I finally got the Hardtail Mountain Bike out over the course of last Wednesday and yesterday at Sprague Brook for some riding. First of all I want to tip my hat to WNYMBA for their awesome work of getting the trails prepped for riding so soon. After the late end to winter and rains we had through April I figured we wouldn't be riding dry dirt before Mid-May but Wednesday was awesome and yesterday was even better. That being said, if you are a rider at any of the local county venues and find yourself wondering how the trails came to be and why they are in such great shape check out WNYMBA and support them as well.
During my ride Wednesday the feel of my bike just didn't "feel" right. If you have done any single track riding I am sure you are familiar with this feeling. The bumps are "bumpier", tire deflection is greater, and you just get fatigued much quicker than normal.
I had inflated my tires to around 25 psi (I run 2.4" tires just as reference point) and figured that pressure would be ideal just in case there was any loose stuff and also to help absorb some of the punishment from the roots around the Sprague Brook loop I ride. About half way through the ride Wednesday my hands were cramping up and I was feeling fatigued much sooner than I should have.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon as I prepped the bike to head back out for some more dirt riding. I changed the grips from what I had on there to a set that I have on my son's bike. I contemplated snagging my Ergons from the Mukluk but I knew I loved those too much on the Mukluk and if it came down to it I would just have to get a second set of Ergons for the Hardtail.
I arrive at Sprague Brook and set the bike up and head out on the trails. On my way up to the main loop from the main parking lot I realized I had never adjusted my shock air pressure after the winter either and made a mental note to go over that once I got back home. I was riding along on the single track and was enjoying the beautiful weather we are having this time of year but the bike just felt way too "rigid". I decided to pull over and deflate the tires some and see how that worked.
I don't carry a pressure gauge with me and I just always go by feel but in my estimation I went from 25 to 20 or so. I didn't want to go too low for fear of pinch flats so I played it safe. Well this was the magic formula. The riding all of a sudden became faster and smoother and it is all attributed to the pressure in the tires.
Well too make a long story even longer I figured I would share this information with those out there in the Tom's Pro Bike blogger land. I know we have run posts about road pressure variations in the past but never really covered the information for the mountain bikers out there. And the great thing about the Internet is all it takes is a Google Search and you can have a lot of information at hand and all you have to do is sort through it and decide which is best for you!
That is the tough part about tire pressure. There are so many variables out there that play into the "what is best for me" scenario. Tire size and type, bike type, body weight, trail conditions, and weather all come into play. For me I run a "trail" 2.4" tire on a hardtail, weigh around 177 pounds (or a tad more fully loaded for the ride) and Sprague Brook is dry right now with rocks and roots. Earlier or later in the season, a different location, lighter body weight, and a rigid or full suspension bike could change proper pressure around even if I ran the same tire.
Keep all of this information in mind when you get ready to hit the dirt. It is a great way to spend some quality time on the bike. And remember that we stock Specialized Mountain bikes and can order many other lines so if you are looking for a bike to play around on at local parks stop by the shop and take a look at all the different options out there for you.
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