How hard should my tyres be?
It's a common question we hear from all types of bike users - the more experienced commuter and sport riders to the most occasional of fair weather riders.
There's a lot of talk about performance and tyre pressure but in this brief guide we intend to keep it simple. You need enough air in your tyres to prevent damage to the wheel or inner tube when you ride over a pothole, but no so much that you risk blowing the tyre off the wheel rim.
How to I know what the pressure range of my tyre is?
Most modern tyres on adult bicycles are designed to be inflated to 4-6 bar (55-85psi) with some narrow tyres on racing bikes going as high as 7-10 bar (101-145psi)! Luckily almost all tyres come with a maximum pressure indication moulded into the side of the tyre and sometimes it is also printed on tyre along with the manufacturers logo. Sometimes a minimum pressure or an 'inflate to..' statement is also provided.
Either way this tells you what the maximum pressure rating is and serves as a guide when inflating your tyres.
So what do I pump them to?
The general consensus is that the harder you tyres are the less likely you are to get a puncture. On this basis you can safely pump your tyres all the way to the max indicated on the sidewall. If you find the ride is too hard and you are feeling every little bump in the road you can reduce the pressure a little bit or as low as the lower number on the tyre. It is generally not a good idea to run your tyres lower than this to avoid punctures or damage.
Tip: When you fit the inner tube, align the valve of the tube with the pressure marking on the tyre. That way you don't have to hunt for it when you are pumping your tyre!
How often should I pump my tyres?
German tyre manufacturer Schwalbe recommends you check and pump your tyres at least every 30 day. We say don't argue with the Germans!
Contrary to popular belief tyres don't explode as a direct result of over pumping them. Modern tyres are tested to well over 2x the maximum pressure rating and will only blow off the wheel or blow a hole in the tyre if something's not right. See our ucoming trouble shooting guide to tyre and tube problems for a detailed exploration of the topic.