Are your tires inflated just right or are they a little low on pressure? What if you overfilled your tires? Neither are great scenarios to be in. Underinflated tires are likely to lead to a whole host of issues.
These include some tires wearing down faster than others, heat building up in the affected tire, difficulty braking, and a decrease in fuel economy. In some situations, your tire could even come off!
Overinflated tires aren’t much better. You’ll be uncomfortable as you ride since your overfilled tires handle differently. Your contact patch is lessened as well. Also, although it’s unlikely, overinflated tires could explode in certain conditions.
That’s why having the right tire pressure is so important. It’s not just for a smooth ride, but for a safe one, too. In this article, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to know about bike tire pressure.
Table of Contents
What’s the Correct Tire Pressure for a Road Bike?
Let’s begin by discussing the tire pressure for road bikes and mountain bikes. What is the correct tire pressure for a road bike? There’s actually no one specific answer.
That’s why we recommend you consult your bicycle owner’s manual to get a tire pressure range to follow. If you by chance lost your owner’s manual, you can always check out this handy chart.
|Tyre Width||60kg / 132lb||85kg / 187lb||110kg / 242lb|
|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||6.5bar / 94 psi|
|37c||4 bar / 50 psi||5 bar / 72 psi||6 bar / 87 psi|
Table courtesy of Cycling Weekly
As you can see, road bike tire pressure is dictated by several factors. These include the width of your tires and your weight.
Since this is a UK resource, the tire width is in centimeters. Let’s say you had bike tires that are 23 centimeters or about nine inches. You weigh 187 pounds. That means your tire pressure should be 115 pounds per square inch (PSI).
Let’s do another example. Now you have a bigger bike, one with tires that are 37 centimeters or about 15 inches wide. You weigh 242 pounds. You’d need a tire pressure of 87 PSI.
The bigger your tires, the lower the PSI. Just look at the above chart for confirmation of that. Tire pressure needs will always increase with your weight.
What about for a Mountain Bike?
If you’re riding a mountain bike instead of a road bike, the tire pressure is not going to be the same. According to ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine, the PSI varies if you have tubed or tubeless mountain bike tires.
If you use tubed tires that are between 2.35 and 2.4 inches, the pressure per tire should be 29 PSI. For tubeless tires that are the same size, the pressure should be slightly lower, just 26 PSI.
For larger tires, such as those that are three inches or bigger, the PSI increases. For tubed tires of that size, it’s 20 PSI, and for tubeless tires, it’s 18 PSI.
Want to know more about Fixing And Preventing Flat Tires?Check our article.
How to Check Your Bike Tire Pressure
If your bike tires aren’t completely empty, then they have at least some pressure. How do you know just how much pressure is okay and if your tires need to be inflated more (or even less)? You have to learn to read your bike’s tire pressure.
We recommend you use a tire pressure gauge if you’ve never tested the tire pressure of your bike before. While you can get a read without a gauge (and we’ll tell you how later), it can be difficult if you’re inexperienced.
First, you want to park your bike somewhere. Next, you want to figure out which type of valve your bike has. Here’s a pretty good guide we put together that should help you identify the valve on your own bike.
Once you’ve got that figured out, you need to connect the pressure gauge to the valve. Now apply some downward pressure. You should see the gauge’s needle jump up. The pressure reading you get is how full your tires are.
If your tire pressure is good, then you can hop on your bike and keep riding. If the pressure is higher than you want, you’ll want to release some air. Depending on which type of valve you have, the way you do so varies.
For instance, if yours is a Presta valve, then you’ll want to find the top of the valve and turn it. Now push down on the valve and you should hear air coming out. Do this in increments, checking the tire pressure as you deflate. You don’t want the tire pressure to be too low!
If it is, you can always fill the tires back up again. You have several options for doing so:
- a CO2 inflator
- a mini pump,
- or a floor pump
If you want to know the differences between inflators and pumps as well as which products we recommend, clickhere.
Can You Check Your Bike Tire Pressure without a Gauge?
No gauge? No problem! You’re not necessarily out of luck if you forgot your gauge at home or don’t have one to begin with. There are still ways to read your bike’s tire pressure. Let’s discuss these methods now.
The first one entails you grabbing your bike tire between your index finger and thumb. Squeeze the tire. If it feels a little empty, you might want to fill the bike up. If the tire feels very firm, then the tire pressure is likely too high. You should be able to pinch the tire ever so slightly. That tells you the pressure is good.
Another trick is using puddles to your advantage. Ride through a puddle and then to dry land. Do your bike tires trail a lot of water behind you? If you have a thicker water trail, then more of the tire was hitting the ground beneath the puddle. That means you could probably afford to inflate the tires up a little.
