Fat Bike Tire Pressure 101: How to Select the Correct Air Pressure for Fat Biking
Tire Pressure for fat biking can be quite the adventure when you’re first starting out. It seems like everywhere you look someone has a different opinion. A regular bike pump won’t even register pressure below 10 psi. So how do you even know what the pressure is anyway? In the world of fat biking the answer can be complicated.
First, there’s a huge difference between having tubes in your tires or going tubeless. Believe it or not the giant tubes help to support the sidewalls of the tire a bit. In fact, you can go to extreme low pressures with tubes too. Fat bike tire tubes are very durable compared to regular size mountain bike and don’t seem to be effected by snake bite style punctures (caused when pressure is too low and the rubber of the tube overlaps itself creating a friction hole or two). You’ll notice the difference if you go from tubes to tubeless when airing up your tires. Also, the tubes can be so low in pressure that they don’t fully inflate the tire sidewalls. So watch out for that if. Otherwise, it seems that tubeless tires need a tad more air to keep shape.
That being said, it’s important to experiment with different tire pressures whenever possible. That more you know how they feel at varying amounts, the more easily you’ll be able to select the correct pressure for your rides in the future. Go to high and you’ll be bouncing around like a balloon. Go to low and you’re bound to get a nasty rimshot. Not to mention the extreme rolling resistance you get when going too low. I have gone over unpacked snow and loose sand with 1-3 psi. While you can ride over anything like that with super low tire pressure, the rolling resistance is almost 100%. Meaning every pedal stroke only moves you a short distance before you come to a full stop. Not fun, but great for exercise and training.
I recommend that you purchase an air pressure gage that is designed for low pressures. Here’s the one I have right now. Meiser Presta It’s very portable and gives readings for fat bikes and mountain bikes up to 30 psi. It’s designed to fit a Presta valve only. Check it out here on Amazon at a great price. With a gage like this you can really one in tire pressure for fat bikes. 10 psi in the fat bike world is actually pretty high believe it or not. Couple this gage with a small handheld air pump and you can experiment while out on the trail (of course the small size pump will take a little extra effort to inflate fat bike tires).
For a good starting place use the chart below:
- Loose sand: 4-6 psi (Can go lower than 4 psi if sand is dry and loose with no rocks)
- Wet packed beach sand (by the surf): 6-8 psi
- Rocky trails: 6-10 psi (Don’t go so low that you risk getting rimshots from rocks)
- Pavement: 10-12 psi
- Fresh snow: 1-4 psi (The lower the better is your best chance at success with the freshies)
- Packed snow: 2-6 psi (Packed non-cross country ski trails that are shared)
- Groomed snow trail: 1-4 psi (So you don’t sink in and damage the trail)
Thanks for reading. Look for regular blog uploads from Fat Bike Asinine. It is going to be fun. If there’s anything you think would be good to discuss on this blog send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Until Next Time… Go Fat Biking!
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