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  1. #1
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    Not using a tire pressure gauge

    I've never gotten around to getting a tire pressure gauge for my road bike. How much of a gamble is this? I just look at the tire when I'm riding it, and if it looks low, I add air. I also pinch the tire and if it feels soft I add air until it is appropriately hard. This may sound foolhardy, but when I bought the bike and after they added the correct amount of air, I felt / pinched the tire and try to approximate that as a guide as to how the tires should feel. Am I the only one, or is this a risky, unreliable and unsafe practice?
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 7

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    unreliable
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  3. #3
    certified vegetarian veggie's Avatar
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    Do you not use a pump with a guage on it?

  4. #4
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Whatever floats your boat. If you start getting an abnormal amount of pinch flats or find your sidewalls wearing abnormally quickly, adjust your practices accordingly.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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    You don't have the hand strength to tell the difference between slightly low and good. To me 80 and 100 psi feels the same by hand, but it makes a big difference pedaling.

  6. #6
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    Folks have been doing it this way for decades and there's nothing wrong with it if it produces decent results. Probably half of my 45 years cycling, I relied on the pinch method, and that included lots of loaded (pack light) touring on tubulars.

    These days when I pump at home with the floor pump, I use the pump's gauge because it's there, but I use the pinch method to decide if I need to top off. With the Silca hand pump on my road bike, it's all by feel.

    Folks tend to get worked up about some kind of mythical perfect inflation pressure, but let's face it these are bikes, not jet planes. In any case most experienced riders do it sort of backwards anyway, using how it feels riding to determine optimum pressure, then using a gauge to duplicate that.

    To the OP, if it works for you, that's all that counts.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    No tire gauge?

    Oh, this is absolutely deplorable.

    The only way you can make amends is to trade me for my bike.

  8. #8
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    You can certainly tell if the tire pressure is grossly low, like low enough to risk pinch flats. I agree you can't (I can't, most of us can't) tell the difference between 80 psi and 100 psi by feeling the tire, but you can (tell the difference) when you ride on the bike, so then you can pump it up a bit more. And if you can't tell the difference when riding, it probably means your typical riding is such that it doesn't really matter.

    A floor pump with a gauge is nice to have. But it is not essential. And I'll bet many of those pump gauges are inaccurate anyway.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    let's face it these are bikes, not jet planes.

  10. #10
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    I never thought tire pressure made that much difference until recently. I bought a new bike in the spring and when I brought it in for service the guy at the LBS asked me what my tire pressure usually was. I said, "Whatever it has in it now". He topped off the tires and said I would get better traction if I used a higher tire pressure. I hadn't even mentioned how it felt like my back wheel always felt like it wanted to slide out from under me when I was taking a turn fairly fast. It was amazing how much better my ride was after that - no traction issues at all. Now that I know what the right pressure feels like, I could probably get by with the pinch method. But, I now have a nice pump with a pressure gauge so I don't have to guess.

  11. #11
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    I use the tire pump with pressure gauge method unless I don't have a tire pump with a gauge, then I use the pinch method.
    Have I mentioned that I love riding my bikes?
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    I find that my tires pumped to 100 psi will drop to 80 psi naturally within 2 days.So i pump up everyday.I live in NYC and pinch flats are a concern. 20 PSI difference is significant in avoiding pinch flats not to mention road feel.

  13. #13
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    Big fat MTB tires? your thumb will be able to tell if too soft

    23mm race like wheels , margin of error is also skinny.

  14. #14
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    80 psi isn't that big a deal on 23mm tires----if you happen to weigh 150-160 pounds.

    Get a floor pump with a gauge. You don't have to spend a lot, but like everything else, the quality improves with price.

  15. #15
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    Come on folk; a minimal tire gauge is about $3 at walmart or autozone. If you run presta, look on Amazon or a LBS for one under $10 delivered. Other than just being an idiot on purpose or having a basic need to whine about something, I don't see an adequate rationale for not being at least minimally gauged.

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    Yes and pretty soon the DOT will have to mandate TPMS integration on bikes like they did for motor vehicles due to all the idiots running around at 80mph on the interstates in SUVs with only 10 pounds in the tires and then getting killed when their Firestones pop off the rim. You spend a ton on a Cannondale (on a SUV) and then won't go another $3 to make it work reliably. Geez, give us a break!!!!

  17. #17
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    You are not alone. I don't have a pump with a gauge, I'm 240lb, and I ride my road bike on 700x23 tires all the time. I go by pinch, and also by sight, and also by feel.

    Pinch: Pump 'em up until they're rock hard.

    Sight: If I'm riding and I look down at my rear tire and I see it bulging under my weight, I add more. Some flattening is expected, but not bulging.

