Tires, too much pressure… or not enough?

Tire pressure has two primary impacts on how your tires perform.

First, it affects grip and the rider’s ability to control and handle the bike in corners or over rough terrain. Second, it affects rolling resistance and the amount of effort and energy a rider need to maintain forward momentum.

flat_bicycle_tire-resized-600

Grip Levels

The more your tire can conform to and make contact with the surface, the greater the grip level it achieves. However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, this means that an over-inflated tire will bounces over a surface and will suffer from a lack of grip… something to consider in rough or wet conditions.

Rolling Resistance

Rolling resistance is how much friction occurs between tire and surface; the greater the friction, the greater the resistance. An under inflated tire will provide too much contact with the surface, and therefore too much rolling resistance. This not only increases the odds of a puncture or “pinch-flat,” it also requires more effort to move the bike. (with an eBike this will also decrease the efficiency and longevity of the charge in your battery).

Surprisingly, an over-inflated tire also increases rolling resistance; because it constantly bounces on the surface, rather than rolling smoothly along it. This “bounce” can also effect the performance and grip of the tire (as mentioned above).

For you to achieve the best balance between grip and rolling resistance, be sure to check the inflation specifications usually found indicated on the side-wall of the tire.

In addition to the recommended pressures indicated on the tires, the best pressure for your bike will depend on the kind of bike you have, and also important factors like rider weight, bike weight when fully loaded, road conditions and weather conditions, etc.

How often should one pump up their tires?

It is important to know that all tires will loose pressure over the days and weeks between rides. Some high-pressure tires will loose between 5 to 10 psi per week. As such, you need to check your tires frequently and then pump them up accordingly to avoid any issues. I highly recommend that all riders should own a proper floor pump with a gauge.

Track-pumps-Active-August-2015

In addition to owning a proper floor pump with a gauge, its also important to ride with a minimum of gear with you, just in case you should suffer a flat with on a rides:

  • Spare tube or patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Mini-pump of other inflation device

Its also important to know how to fix your flat when on the road. It is a relatively simple thing to do, but not something you want to have to learn during an emergency situation. Be prepared and practice this a few times first.

BTW: Pro Tip, anyone with a CAA Membership can take advantage of the CAA’s bike pick-up program. Contact the CAA for details.

Author: Michael Cranwell

With a solid belief that cycling is what truly brings balance to my life, I've turned a passion for bicycles into a vehicle that influences and drives all aspects of who I am and what I do. My sport, my career, my social life... all have been shaped by this amazing invention.

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