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When I first got my dirt bike, I had no idea what I should inflate the tires to. I searched all over the internet and everyone had a different answer.
This post is my simple guide to setting the correct tire pressure on your dirt bike.
Generally, the tire pressure on a dirt bike should be between 6 and 18 psi with a traditional tire. The most common tire pressure that avid dirt bike riders recommend is 12psi. If you’re an average rider on an average bike riding on average terrain, set your tire pressure to 12psi and forget about the rest of this article. However, if you want to customize your tire pressure perfectly to suit you and your riding style, then read on the for the full story.
There are a lot of caveats to the general rule of 12psi, and it’s a not the right setting for all situations, so please do take the time to read about some of the nuances to that guidance below.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Changed Tire Pressure
It may seem obsessive to change the tire pressure one psi up or down and expect much of a change, but even small changes in tire pressure make a difference. If you think about it, 2 psi difference is a 20% change in the tire pressure.
Benefits of Higher Tire Pressure:
- Higher speeds (if all else is equal)
- Protects the tire and rim from impacts on rocks or other solid objects. If you ride in Moab or other areas where you’ll be hitting lots of tree roots and hard sharp rocks during an off-road ride, then go up to 15psi.
- Great for heavier riders who need more cushion
Benefits of Lower Tire Pressure:
- Better traction
- Great for official MX tracks where you know you’re not going to suddenly slam into a boulder or a tree root like when riding off road.
- Great for lighter weight riders who press down less on the tires
- Great on loose terrains like soft clay, mud, or loose rock. If you’re riding mostly on sand, I’d drop down to 9psi.
Factors that Affect Tire Pressure
- Type of tire used (Tubliss will use very different pressure than a typical tire)
- Rider’s weight
- Terrain (Rocky or hard surfaces require a higher pressure than loose mud)
- Rider’s preference for protection of the tire (If you want great traction on most terrain, choose a low tire pressure, but be aware it can easily ruin your rims)
Get a Good Quality Tire Pressure Gauge and Pump
If you use the cheapo tire pressure gauge that you use on your car tires, you’re very unlikely to get a good reading. Tire pressures in cars go much higher than on a dirt bike, so the gauge shows a more coarse scale. You can’t tell the difference between 10 and 11 psi on most gauges.
I highly recommend you just get the JACO Elite Pro Pressure Gauge on Amazon.com. It’s really cheap and it’s meant for dirt bike tires so it clearly shows your psi down to the half-pound.
For pumping your tires, you can use something as simple as a little bike tire pump. It’ll work just fine. However, that ceases to work well at the high psi’s needed if you ever move to a Tubliss system, or you just want something nicer so you can see the psi as you’re inflating.
The tire pump (compressor) I got is the one from Slime (same company as the green goop in bike tires). Their compressor says it can go up to 150psi. Now TONS of compressors claim they can do that, and none of them can that I’ve tried. However, the Slime goes plenty high enough for a dirt bike tire. It can realistically inflate to 105 psi. You can get it on Amazon.com.
Setting the Front and Rear Tire Pressure Differently
Some riders like to set the tire of the rear and front tires at different psi levels.
For example, when riding very fast and hard in a motocross race, the rear tire will heat up. The heat also increases the pressure in the tire. So some riders will set the rear wheel at a lower psi than the front tire to compensate for how the tire will behave during the race once its warm.
Tire pressure has a lot to do with the number of punctures you get in your tires. Generally, a higher tire pressure will help to prevent flats. This is because the tire compresses less when it hits hard objects and thus they are more likely to bounce off.
However, too high of a tire pressure can have issues of its own.
Tubliss is another option for preventing punctures. This system has a small insert tube inside the rim that is set to an extremely high psi to prevent damage to the rims and lock the tire to the rim. Then there is a larger outer area where there is no tube at all, and thus no possibility for pinch flats. This area can be set to a very low psi for better traction. Punctures are still possible, but there is a cool system for quickly filling them.
Another option for preventing punctures is a mousse. They are cheap and they make it impossible to get any type of flat. However, they are very heavy, and they only last 6 months.