If you want a more scientific, reliable method of testing your bike’s pressure without a gauge, try a calculator. The PSI Calculator is a great choice. It accommodates for tire drop, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Here’s what you have to calculate:
- How much your bike weighs
- How much you weigh (adding that to your bike weight)
- Tire length in millimeters
- Weight distribution of your bike
Once you have all that info, you’re good to go! The PSI Calculator will give you both the front and rear PSI for your bike tires. We recommend saving the calculator link to your phone and bringing it up when you’re on-the-go and want to test your tire pressure.
If you’re new to biking and testing your tire pressure, the PSI Calculator especially is a great replacement for a gauge. It takes a lot of the guesswork out, which ensures more accurate PSI readings even as a beginner rider.
Why Does My Bike Tire Keep Going Flat?
Why You Need to Check Your Bike Tire Pressure Regularly
No matter which type of bike you have, be it a road bike, a mountain bike, or anything else on two wheels, tire pressure is not one and done. Once you know your tire pressure, that only really applies to that one ride. The next time you go out on your bike, you’d ideally want to test your tire pressure again.
While any small weight fluctuations on your part are unlikely to influence your tire pressure, there are many other factors that could. How long did you ride? Using your bike will cause gradual tire pressure shifts.
Another major factor when it comes to your bike’s tire pressure is where you ride. Here’s a chart that appeared in Bicycle Quarterly to show you what we mean.
Image courtesy of Bicycle Quarterly
This chart, which comes from Frank Berto, measures what’s called tire drop. This determines the effect that pressure and load has on a tire. When this chart was first published, which was more than 20 years ago, it was determined that the tire drop should be about 15 percent.
Since today’s tires are bigger than those measured in the original chart, that tire drop percentage doesn’t hold as true anymore. Your tire drop may be higher or lower than 15 percent, but not by a huge margin.
Finally, one of the biggest factors that changes tire pressure is the weather. According to a 2014 Patch article, when the temperatures outside go up by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your pressure will increase by at least one PSI. If it’s colder weather and you’re riding outside, for a 10-degree temperature drop, you’ll lose one PSI or more.
This time of year then, when the weather is still incredibly cold, you’ll more likely lose tire pressure. That means you can fill the tires on a Monday and by Wednesday you’ll have to fill them again because the weather is making you lose pressure.
You have to be careful in the summertime as well. After all, when you fill your tires, you get them to just about the correct pressure. All that heat and humidity can boost the tire pressure, which puts you at risk of overinflation. Test your tire pressure often!
Your bike’s tire pressure is not a static number. It changes depending on your weight, the bike weight, the type of bike you use, and the types of tires. The terrain you ride on and the temperature outside, hot or cold, can also increase or decrease the PSI.
That’s why we recommend you test your tire pressure often, at least every day before you ride. Whether you use a gauge or a calculator to get the right number, if you take care of your tires, they’ll take care of you.
A typical range for these would be between 80 and 130 psi, although racers can sometimes go as high as 160 psi. Quick tip if you're caught inflating a road tire without a gauge and need to ballpark it: at 100 psi, a tire can barely be compressed with your thumb.What is the correct air pressure for bike tires? ›
Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and avoid flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 65 to 95 psi (pounds per square inch); mountain bike tires, 15 to 25 psi; and gravel tires, 25 to 40 psi.What is the PSI for a 26 inch bike tire? ›
26" = 40 - 50 psi. 27.5" = 40 - 50 psi. 29" = 35 - 45 psi. Use an air pressure gauge to check your psi before every ride for a faster, safer, more enjoyable ride!How much PSI for 700c tires? ›
|Continental GrandPrix 5000|
|700 X 32C||85-100psi|
|700 X 28C||95-115psi|
|700 X 25C||95-120psi|
|700 X 23C||110-120psi|
20-inch bike tires would generally use a PSI between 30 and 50. The exact optimal PSI would depend on the manufacturer's suggestions, the terrain, and the type of riding you will be doing.Is 40 PSI good tire pressure? ›
Specifically, the level of 40 psi can be suitable for passenger cars or sports cars. But this is too high for small cars with a recommendation below 35 psi, while 40 psi is too low for large trucks. The recommended level for the tires of famous sports cars and passenger cars is between 32 -40 psi.What PSI should my mountain bike tires be? ›
Typical mountain bike pressures range from 22psi (1.5 bar) to 35psi (2.4 bar), generally with more air in the rear than the front. This is because more of your weight is on the rear, so it needs more support.What PSI should a 24 inch bike tire be? ›
|Rider Weight||Road Tires (23-32mm)||MTB Tires (2.25-2.6”)|
|140-160 lbs||50-70 PSI||18-24 PSI|
|160-180 lbs||60-80 PSI||20-26 PSI|
|180-200 lbs||70-90 PSI||22-28 PSI|
|200-220 lbs||80-100 PSI||24-30 PSI|
Ideal Tire Pressure
Tire pressure between 32 to 35 PSI is most suitable for most vehicles. However, one can go as low as 20 PSI (although that is not recommended). Anything below 20 PSI is considered a flat tire.
