The Snowden Forest is a popular mountain biking area near Campbell River which has hosted the BC Bike Race in the past as well as the more-local Snowden Challenge. Mirror file photo.

Under pressure

What is the cheapest, lightest, and most important part of your bike?

It’s certainly not those $1,500 carbon wheels! Actually, it’s the air in your tires! At the risk of getting a little techy, we need to talk air pressure because instead of coming to the bike shop to fix your flat, you should be out riding.

Paying attention to your tire air pressure is the simplest form of bike maintenance. At the shop, we explain to our customers every day that it’s also the most important thing you can do to ensure a good ride. Every ride should begin with you grabbing your trusty floor pump and checking air pressure.

We measure air pressure in PSI which stands for pounds per square inch. All tires will give you a helpful pressure range printed on the sidewall. Unfortunately, that range is often too wide to be overly helpful so it’s important that you learn more precisely what air pressure is your sweet spot. To find yours you need to account for three important factors: your weight, the terrain you’ll be riding, and tire width.

The idea is to find the balance between supporting your body weight while also allowing for some squish in the tire. Too hard and you’ll feel every bump, too soft and you’ll wreck your rim. On a mountain bike, we often throw around a starting point of around 25 PSI so you can start there and add or remove air in small 1 or 2 PSI increments in order to hone in on your sweet spot.

Next, consider the terrain you’re about to ride. Heading to rough and rocky Snowden to ride the revamped Pretzl Logic trail? Or are you going to cruise the much flatter and smoother Beaver Lodge? It takes some trial and error but if you hear your rim smashing into rocks because the tire compresses too much, you need more air pressure in those tires! If you’re roughly bouncing over rocks or sliding out in corners, you probably need to lose a couple PSI.

The wide tires seen on mountain bikes today allow for riding at much lower air pressures. This maximizes grip and comfort as you float over the rough stuff. On the other side, a narrow mountain bike tire or skinny road tire must be ridden at higher pressure so that it does not bottom out on the rim. Just because you always rode at 35 PSI on your old bike with 2.0 inch wide tires doesn’t mean that’ll work on your new bike with 2.5 inch wide tires.

Hopefully, that helps you find that air pressure sweet spot, and if you only want to remember one thing from this it’s this: keep your floor pump handy and check your air pressure before EVERY ride! Enjoy the ride.

– Courtesy of Pedal Your World

Campbell RiverCycling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of North Island conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Aquaculture companies’ judicial review challenges reconciliation and Aboriginal Rights: First Nations

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

CSWM will be closing the landfill in Campbell River and opening the organics composting facility in 2022. In the meantime, the City of Campbell River was hoping for a break on yard waste drop-off for residents. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona waste board upholds yard waste drop-off fee

Campbell River had hoped for waiver until new organics facility opens

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
UPDATE: B.C.’s major salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

All three producers now confirm they’ve filed separately with the Federal Court

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

Most Read