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Old 08-28-14, 10:41 AM   #1
vol
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Reasons not to pump the tires too full?

Beside when riding on snow/ice, are there occasions when it's not desirable to pump the tire too full? Could it help reduce the chance of a flat from punctures?

Last edited by vol; 08-28-14 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 08-28-14, 12:01 PM   #2
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My tires, according to the sidewall information, should be pumped to 6 atmospheres. Whenever my bike store works on my bike they'll pump the tires up and they are rock hard. I let some of the air out so my ride is more comfortable. With very high tire pressure you'll feel every grain of sand on the road.
I prefer a more comfortable ride.

Short story - Some time ago (with my previous bike) I had to drop off that bike for some work and the bike store gave me a loaner bike for the day. The bike had no gears and you had to back pedal to brake. Because the tires were on the fat side and because they weren't rock hard, the bike was extremely enjoyable to ride. It was as though it had a great suspension system but there was none; it was just big tires that were not rock hard.

I didn't answer your question, but I'd approach this issue from a comfort point of view. I really don't care if my tires have to be replaced earlier because I use less pressure. As to the issue of punctures related to tire pressure, I don't give that any thought.
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Old 08-28-14, 12:04 PM   #3
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Bike /tire/ wheel size would be helpful for discussion.
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Old 08-28-14, 12:11 PM   #4
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Tyre pressures should be set so that there is 10% deflection of the total tyre height when the bike is loaded... off roading warrants even lower tyre pressures for better traction but running them too low can cause pinch flats.

One should stick to the minimum pressure rating but the maximum will be more variable depending on the rider and gear.
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Old 08-28-14, 12:21 PM   #5
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I have some Vittoria tubulars that list a max pressure of 200psi, which is just ridiculous. I rarely pump them past 120 and that's only when I know the road will be super smooth.
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Old 08-28-14, 01:18 PM   #6
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Tire pressure is dependent on a lot of factors. But as a rule, it's always better to go higher than lower -- at least in terms of punctures -- because there's less of a risk of pinch flatting from hitting unexpected objects in the road, rolling over railroad tracks, etc.
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Old 08-28-14, 01:30 PM   #7
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Facts are facts, science is science, and theories are theories. What matters is reality. Your bike and tires will tell you whether pressure is too high or low. You just have to listen and understand what it's saying.

Excess pressure causes harsh riding, especially on less than glass smooth roads. If you're feeling excess pavement vibration, it's because your tires are too hard to dampen it. That inability to absorb bumps can also cause loss of traction and skittish handling, which might be described as feeling like an empty truck, or like riding on basketballs.

Under inflation causes increased friction and can make a bike feel sluggish. With tires that are much wider than the rims, it can also cause squirrelly handling because the tire can flex sideways, especially in turns. Also, soft tires can absorb bumps too well, and compress too far when hitting sharp corners like driveway edges or potholes. If you're lucky you'll feel the sharp impact of the rim bottoming, if not, you'll suffer "snake bite" punctures and/or rim dents.

So the goal is to be Goldilocks and inflate tires not too hard, and not too soft, and let the bike itself tell you what that is. Once you dial it in, use a gauge and note the pressure so you can repeat it easily.

BTW- in most cases, there's a generous, wide band to what's "just right", but heavier riders and/or narrower tires can reduce that band to zero. If you can't find a pressure with good handling, and ride, yet high enough to prevent bottoming, odds are you need wider tires.
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Old 08-28-14, 01:32 PM   #8
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i don't think i'd ever want to pump the tires "too full".
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Old 08-28-14, 01:38 PM   #9
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i don't think i'd ever want to pump the tires "too full".
Eh, self-correcting problem, they let out all the air if they get too full.
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Old 08-28-14, 06:39 PM   #10
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I was just thinking, if a balloon is blown very full and tight, compared to one that is slightly less full, if you use a needle to prick them, the first balloon would be more likely to be punctured and burst. So I think a fully pumped hard tire may be more easily to get puncture and flat when running over some sharp object.
(Otherwise, I enjoy bouncy rides on fully pumped tires, as I only ride on asphalt surface on city streets )
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Old 08-29-14, 06:08 AM   #11
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Reasons not to pump the tires too full? Another is that the reduction in rolling resistance from increasing tire pressure appears to be subject to the law of diminishing returns.

+1 on FBinNY's comments.
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Old 08-29-14, 11:38 AM   #12
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FBinNY's response is spot on.
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Old 08-29-14, 11:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vol View Post
I was just thinking, if a balloon is blown very full and tight, compared to one that is slightly less full, if you use a needle to prick them, the first balloon would be more likely to be punctured and burst. So I think a fully pumped hard tire may be more easily to get puncture and flat when running over some sharp object.
(Otherwise, I enjoy bouncy rides on fully pumped tires, as I only ride on asphalt surface on city streets )
I don't think it works that way. Tires inflated to close to the max recommended PSI are less prone to getting flats.
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Old 08-29-14, 11:58 AM   #14
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I don't think it works that way. Tires inflated to close to the max recommended PSI are less prone to getting flats.
I don't think it works that way either. IMO there's no evidence that higher or lower pressures are effective at reducing the number of flats (except for under-inflation snake bites).

In any case, flats are an occasional event, but you ride full time. So it makes more sense to set pressure for best ride performance rather than to try to prevent the occasional flat.
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