What to Watch For
If the tire pressure is too low when you’re riding, you may notice a few things that will tell you that you should increase your tire pressure for the style of riding you do. For example, if you feel the bike does not tightly corner, or you feel a loose wobble in the tire at medium speeds, then you’d know you’re too low. The reduced cornering ability is due to the tire roll. Another dead giveaway would be if you see your rims starting to get bent or dinged up, but before that happens you will likely feel it when out riding and your rims hit hard.
If your tire pressure is too high, you may notice a loss of grip on loose terrain where the tires spin more than they should.
Another way to determine the correct tire pressure is the “rim clean.” Right on the edge of the shiny aluminum tire rim where it meets the tire, you’ll see a slight shinier ring around the edge. The shiny area is from the tire rubbing on the rim. This is the rim clean. Most people recommend that this shiny area should be 3-4mm to determine a perfect tire pressure. If the rim clean is too large, increase the tire pressure. Too small? Decrease it.
Another thing to look for is the PSI change as altitude and heat change. Check your tire pressure at the start of your ride, then go out and ride for 30 minutes and immediately check your tire pressure again when you stop. You may see a difference of an increased 3-4 psi from the heat of the tire. If this is the case, you may want to lower your tire pressure at the start of your ride.
Also, because of different power transfers in four strokes vs two strokes, you may want to slightly increase tire pressure in the front tire on a four stroke.
When to Replace Your Tires
A good way to know if it’s time to look at replacing your tires is when the little knobbies on the sides start to split or break away. At this point, your tire will start to have less traction in the corners and the tire as a whole is not as thick so you’ll be more likely to experience flats.
Most dirt bike tires should run at 12 psi. If you're off by just a few pounds, the bike will not be as safe – or handle as well. However, you can run most tires between 8 psi to 16 psi.What pressure should I run with TUbliss? ›
It is important to make sure the liner is inflated to 100 psi before every ride. The TUbliss system may hold the tire pressure with less, but for the best rim protection, 100 psi must be maintained.Is 40 psi too high for bike? ›
MTB manufacturers recommend between 30 and 50 psi on most of their bikes since this is a nice balance between on-road (closer to 50) and off-road (closer to 30) riding.What should I set my psi to? ›
Most passenger cars will recommend 32 psi to 35 psi in the tires when they're cold. The reason you check tire pressure when they're cold is that as tires roll along the road, friction between them and the road generates heat, increasing both the temperature and the air pressure.How do you let air out of a dirt bike tire? ›
To let air out, press down on the tip, which opens the valve. Also, before inflation, press down to make sure the valve is open. For Schrader valves, to release air, press something into the valve to depress the valve core (the little pin inside the valve).How much air pressure is in a bullet? ›
The recommended tyre air pressure for Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is 25-32 psi.How does a Tubliss system work? ›
The Tubliss System works by replacing your conventional inner tube with a smaller, higher pressure insert that hugs the inside of your rim. This creates two separate pressure areas inside your tire.How do I know what PSI my tires need? ›
How to find the recommended tire pressure. Your vehicle's recommended tire pressure can typically be found on a sticker inside the driver's door. It's also usually listed in the owner's manual, says Cars.com. Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).What PSI should I use for offroad? ›
For most 4x4, you'll probably find that a PSI between 14-18 will do the trick, although you might need to lower it a bit further for certain terrains. Note: If you notice your vehicle beginning to strain, bring it back up and reduce it by smaller increments until you reach a comfortable level.What PSI should dirt bike tires be in sand? ›
What PSI should I use for sand? Tires that use standard inner tubes should be inflated to 11-12 psi at the front and 10-11 psi at the back for sand. You can get better traction on sand with tires with heavy-duty tubes. However, lowering your tire pressure also means reducing your speed and cornering slower.
Most every bike tire lists its recommended pressure right on the edge of the tire's sidewall. It's usually a range, say from 35 to 80 psi (that stands for “pounds per square inch”). The only way to know how much pressure you have is by using a pressure gauge — squeezing your tire isn't accurate enough.Is 40 psi good tire pressure? ›
Specifically, the level of 40 psi can be suitable for passenger cars or sports cars. But this is too high for small cars with a recommendation below 35 psi, while 40 psi is too low for large trucks. The recommended level for the tires of famous sports cars and passenger cars is between 32 -40 psi.What happens if psi is too high? ›
Overinflated Tires Wear Out Your Tires Faster & Unevenly
Uneven tire wear can also be the result of overinflation. When your tires have too much air it causes the center of the tread to bow out and wear first. Because of this you will need new tires more often and have a less than comfortable ride.
