Owning an e-bike is one thing. Taking care of it is another.
Besides making sure the bike is clean, you need to take care of the tires. Having the correct tire pressure for your e-bike is essential for the best riding experience.
Unfortunately, when it comes to tire pressure and e-bikes, it’s not a one-size-fits-all deal. Not only do you need different tire pressures for different e-bikes and tires, but also different riding conditions.
So, what is a good eBike tire pressure?
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know to ensure your tires and in top shape at all times.
E-Bike Tire Pressure Factors
E-bike tire pressure can get pretty complicated - pretty quickly. Thankfully, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
In general, the correct tire pressure depends on a couple of factors, including:
Type of tires
Riding conditions (smooth or offroad)
The easiest place to start is with the e-bike tires themselves. Although it can be hard to read, all tires have recommended pressure printed on the side.
Now, you don’t necessarily want to go by this metric alone - but it’s a good start.
Even if you keep your tires within the recommended pressure levels, there’s still room for some adjustments.
So, how do you get the tire pressure just right for you?
Well, a good place to start would be to understand the pros of high and low e-bike tire pressure.
High Vs. Low Tire Pressure
In short, the higher the tire pressure, the more rolling resistance you have - and that will make carrying your speed easier. The lower the tire's pressure, the more grip you’ll have - and a more comfortable ride, in general.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. So, let’s look into this problem a bit deeper.
High E-Bike Tire Pressure
If you’re riding over smooth terrain like pavement, higher tire pressure will be better because it will reduce your rolling resistance and give you more speed.
For instance, some extremely “skinny” wheels can have a recommended tire pressure as high as 120 PSI.
On that note, most riders tend to go with higher tire pressure rather than lower tire pressure.
Keep in mind that the recommended pressure printed on the side of the tire is usually too high, though. On top of that, it doesn’t consider your weight or different types of terrain.
A good thing to know is the heavier you or your cargo get, the more tire pressure you’ll need to get the same performance out of your e-bike.
Low E-BIke Tire Pressure
Lower tire pressure is quite helpful when it’s rainy outside because it provides more grip - at the expense of rolling resistance and speed, that is.
Low-pressure e-bike tires are also excellent at absorbing bumps, making your whole ride much smoother. This pressure setting is also ideal if you have to do a lot of cornering on any off-road terrains.
And what would be the biggest drawback to low tire pressure?
It’s the increased wear and tear on the materials. Sooner or later, the sidewalls of your tires will crack, leading to flats.
No matter which setting you prefer, though, you should never go outside the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure levels.
How Type Of Biking Affects E-Bike Tire Pressure
Another essential factor you should consider when adjusting your e-bike’s tire pressure is the type of biking you’ll be doing.
You should start with the “middle” setting for commuting around town because even the smoothest pavements have bumps.
You can lower the tire pressure slightly if it’s raining outside to get more grip but never stray far from the middle setting.
You should also start with the middle setting if you’re mountain biking - but gradually go lower until you hit the preferred balance of grip and comfort.
That said, optimal tire pressure also depends on the type and size of the e-bike tire.
Narrow road tires need more pressure than fat tires for mountain biking. Super slim road tires usually require between 80 and 130 PSI, while mountain tires require between 25 and 35 PSI. As for hybrid tires, they typically need between 40 and 70 PSI.
Adjusting Front And Back Tire Pressure
More experienced e-bikers usually have different front and back wheel pressure settings.
A great rule of thumb you can follow here is to keep the front tire at a lower pressure than the back tire. That is especially critical if you’re planning on carrying a lot of cargo on your e-bike.
We’d recommend pumping both tires to the middle setting and then taking the e-bike for a spin. Once you feel this pressure level in action, you can easily make further adjustments for a smoother ride.
Don’t forget to check the e-bikes’ manual. Manufacturers generally have recommendations for front and back tire pressure, as well!
How Much Does High E-Bike Tire Pressure Affect Rolling Resistance?
