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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mountain bike tire pressure - all you need to know [BikeRadar]


Question: I’m relatively new to mountain biking, so forgive me if this seems silly, but how important is it to follow the recommended tire pressure guidelines? They seem much higher than I feel I should be running.

Answer: Tire pressure is a critical component in getting the most out of your mountain bike. There are a number of variables that go into figuring out the ideal pressure range for a bicycle tire. Many of those are completely out of the control of the manufacturer, causing them to err on the side of caution. “It’s a lawyer thing, for sure,” said Schwalbe's North American OE sales manager Henry Horrocks.

A tire’s maximum pressure is not the pressure at which it will burst like a balloon; more often than not it’s the rim that can’t withstand the pressure. Not all bicycle rims are created equal; some can withstand much higher pressures than others. Companies have no way of knowing which rims you, the consumer, will be pairing with their tires. Consequently, their maximum recommended pressures tend to be conservative.

For mountain bikers, the maximum pressure rating generally isn't the issue, as most riders run well below this number. Many – myself included – often run pressures well below the minimum rating, especially with tubeless setups.

Why go lower? Well, it can allow your tires to roll faster and absorb more trail irregularities, and can increase traction as well as comfort. There are numerous studies that offer supporting evidence (though most focusexclusively on road performance). When it comes to mountain biking, finding one's ideal tire pressure is a qualitative pursuit.

While the maximum pressure rating is a hedge against rim strength, the minimum recommended pressure is a hedge against you, the rider. If the pressure is too low the tire can squirm, roll off the rim, or burp air as you corner. Riding under inflated tires can also cause the casing to flex excessively, leading to premature wear. At best, minimum recommended ratings are educated guesses as to what will work for most people most of the time.

Manufacturer's tire pressure guidelines may get you close, but it will take some experimentation to find the pressure that works for you:
The pressure ranges printed on the sides of your tires are educated guesses 

The variables that impact tire performance can be broken down into six categories, and while companies might not be able to account for all of them, you can.

Six things to consider when finding your perfect tire pressure...

Continue reading at BikeRadar

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