Cyclocross is about fitness and skill, but without a good bike you are set up to fail. A good set of tires helps, too – but you need to make sure that the tire pressure is set to your body and bike. It may seems complicated, but with a bit of practice it is easy. Below are tips to help you find the right tire pressure for your cyclocross bike.
Start with a high benchmark figure – usually 26-28psi for his team’s tubular tires – and then pre-riding the course. From there, riders can let a little air out while on-course until they get the handling characteristics they feel are appropriate for the day. Riders can feel differences of as little as 0.5psi, and that typical front/rear pressure differentials are usually only about 1psi, if anything.
Pre-Ride The Course At Race Pace
Regardless of preferences, you need to pre-ride the course at race pace. That’s when you’re really going to find out where all the bumps are, because if you’re just noodling around at half-speed you’re not going to find anything. It’s when you ramp the speeds up to a pace that you’re cross-eyed at in the middle of a race, you know what the tire pressure needs to be.
Finding The Correct Cincher Pressure
For amateur riders using tube-type clinchers, start with 35-40psi as a safe figure to prevent pinch flats. But it is still important to experiment. It’s the same process – start with a benchmark and then go out and ride. Even as an amateur, you’ll feel that rim if you’re hitting the bumps pretty hard. And if you’re pushing it through the corners you might want to drop a little out. there are riders who can get away with quite a bit less than that. Some lighter riders and some of the women out there are running in the high-to-mid 20s with a clincher. However, everyone is different, which is why pre-riding the course helps. Rider weight is also a huge factor – smaller people can get away with less pressure, while larger people need more pressure.