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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
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    14,645

    How much does tire pressure really matter?

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    Just saw this summary of an article from Bicycle Quarterly from a couple of years ago.

    Unfortunately the test protocol isn't online (even for purchase). I'd like to know more about it before taking it as gospel (how many riders participated, how much did each weigh, geometry of each bike and how many different bikes in each class were tested) - but it's interesting anyway, and I'll experiment with lower pressures now that I'm getting back on the road bike once in a while.

    Anyone have access to old issues? Be sure to read the comments, which include a lot of participation from BQ's editor, apparently the test author, as well as some strenuous discussion of a conflicting test. Most interesting to me is the author's belief that higher pressure FEELS faster, possibly because of the higher frequency vibration translated through the bars - but doesn't actually result in higher speed at the same wattage.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 01-29-2015 at 05:46 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West MI
    Posts
    4,308
    Hubby and I have switched to 25 or 28mm tires on our road bikes and pressure no more than 110psi and have found 0 decrease in speed...if anything they make us faster, since they're comfier on the rougher chip sealed roads we have around here. Nothing like rough roads to totally eat pace.
    Kirsten
    run/bike log
    zoomylicious


    '11 Cannondale SuperSix 4 Rival
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,825
    I might have a link to the original study buried deep in my email. I will have to check. I have a friend who is a total economist statistical nerd (and I mean no disrespect by that), and he swears by BQ's tire study results. He sent me one or two articles a few years back.

    I switched from 23 to 25 on my Madone early last year (I think it was early last year). I noticed no difference in comfort or speed. Also noticed no difference in comfort when I dropped the psi from 100 to 90. I did seem to ride a bit more slowly at 90 so I went back to 100.

    By way of disclaimer, most of the roads I ride on are in decent shape, and there's not much chipseal.

    During the brief period when I had the Bontrager TLR wheels on my bike with my 25 mm Gatorskins, the discomfort level was huge. In that case, dropping the tire pressure helped but did not solve the problem. Switching to different wheels solved the problem.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    4,389
    I'm totally lazy about pumping up my tires… (and light enough to not worry too much about pinch flats) I can tell you from experience that I notice the difference in effort (and am prodded into topping them up) once the pressure in my tires drops to around 80 or lower. I generally put them up to around 95-100 when I do fill them, which totally jives with the data in the article. As far as road chatter goes… I get the feeling that your handlebars and fork and seat post offer a greater opportunity to introduce comfort into your ride than your tires. While I was waiting for my carbon seat post to come in I had a cheap alu one for a few weeks. The change in the road feel when I switched it was immense.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,448
    Something tells me you might appreciate these articles from Google Scholar.

    I live on Google Scholar since returning to school.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    Once I can move around a little better I will go through our BQ's pretty sure I have them all. I smile. We don't even stock anything narrower than a 28 in tires or tubes.
    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Something tells me you might appreciate these articles from Google Scholar.

    I live on Google Scholar since returning to school.
    Cool! Thanks
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    70
    There's a link to the BQ Tire Pressure: Data and Details article at the bottom of that BQ page.

    Here's a link to the previous BQ article on Tire Pressure Drop that gives recommended tire pressures depending on the geometry of your bike (i.e., rando vs race vs touring) and your weight.

    Here's a cool tire pressure calculator app.

    I usually ride 25mm Michelin Pro4 Endurance tires, which run on the wider side, probably closer to 26mm. I've usually run my tires around 80 psi on front and 85 psi on the rear for the comfiest ride without feeling sluggish. I just got new wheels with wide 25mm rims on my carbon bike and had to drop the pressure to 75 psi on the front and 80 psi on the rear since the ride felt a lot harsher on the new wider rims.
    Last edited by MarieV; 03-03-2015 at 12:05 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    MarieV - THANKS SO MUCH for putting up the links. My life has been a bit nuts and I totally spaced I had offered.
    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Posts
    5
    its really important that pressure is good or else you'll have to put more efforts in pedalling.

 

 

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