The Pinkbike comments section is a constant source of entertainment, and a testament to the fact that there are a lot of witty mountain bikers out there with way, way too much time on their hands. But there's one trend I've noticed that still makes me scratch my head, and it's related to tire pressure. Look under any recent tire review and you'll find the usual thread of cringe-worthy puns, but then then there will also inevitably be a few comments that say, in various ways, “You only ran XX psi? You're an idiot – I run XX psi in my tires.”
There are so many factors that go into choosing the correct tire pressure – trail conditions, rider weight and riding style, tire casing, rim width – that it seems ridiculous to call someone out for using the “wrong” pressure.
Sure, if your buddy is running 40 psi and consequently pinballing all over the trail, it's worth mentioning to them that letting a few pounds of pressure out might help them stop bouncing into trees, but otherwise, there really isn't one pressure that's going to work for everyone.
It's worth having a good tire pressure gauge in the toolbox.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the ground is usually relatively soft for much of the year, and slippery roots are the most common trail obstacles. For that reason, and because I only weigh 160 pounds, I typically run around 20-21 psi in the front and 22-23 psi in the rear for tubeless tires between 2.3” – 2.5”, although those numbers can vary if a tire has a particularly thick casing. I arrived at those numbers through plenty of experimentation, and, for me, they're the best balance of compliance and support. I don't want my tires squirming off the rim during hard cornering, but I also want them to deform enough to grip on all the slimy stuff. Experimentation is the name of the game with tires – a few psi here and there can make a noticeable difference, and if you really want to dork out, a digital tire gauge is a worthwhile investment.
Even though there's not one tire pressure to rule them all, I am curious about what pressures Pinkbike's readers are typically running, which was the inspiration behind this week's poll questions: