What is the ideal mountain bike tyre pressure?
It’s a simple question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer because there are many variables, such as: type of terrain, rider weight, rider skill level, predominant surface, wheel diameter, rim width, tyre type and tyre width.
So, to avoid making it complicated, we have simplified it here to help the majority of South African mountain bikers choose a mountain bike tyre pressure that’s ideal, or close to ideal for himself/herself.
Unlike a road bike, where you want low rolling resistance for maximum speed, a mountain bike’s tyre pressure needs to be surprisingly soft, by comparison. In mountain biking traction is far more important than rolling resistance, so you want to ensure you have as much tyre tread in contact with the trail as possible. Within reason. Good traction means good control.
This table will help you find a starting point. Thereafter, you can adjust higher or lower and eventually work out which pressure is best for you. We used the 29-inch diameter – the most common South African MTB wheel size; and the most popular widths.
MOUNTAIN BIKE 29ER TUBELESS TYRE PRESSURE GUIDE:
Note, these are guidelines from which to start and are based on tubeless tyres (if you haven’t converted yet, you should, it’s a game-changer) as well as the most common rim width. The more you ride, the more you can experiment with your pressures. For some, the more you ride, the more weight you lose, so you need to be mindful of that and adjust your tyre pressures accordingly.
If you feel your tyres are sliding about too much, drop the pressure slightly. If you feel your tyres are a bit squirmy, add some pressure. A small change in pressure can make a big difference, so make incremental changes. Best to do this using a good quality floor pump with a gauge.
As you can see, we recommend a lower pressure in the front tyre. This is partly because it has less of your body weight on it and partly because it’s the tyre that you need traction on for control. Your front tyre leads with traction and direction, your back tyre mostly just follows.
If you have 27.5 or 26-inch tyres, increase the recommended pressure in the table slightly according to your weight.