Tuesday Tip: Tire Pressure

Setting the correct tire pressure is probably one of the most overlooked—not to mention cheapest and easiest—maintenance tasks you can do to improve your bike’s handling. It just takes a few minutes to check and adjust your tire pressure, and with a little bit of know-how from Dunlop’s technical guru, Brian Fleck, you’ll be armed and ready to keep the pressure set next time you go riding.

Here are some common tire pressure questions we have received from TWMX readers, along with Brian’s responses:

1. How important is it to check/set the correct tire pressure?

The tires not only provide traction, they are also part of the suspension of the bike. It is very important to check for proper inflation before every ride. It is best to check pressures when tires are cold.

2. Should the front and rear always be set to the same pressure?

No, there are normally small differences we suggest on front and rear pressure. A good baseline pressure for each is 12 psi in the front, and 13 psi in the rear. That will work in most conditions.

3. If the area we’re riding in goes through big temperature changes, how often throughout the day should tire pressure be checked?

Air expands when it gets hotter. Think of a hot air balloon. The pressure goes up as the tire is run and gets hotter, or if the tire is sitting in the hot sun.

If the tire is sitting for a while after have ridden, you should check the pressure, and if necessary, set it back to the safe margins of 12 psi front and 13 psi rear. If the bike sits for a few hours or temperature drops significantly it should be set again. This is especially important when racing at night, when it is warm in the day and then cools at night during the heats/main events. The temperature can drop by as much as 20 degrees at times.

4. What pressures do you recommend for common racing conditions, such as hard pack, sand, loamy dirt, etc?

Here’s a quick general guideline:

  • Hard pack: 11.5 psi front, 11 psi rear. This would be for normal supercross-type conditions with no rocks or large square edged bumps.
  • Intermediate: 12 psi front, 13 psi rear.
  • Sand/Mud: 12 psi front, 10 psi rear. The lower pressure will help get a bite in the sand and slippery wet conditions. If it is rocky and muddy we would not suggest 10 psi in the rear.

5. Do these recommendations apply to motocross tracks and trail riding, or would they differ?

Motocross is a more controlled environment. It is easier to run lower pressures when there are clearly no rocks or large square edged bumps. For off road we normally suggest a little higher pressure to reduce the chance of a flat.

For off road or trail riding suggested pressure would be 13 psi front, and 13.5-14 psi rear. If it is high speed desert terrain with many rocks we would use up to 18 psi on the rear.

Thanks for the tips, Brian!

No more excuses. Next time you go riding, be sure to bring a proper pressure gauge and tire pump with you.

For more information, check out www.dunlopmotorcycle.com.

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