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Re-Wired My Brain - Tire Pressure

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Re-Wired My Brain - Tire Pressure

Old 03-25-22, 08:23 AM
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Noonievut
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Re-Wired My Brain - Tire Pressure

After years of mixed surface riding I feel like Iíve finally found what works best for me, but it took thinking about it differently. Was happy to figure this out and thought I would share for anyone feeling uncomfortable on their unpaved sections of rides.

Based on my local riding options, Iím either doing 80/20 gravel/paved or 20/80 gravel/paved. The former consists of trail systems maintained by a city, consisting of limestone/gravel/dirt paths for multi use (mainly walking over smooth terrain, but hilly and twisty through forests). The latter are long road rides with mainly paved roads, and some gravel roads that where I live, are not in abundance.

I used to go as high as I can with psi to make the paved riding snappy, but not too high that I was bartered. Past two days I went with much lower psi (tubeless 40mm) so that the unpaved portions were very comfortable, with great handling and no spin out when climbing 20%+ grades. The rides were amazing and I didnít mind the sluggish fee on paved (and it did feel sluggish!). The bike went from feeing stiff and harsh, to way more comfortable and compliant.

For me, comfort and handling trump going fast on paved portions. If I want fast road rides, I use my road bike with 25mm tires. Too bad it took many years...
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Old 03-25-22, 09:27 AM
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I am of the same frame of mind.
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Old 03-25-22, 09:56 AM
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I do some occasional group rides that involve gravel. The crew I ride with meets up in the city and rides 10 miles or so of paved roads before hitting the gravel trails.

Every time, there will be a handful of guys who will stop and let a little air out of their tires before leaving the pavement. They don't bring pressure gauges, so they're just guessing by feel. It always cracks me up, because I just set what I know will be a gravel-friendly pressure before I leave the house, and have concluded that even though it's a bit soft for road riding, it doesn't really slow me down on the paved miles. I'm also not running crazy low CX race psi for these rides - I'll run a 35mm tire at around 40psi, for example. Yeah, it's a little soft for road riding, but I'd rather just set it and forget it.
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Old 03-25-22, 12:00 PM
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Somewhere, a janheine gets its wings...
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Old 03-25-22, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by walnutz View Post
Somewhere, a janheine gets its wings...
From what I recall from Jan's book (love it by the way), lower pressure was partially/mostly about speed. When I lowered pressure it had zero to do with speed. All about comfort (who doesn't want to feel better after a ride), and handling (who doesn't want to avoid crashing, while feeling more confident!). The 'gravel' seen has evolved in an interesting way...still seems very focused on going fast. Even though I've only ever done a couple gravel events in a decade, and mostly ride solo when riding gravel, even I was thinking speed (why?). Anyway, I feel like I've turned the corner!

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Old 03-25-22, 07:07 PM
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When we work with new gravel riders one of the first things we cover is tire pressure. Raodies think dropping to 65 PSI is really low; 25 PSI is unimaginable to them. We encourage them to take a day and immediately find the lowest pressure they can ride without getting squishy. We start them at maybe 40 PSI and go down or up in 2 - 3 PSI increments until they land on the lowest pressure for the tire and weight. Now they can work up from there to adjust for specific riding conditions. If they do not find their lowest pressure at the start it can take them years to get down to 30 - 40 PSI (or whatever is optimal for their situation).
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Old 03-25-22, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut View Post
After years of mixed surface riding I feel like I’ve finally found what works best for me, but it took thinking about it differently. Was happy to figure this out and thought I would share for anyone feeling uncomfortable on their unpaved sections of rides.
...
I used to go as high as I can with psi to make the paved riding snappy, but not too high that I was bartered. Past two days I went with much lower psi (tubeless 40mm) so that the unpaved portions were very comfortable, with great handling and no spin out when climbing 20%+ grades. The rides were amazing and I didn’t mind the sluggish fee on paved (and it did feel sluggish!). The bike went from feeing stiff and harsh, to way more comfortable and compliant.
For me, comfort and handling trump going fast on paved portions. If I want fast road rides, I use my road bike with 25mm tires. Too bad it took many years...
Mindsets are funny things. Myself, after 5 decades+ of orienting most of my riding to some form of 'competitive cycling'; its hard to break out of set patterns...
MTB partially got me out of the 'competitive' zone, and now 'gravel' has me even further out.
The whole tire pressure thing seems part and parcel of this.
'Gravel' works for me because, it forces me to ease off. And part of that has been 'comfort' over speed. Not sayin that speed isn;t a worthy thing, but it is a balance with comfort - now.
The fun in 'Gravel' has become more technical/handling skills oriented rather than A to B. Speed eventually comes into it a bit, but mostly I like analyzing what lays ahead and find "The Line'.
Very much like Side or back country / off-piste skiing.
A balanced tire pressure seems an important element in all that - not too hard and not too soft - just right...
My Mindset has shifted now to 'handling/skills/3D riding" - without the elements which might break this old man into too many pieces... LOL!
very much the same as when I was into CX, but without the 'race' element. We don;t really have 'gravel roads' around here. It's deep rutted drainage, lots of deadfall, sand and beatup trails from too many horses... But it is challenging, and fun for trying to build mtb/trials skills on a 'road' type bike with thin tires... And tire pressure plays an important part.
Ride On
Yuri
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Old 03-26-22, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Noonievut;[url=tel:22450949
22450949]From what I recall from Jan's book (love it by the way), lower pressure was partially/mostly about speed. When I lowered pressure it had zero to do with speed. All about comfort (who doesn't want to feel better after a ride), and handling (who doesn't want to avoid crashing, while feeling more confident!)!
The way I read the gospel of Jan Heine - which I too follow - is that wider tires at lower pressure is *also* about speed. I think people found it fairly intuitive that lower pressure could increase comfort, and control as long as one isn't so low the tire collapses during cornering; what people found - find - unintuitive is that it also increases speed.

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Old 03-26-22, 12:59 AM
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My lesson came via my commuter. I'd typically pump its tires to 65 psi, then just ride until it felt squirrelly. Usually that was a few weeks and 20 psi. Eventually I recognized that just before squirrelly was another feeling - luxurious. 30 was the sweet spot on that bike, running tubed 38s. So i went with 30 and aired up more frequently. Probably risking pinch flats with my 200 lbs, but my commute is paved and smooth.
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