What PSI for Mountain Bike Tires?

Riding your bike isn’t just simply sitting on the saddle and pedaling your way through the trails. You also need to consider many things such as your tire pressure.

Your tires are the only contact points of your bike to the ground. So, it’s necessary to set them up properly to have the best feel when riding.

The tire pressure is a factor on how your bike moves and performs in the trails. Having too much air on your tire will make it slippery. But it can also make you faster. The opposite thing then happens with lower PSI because you get better grip at the expense of speed.

You need to get that sweet spot to gain confidence and be a better rider.

So how much air are you supposed to put on your mountain bike tires? Here, we’re going to tell what PSI for mountain bike tires is best for you.

What PSI for Mountain Bike Tires is the Best

There is no best tire pressure. It’s because you need to consider several factors that affect how hard or soft your tires should be.

Getting the correct tire pressure also boils down on your preference when riding your bike. You also need to consider your chosen discipline such as XC or downhill, among others.

Factors to Consider When Getting the Correct Tire Pressure

Rider weight

The rider weight affects the amount of air you should put into your tires. The lighter you are, the less air you can put. Meanwhile, you then need to add more PSI when you’re heavier.

Rim width

There’s a limit on how low your PSI can get. This depends on your rim width, which has a huge effect on how your bike feels.

Mountain bike rims are designed to be wider compared to its road counterpart. They run on lower tire pressure to provide more traction on the ground.

It also prevents you from slipping when hitting corners. You need to have a higher tire pressure if you’ve got narrow rims.

Terrain

The terrain or the trail you’re riding has a huge effect on how much pressure you need.

You can go for low tire pressures if you’re riding on smooth and flow trails. It’s a good idea to increase your tire pressure when riding on rocky and technical terrain. This protects your rims and prevents pinch flats.

Tire compound/profile/casing

The construction of your tires has a huge effect on the amount of air you can put. Cross-country single-ply tires are lighter. But they are weaker and can easily puncture.

Meanwhile, enduro and downhill bikes use dual-ply tires. These are heavier but can run on lower PSI. They’re more durable and won’t easily get punctured.

Front and rear tires

Most people run higher pressure on their rear wheel compared to their front wheel. This is because most of the rider’s weight is distributed at the rear section. The rear wheel also goes through a lot of stress as it has more contact with the ground.

Riding style

Take into account your riding style when setting your tire pressure. Assess if you need more comfort and grip over extra protection from aggressive riding.

The way you ride influences how you set up your bike. It’s best to run on higher tire pressure to prevent flats or rim damage if you go on big jumps and drops. High PSI is best if you prefer sketchy sections and rock gardens.

You can then run on lower tire pressure to increase your grip if you ride light or go through clean lines.

The Best Way to Figure Out Your Tire Pressure

The most common tire pressure riders prefer is 30 PSI. You can use this as a basis when setting up your PSI. You can then slowly decrease or increase in increments of 2 to 5 PSI to find that sweet spot. You want to get a balance and a good amount of grip and protection.

Here are the most common PSI measurements according to discipline:

  • Enduro and downhill: 15 to 25 PSI
  • Cross-country: 30 to 40 PSI

But this depends as they sometimes overlap with each other depending on the biker’s preference.

Note that finding that sweet spot takes a lot of trial and error, so take your time. You can also refer to a tire pressure chart. This shows the ideal PSI based on your weight.

Why You Need to Go Tubeless

Going tubeless lets you run on lower tire pressure. This gives extra comfort and grip on the trails while lowering the chances of getting a flat.

The weight reduction and extra puncture protection of tubeless conversion also improves your confidence. It can even minimize the risk of sliding thanks to the extra grip your tires get.

Tips on Getting the Perfect Mountain Bike Tire Pressure

Tips on Getting the Perfect Mountain Bike Tire Pressure

Invest in a tire gauge

Having a tire pressure gauge gives you an accurate tire pressure reading. The gauge attached to your pump usually deteriorates through time. This then gives an inaccurate tire reading.

Having a separate gauge also gives a more accurate reading, even if you use it frequently. This lets you get the correct reading every time you re-inflate your tires.

Consider the trail conditions

Run on different tire pressures depending on the weather. This is important because your bike performs differently on dry or wet trails.

Having high PSI in muddy trails might lead your tires to slip. Soften them up a bit to increase traction on the ground. But it’s recommended that you go for higher PSI if the trails are dry so your bike can run faster.

Record your preferred tire pressures

Jot down your preferred tire pressure on paper or on your phone. Use this as a reference when inflating your tires. Also, record your preferred PSI in different trail conditions.

Conclusion

What PSI for mountain bike tires is the best?

Well, there’s really no exact answer to that because every mountain biker has its own preferred PSI. They adjust them by small increments every ride to fit the specific trail and weather.

Mountain biking has a lot of surprises, even if you ride on your local trails daily. Make it a habit to adjust every setting on your bike before riding. And most especially your tire pressure. This lets you ride your bike in the best and most fun way possible.

Ride safe and ride fast.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.