Pump it up.
Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and avoid flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi (pounds per square inch); mountain bike tires, 25 to 35 psi; and hybrid tires, 40 to 70 psi.
Most passenger cars' psi requirement will be between 30 to 35 psi, but several vehicles fall outside of that range and every vehicle will have specific requirements. Good tire air pressure ensures that tires wear evenly, provide a smooth ride, and increase fuel efficiency.Does higher PSI make you faster? ›
Very high tyre pressures might feel fast, but they're not. Once you go past a certain point, adding more air to your tyres actually decreases grip, increases high-frequency vibrations and causes extra muscular fatigue. All of these things slow you down.Is lower or higher PSI better? ›
Low tire pressure always is more dangerous than high tire pressure. When tires are deflated, more rubber touches the ground, the tires heat up and you're in danger of a blowout.Is it OK to fill tires to max PSI? ›
What happens if you inflate your tires to the max PSI? Your tires' max PSI almost always exceeds the recommended pressure. It isn't advisable to fill your tire to this pressure for everyday driving. At max PSI, your car does not handle as well, braking is impaired, and you could risk dangerous blowouts.Is 50 psi too much? ›
Press. 340 kPa ( 50 PSI)”. This means that the tire will safely carry up to 1477 lbs. and can be safely inflated up to 300 kPa (Kilopascal) or 50 psi (pounds per square inch).What happens if you over inflate a tire? ›
Tires will wear out prematurely. Overinflated tires round out on the tread section and cause the center to wear down significantly faster than the outer edges. This could cause them to last only half as long as they typically would. Overinflation can cause loss of traction.
For instance, if 35 psi is recommended, and the maximum safe pressure listed on your sidewall is 44 psi, you can safely put 38 or 40 psi in your tires. You can even go to 44 psi. You'll experience a harder ride, but you won't create a blowout danger. You may even experience sharper cornering and increased fuel economy.How painful is a rubber bullet? ›
A rubber bullet can break skin or cause serious welts or bruising. If you get hit by one from 30 yards away, it feels like a strong punch. If you get hit in the neck, you could sustain permanent damage or life-threatening injury to your airway. If you get hit in the eye, you could lose it.Do bullets lose velocity in air? ›
It will be traveling much slower than when it was first fired, as its terminal velocity (due to air resistance) is far lower than the initial muzzle speed. But even so, these falling bullets can injure or even kill people: something that's most likely on July 4th and New Years in the United States.How does air pressure affect bullets? ›
Lower altitudes and lower temperatures result in denser air, therefore more drag on the bullet and more bullet drop. Conversely, higher altitudes and higher temperatures result in thinner air, therefore less drag on the bullet and less bullet drop.Can you make a dirt bike tire tubeless? ›
The good news is even if your bike came with tube-type spoked wheels, there are ways to go tubeless. All of them offer easy flat repair (or prevention) and fewer worries about tubes suddenly deflating when punctured. Some save weight compared to tubes. There are pros and cons to each alternative.Is 36 PSI too high? ›
“Recommended cold tire pressure is in vehicle manual and on tire label. It's usually 30 psi for small, 36 psi for medium, and 42 psi for large car.”Does tire PSI need to be exact? ›
You don't need to be 100% exact, but you should be aiming for the optimal PSI numbers in your car's owner's manual, rather than the general recommended PSI written on the side of the tire. Don't expect all of the tires to be the same.How much PSI do you need for motocross? ›
Tire pressures for motocross and off road trail riding will mostly be in the 12 to 15 PSI range. But the type of tire you're using could also make a big difference here, so check the recommendation on the tire wall.What is a good PSI for gravel bike? ›
Gravel tires are often 40-80 PSI.Should you air down for dirt roads? ›
Airing down will give you more traction off road, whether you're in sand, snow, dirt, rocks, or mud. Chad recommends going down to as low as 15 lbs. of air for wheels without bead locks when going off road.
