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How to Tell if a Bike Tire is Full Enough?

Bicycle Tire Pump

Q. Yesterday my friend told me my bike tires needed air, but I don’t think so. How can you tell if a tire is pumped up enough?
– Deflated Dan, Atlanta, Ga.

A. Proper air pressure in your bicycle tire is really important because it’ll make your ride smoother and faster, and it will prevent pinch flats. But how much air pressure you need depends on the kind of bike, the kind of tire and where you’re riding. Most every bike tire lists its recommended pressure right on the edge of the tire’s sidewall. It’s usually a range, say from 35 to 80 psi (that stands for “pounds per square inch”).

The only way to know how much pressure you have is by using a pressure gauge — squeezing your tire isn’t accurate enough. Most floor pumps have built-in gauges, but you can also find small tire gauges at bike stores.

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13 Comments on How to Tell if a Bike Tire is Full Enough?

  1. Thank you for these tips. My tires are a little limp so I will pump them before my next cycling session.

  2. what if you don’t have a pressure gauge

  3. can you explain it scientifically?

  4. The best way to inflate your bike tire is to read the tire pressure recommended on the sidewall of the tire. I will usually pump my tires about 5 to 7 psi below the maximum recommended pressure. Make sure to get a good floor pump with an easy to read gauge. That would take out pretty much all of the guess work and hep ensure you have a smooth safe ride.

  5. thedabberdude // December 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm // Reply

    your ride will feel weird with less air, you will know

  6. flick it with your finger, like it is a paper football. A full tire will sound more metallic with a ping than an underinflated tire. As to pressure… that is a very different matter.

  7. Just fill it enough so you cant squeeze it. That’s what I do:)

  8. Tire pressure changes with the tempature.also should be adjusted for riding surfaces.I prefer softer tires on trails then I do on roads.

  9. Squeeze or press your thumb into a few tires you know are pumped up correctly. You’ll remember what it feels like. If your tire is noticeably squashed when you’re on it, it’s too low.

  10. pressure gauge 50psi/60psi

  11. bluestreak // June 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm // Reply

    I am 67 and still actively riding. Early on I learned to squeeze the tire and if it was hard it was perfect. I’ve never had a blow out or wrecked a tire.

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