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Newbie Road Cyclist Tip: Tires – Pump Them Up Daily…

October 2012

I ride every day. For the longest time I would check my tires with the pinch test. I’d pinch the tire and the rim, if the tire squished I’d fill them up. I would usually fill my tires every three days or so. This is what happens when you fill your tires every third ride:

Notice the flat center of the tire? Yeah, that should be round. The Specialized tire on the left came with the bike. The Continental Gatorskin on the right, I purchased in the spring – it was supposed to last for the season (thankfully I didn’t pay full price). Either way, both of the flattened treads are due to running the tires at lower pressures. The Specialized had about 2,000 miles on it. The Gatorskin only has 1,250 miles on it (give or take).

Here’s my new Specialized Espoir Sport rear tire with more than 1,500 on it:

While the tire does show wear, it’s nowhere near the wear on the Gatorskin or the other Specialized tire. In the next couple of days I’ll be rotating the back tire to the front for the rest of the season (the front tire looks like the day I bought it) – yes, it’s wise to rotate the tires. When the snow finally does fly, I’ll put that Gatorskin on the back wheel so I don’t wear a perfectly good tire on my trainer.

The reasoning behind this post is simple: When I did my 200k up north, one of the guys in the group I met at the start was cracking a joke about people who fill their tires on a daily basis because, according to his shining wisdom, the tires don’t lose that much pressure over a few days, they “show less pressure because when you hook up your pump, some of the air backs up into the pump and that skews the reading on the pressure gauge”.

I laughed along with him because he’s a dope. Above is irrefutable photographic evidence of what happens if you don’t fill your tires before every ride, and what happens if you do. It’s a no-brainer… Unless you have money to throw at new tires every couple of thousand miles. Of course, I picked up this brilliant idea of filling the tires daily from Matt at the bike shop, who has forgotten more about bikes than I can hope to learn over the next five or ten years.

Mountain bikes and road tires for mountain bikes are a completely different story, you can easily get away with skipping days in between pressure checks, but don’t mess with your road tires – unless you’ve got money to burn… In that case, light up.


  1. IowaTriBob says:

    Being new to cycling, guilty as charged. When I first got my bike I woukd check about every week (if that). This worked fine for my mountain bike but when I took my new bike in for a checkup the local bike shop kindly told me to check before every ride for the exact same reason you mention.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Indeed. It makes sense, actually – the higher the pressure, the easier it is to lose it. Of course, that didn’t stop me from ruining two tires… DOH!

  2. elisariva says:

    Always pump is what my bike shop told me. Pinching 90 lbs pressure feels a lot like 110 lbs…

    • bgddyjim says:

      …and I run mine at 125-130. I don’t care so much about comfortability as I do speed. I’ve been contemplating going to tubeless so I can get up to 145. It’d be like riding on a rock but fast as hell.

  3. I ride nearly every day, and the night before a ride I choose the bike I’m going to ride and over-inflate the tires by about three pounds — that way it is perfect when I leave the house in the morning.

  4. bikevcar says:

    Are you sure you don’t have a slow puncture? 😉

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