Feb 5, 2024 Grace Lambert-Smith
Feb 5, 2024 Grace Lambert-Smith

Gravel Bike Tyre Pressure: Finding the Right Balance

When it comes to riding a gravel bike, finding the right tyre pressure can make all the difference in terms of performance, comfort, and control.

Gravel Bike Tyre Pressure: Finding the Right Balance Finding the right tyre pressure for gravel bike

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, understanding the factors that influence gravel bike tyre pressure can help you determine the best pressure and riding style for your bike and the terrain you intend to ride. 

Contents

Factors that influence gravel bike tyre pressure

Before we dive into specific tyre pressures, it's important to understand the factors that influence tyre pressure for gravel bikes. These factors include:

Rider weight

The weight of the rider affects how much pressure is needed to support the bike and to maintain proper handling. 

Inner rim width

Narrow rims will have more lateral flex than wider tyres when rounding corners. 

Wheel size

26”, 650b, 650c, 700c are all sizes you may encounter. Generally speaking, the smaller wheel sizes run a slightly higher pressure.  

Tyre width

The width of the tyre impacts how much surface area is in contact with the ground, which can impact grip and rolling resistance. 

Tubes or tubeless tyres

Inner tubes can result in pinch-flats when the rim of the wheel impacts with a hard surface. Tubeless setups all but eliminate this risk. We’ve written a guide for gravel tyres which explains some of the key differences between some of the popular tyre brands. 

Terrain

The type of terrain you're riding on can also impact the ideal tyre pressure. For example, softer surfaces like mud or sand may require lower pressure for better traction, while harder surfaces like pavement may require a high pressure for efficiency. 

Riding style

Your preferred riding style, whether it's more aggressive or more leisurely, can also impact the ideal tyre pressure. 

Best tyre pressure for gravel bikes Best tyre pressure for gravel bikes

Finding the ideal gravel bike tyre pressure for you

To find the ideal tyre pressure for your gravel bike, consider the factors listed above, and then experiment with different pressures until you find the right balance for your needs. Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

  • Start with the manufacturer's recommended tyre pressure, which is usually listed on the sidewall of the tyre. This will give you a range. 
  • Adjust the pressure based on your weight. Most online charts range from around 41 kg to 114 kg. If you’re at the bottom end of the scale, start near the bottom of your tyre pressure range, and if you’re closer to the top, start nearer the top of the pressure range. 
  • Consider the terrain you'll be riding on. For loose or slippery surfaces like mud or gravel, you may want to lower the pressure by 5-10 PSI (Pound-force per square inch) for better traction. For harder surfaces like tarmac, you may want to increase the pressure by 5-10 PSI for better rolling efficiency. 
  • Fine-tune the pressure based on your riding style. If you prefer a more aggressive riding style, you may want to run slightly lower pressure for better grip and control. If you prefer a more leisurely riding style, you may want to run slightly higher pressure for better efficiency and comfort. 
  • Bear in mind that you will probably want to run a slightly lower pressure on the front than the rear. This is to give optimal traction on the front wheel with slightly better rolling resistance at the rear. 

Best tyre pressure for gravel bikes: Using a calculator

If you want a more precise way to calculate the ideal tyre pressure for your gravel bike, there are some gravel bike tyre pressure calculators available online. These calculators take into account your weight, wheel size, rim & tyre width, and riding style to provide a recommended pressure range. To use the calculator, simply enter your weight, tyre size, surface, speed and riding style, and the calculator will provide recommended pressures for both the front and rear tyres. 

How to check tyre pressure on a gravel bike  How to check tyre pressure on a gravel bike 

How to check your gravel bike tyre pressure

Checking your tyre pressure is an essential part of maintaining your gravel bike's performance and safety. Here's how to check your tyre pressure: 

  • Get a tyre pressure gauge. There are many types of gauges available, including digital, analogue, and dial gauges. Some pumps even have a built-in gauge. 
  • Use the methods listed above to find your ideal pressure. Remember, the pressure will vary from ride to ride depending on the conditions and the surface, and on how fast you plan to ride. 
  • Use the gauge to measure the pressure: Remove the cap from the valve stem and press the gauge onto the valve stem. You should hear a hissing sound as air escapes from the tyre and enters the gauge. Once the gauge has stopped moving, take a reading. 
  • Adjust the pressure as needed: If the pressure is too high or too low, use a pump with a pressure gauge to add or remove air until the pressure matches your target pressure.  

Tips for checking tyre pressure on a gravel bike

Here are some tips to help you get the correct tyre pressure reading: 

  • Check tyre pressure when the tyres are cool: Tyre pressure can change as the tyres heat up during riding, so it's best to check tyre pressure when the tyres are cool. 
  • Check tyre pressure regularly: Tyre pressure can decrease over time, even if there are no visible punctures or leaks. Make it a habit to check your tyre pressure before every ride or at least once a week. 
  • Use a high-quality tyre pressure gauge: A cheap or inaccurate gauge can give you false readings, so invest in a high-quality gauge that is accurate and easy to use. 
  • Check both tyres: Don't forget to check the pressure on both tyres, as the front and rear tyres may require different pressures. 

By following these tips and checking your tyre pressure regularly, you can ensure that your gravel bike is performing at its best for all conditions. Check out our guide to setting up your gravel bike for more tips on how to get the most out of your gravel bike. 

Discover our Gravel Bikes

Did this article help?

Thank you for your feedback

By subscribing to our newsletter, you are agreeing to our Data Protection Statement .
  • Grace Lambert-Smith
    About the author

    Grace Lambert-Smith

    Meet Grace, our SEO Copywriter who calls the Peak District National Park home. An experienced long-distance road cyclist, she's now focused on mastering the art of gravel riding and mountain biking. With a passion for telling cycling stories through the written word, Grace is always ready to share her experiences with others.

Related Stories

Mar 20, 2024
If you like your trails to point aggressively downwards, but secretly love a climb too – which bike is best? Let’s look at the differences between downhill vs enduro bikes and why angles really matter.
Mar 20, 2024
It’s a dilemma almost as old as the sport itself – should I choose a triathlon or road bike? Here’s what you need to know.
Mar 19, 2024
This partnership agreement gives World Road Cycling Champion Van der Poel longest-known contract in modern-day cycling.
Mar 16, 2024
Get ready for La Vuelta a España 2024, the third and final Grand Tour in the men’s road racing calendar.
Content is loading
Loading animation image