The other day I wrote a post about my experience with tire pressure. As a summation, I’ve always maxed out the pressure figuring I was getting the best of rolling resistance though at the cost of decreased comfort. One of the mechanics at the local shop suggest that because I’m not heavy, opting for 120 psi (or even 115) would be better on my wheels when it came to bumps. I heeded that suggestion and found that speed wasn’t sacrificed and that the ride was vastly more comfortable.
In the comments from that post a friend who authors PedalWORKS suggested another option and presented this link. Following it takes you to a calculator that takes your weight, the bike’s weight and the distribution of weight over the tires, mashes them together and kicks out a rear and front tire pressure based on the idea that the front pressure doesn’t need to be as great because weight is distributed unevenly between the front and rear of the bike (60/40 in my case with a race bike on 23 mm tires)… It suggested I inflate the rear to 116 psi and the front to 76 psi.
Now, let’s see, how to put this kindly… Yeah, there’s no way – even rounding up to 80. I’m not riding a squishy bike, I’m certainly not riding on squishy tires. You could pull out a superstar mathematician (LOL, yes I did, only in the movies folks) to show me the math that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt I wouldn’t lose any speed and I still wouldn’t buy it. On the other hand, just for giggles I inflated my rear to the normal 120 and the front to 110 and you know what? It’s more comfortable, by a lot and even if there were a bit more resistance, I know I can muscle through a mere ten pound difference in one tire.
More importantly, if you follow this link, you’ll see that a tire must ride flatter to conform to this method of filling one’s tires… If you’re rolling on 23 mm tires (as most road cyclists do), imagine what a nice, sharp pebble would do to a tire rolling that flat. When you’re pushing 110-120 psi the pebble gets shot to one side of the tire. Rolling over that pebble at 80 psi, the increased chance of a puncture should be obvious. If that weren’t enough of a reason to modify the 15% drop method of inflating tires, one must also consider pinch flats when rolling over train tracks. In other words, I won’t be trying 80 psi in my road bikes any time soon.
That said, with the minor change in pressure and the addition of my new carbon handle bar, the ride on my Venge is exceptionally more comfortable to ride than it was just two weeks ago – which is really saying something because it was a decent riding bike to ride in the first place.
So if you’re looking for a little more comfort, try dropping the pressure in your front tire ten pounds or so. Chances are, you’ll like it.