The days we pushed the tire pressure on the bike to maximum, hoping to optimise performance, are long over.
Today we know that the best tire pressure depends on the size of the tire, the weight of the cyclist (and the bike) and the riding style – which can lead to customising the pressure. Lower pressures optimise tire comfort and grip. They also result in fewer punctures – a thick, soft tire rolls over debris that would puncture an inflated high-pressure tire.
Front and Rear
The weight balance of the bike weighs about 70% on the rear wheel. However, when braking hard, almost all the weight shifts to the front wheel. Also, downhill our weight moves towards the valley, therefore on the front wheel. For these reasons, it is rarely advisable to use a lower pressure in the front.
Even lower pressure on the bike?
On rough surfaces, many cyclists prefer pressures even lower than the “Soft” values. This increases the rubber’s ability to absorb vibrations, which translates into speed and comfort. It is a matter of compromise: you have to adapt your driving style. If you keep too low pressures on solid, high-grip surfaces, the tire can collapse when cornering or braking. It is easier to run into a puncture due to hitting a stone or a step. Tires flex even more at ultra-low pressures so the sidewalls can wear out faster.
How does riding style affect tire pressure? Cyclists who have rough, angular rides with sharp turns need to maintain slightly higher tire pressure. Low pressure can lead to dechapping, or a situation where the tire carcass can no longer hold up and bends towards the outside of the curve. It is a situation that can also lead to a fall. However, it only occurs under ultra-low pressures, as it sometimes happens in cyclocross. On road, it is a really infrequent situation.
The proper tire pressure on the bike will make the bike a little faster and more comfortable, but the difference isn’t huge. You will not be left cut off from your friends because you are using too high or too low pressures. It is clear now that more pressure does not equal more speed, as was once thought. But it is also good not to overdo it on the opposite side.
More critical than tire pressure is choosing flexible tires that offer more speed and comfort than rigid tires. So not just a good tread, but above all, a quality carcass.
thanks to Renehersecycles for the consultancy.