Folding Bike Tire Pressure – The Complete Guide


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Folding bikes are more convenient than a regular bike because if you don’t feel like riding it home you can fold it up into the size of a backpack and practically take it anywhere. Folding bikes do have a range of tire sizes but today I will explain what tire pressure you should use on your folding bike tires.

On average, folding bike tires should be pumped to 26 PSI for 27.5-inch diameter tires, and to 55 PSI for 16-inch diameter tires for a person who is an average weight (187 lbs or 85 kg). Folding bike tires range in size from about 16 inches in diameter to 27.5 inches in diameter.

From this, you can see that smaller tires should be pumped to a higher PSI than tires that are larger. But, if you are smaller than the average weight they should not be pumped as high, and if you’re larger they should be pumped up a bit lower.

Below I will cover in detail with tables showing the average PSI ranges for folding bike tires based on your weight, and the size of the tire, as well as, how to know what sized tires you have.

Folding bike tire pressure

How To Find What Tire Size Your Folding Bike Has

The width of your tires is written on the tires. The width can either be written in inches or in millimeters. Bicycle tires, in general, range in size from around 1.5 inches (38 mm) to 3 inches (76 mm). There is a two-number sequence that is embossed or printed on the tire. 

It has the format: diameter then width. Examples are:

27.5 x 2.30 – this is a 27.5-inch tire, that is 2.30 inches wide

29.5 x 2.50 – this is a 29.5-inch tire, that is 2.50 inches wide

Therefore, it’s very easy to read straight off the tire the diameter and width of your tire. You can then use that together with your average weight to see what PSI you should pump your tires up to. It’s also important to note that there are many different ways that tires are made.

They can have different types of tubes, and different types of reinforcing.

Because of that, the exact tire pressure will vary slightly from the recommended PSI.

There is also a maximum PSI for the tire that is printed on the tire. You should never go above that.

Folding bike tire pressure - 26psi to 55psi
Folding bike tires should be pumped to somewhere between 26PSI and 55PSI (depending on the size of the tires and weight of the rider)

Why you should never ride on tires that are outside the max and min PSI

Every tire will also have a recommended minimum and maximum PSI. This is typically embossed or printed on the tire. It’s very important to not ride on your bike with the tires outside of these ranges.

Also, it’s very important not to pump up your tires over the maximum PSI. If you do the tire can burst.

Tires are more comfortable and have better grip and lower PSIs. But, if you ride tires on a PSI that is lower than the minimum it will typically cause what are called snake bike punctures. They’re named this because the puncture marks look like a snake has bitten the tire.

The punctures occur when the tire pushes against the rims of the tire. And the tire will need to be repaired or replaced. These are 2 key things to keep in mind.

Now onto the tables that show ballpark figures how what PSI the tires of a folding bike should be based on the side of the tire, and what you – or the person riding the bike – weighs.

A heavier individual needs tires that are pumped to a higher PSI.

Types for folding bikes for the most part come in the following sizes (source).

  • 16 inches (40.6 mm) diameter, width – 1.57 inches (40 mm)
  • 20 inches(40.6 mm) diameter, width – 2 inches (50.8 mm)
  • 24 inches (40.6 mm) diameter, width – 2 inches (50.8 mm)
  • 26 inches (40.6 mm) diameter, width – variable about 50.8 mm
  • 27.5 inches (40.6 mm) diameter, width – variable about 57.0 mm

Each size tire needs a different PSI. So, I’ve put together 4 tables below that show the PSI based on your weight. The one tire type I didn’t include is a 24-inch tire. The reason is that the data is unavailable. 

However, you can take the PSI of a 20-inch tire, and a 26-inch tire based on your weight to get an idea of the range that it should be (roughly). And then adjust it based on how comfortable it is to ride.

Very important: these tire pressures should serve as a guide only. Never ride on a bike with the PSI lower than the minimum PSI printed on the tire, or pump up the tire above the maximum PSI.

With that said here are the tables and how the PSI should typically be adjusted based on how heavy you are, and based on the diameter of your folding bike tires.

16-inch diameter tires – PSI based on your weight

Weight of rider (lbs)Weight of rider (kg)Front tire (PSI)Rear tire (PSI)
110 lbs50 kg37.640.7
121 lbs55 kg40.443.8
132 lbs60 kg43.346.9
143 lbs65 kg46.250.0
154 lbs70 kg49.053.1
165 lbs75 kg51.956.2
176 lbs80 kg55.259.8
187 lbs85 kg57.662.4
198 lbs90 kg60.465.4
209 lbs95 kg63.368.5
220 lbs100 kg66.171.6
231 lbs105 kg69.074.7
242 lbs110 kg71.877.8
253 lbs115 kg74.780.9
264 lbs120 kg77.584.0
275 lbs125 kg80.487.1

