Can the right tire pressure (for the rider) be too low (for the tires)?
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  1. #1
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    Can the right tire pressure (for the rider) be too low (for the tires)?

    As titled. For a male rider, me+gear+bike total a minuscule 135lbs. I'm currently running 23c slick tires that have paper-thin sidewalls at 90psi (front+rear) (the manufacturer's recommended minimum is 100).

    However, even at 90psi, I find myself bouncing around on normal terrain. I've experimented with pressures as low as F60-R70, and found the ride quality to be much smoother, but later pumped them back up to ~90 due to concerns over whether or not they'd be safe.

    FWIW, cornering felt fine at 60psi, but being 40psi under the recommended min. is kinda sketchy.

    Thoughts? Thanks.

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    Running lower pressure increases the risk of pinch flats, assuming traditional clinchers with inner tubes. And probably less efficient than the recommended pressure. So it's a trade-off with comfort.
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  3. #3
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    I always run my tire pressure at the lower range. I find the average recommendations too aggressive. For me 75 on my 32's, 80 on my 25's and 90 on my 23's. I rarely get flats.

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    Ignore what is printed on the side of tires.
    My older Corsas say 115-145. That is absurd.

    Flats happen. Pinch flats and others. Just use what you want and if you find you're getting pinch flats, then change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Ignore what is printed on the side of tires.
    My older Corsas say 115-145. That is absurd.

    Flats happen. Pinch flats and others. Just use what you want and if you find you're getting pinch flats, then change.
    When I would use higher pressure more in line with the recommendations I would lose lots of water bottles going over bumps

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek_5200 View Post
    When I would use higher pressure more in line with the recommendations I would lose lots of water bottles going over bumps
    I think higher (too high) pressure also increases the change of flats. They just aren't pinch flats.

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    As long as it's cornering well I'd go back to F60\R70 at your weight. I typically start pumping tires up when I can feel the sidewalls wanting to start collapsing. Or a snakebite\pinch flat.

    Too low a pressure can show up as damage\breaking down of the casing, which may be visible on the sidewall if running skinwall or tan sidewalls.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I think higher (too high) pressure also increases the change of flats. They just aren't pinch flats.
    I agree with this 100%. Hard tires drive debris into the tread while softer tires may allow the tire to conform around the same debris allowing the tire to roll over the debris without picking it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanE View Post
    Running lower pressure increases the risk of pinch flats, assuming traditional clinchers with inner tubes. And probably less efficient than the recommended pressure. So it's a trade-off with comfort.
    Jan Heine postulates that the efficient tire pressure window is larger than most allow for. In other words tires can be run at much lower pressures before sluggishness becomes an issue. This seems to hold true, in my experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hihihi8 View Post
    As titled. For a male rider, me+gear+bike total a minuscule 135lbs. I'm currently running 23c slick tires that have paper-thin sidewalls at 90psi (front+rear) (the manufacturer's recommended minimum is 100).

    However, even at 90psi, I find myself bouncing around on normal terrain. I've experimented with pressures as low as F60-R70, and found the ride quality to be much smoother, but later pumped them back up to ~90 due to concerns over whether or not they'd be safe.

    FWIW, cornering felt fine at 60psi, but being 40psi under the recommended min. is kinda sketchy.

    Thoughts? Thanks.
    Run the lower pressure, you'll be fine. And of course this post is in the wrong section. Wheels/Tires exists for a reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanE View Post
    Running lower pressure increases the risk of pinch flats, assuming traditional clinchers with inner tubes. And probably less efficient than the recommended pressure. So it's a trade-off with comfort.
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  11. #11
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    My wife+bike totals 110lbs.
    She runs 50/70 psi. Never an issue.
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    You are unlikely ever to get agreement on what is the right tire pressure. The longer the thread the greater the spread or difference of opinions. Same applies if you try to Google search the answer paying attention to only what at the least superficially seem like legitimate sources.

    Tire pressure used to be foremost important to me achieve the fastest performance on measured segments or rides. Now that I'm old and have also lost 60 watts of power the past three years due to a permanent ailment I have only begun to try and determine what is the best PSI for me that emphasizes comfort without compromising safety or overly compromising optimal performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanE View Post
    Running lower pressure increases the risk of pinch flats, assuming traditional clinchers with inner tubes. And probably less efficient than the recommended pressure. So it's a trade-off with comfort.
    No, it's not unless you're actually getting pinch flats. And it is not less efficient. Too-high pressure is less efficient, and that seems to be what you are recommending. At the OP's weight, 100 PSI is WAY too high.

    It's ridiculous that tire companies put minimum pressure numbers on their tires. Pressure is too low if you get pinch flats or tire collapse when cornering. Otherwise "rated minimum" is meaningless.

  14. #14
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    I'm a big guy, 6'3", 175 lbs, and I ride 90/100 on the wheelset I have that uses 23mm wides. I'm around 200 lbs with bike and myself. Yes, you are riding with too high pressures.

    I had one set of Conti tubulars once that allows 175 psig pressure, and I tried it at that pressure. The tires rode like rocks...
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    Quote Originally Posted by hihihi8 View Post
    (the manufacturer's recommended minimum is 100).
    What brand and model is this?

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    Lots of great answers here. I'll put in my 2 cents.

    I weigh 130-135lbs. and my bike is 20lbs. I too, found 100psi. in my 23mm tires too hard.