If you're riding on a perfectly smooth velodrome, higher pressures are faster. However, on imperfect surfaces, such as roads, very high pressures simply increase vibrations and can slow you down.
Pumping bike tires at a gas station
If you're out riding and your tires need air, you could give them a quick inflate with a CO2 injector, like the one we reviewed. But if you don't have a CO2 injector in your bag, and you forgot your mini pump, then you can pull into a gas station and inflate your tires there.
That's because they're designed to lean into corners. Another key difference is that bike tires are narrow and inflated to a relatively high air pressure. This means less water is in contact the leading edge of the tire, and the high tire pressure is more efficient at pushing water out from under the tire.What is the tire pressure for a 29 inch bike? ›
For wet conditions, and for trails/mountain biking, the PSI range for 29ers should be between 14.7 PSI and 22.8 PSI, and for dry conditions between 16.4 PSI and 25.4 PSI. However, never go above the recommended PSI stated on the tire.What is the tire pressure for a 16 inch bike? ›
On average, folding bike tires should be pumped to 26 PSI for 27.5-inch diameter tires, and to 55 PSI for 16-inch diameter tires for a person who is an average weight (187 lbs or 85 kg). Folding bike tires range in size from about 16 inches in diameter to 27.5 inches in diameter.What is the 4 psi rule? ›
The 4psi Rule
If your tyre pressures have increased by 4psi then you're spot on with your starting tyre pressures and there's nothing else to do – easy.
The high air pressure will distort the tire's shape, allowing only the middle of the tire to touch the road and focusing the wear down the center. While quickly worn tires are a serious problem, the distorted shape can also cause a decrease in traction, again making it a danger to drive.Does tire pressure affect ride quality? ›
Good tire air pressure ensures that tires wear evenly, provide a smooth ride, and increase fuel efficiency. Proper inflation also helps keep accidents like tire blowouts or tread tears at bay.How squishy should bike tires be? ›
How Squishy Should Bike Tires Be? Although bike tires shouldn't be rock hard, you should only be able to feel a tiny bit of give when squeezing your tire – they certainly shouldn't be “squishy”. Indeed, if you sit on your bike and you think your tire looks a little too soft, it almost certainly is.Is 40 psi too much for mountain bike tires? ›
If you're a heavier rider, you may want to start off at around 50 psi for each tire. Lighter riders can go lower and start off at 40 psi. Some mountain bikers will inflate their tires significantly below manufacturers' recommendations. Bikers who do this should be careful.Is 60 psi good for bike tires? ›
The pressure in your tires will determine several factors of the ride quality of your bicycle, namely the performance and the amount of grip. Generally speaking a road clincher tire will take anywhere between 80-120 PSI while a mountain bike tire will take between 30-60 PSI.
Check Tire Pressure without Gauge
For a road bike, you can squeeze the tire on each side, pump the air into the tire until you can barely squeeze it and you are most likely good to go.
Check medium width tyres (hybrids, gravel bikes, most e-bikes) every week or two, and fat tyres (mountain bikes, fat bikes) every two to four weeks. Some types of tyre lose pressure faster. Tubeless tyres tend to be less airtight than those with tubes so need reinflating more often.How high should bike seat be? ›
Finding the correct bike seat height for you
To start, you need to determine your inseam (the distance from your crotch to the bottom of your leg). Then it's time to do a bit of math as it recommends that your bike seat height should be 109 percent of your inseam.
The simple answer to this query is yes, a car tire pump can pump air into your bike. However, the compatibility with the pump depends on the valve installed. Bikes with Schrader valves can be directly filled with car pumps since both are compatible. While for Presta valves, you will need an adapter to fill the air.Is 28 too low for tire pressure? ›
Is 28 psi too low for tires? Most passenger car tires require 32 psi to 35 psi, so, yes, 28 psi is too low for tire pressure. Make sure each tire is filled with the proper pressure and that the stem caps are put back on securely afterwards.Is it better to have over inflated or under inflated tires? ›
If your car is underinflated, then it is going to feel sluggish. Underinflation will also lower the fuel economy of your car and shorten the lifespan of a tire. Overinflating a tire will also shorten its lifespan. The car will also handle more poorly because less of the tire is in contact with the road.Is higher psi better? ›
Higher pressure generally is not dangerous, as long as you stay well below the “maximum inflation pressure.” That number is listed on each sidewall, and is much higher than your “recommended tire pressure” of 33 psi, Gary. So, in your case, I'd recommend that you put 35 or 36 psi in the tires and just leave it there.