When you're first starting out with an e-bike, the sheer number of choices you have can be overwhelming. From the frame material to the tire size and beyond, there are plenty of decisions to make. One of the first things you need to figure out when choosing your e-bike is how high to inflate your tires, which is called tire pressure in e-biking circles. This guide covers everything you need to know about e-bike tire pressure, from guidelines on what pressure works best to how to check your tire pressure with a gauge and more tips on avoiding overinflation or underinflation of your tires.
Ebike tire pressure factors explained
Ebike tire pressure affects the bike's handling and performance. Apart from the obvious range, other things dependent on the pressure include how long you will ride. The longer you will ride, the lower your bike fat tire pressure should be.
So, what factors determine tire pressure? Turns out there's more than one.
The combined weight of the bike and the rider is a major factor in determining e-bike tire pressure. Generally speaking, the heavier a rider is, the higher they should set their e-bike fat tire pressure.
The heavier an electric bicycle is when fully loaded with cargo or passengers, the higher its e-bikes fat tire pressure needs to be set to maintain stability at high speeds or steep grades and absorb pressure from small bumps.
The weather and road conditions have a big effect on bike tire pressure. A dry, smooth road can be ridden with lower pressure than a wet, rough road or a muddy trail. Similarly, cold weather demands higher electric bike tire pressure due to the contracting of air. However, when sunshine hits, you'll need to deflate a little, or else you'll be riding on excess pressure.
The terrain you are riding on affects your electric bike tire pressure. For example, if you are riding on bumpy, rocky roads, you will want a lower air pressure for shock absorption and control. On flat terrain, you can use a higher electric bike tire pressure because you don't have to worry about shocks or bumps. Still remember that higher tire pressure affects the range. So if you are on a smooth surface, it's best to use high pressure and squeeze the maximum range out of your e-bike.
4)Volume of the tire
The width of the rim is another consideration, as wider rims mean more volume inside the tire, so they require less pressure to keep them properly grounded. If you plan on carrying loads on your bike, you may want to consider getting wide rims, as this will give you some leeway before running into problems with too much slack under load.
5)Type of the bike
Road bikes and mountain bikes are two most common bike types. Adapted for rough terrains, mountain bikes require less tire pressure to maintain good contact with the terrain and absorb shock from bumps. On the other hand, roadies work with high pressure to reduce tire deformation during motion. You'll also notice the tire width difference between the two. If you intend to use your e-bike on the road, you better adjust the pressure and everything to work like a road bike.
So, you see that there are a lot of factors to keep in mind when setting e-bike fat tire pressure. You generally want your tires to provide stable, responsive performance and grip over a range of road surfaces at a decent speed.
How to test ebike tire pressure?
It's not every day that you'll have a pressure gauge whenever inflating or deflating your bike's tires. So, what do you do in such situations?
Start by inflating halfway and test the bike to feel it's rolling smoothly without vibrating. If it feels good, pump up the tire to full pressure. The best way to get a true feel is to test the bike on a terrain similar to where you intend to ride the bike regularly.
On the contrary, if the ride feels hard and bumpy, you must deflate a little bit and repeat until you feel comfortable with the pressure. It might take a few times before you can figure out what's best for your bike.
Since tires lose pressure with time, and the tube takes a little time to settle, you'll want to increase the pressure in 3PSI increments after the first ride.
Pros and Cons of high or low tire pressure
Both high and low e-bike tire pressure have their positives and drawbacks. Evaluating the pros and cons will also help you decide whether you want a high or low tire pressure. Check them out:
Advantages of high tire pressure:
- Better battery range
- More suited for weighty riders
- Ideal for smooth roads
- Lesser impact on the rims
Disadvantages of high tire pressure:
- A more bumpy ride
- Poor grip on a loose road surface
Advantages of lower tire pressure
- More grip, thus better traction
- Much smoother and merrier ride
Disadvantages of lower tire pressure
- A significantly shorter battery range
- More impact on the rims
How to get the ideal tire pressure for your e-bike?
Bike tires have their min and max allowable pressure written on the sidewall. As a general rule, a bike tire's optimal air pressure will be between 10% under its minimum and 30% over its maximum. If your e-bike has fat tires, it will need more air than a standard bike tire to achieve the same rolling resistance. The maximum allowable pressure for a fat bike is higher than for a standard bicycle because it is harder to roll over that fat tire.
Investing in a portable pressure gauge or inflator/deflator can help you keep track of your current tire pressure so you can know if it's time to add or release air when necessary.
Also, taking the bike for a spin to feel how it rides before you adjust the pressure can help determine which way to go with your setting.
Testing your bike's pressure against speed and range will also give you a clue as to how much air you need. A higher air pressure produces less friction which requires lesser energy from the rider and causes greater strain on the motor.
Evaluating and adjusting the pressure according to these factors will allow you to settle on the ideal figure for your specific riding needs.
Now you should know about e-bike tire pressures and their associated pros and cons. You can also deduce whether to go for a fat tire e-bike or a regular one by considering your lifestyle. If you live in an urban area with potholed streets, then a fat tire bike would be more appropriate as they provide increased stability on uneven surfaces. However, a skinny tire bike would be preferable if you live somewhere with paved roads and smooth surfaces as they're lighter, faster, and provide more range.