View Full Version : Road Bike Tire Pressure/Size Article

02-24-2006, 11:36 AM
(Got this via my cycling club e-mail. Sounds like a cool thing to subscribe to, though!)


You can read this issue online at http://www.roadbikerider.com/233tt.htm

Uncle Al: Inflation Revelation o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o

Tire pressure is one of the most controversial and misunderstood elements of road riding. Most roadies are under the mistaken impression that unless pressure is well over 100 pounds per square inch (psi) it's like they'll be dragging around a boat anchor. Tire manufacturers perpetuate this myth by stamping a Maximum Tire Pressure value on the sidewall. For road tires, this can range from 110 psi to an astronomical 170 psi. Combine these pressures with the super-stiff, radial-spoked wheels many riders are now using, and the result is some serious self-abuse.

Based on 40 years of wrenching and my discussions with tire experts and pro riders, there's no compelling reason to run more than 95 psi for 95% of your riding. Our roads are deteriorating faster than politicians can spend our tax dollars, and really high pressure means a really harsh ride. I could also mention poor cornering, short tire life, and the promise of many punctures.

The key here is to ride the tire size that matches your weight. Many roadies are running 700x23C no matter what they weigh. If you're over 180 lbs. (82 kilos), 25C is a better choice. For us "Clydesdales" over 205 lbs. (93 kilos), 28C is the smart size. I'm talking fast recreational riding here, not racing or touring. Racers can go narrower and tourers should go wider.

If your tire size corresponds to your weight, you can run 90-95 psi and not risk pinch flats. I guarantee you will roll just as fast or faster than you think you do on higher pressures. You'll descend and corner faster (and safer). You'll suffer fewer punctures, and your tires will last as much as five times longer.

So if you're a max-pressure person, try lowering the psi and upping the size (if your weight says you should). Wean yourself off high pressure bit by bit if you wish till you?re down to 90 psi front and 95 rear. Then experience the suppleness your tires are supposed to possess. Check out how much smoother cornering is, how much more comfortable you are, and how much less fatigue you feel at the end of your rides. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

02-24-2006, 01:06 PM
Good advice on tire pressure. I used to always get 2-3 times the life out of a sew-up tire as other riders because I didn't run the pressure too high. Being lighter weight probably helped too.

Aint Doody
02-24-2006, 03:18 PM
Thanks, Nancy! I can't wait to try this.

02-24-2006, 05:09 PM
I'm going to try about 100 miles tomorrow at 98 psi. I usually run about 105-110. I think my tires are rated to 120 or 130.


02-25-2006, 04:28 AM
Thanks for the tip! I've been running high pressure thinking it helps with the puncture problems!