If you enjoy riding for miles each week, you want to get as many miles from your e-bike’s battery as possible, right? That’s why most e-bikers keep their tires at higher pressures.
But how significant is tire pressure to rolling resistance?
Don’t get us wrong; low tire pressure will increase the rolling resistance. But in most cases, this will amount to just a few watts of power.
When you factor in gravity and wind resistance, tire pressure affects this metric the least.
However, setting the pressure high will have a considerable impact if you plan on a longer ride.
The type of tires you have will have the most significant impact on rolling resistance:
Mountain tires have the highest rolling resistance because they’re built to provide more grip. On the other hand, road tires have the lowest rolling resistance because they’re designed for flatter terrain - like pavement.
E-Bike Tire Pressure And The Risk Of Flats
Although a smooth ride is essential, tire pressure also affects the risk of getting a flat. And if you experience a lot of flats, one of the things responsible might be your tire pressure.
If the pressure is too low, you’re risking getting a “pinch flat.” It happens when the inner tube of the tire gets pinched by the rim - but you can prevent that by keeping the tires at a higher pressure setting.
That said, you should never have the e-bike’s tire pressure close to - let alone exceeding - the recommended pressure setting. While you might get a few extra miles, you are risking blowing out the tires.
What’s The Ideal Pressure For E-MBT Tires?
One of the easiest - and most affordable - ways to get more from your electric mountain bike is adjusting the tire pressure. Changing pressure on a mountain tire is a bit more complex than on a road tire, though.
Getting the ideal balance of grip and stability is key to a smooth ride on a mountain bike.
Thankfully, there is a general rule of thumb - at least for tubeless tires:
For 2.35 to 2.5-inch tubeless mountain tires, we recommend you set the pressure to 26 PSI on both wheels.
If you’re running tubeless tires that measure between 2.6 and 3-inches, we recommend you set the pressure to 20 PSI on both tires.
Keep in mind this is just the starting point. After a few test rides, you can adjust the pressure to your liking.
High tire pressure will support the sidewalls more, reducing the risk of a pinch flat. Don’t overdo it, though:
The higher the tire's pressure, the smaller the contact surface between the tire and the ground, which makes the ride feel bumpy and harsh.
Lower tire pressure will increase the grip and traction. What’s more, it may significantly improve your cornering because the tires will absorb more bumps. However, you risk getting a pinch flat, and you’ll have a more unstable ride at certain speeds.
How To Test E-Bike Tire Pressure
Once you’ve pumped your tires to half the recommended pressure level, try them out. Take the e-bike for a spin and try to get a feel for how well the bike rides.
You’ll get the best feel for how well the e-bike rides if you take it out on a route that you would often take.
If the ride is too bumpy, try lowering the tire pressure slightly. On the flip side, you should up the pressure if you can feel the rims hitting the tires.
After you’ve come back from the test ride, you can adjust the pressure in 3 PSI increments until you zero in the perfect setting for your needs.
Don’t Forget To Check The Bike’s Tire Pressure Regularly
No matter which type of tires you’re running, air will leak out from them over time. Most air leaks out when there’s a major temperature change. So, regularly checking tire pressure is essential.
But how often should you do that?
More cautious riders tend to check the tire pressure before each ride, which is the best practice. However, it’s still perfectly okay to check the pressure once a week; this is especially true if you don’t ride your e-bike often.
On that note, you must fill your e-bike’s tires with the same pump every time. That’s because air pumps are quite different from brand to brand - and it doesn’t hurt to be consistent.
When it comes to electric bikes and tire pressure, it’s usually best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. So, be sure to check the recommended pressure levels printed on the tire’s sidewall. That will give you a good starting point.
Fill the tires to half the recommended air pressure and adjust in 3 PSI increments from there.
If you’re running mountain tires, it’s good you keep them at lower pressure but not too low to risk getting a pinch flat.
But if you’re riding on pavement, go for high pressure for dry conditions and a lower pressure for wet conditions.