    Feel: If I ride up the inch-or-two high transition from street to driveway, and the tires squish too much (I.e. there is a risk of the metal hitting the curb) I add more. (Note, when you go over this kind of bump you always want to pay attention and ride light even if you are sure of your psi)

    But who knows; maybe I've been riding at 80psi all this time and didn't know it, and if I were to suddenly ride at 120-130psi like I should, my life would be changed, the heavens would part, and angels with harps would sing the hallelujah chorus while I rode.

    Or maybe not.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    After a while, you can actually tell pressure pretty well within seconds of hopping on the bike. But it requires a calibration method to learn the feel.

  19. #19
    Senior Member vredstein's Avatar
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    A gauge is nice even if you use the pinch method. Since the vast majority of floor pumps come with a gauge, it's no big deal to use the technology that already in your hands by pumping the tire till your pinch tells you it's good, then glancing at the gauge to associate a number with that pinch. Now the next time you pump a tire from dead flat, you can just pump away till you hit the number rather than taking a few strokes, pinching, taking a couple more strokes, pinching, etc.
    I like to have the numbers associated with a gauge when I'm trying out a different model or size of tire, or those times when I'm wacked out on horse tranquilizers and just can't feel my fingers.
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  20. #20
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    For my tubeless setup mt bike, 3 psi make a big difference.

  21. #21
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    It's easier for me. I use 700 - 32 at about 60 - 65 psi. I can tell by pressing on the tire with my thumb if there's enough air in it. I also have a look at how much the tires bulge when I first get on the bike, for almost any trip. With experience, I don't even need a pressure gauge.

    Fortunate because I'm traveling for the next year or 2, and have to get by with as few things as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    But who knows; maybe I've been riding at 80psi all this time and didn't know it, and if I were to suddenly ride at 120-130psi like I should, my life would be changed, the heavens would part, and angels with harps would sing the hallelujah chorus while I rode.
    Enjoyed the whole post Rube. Simple and practical.
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  22. #22
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Even when I was a kid, there were minimum and maximum tire pressures marked on the side of every tire. And EVERYONE (adults and kids alike) took their bikes to the corner garage to fill the tires.

    It used to be pretty standard to have a tire hose outside the garage that had a crank that would let you spin the numbers to the PSI that you wanted. If I remember correctiy, the max was 100PSI. Of course that was before most places went 'self-serve' and there were mechanics bays and air tools at most garages.


    But I digress ..... point is - most flats I see are pinch flats caused by insuffecient air pressure - not punctures caused by sharp objects. So don't underestimate the value of a little pressure guage. Based on construction materials and pressure ratings, bicycle road tires do, in fact, have a LOT in common with aircraft tires. In fact they have more in common with aircraft tires than they do with car or truck tires.

  23. #23
    Keepin it Wheel RubeRad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vredstein View Post
    ...the vast majority of floor pumps come with a gauge...
    That may be true if you look at the population of all possible floor pumps, but if you narrow your sample to lowest-priced floor pumps at Walmart/Target, it's a different story.

    I blame the wife. Before I really got back into cycling, she decided we needed a floor pump for the kids' bikes, and she came home without a gauge. Or presta (except using a plastic screw-on adapter). And I've been getting by ever since. Some day I'll pick up a gauged model off CL for cheap/trade, but meanwhile it's not really all that urgent.

  24. #24
    Ride More seedsbelize's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    You are not alone. I don't have a pump with a gauge, I'm 240lb, and I ride my road bike on 700x23 tires all the time. I go by pinch, and also by sight, and also by feel.

    Pinch: Pump 'em up until they're rock hard.

    Sight: If I'm riding and I look down at my rear tire and I see it bulging under my weight, I add more. Some flattening is expected, but not bulging.

    Feel: If I ride up the inch-or-two high transition from street to driveway, and the tires squish too much (I.e. there is a risk of the metal hitting the curb) I add more. (Note, when you go over this kind of bump you always want to pay attention and ride light even if you are sure of your psi)

    But who knows; maybe I've been riding at 80psi all this time and didn't know it, and if I were to suddenly ride at 120-130psi like I should, my life would be changed, the heavens would part, and angels with harps would sing the hallelujah chorus while I rode.

    Or maybe not.
    +1

  25. #25
    Oh, my brake was on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
    if I were to suddenly ride at 120-130psi like I should, my life would be changed, the heavens would part, and angels with harps would sing the hallelujah chorus while I rode.
    Do it, man! You have no idea what you're missing.
    I bought my bike at a garage sale last year and rode on the old stock tires at ~100psi all summer. I realized how much I enjoyed riding and decided to replace the tires. I'm about 240ish as well so somehow I decided that I should go with 145psi and I swear life got better for me. The sky is bluer, the rain doesn't last as long, folks in cars are actually happy to see me riding., and the list goes on....
    I believe it stopped being about the OP a while ago.

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