Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Tire Pressure

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I’ve been experimenting with tire pressure lately. I still have the stock tires on my LHT, nice and wide 700x37C Continental Contact tires, with a slight tread on them. They work well: great puncture protection, and good traction on paved/gravel/dirt roads, and light trails. But they’re heavy and I’ve always thought they have a bit of a harsh ride.

The recommended max tire pressure for these tires is 85 psi. I’ve been running them at about 75 psi on the front tire, and 80 on the rear, since I got them — without giving it much thought. However, I’ve recently been thinking more about tire pressure, and I felt like I was running them too hard. So I tried a couple rides at around 65 psi in the front, and 70 in the rear. This made the Trucker’s ride even smoother, and improved my traction — but the tires were still firm enough that I didn’t have to worry about pinch flats.

Checking the late, great Sheldon Brown’s site, I see that he has a table of recommended tire pressures. It’s as follows (as seen on this page).

Wheel load 50 mm 37 mm 32 mm 28 mm 25 mm 23 mm 20 mm
100 lbs/50 kg 45 60 75 100 110 120 130
70 lbs/35 kg 35 50 65 80 90 100 110

I think I can comfortably take the front tire down to about 60 psi, and this should yield an even smoother ride. When it comes time to replace these tires, I’ll probably go with something more supple — possibly Panaracer Paselas — but I’m really pleased with how much better the bike feels simply by lowering the tire pressure.

What tire model/width/pressure do you use? Have you experimented with different tire pressures?

3 Responses to “Tire Pressure”

  1. doc Says:

    I am woefully neglectful at tracking my tire pressure. I’ve been fortunate with the LHT not to have to worry about it that much. Maybe once a month I’ll pull out the floor pump and top them off between 65-75 pounds. I run 37c Pasela Tourguards, and I weigh 180. The TGs, with their softer sidewall, give a really nice ride; but I’ve heard some complain that those sidewalls also don’t hold up as well. I have roughly 3300 miles on mine with no flats and plenty of tread left. The only other tire I’ll consider when the time comes are some Schwalbe Marathons, prolly 40mm. ‘love those puffy tires!

  2. Tim Says:

    Love the topic, but I stand somewhat ignorant. Being a *big* rider, I usually follow the max pressure allotment to better ward of pinch flats. That said, the volume of a 37mm tire should allow some variation. Think I’ll follow your lead on the LHT and play with the pressure on the Conti Travel Contacts. Mentioning the standard Contacts, I change to the TC for more flat protection- I had a rash of flats on the standard Contacts- and have been very pleased with their performance, although I use them in commuter situations and not on the open road.

  3. Scott Loveless Says:

    Being a “clydesdale”, I tend to overinflate my rear tire. My 37mm Contacts are topped off weekly at 90-95 lbs for the rear and slightly less on the front, 80-85 or so. I use a similar inflation scheme with all the bikes. I have noticed that if my rear tire drops much below the maximum recommended pressure, it starts to feel sluggish.

    As for the Contacts, I’ve had no problem with them yet, though many in the touring crowd warn against sidewall blowout. Marathons come highly recommended, as do Paselas. Besides, Paselas have those cool gumwalls. I’m currently torn, though, and can’t decide whether to eventually replaces the CCs with Paselas or creme Delta Cruisers.

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).