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Best Tire Pressure For Dirt Bikes, Motocross And Offroad

When heading out to turn laps at your local motocross track or rip some gnarly hare scramble trails, it is very important to use the correct tire pressure. Setting the correct tire pressure is simple and makes a huge difference in the performance of your ride. Not only does using the correct tire pressure improve performance, but it can also maximize the life of your expensive knobbies. Last summer Chronic MX did an extensive tire review, reporting our results in another article about some of the best motocross tires currently on the market. We were amazed by how many racers and weekend riders approached us during our testing, with the same question … ‘what’s the best tire pressure for dirt bike tires?’

First of all, take note that adding the correct tire pressure is simple yet critical. You can spend all the money in the world on after-market parts and custom suspension, and its useless if your tire pressure is way off.  If you want optimal performance, start with the simple free task of checking your tire pressure before you ride. You need just two tools: a tire pressure gauge and an air compressor (or equivalent source).

1. Check tire pressure while tires are cold. Air expands when the tires get hot and will skew the measurement.
2. Use a high quality tire pressure gauge that has a low PSI measurement for highest accuracy
3. Always use a cap on your tire stem to prevent air leaks.

Now that you have the proper tools and have checked the pressure…the next step is to set the correct amount of air in the front and rear tire.

4. The front and rear tires typically require different air pressure settings.
5. An all around general guideline that most riders use is 12 psi in the front and 13 psi in the rear.
6. The conditions of the terrain create different optimal settings:

  • Hard pack/ blue groove: 11.5 psi front, 11 psi rear.
  • Intermediate: 12 psi front, 13 psi rear.
  • Sand/Mud: 12 psi front, 10 psi rear.

7. If rocks and sharp objects are present in any of the above conditions where you are riding, we highly recommend raising the psi slightly to avoid punctures or flats. This is especially important for gnarly off road conditions.

  • Off road racers generally run 13 psi up front and 14 psi rear. (higher pressure because of rocks and roots)
  •  High speed desert racers generally run 14 psi front and 17-18 psi rear (higher pressure because of rocks)

8. Some off road racers use tire ‘bibs’ instead of tubes, to avoid getting a flat. Other riders carry travel size air pressure CO2 canisters and similar kits to be prepared in case of a problem.
9. Re-check your tire pressure after every few hours of riding. Let them cool down prior to checking. Also, if the outside temperature where you are riding changes more than 20 degrees on a given day…recheck your tire pressure.

Now go out and enjoy your ride! Cheers, Rocket 88

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