Correct Tyre Pressures For Road Bikes

There are many variables to consider when finding the right tyre pressure to use on your road bike, and there’s not one size fits all solution. Gone are the days of inflating road bike tyres to their limits, in order to avoid pinch flats. Tyres which have been inflated to their maximum pressure allowance have been shown not only to be uncomfortable, but to also slow down the bike.

Slight adjustments in your tyre pressures, taking into account the tyres in use as well as your riding preferences and requirements - is one of the best ways to enjoy a comfortable, effective and high performance ride. In this article, we look at some further reasons why tyre pressures are important - and what you can do to make sure that you are running the correct tyre pressures.

Why Worry About Tyre Pressures?

Running the right tyre pressures make every bike ride more enjoyable, comfortable and with less chance of getting a puncture. The right tyre pressures also make each ride quicker, with optimised tyre pressures reducing the amount of rolling resistance - which is the force and drag which your tyres generate when rolling over ground.

If you run tyre pressures which are too low, too much energy is lost between the road and the tyre - and the chances of getting a pinch flat puncture is also increased. If you run tyre pressures which are too high, the ride becomes uncomfortable and energy is wasted. Although high tyre pressures may seem like the fastest and most efficient tyre pressures to run - this is not the case, and the higher the pressure, the less grip and the more vibrations come through the tyre to the bike. 

How to find and change Road Bike Tyre Pressures?

The best way to find out the tyre pressures in your tyre, and change them - is to invest in a cycle track/floor pump which has a pressure gauge. These pumps are good value, and buying the best you can afford, ensures that you have a pump which can last a lifetime. A tyre pressure gauge is also a good investment. 

Tyre Size & Tyre Pressure

Although most tyres are labelled up as a specific size, the actual inflated size of the tyre will actually depend on both the design of the tyre used, as well as the size of the wheel rim. Most road bike tyres now adhere to the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation standards, which have a 19mm internal width. Wheels with a rim width wider than 10mm will increase the width of a tyre, so tyre pressure needs to be lower than the tyre pressure that would be recommended if you were running the tyre on a narrower rim.

Rider Weight & Tyre Pressure

The rider is almost always the majority of the total weight of a riding setup. Therefore a heavier rider will need to run higher tyre pressures than a lighter rider, the same applies if luggage and equipment is being carried. The position of the rider on the bike, also means that it’s sensible to reduce the front tyre pressure by a few PSI compared to the rear.

Bike Tyre Pressure & Road Conditions

The smoother the road surface, the higher tyre pressures can be. On normal roads, such as the ones in the UK - which are rough and full of potholes, a lower tyre pressure increases the risk of puncture, as well as increases comfort. Larger tyres are preferred, as smaller tyres ran at lower pressures can lead to pinch flats.

Bike Tyre Pressure & Road Conditions

Road conditions play an important part in the choice of tyre pressures to run - if it’s wet outside, or it looks like it’s going to rain - it’s well worth dropping the tyre pressures by around 5psi on both the front and back tyre. This lower tyre pressure effectively increases grip levels. Alternatively, if the weather is very warm - be careful not to over inflate tyres, the air in which can expand in warm conditions.

Tubeless Tyre Pressures

If you are running tubeless tyres, remember that you can run and enjoy lower tyre pressures VS tubed bike tyres. The elimination of the chances of pinch flats, means that you can run lower pressures than ever before.

Experimenting with Tyre Pressures

The above points, as well as manufacturer tyre pressure recommendations means that you are equipped with enough knowledge to run tyre pressures which should be about right. From here on out, it’s beneficial to experiment with tyre pressures on your own - reducing tyre pressures a little each time you go out for a right, always start small with tyre pressure changes - and if you keep a keen feel out for differences in riding performance and comfort - you will be able to find the very best tyre pressures for your riding.