What Is The Best Tire Pressure For Bicycle Tires?

What Is The Best Tire Pressure For Bicycle Tires?
Bicycle tire pressure is an important part of bicycle maintenance, handling and safety. This article discusses some basic guidelines for tire inflation.

Ever had a massive blowout with your bicycle tire? One minute you’re cruising down the road next an almighty bang goes off and your tire deflates in milliseconds. Culprit? Over inflation. Really bad news if you are descending down a hill at 70km/h.

BTW. If this does happen to you when you are out riding in a fast and large moving bunch of cyclists – raise your arm up and keep riding straight ahead while you are coasting to a standstill. That way the cyclists can see where you are in the bunch. This helps in two ways. Firstly; it shows them where the large bang came from and that it was only a puncture and secondly; helps them to safely move around you as you are slowing down. As the bunch is going past you try to keep it steady and some momentum going until they pass. Then when its safe move over to the side of the road and stop.

Remember. Higher inflation does not necessary mean less rolling resistance. And.. just because your tire is rated up to 180 psi does not necessary mean that you should pump it up that hard!

While installing some Zipp Tangente tubular tires on some Zipp 404s recently I took notice of their inflation instructions and I believe that they provide some great insight into correct bicycle tire inflation pressures.

Here are their guidelines (recommended for their Zipp Tangente tubular 700 x 23 mm tire)

Recommended bicycle tire pressure by rider weight:

Tire Pressure in psi (bar)

Rider weight in lbs (kg)

Front

Rear

Less than 125 (57)

108 (7.45)

112 (7.72)

125-150 (57-68)

114 (7.86)

118 (8.13)

150-175 (68-79.5)

121 (8.34)

126 (8.68)

175-200 (79.5-91)

130 (8.96)

135 (9.31)

Greater than 200 (91)

140 (9.72)

145 (10.0)

And now the really important stuff

Recommended bicycle tire pressure adjustments by rider context:

Pressure or Pressure Adjustment

Riding Context

Front

Rear

Triathlon/TT

Use rear pressure

Same as above

Rain or Rough Roads

Subtract 3-5 psi

Subtract 4-7 psi

Indoor Track

145 (10.0)

145 (10.0)

Outdoor Track

Add 5-7 psi*

Add 6-10 psi*

* The above tire inflation pressures are recommended for optimal rolling resistance and grip. These pressures are for room temperature tires and rims. Tire pressures may increase as much as 25 psi due to high rim temperatures caused by prolonged braking or as much as 5 psi from high ambient or road surface temperatures.

Ok, so what does this mean? These numbers are given for a high performance tubular tire. I weight 67 kg so generally pump these types of tires up to around 110 psi. This is because most of the roads I race on are considered rough. Based on this chart above I could pump my 700 x 23 mm front tubular bicycle tire up to 109-111 psi and my rear one up to 111-114 psi.

For my training tires Ill only pump them up to 100 psi. This provides me with a nice feel and good traction on the road. It also is well within the tolerances of the tire casing and inner tube. So. Highly reduced chance of a massive blowout. Typical training tires are clincher types like the Continental Gatorskin (pictured) and Vittoria’s Zaffiro Pro and Rubino Pro. Consequentially, these are my personal choices for bicycle training tires.

Remember these training tires are not the high performance bicycle tires like the tubular ones detailed above. Hence the lower tire pressure.

I have come across a few people that have quoted figures of 145 psi as their normal riding pressure for clincher training type bicycle tires. This I consider unnecessary and unsafe.

One important thing to remember is that some clincher rims have a maximum inflation figure around 125 psi! So regardless of your rated inner tube and tire combination, inflating your tire above 125 psi on these rims could compromise the integrity and cause a blowout too.

Related
  • Mel

    Thanks so much for this.

    I’m a complete novice but am going to try cycling to the train station twice a week.

    This’ll be good reference at least. Can’t wait to get into it properly.

    ————————————————————————————————————————————

    Mel |Online Representative at ATS Euromaster

  • Tom Dusky

    The riders weight on the front and rear should be reflected in the tire pressure to get the best ride. The average road bike has 40% weight on the front and 60% on the rear. So 120psi in the rear and 80psi in the front. Use the Bike Tire Pressure Calculator for the best results. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AiAk2_n1YDEidFp6OWpxRHpGdGVXbHQzYy1pX3BMVGc&hl=en#gid=0

    • cyclinginform

      Thanks Tom

  • James Purdy

    “Breaking” , Really. I sure hope my tire doesn’t break when I brake!

    • cyclinginform

      James thanks. We have corrected it. Now it’s the right “braking” :-)