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Ride more comfort! Ride gravel bike with proper air pressure!

There is a "proper air pressure" for bicycle tires. This section summarizes what the correct air pressure is, how to check it and how to get the correct air pressure, and the changes in riding that can be achieved by changing the air pressure.

Modified at: 2023.11.3Posted at: 2022.9.1

Not only gravel tires, but also tire manufacturers set an “optimum air pressure” for each model that provides good driving performance and resistance to problems such as punctures. This is the recommended air pressure.

For example, Panaracer’s Gravel King SK PLUS clincher model, the standard gravel tire, is set at “400-700 kPa” for the 700-26C model. The manufacturer’s recommended air pressure is to operate within this pressure.

In most cases, the tire’s recommended air pressure is printed on the side of the tire, but if you cannot find it, check the manufacturer’s website.

On the other hand, “correct air pressure” is calculated as the most optimal air pressure based on the rider’s weight, vehicle weight, and wheel/tire type.

This is not the tire manufacturer’s recommended air pressure, but only the best air pressure for you and your bike itself.

How to find the correct air pressure

Calculating the correct air pressure calculation for you and your gravel bike is surprisingly complex. Therefore, it is best to use a calculation site.

SRAM, a component manufacturer, has a calculation tool on the web, and we recommend using it.

Tire Pressure Guide | SRAM

How to Manage Air Pressure

Once you know your correct air pressure, you can actually adjust the tire pressure.

You can adjust the air pressure of your road bike in the following two ways.

  1. using an air checker
  2. using an air pump with an air pressure gauge

As long as you ride a gravel bike, you will need to manage the air pressure frequently, so we recommend that you buy an air pump with an air pressure gauge, even if it costs a little more.

Sports bicycle tires should be inflated about once a week to maintain the proper air pressure, as they are put under high pressure.

How does changing the air pressure change the ride?

Once you are able to manage your correct air pressure, you can customize your ride by adjusting the air pressure a little.

Lowering the air pressure increases cushioning and reduces vibration.

Lowering the air pressure below the correct pressure creates cushioning in the tire. When cushioning is created, the tire cushions the vibrations and impacts from the road surface, making the ride smoother.

This technique is used in mountain biking, for example. In mountain biking, the tire pressure is lowered and a larger tire is chosen to increase the air volume. The higher air volume provides more cushioning and prevents punctures.

The same can be applied to gravel bikes, so try it if you ride on dirt roads a lot.

Since comfort is also affected by the characteristics of the bike, it is advisable to try lowering the air pressure gradually from the correct pressure to find the pressure that is comfortable for you.

Riding becomes lighter when the air pressure is increased.

Lowering the air pressure below the correct pressure increases cushioning, but conversely, the area where the tire comes in contact with the road surface increases, making rolling heavier. This is inevitably a trade-off.

Conversely, if you want a lighter ride, you can increase the air pressure to reduce the surface area of the tire in contact with the road, thereby making the ride lighter. It is the same as feeling like you can go faster when you ride after having your bicycle inflated at a bicycle shop.

It is important to note that you should not exceed the “manufacturer’s recommended air pressure” as explained earlier. Exceeding the recommended air pressure may put extra load on the tire or even cause the tube to burst.

Also, if the air pressure is much higher than the correct pressure, the tires may not be able to withstand the weight of the vehicle (bike weight + your weight).

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