20-inch tires – PSI based on your weight

Weight of rider (lbs)Weight of rider (kg)Front tire (PSI)Rear tire (PSI)
110 lbs50 kg24.126.2
121 lbs55 kg26.028.1
132 lbs60 kg27.830.1
143 lbs65 kg29.632.1
154 lbs70 kg31.534.1
165 lbs75 kg33.336.1
176 lbs80 kg35.538.4
187 lbs85 kg37.040.0
198 lbs90 kg38.842.0
209 lbs95 kg40.644.0
220 lbs100 kg42.546.0
231 lbs105 kg44.348.0
242 lbs110 kg46.150.0
253 lbs115 kg48.051.9
264 lbs120 kg49.853.9
275 lbs125 kg51.655.9

26-inch tires – PSI based on your weight

Weight of rider (lbs)Weight of rider (kg)Front tire (PSI)Rear tire (PSI)
110 lbs50 kg21.022.7
121 lbs55 kg22.624.5
132 lbs60 kg24.226.2
143 lbs65 kg25.827.9
154 lbs70 kg27.429.6
165 lbs75 kg28.931.4
176 lbs80 kg30.833.4
187 lbs85 kg32.134.8
198 lbs90 kg33.736.5
209 lbs95 kg35.338.3
220 lbs100 kg36.940.0
231 lbs105 kg38.541.7
242 lbs110 kg40.143.4
253 lbs115 kg41.745.2
264 lbs120 kg43.346.9
275 lbs125 kg44.948.6

27.5-inch tires – PSI based on your weight

Weight of rider (lbs)Weight of rider (kg)Front tire (PSI)Rear tire (PSI)
110 lbs50 kg17.318.7
121 lbs55 kg18.620.1
132 lbs60 kg19.921.6
143 lbs65 kg21.223.0
154 lbs70 kg22.524.4
165 lbs75 kg23.825.8
176 lbs80 kg25.427.5
187 lbs85 kg26.428.6
198 lbs90 kg27.830.1
209 lbs95 kg29.131.5
220 lbs100 kg30.432.9
231 lbs105 kg31.734.3
242 lbs110 kg33.035.7
253 lbs115 kg34.337.2
264 lbs120 kg35.638.6
275 lbs125 kg36.940.0

Wet vs Dry Weather: Why You Need to Adjust the PSI to the Conditions

In wet weather, the road has less grip than in dry weather. Interestingly, adjusting the PSI of your tires up or down increases and decreases the grip of your tires. If you pump your folding bike tires or any bicycle tires up more, they will have less grip.

The reason is that tires that are pumped up LESS absorb the movements of your bike MORE. This reduces the responsiveness of your bike to the way you turn and pedal. But, means your tires are in contact with the ground more.

This makes far more of a difference if you’re riding off-road than on the road/pavement. On the road and pavement generally, your tires will have enough grip that you don’t need to adjust the PSI up and down.

Provided you ride your bike more carefully after it has rained or if you’re riding your bike in rain.

But, for mountain bikes, the off-road conditions provide much less traction, and adjusting your bike when the soil is damp and not bone dry is recommended.

Folding bike tire
Optimal folding bike tire pressure is due to a range of factors, including the seasons and rainfall

Adjust the PSI of your tires up and down in summer and winter 

In some regions, the temperature goes down in winter and up in summer. Whereas, in other regions closer to the equator the temperature remains relatively the same all year long. If the air temperature goes down in winter this affects the pressure of the tires.

And the air pressure will naturally decrease.

In the summertime, the PSI of your tires will increase naturally on their own because the air temperature has increased.

This means it can be a good idea to increase or decrease the PSI of your tires from the PSI you’ve found to be ideal based on the seasons.

For every 10 °F (about 0.5 °C) that the temperature decreases or increases, the tire pressure will naturally increase or decrease by 2%. Note that for celsius the temperature change is approximate because converting from Fahrenheit to celsius doesn’t go stepwise.

The numbers can be taken with a grain of salt but should work as a rough guide.

Here’s a helpful table that shows how you should adjust the PSI based on a temperature increase or decrease in both Fahrenheit and celsius.

Temperature (°F)Temperature (°C)Recommended PSI
47 °F8 °C22.8 PSI
57 °F14 °C22.4 PSI
67 °F19 °C21.9 PSI
77 °F25 °C21.5 PSI
87 °F30 °C21.1 PSI
97 °F36 °C20.6 PSI
107 °F41 °C20.2 PSI

A typical temperature in a moderate climate is about 67 °F (19 °C), so from the table, you can see that in the height of summer when the temperature is about 87 °F (30 °C) for most of the day you would need to adjust the pressure of your tires down by about 1 PSI.

How To Know What Pressure Your Bike Tires Are

Once you’ve pumped up your tires, or if your tires come pre-pumped you’ll need to know what pressure they are. There are free air pumps at petrol stations but sometimes it’s hard to know if they are accurate or reliable for bike tires.

Therefore, here’s an explanation about how to know what tire pressure your bike tires are currently.

There are mechanical or digital tire pressure gauges that will tell you what the pressure is for your bike tire. Both work equally as well, you put it on the valve of your tire and it will give you a reading that tells you what the PSI of your bike tire is.

For brand new tires that aren’t pumped up at all, generally, you should pump them until they are reasonably full but not hard to press with your hand at all. Then measure the PSI as you pump it until it’s the pressure you want.

Sources

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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