When trying to measure the pressure of bike tires, the unit called PSI is usually used. PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch. The amount of PSI that your bike will need depends on a number of factors. In this article, we will be looking at bike pressure extensively and the correct PSI to pump your bike tires to.
The PSI that your bike should be at depends on a number of factors like the type of bike you are riding, your own weight, the purpose your bike serves you, and so on. The thing is, recommended PSI levels for tires vary. There is no one-size-fits-all PSI for bike tires. You will have to determine the best PSI for your bike tires on your own.
Gone are the days when bike riders would just buy 23c bike tires for their bikes and put them on the road. Usually, these riders would pump their tires to 110PSI for every biking journey, and then they would allow a little air to get out in order to give the tire a good grip. Times have changed obviously. 25c tires are increasingly becoming the norm. Apart from the rising popularity of 25c tires, the cycling community is now aware that setting their bike tires to a lower pressure would allow for more comfortable riding, will give the bike tires a better grip, and also a better contact patch. Debates are still ongoing about which bike tire pressures are best for riding and which ideal tire parameters allow for optimum bike performance.
Let’s look at an important factor called Rolling Resistance
The higher the tire inflation pressure, the lower the tire’s rolling resistance. Rolling resistance means the opposition the tire gives to rolling on the ground. High rolling resistance is simply not good for your tires. But a low rolling resistance is very good. So, once again, the higher the pressure the tires are inflated to, the lower the rolling resistance of the tire. Also, the likelihood of a tire getting punctured is very low when the pressure of the tire is high as well. So, this means that a high-pressure tire is a good parameter for your bike tires to have. Another thing to note is that the more your bike tires are on low pressure on a continuous basis, the more the tire of the bike will wear prematurely. So, a continuously low-pressure tire can result in sidewall crack of the tires, and a high tire abrasion. All these go to show that high tire pressure is more favorable to your tire than low tire pressure.
What do all these mean for your tire pressure and PSI then?
In order to determine the correct inflation pressure for your tires, you need to consider factors like, the amount of weight /load that will be exerted on the bike tires and the sort of riding you are going to do. The bike weight/load is the combination of the weight of the bike rider, the bike itself, and any other luggage you put on the bike.
Also, different people have different tastes and preferences as to how the rolling resistance of their bikes should be. So, depending on the type of ride quality you want, you should set your bike pressure/PSI to suit it.
Another important fact to note is that narrow bike tires need a higher inflation pressure than wide bike tires. Also, the more load that you give/put on the bike, the higher the inflation pressure in PSI that you will have to pump it with. So, for every added Kg of weight that you have to put on your bike, the more you should add 1% to the PSI.
Which PSI is suitable for my bike?
So, to know the PSI to pump your bike tires with, look at the tire sidewall. There will be minimum and maximum inflation pressure recommendations written there. You can start working with that first. So, if your tires have small diameters/are narrow, you will need a higher inflation pressure/PSI but it must not exceed the maximum PSI stated on the tire sidewall.
The advantage of low-pressure inflation also exists though. Low tire pressure has its benefits/advantages too. For example, if your bike tires are inflated to a low PSI, the tires will have more grip levels on the ground. This is because when you reduce a tire’s PSI, the tire will have more contact patch. When the contact patch increases for a tire, it will increase in grip level. So, if for example, you want to ride your bike on a rainy day or the floor is wet, a PSI of about 7 is recommended. This is because an increased grip level is for your bike tires on a wet day. And only a low PSI can give you that grip level you need.
Another advantage of low PSI is that it is more comfortable to ride on. This does not mean that you should drop your inflation pressure levels too low. It should not be less than the minimum PSI written on the bike tire’s sidewall. So, check to make sure you are within the range. Also, a very low PSI can cause a phenomenon know as, “snake bite”. This happens when the tire pressure is too low hence, the inner tube of the tire gets trapped in between the rim and the tire itself.
But a huge disadvantage to low inflation pressures is the high rolling resistance that your bike tire develops.
So, in summary, if you are looking for speed with your bike, a higher PSI is recommended. If you are looking for comfort while riding, a lower PSI is recommended. For example, with good road conditions, a 25c bike tire can be inflated up to 8.5PSI for speed.
This is just a guess. The ultimate PSI to use for your bike tires depends on your weight, your type of bike, what purpose you intend to use the bike for, the road conditions while riding, the rolling resistance you want, the amount of comfort you want while riding and more. We can’t just recommend a fixed PSI for you because there are so many factors that come into play when deciding. So, use the guide and explanation we have given above to figure out which PSI is best for your bike tires.
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