Adding air to tires is a tedious little task that most of us save for once a week. You know how it works. Before a ride, you press your thumb on each tire. If it doesn’t sink to the rim, it’s “mañana” for the pump and off you go.
But there’s at least one very good reason for topping off your tires before each ride (besides avoiding pinch flats and possible rim damage).
Consistently full inflation makes you a better rider. This is because your bike will handle the same way on every ride.
There can be significant differences in steering, cornering and traction between, say, inflation of 85 psi (which feels firm to your thumb) and the 100-110 max psi that a tire can accept.
So, let’s say you do lots of your riding on relatively soft tires. Then what’s the first thing you do when getting your bike ready for a club ride, event or race? Right — you pump up to your full, normal pressure.
The result: Your bike no longer behaves quite the same as you’ve grown accustomed to.
Racers know this tip. They accept the hassle of topping off their tires before every ride. They want their bikes to act the same in training and racing. It’s a valuable benefit from spending one minute with a pump each day.
Learn more about tire pressure
Everything You Think You Know About Tire Pressure is Probably Wrong
David Frost says
The implication in your example is that more pressure = more traction. In wet conditions, that is incorrect. Dry roads, it seems doubtful. I’m a believer in Frank Berto’s 15% drop method.
Yes, implication is more pressure is better. This is not true. Lower pressure than the max allowed for the tire is not necessarily optimum. Lower than max pressure means faster times (as pros found) and softer rides. Optimum tire pressure depends on rider weight…and total bike plus rider weight on front and rear wheels (front will require less pressure than rear wheel). There are foumula for determining optimum tire pressure for front and rear wheel. Many riders who pump their tires before each ride ride at pressures above optimum.
I think the implication is mostly that consistent pressure is better because the handling characteristics of your bike that are dependent on tire pressure will be the same. Which my own experience bears out. I can tell when my tire pressures are off. And I totally concur that one should find a tire pressure calculator that bases inflation pressure on the combined weight of the bike and rider. If you are inflating to the max pressure listed on the sidewall you are probably not having an optimal experience (unless you know from experimentation that’s what you want).
I wanted to add that the skinnier your tires the more you need to check this. My wife has 25c tires and I have to pump them up for every ride to around 90lbs for her. I have 32c Conti GP5000 tires on my endurance bike inflated (at a combined bike/rider weight just under 200lbs) to 60lbs and they’ll keep that pressure for quite a while. Not that I don’t check, but I often find I don’t need to fill them before each ride. (Neither setup is tubeless).
Road Bike Rider says
Yes, the implication was intended to be consistency, and not that higher pressure is better. But I can see how it could be misunderstood and probably should have made it clearer with some editing.
j. pontbriand says
the inflation charts can be amazing! as a 265 lb super clydesdale some of the charts would have me inflating my tires to around 400 lbs!!!! i have been riding 95 in the rear and 90 in the front for years without ever having any problems whatsoever. of course, one probably should not select 10 dollar bargain of the week tires(!) and yes i check inflation before any and every ride, make it like clicking your seatbelt before you even start the car!
[email protected] says
Thank you for providing the rationale for what some of my riding friends consider obsessive behavior. 🙂
Kerry Irons says
Here’s my problem with this recommendation. I pump my tires once per week because that is all they need. Typically three strokes from my Silca Super Pista. If I pumped every day, that would be 1/2 stroke of the pump each day. What is the point? I’m using standard Michelin A1 butyl tubes. If I get to a situation where I need to pump more frequently, I know that I have developed a “sleak” (slow leak). Is it just me?