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Tire Pressure Optimization

Spending an hour optimizing your tire pressures is a free and most effective use of time to improve your cycling experience.

The old myth is the harder, the faster. 

The reality is too hard, the ride is uncomfortable and a bouncing rear wheel loses traction and power. 

With an optimum pressure bumps are absorbed by the tires, allowing efficient power transfer from the rear wheel being in contact with the ground. Furthermore, this minimize the wasted energy in up and down motion of the bike and rider due to surface roughness. The optimal tire pressure depends on this smoothness, e.g. for a 150 lbs rider on:

  • a velodrome is 155 psi

  • a smooth new tarmac road is 105 psi

  • a normal condition road is 90 psi

  • cobbles is 60 psi

Tire Pressure.JPG

Methodology to determine your optimal tire pressures

  • Start with your bike, your water bottle/pack and your gear as you ride.

  • Find a 1/4 to 1/2 mile trail, with a steep downhill tapering to modest descent, so you can roll at typical riding speeds - without pedaling and without braking (unless needed).

  • Define a start and finish line. on the trail - also define a Strava segment. 

  • Have a fellow cyclist record, your start time (clock time), and time to complete the course.

  • Set the tire pressure, the one recommended in the table below

  • Repeat 3 times the trail timing 

  • Set a new tire pressure in the rear and change the front pressure a similar amount, and repeat.

  • Plot in a graph of the tire pressures vs average times.

  • If you loose track of your data, extract from Strava.

  • My results are plotted to the right.

  • I set my rear to the mid-point of the optimal tire pressure zone.

  • You can repeat for the different front tire pressures while maintaining the rear at the optimum.

Tire Pressures Guide for Body Weight and Tire Width​​

Tire pressure guide.JPG
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