Today’s question is about deciding on the correct tire pressure for road bike tires…

Hi,

Wha’st the correct tire pressure for your road bike tires? I’ve heard 100, 110 and 120 lbs. Does it depend upon weight? I’m about 6’1″‘ and weigh 165lbs.

Thanks,
Under Pressure

Hi U.P.,

Yep, you got it – correct tire pressure depends on weight, as well as riding conditions and personal preference. And sometimes even the tire itself.

Getting the right tire pressure isn’t as simple as “if you weigh X pounds, use Y psi in your tires,” but it’s not complicated – it just requires some trial and error.

You’re off to a good start because you didn’t mention the maximum pressure listed on the tire’s sidewall! Some people confuse maximum tire pressure with recommended tire pressure and end up with a very harsh ride!

A general rule of thumb is that for most road cyclists, expect to use somewhere from 90-120 psi.

Take me for example:

My racing weight is around 165lb and I like 110psi in the rear tire, 100psi up front. At 165, you shouldn’t need more than 110psi in either tire. (Even at 175-180lb in the off-season, I don’t increase my tire pressure.)

It takes some trial and error to find your sweet spot, but anywhere in the 90-110psi range should work well for you.

[Now on to part 2…]

Hi Levi,

Thanks for the quick and helpful response. By the way, how do you know when you’ve found your sweet spot?

That’s hard to say exactly. I think of the sweet spot as being comfortable, but the tires aren’t squishy.

But you also want the ride to be as fast as possible, without sacrificing traction. Realistically speaking, it’s pretty complicated to test all that objectively, so you just try out some different pressures and see what feels right!

I would pick a tire pressure somewhere in the middle, say 100 psi, and ride like that for a week. If the tires feel squishy and/or squirm during hard accelerations and cornering, go up to 110 psi the next week. If they feel too hard and give you a bouncy ride, go down to 90 psi.

Then make adjustments in 5 psi increments until you figure out what you like best. Eventually, you should have found your sweet spot!

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