Tyre Pressure for Bikes


Just out of interest, I went along a bike rack in Oxford to get a random sample on the average tyre pressure of commuting bikes. This highly unscientific study went no further than a surreptitious pinch of the tyre to see if the tyre was very soft. Obviously, I had to pretend I wasn’t really doing it. I wouldn’t want people to think I was some kind of nut who went around pinching bike tyres for fun.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the average commuter is riding with too little pressure in their tyres.

Just recently, a friend cycled round, their chain was orange with rust, and the tyres were running on 10psi. You can’t help but offer the basic service. They were amazed at how much quicker the bike was.

If you do one thing to your bike – make sure your tyres are at correct tyre pressure.

The right tyre pressure really does make the journey much easier / faster. It’s the simplest thing to do.

What is the Best Tyre Pressure?

For a commuter, anything between 60psi and 90psi, is going to be fine. I like my road tyres to be around 90-100psi.

The quick test is just to pinch, if the tyre feels fairly solid with only minimal give, then that is fine. If the tyre feels soft and you can make a reasonable impression in the tyre, it needs pumping up.

Different Tyre Pressures for Different Bikes.

For racing you will want different tyre pressures. A higher tyre pressure will give a more bumpy ride, but, can make a worthwhile difference.

Generally Tubular tyres enable a higher tyre pressure, and this is one of their big advantages. For time trials, on relatively smooth roads, I will blow my tubs to 140-150psi About 9bar. This is pretty solid, if you press on the tyre, it will remain completely solid. You definitely need a good foot pump. At this kind of pressure, you will definitely feel any bump. But, I guess when you’re racing, you’re not in it for a nice comfortable ride..

If the race was other a rough road surface I would lower this tyre pressure.

If you do increased tyre pressure to 140-150psi, it is advised to lower the pressure after a race. There is a small chance of explosion if left in a hot environment.

For racing on the track, tyres may be pumped upto 200psi.

Do What it says on the Tin…

Tyres should have recommended tyre pressure on the sidewalls. This will tell you the maximum tyre pressure. For example, for Continental Grand Prix 4000 tyres, the recommended maximum is 110psi.

Don’t exceed the recommended maximum though.


Tips for Commuting by bike

6 Responses to Tyre Pressure for Bikes

  1. Rob M April 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    I agree. Most commuters (in my home town of Manchester) are the same. It’s one of the things I look at when I see another cyclist, how much of an indent there is on the rear tyre.

    At 38 years old I recently bought my first (digital) tyre pressure gauge and noticed I had around 30 psi on a steel frame mountain / road bike. So for the past 20 years I have always used too little pressure but never knew it. I didn’t think bike tyres could stand the 50+ psi I use now.

    I’ve always gone with the ‘tweak for hardness’ method to see how much air was needed. I didn’t think bike tyres were this resilient and safe at high pressure. Although every so often I have to top up the tyres to stay at 50+ psi.

    Why only 50psi? I’m sweating and sticky trying to put that much in with a mini-pump, which is a good form of exercise!

    I carry quite a lot of weight (on the bike, not me) during a 7 miles each way daily commute. I use a non-removable pannier bag setup for my shirt n’ tie work clothes, mini-pump, fingerless gloves for the afternoon when the temps are better, tool kit, waterproof overtrousers and at least one spare innertube.

    Although using Schwalbe punture proof tyres I donate the innertube every few months to the less fortunate cyclists I come across. I usually have to fit it too. So many cyclists, so little mechanical know-how. : )

  2. botogol March 29, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    I run at 110psi for commuting, but less than that if it’s wet and dark.

    potholes can hurt.


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