That said, a good starting point is 18 PSI for softer sand, and work down from there if required. You can let your tyres down lower if you are having difficulty moving, but the lower your tyre pressures the easier it is to roll a tyre off the rim.Why do you lower tire pressure in sand? ›
The first thing to do before driving on sand is to lower your tyre pressures. This is done to provide better flotation by increasing the size of your "footprint" and thus dramatically improving your traction. It also reduces the amount of strain on your vehicle and minimizes wear and tear on the tracks.Do you have to lower tire pressure on sand? ›
Air Down. Lowering your tire pressure is essential for driving on sand. Tires with lower air pressure have more traction, which helps the tires roll on the sand instead of dig in. We will provide a Twiddy tire gauge upon arrival.How do I know how much air to pump my bike? ›
Before you pump, check the sidewall of your tire: It should list the pounds-per-square-inch (psi) range that your tire can safely handle. Typically, a road bike tire can go between 80 and 130 psi, while a mountain bike tire holds between 25 and 50 psi. Hybrids usually take between 40 and 70 psi.What is the 4 psi rule? ›
Ideally, they should be about 4psi above the cold pressure. If the pressure is more than 4psi above the cold pressure, you should add more air. That is because there is too much friction, which builds up more heat than desirable. Conversely, if they are less than 4psi above cold pressure, the cold pressure is too high.Is it better to over inflate or Underinflate tires? ›
Under-inflated tires are just as dangerous and costly. Like over-inflated tires, under-inflated tires also cause blowouts. When a tire is under-inflated, more of the tire's surface area touches the road. This increases friction, which increases heat and leads to advanced wear.Is 50 psi normal for tires? ›
Most typical tires require about 32 to 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) of air, says Rod Tate, owner of highly rated Colony One Auto Center in Stafford, Texas. Large trucks require much larger tires with PSIs of 50 to 60. Heavy-duty vehicles can go even higher.Is 50 PSI too much for bike tires? ›
Most mountain bike tires are rated for 25-50 PSI. Road tires are usually 80-120 PSI. Gravel tires are often 40-80 PSI. While they are a good starting point, those ranges are too broad and conservative for most riders.What PSI should I run offroad? ›
We recommend starting at 20 PSI and working your way down from there. The weight of the vehicle, size of the wheel, tire diameter, and even the terrain you are on will all be factors.What tire pressure is best for sand? ›
Tire pressure of 20 PSI is recommended for most beach conditions, but if the sand is really soft, lower it accordingly. Make sure you reinflate your tires once you get back on the road.
“Recommended cold tire pressure is in vehicle manual and on tire label. It's usually 30 psi for small, 36 psi for medium, and 42 psi for large car.”Can I run 40 PSI in my tires? ›
Specifically, the level of 40 psi can be suitable for passenger cars or sports cars. But this is too high for small cars with a recommendation below 35 psi, while 40 psi is too low for large trucks. The recommended level for the tires of famous sports cars and passenger cars is between 32 -40 psi.Is 45 psi too much for tires? ›
In most of these cases, 40 psi should be more than enough, and since most modern tire designs will allow up to 44 psi (in some cases more) this is not a problem. If you have a heavily loaded vehicle, up to 44 or even higher is ok if the tire allows it, but this is a little high for most vehicles.What PSI should I run in winter? ›
30 to 35 PSI is generally recommended as the ideal tire pressure for winter temperatures, but the exact recommended pressure varies depending on the type of vehicle and how low the temperature drops. Ultimately, it's important to check your vehicle's owner's manual and go with the recommended tire pressure provided.Is 37 tire pressure too high? ›
Most passenger cars' psi requirement will be between 30 to 35 psi, but several vehicles fall outside of that range and every vehicle will have specific requirements. Good tire air pressure ensures that tires wear evenly, provide a smooth ride, and increase fuel efficiency.Does airing prevent punctures? ›
Secondly, the lower you run your tire pressure, the more flex and strain it puts on the sidewall of the tire so that tearing the sidewall or even puncturing the tread becomes a greater possibility as a hard, properly-aired tire is more resilient against sharp objects on the trail just like those new replacement bumpers ...