Tyre pressure: Do you go low?

When I first started road cycling, I was very much in the “bang 110psi in both 23mm tyres” camp. It’s just how it was. Hard is fast. Skinny is fast. Who needs comfort when you can go FAST!


These days I’m a little more relaxed, I know that (especially at my weight) higher pressures are not faster and are certainly not very comfortable. Even so, I still have trouble dropping my tyre pressures below 90psi on my 24-25mm tyres. I think it’s a mental thing. My head just says NO!

The roads here range from butter smooth to “pothole or bomb crater” so it’s tough to pick a do-it-all pressure. There’s a corner of my brain that niggles at me to go lower. Even so, I am reluctant to let any more air out of my tubes.


Just recently SRAM released an online pressure calculator. It’s been doing the rounds on social media so I plugged my numbers in and it spat out the following recommended pressures for me…

https://axs.sram.com/tirepressureguide

It seems pretty low and I’m dubious. Of course there is a BIG slice of marketing involved in all of this. The calculator was released alongside ZIPP’s new 303 wheelset, designed to be run at lower pressures and save you 50 watts. Yes, they said fifty watts. Yes, that’s ridiculous. It was also timed to drop with this GCN paid-promotion video:

But maybe they are onto something. After all, I run a lowly 18psi in my tubeless MTB tyres. Unlike many changes it costs nothing to try – unless of course you get a pinch flat then I guess it costs you the price of a CO2 canister, tube or time spent fixing the flat. It’s certainly worth experimenting with.

So, my question to you is – what tyre pressures do you ride? And would you consider going any lower?

18 Comments Add yours

  1. idlecyclist says:

    Are you riding tubeless? I guess that will influence your answer. Personally I’m not, still using tubes and on a 25mm tyre I’m at approximately 100psi rear and 90psi front. Like you I ride on varied roads and I’m wary of going much lower.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. idlecyclist says:

      Interestingly I’m only about 15psi higher than the calculator and considering my pump doesn’t have a digital gauge and I don’t repump the tyres that often I’m probably not far from what they recommend!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Still on tubes. I’m not 100% sold on road tubeless. Off-road it’s great though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. idlecyclist says:

        It seems like a bit of a faff to me as well as the cost of changing tyres and possibly wheels. It can wait until my next bike 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Omil says:

    Another vote for the 90psi mental block. I guess I should be 10psi lower for the rear and a bit more for the front for the ‘right’ pressure – although I’m not sure exactly what that is ‘right’ for.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That sounds ridiculously low unless you are running tubeless. I have continental 25 and 28mm tyres on my bikes and the recommended minimum pressure for them is 95psi (from the continental web site) so I stick with that. For tyre pressures I am more inclined to go with the advice of a tyre manufacturer than advice from Sram.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ericritter65 says:

    Vittroria Rubino Pro 700×25’s front and rear, never anything less than 115psi on both tires. Ride mixed roads and never have an issue with comfort, but I hate feeling like I’m dragging bags of sand with lower than 100 psi in either tire!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you! Not sure I could go quite that high as I’d be bounced all over the rougher roads, but I have no issue giving up a bit of comfort to gain a bit of speed! 😁

      Like

    2. idlecyclist says:

      Vittoria 25s here too but couldn’t ride 115psi! Just switched from 23s and the difference is amazing. Wish I could fit 28s!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. bgddyjim says:

    I’m heavier than you. By… um… a lot. I run 100 psi in my front 25 mm and 102 in my rear. Sounds like I could drop a little up front, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I recon there’s room to experiment there. 👍

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeremy Alan says:

    I am also stuck in the high psi mindset. I like to keep my tires between 90-100. But I’d consider lower on rainy days. That’s about it. My mountain bike is a different story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the low pressure tubeless setup on my mountain bike! Flies over the rough stuff on a cushy 18psi to 20psi.

      Like

      1. Jeremy Alan says:

        Agreed!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to race cross and tyre pressure was the difference between and win and a lose. I actually don’t believe its as important on road than off tbh, just a bit of pseudo science used to market stuff. I used to race TT’s too on 18mm tubs @ 140psi+ and boy they were fast. Nothing has ever come close. I’m 64kg and run 90-100 all round now on 23/25mm and probably drop to 70-80 before I pump them up again. I don’t notice anything massively different, if anything the lower pressure feels sluggish hence I notice I need a top up. I’ve been riding 38mm knobblies on and offroad for weeks now. There is a massive difference offroad if I go too high. Offroad has a sweetspot for your terrain, style and weight, that sweetspot is much bigger and wider on the road so not so important. Just my opinion of course

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the insight! :-) I wasn’t around the sport during the super skinny 140psi days, must have been interesting! Like you, I’ve found tyre pressure makes much less difference on the road and I very much doubt I could tell the difference with a 5psi change, or even 10psi. The bumpier the surface gets though, the more of a difference lower pressure seems to make.

      Like

  8. Amazing article. We provide Michelin all-season Tyres on our online store. Please see our work.

    Like

  9. makagutu says:

    I used to run 60 psi on my tubeless MTB.
    On the 700 well, I think between 90 and 100psi.

    Liked by 1 person

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