about the firmness of their bike tires. All bike tires come with a fixed PSI, and it is generally believed that lesser air pumped in bike tires makes up for a more comfortable ride. 

So, how firm should bike tires be then? The correct answer to this question would be to keep the bike’s tires pressurized within the amounts that come suggested on the side of all tires. For a road bike, it usually ranges between 80-130 PSI. 

Overinflating or underinflating the tires is likely to cause severe problems for the rider. That being said, the pressure of the bike’s tires should be reduced on terrains and increased if you weigh high. 

Why is Tire Pressure Important?

As previously mentioned, under or overinflating the tires can cause problems for the rider. Have you ever imagined the types of issues that are likely?

Well, to start with, it would hamper the bike’s performance without the correct tire pressure for any bike, whether hybrid, stationary, or any other type of bike. 

The pressure of the bike’s tires can be affected in two ways. It can affect the grip of the tire and the rolling resistance. These impacts on the bike will adversely affect the speed you try to achieve. 

You should know that the less the firmness of the bike’s tires, the more surface the tires will be able to contact. That affects the grip and rolling resistance of the bike. 

If you want to have the best riding experience, it is highly recommended to fix the firmness of your bike tires at a pressure not too high or too low. 

The pressure of tires is measured in Pound for Square Inch (PSI). A low PSI allows you to control your bike better. However, it is highly recommended not to keep the pressure too low. And therefore, the overall ride can be expected to be comfortable. 

While you try attaining the correct pressure, remember that maneuvering can be tricky. That might require you more air to enhance the softer tires. You can use an air pump to get the extra air. 

Increasing the tire pressure will likely enable you to a higher speed while riding the bike. However, depending on a lower PSI won’t be as comfortable.

Besides, tubeless tires enable you with the benefit of not losing any performance perks with a lower pressure than with more air pressure and higher PSI. It is because of the absence of an inner tube in tubeless tires. It minimizes the risks of punctures.

How to Figure Out the “Correct” Tire Pressure for Your Bike

The rule of thumb is always to ride less than what is mentioned on the tires. Technically speaking, the tires should create a square base while riding. It implies that the whole surface of the tire should come in contact with the surface of the ground. 

The best way to go about it is to check the tire by finding a curb and pushing into it. The tire should surround the obstacle without affecting the rim. 

While you check the pressure, most of the pressure is near the rear wheel. That requires you to ride with about 4 lbs more pressure in the tire than the front tire. If you are nervous about the softness of your bike’s tire to start with, you can begin with a 27.5-inch tire mountain bike.

Get a tire with a tube with 38 PSI for the back and 36 PSI for the front tire. If you have tubeless tires for your mountain bike, starting with 28 and 26 PSI tires for the back and front tires, respectively, would be wise. 

Furthermore, if you have a plus bike, you can reduce the pressure to 22 and 18 PSI for the tires. In simple words, the softer you can run the tires of your mountain bike, the better and longer you can ride your bike.

What Air Pressure for Which Type of Bike?

Different types of bikes have different requirements of tire pressure. The criterium for narrow tires is high pressure than the wide tires. Road bikes have narrow tires, and mountain bikes have wide tires. 

The sizes of the different tires and the riding applications influence the firmness of the bikes’ tires. If you want to maximize the speed on the tarmac, road bikes require minimum rolling resistance and need to have enough pressure to make them sufficiently firm to roll speedily with minimum contact with the surface. 

On the contrary, mountain bikes require maximum traction because they are ridden on rough terrains. 

Here are the general pressure guidelines for the different types of bikes.

Bike TypeTire SizePSI
Road0.9-1.1 in90-120
Mountain2.0-2.5 in15-35
Gravel1.2-1.7 in25-40

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    How often should I inflate my bike tires?

It would be ideal for checking your tire pressure before every ride and pumping the air pressure as required. It would hardly take two minutes for this purpose. Also, this would keep you on the safe side as you take your bike on a long ride.

2.    How do I inflate my bike tires?

The process of inflating the tires of your bike is quite straightforward. Follow these steps, and you’ll be good to go.

  1. Take a pump with a built-in pressure gauge.
  2. Learn about the pressure requirement for the type of bike and tire you have.
  3. Undo the cap of the tire valve. 
  4. Secure the pump to the tire valve. 
  5. Pump in the suitable pressure into the tires. 
  6. Detach the air pressure pump and replace the cap of the tire valve. 

And you’re done. 

3.    What happens if I add too much air?

It is highly recommended to follow the suggested PSI engraved on the sidewalls as per the bike type and the rider’s weight to ensure safety and performance. Overinflation is as risky as underinflation. Overinflation can limit the traction needed for the bike to offer a comfortable ride and is more prone to leaks and bursts. 

See Also:
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