    So I designed an experiment to see what would happen if I dropped pressure.

    I would drop my tire pressure 5psi. on every ride until I felt myself bottoming out on a ride, and maybe I got a pinch flat. I then increased tire pressure 5psi. from that point and merely pump my tires up once a week.

    The result was 80psi., but to tell the truth I could probably comfortably ride 75 or 70psi. without a problem. The ride is definitely less jarring, and the incidents of pinch flats are few.

    My point is, you need to experiment to see what you can get away with regarding tire pressure. Yes; the number on the sidewall is just a suggestion and not an imperative. The manufacturer doesn't know how much you weigh or what the road conditions are where you ride.

  17. #17
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    For reference my Bontrager AW3 28c hardcase lite have a 80-115 PSI manufacturer recommended minimum and maximum range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    For reference my Bontrager AW3 28c hardcase lite have a 80-115 PSI manufacturer recommended minimum and maximum range.
    That's a ridiculously high range for a tire that size. If you inflated a 28mm (not 'C') tire to 115 you'd probably be over the max pressure rating for many rims. I'm going to talk to the tire guys in Waterloo...that's just stupid.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    That's a ridiculously high range for a tire that size. If you inflated a 28mm (not 'C') tire to 115 you'd probably be over the max pressure rating for many rims. I'm going to talk to the tire guys in Waterloo...that's just stupid.
    Like I said at the beginning of this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    You are unlikely ever to get agreement on what is the right tire pressure. The longer the thread the greater the spread or difference of opinions. Same applies if you try to Google search the answer paying attention to only what at the least superficially seem like legitimate sources.

    Tire pressure used to be foremost important to me achieve the fastest performance on measured segments or rides. Now that I'm old and have also lost 60 watts of power the past three years due to a permanent ailment I have only begun to try and determine what is the best PSI for me that emphasizes comfort without compromising safety or overly compromising optimal performance.
    Bontrager lists proportional ranges for its same model tire in 25mm and 32mm. Going from memory the max for the 32mm is 100, (perhaps 105), and 125 PSI for the 25mm.

  20. #20
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    I've ridden 23s at max pressure (120psi) and had only one pinch flat and prior to that I've ridden even smaller tires (20+ years ago) at max psi and rarely, if any, flats. I now ride 25s (F=80 and R=90) and have never had a flat (yet). Flats happen. I was a long time believer that higher tire pressure was better (when I started back in the early 80s), but that changed once I started experimenting with different tire pressures about 1 year ago; old dogs can learn new tricks. Btw, I am what the cycling industry considers a heavy cyclist (or Clydes) at around 183lbs (down from 195lbs) and I've settled on the tire pressure mentioned above. OP, at your weight, I would not be at that high a tire pressure. Below is a link to a tire pressure calculator that you can use to get started (just a tool like anything else) and you can start tweaking from there. I used the 45/55 split and tweaked from there.

    Bicycle tire pressure calculator

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    Last edited by Methodical; 05-29-2019 at 06:00 AM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Methodical View Post
    I am what the cycling industry considers a heavy cyclist (or Clydes) at around 183lbs (down from 195lbs) and I've settled on the tire pressure mentioned above. OP, at your weight, I would not be at that high a tire pressure. Below is a link to a tire pressure calculator that you can use to get started (just a tool like anything else) and you can start tweaking from there. I used the 45/55 split and tweaked from there.

    Bicycle tire pressure calculator

    Just One Man's Opinion
    I'm 232 pounds on average. The calculator you link is often referenced here and at other sites. Here, (according to it), is what PSI I should inflate my 28mm tires.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    I'm 232 pounds on average. The calculator you link is often referenced here and at other sites. Here, (according to it), is what PSI I should inflate my 28mm tires.
    That is where you could start and tweak from those settings. I used the suggestion as a starting point and just tweak from there. The chart suggested f-83 and R-104 (212lbs with bike). I thought the front was a bit low, so I went with f-90, R100 and adjusted down until I settled on f-80, R-90, which feels good to me. I used to ride at 120 front and rear. I am now 199 with bike, but the chart is pretty much at my current settings, so no changes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Methodical View Post
    That is where you could start and tweak from those settings. I used the suggestion as a starting point and just tweak from there. The chart suggested f-83 and R-104 (212lbs with bike). I thought the front was a bit low, so I went with f-90, R100 and adjusted down until I settled on f-80, R-90, which feels good to me. I used to ride at 120 front and rear. I am now 199 with bike, but the chart is pretty much at my current settings, so no changes.

    This is the way to find the correct pressure for any rider...pick a starting point and then change pressure til you come up w/ the right set up for you. I can't understand why more people won't try this, it's the only thing that really works.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GlobalGuy View Post
    I'm 232 pounds on average. The calculator you link is often referenced here and at other sites. Here, (according to it), is what PSI I should inflate my 28mm tires.
    I'm 225 with 28mm tires. Running 75 psi F/R. No pinch flats. You can go lower than 118 psi. I would start at 85 psi and try to go lower.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    This is the way to find the correct pressure for any rider...pick a starting point and then change pressure til you come up w/ the right set up for you. I can't understand why more people won't try this, it's the only thing that really works.
    It's the same reason that people just can't bring themselves to put a stopwatch to their rides but rather rely on the "fact" that some equipment change (like higher tire pressure) "just feels faster."

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