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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

Comments (9)

  • high quality tire pressure gauge

    Excellent Post! Thanks for providing helpful and useful information regarding tire pressure gauge. This are really important tips and guides that should be followed.

  • jason

    got bike check presser and they was at 80 psi bike didn’t want to go around a bend,thanks for y help

  • Lon

    Hello , I just received a dual sport ( Husanberg fs 450 ) . Was wondering is there an in between pressure I can stay with . I do use the bike for trail and a little street .

    • Chronic MX

      Hey bud…congrats on the new Husanberg 450, thats a sweet ride! Your question is a tough one b/c different terrain truly requires different air pressure for optimal performance. There is no “leave it at one” pressure when riding in dirt + on the road. However, for dual purpose off road bikers that plan to be ride both on and off road we can only suggest the following: As a rule of thumb, you will definitely want more air in your tires on the pavement than what you have riding in the dirt. Based on the post we have written…you can see how the optimal tire pressure ranges from 10 psi all the way up to 18 psi when off road… depending on conditions. Once you hit the road though, you will want to raise the pressure up quite a bit…up to 20 or even higher depending on how long your trek on the highway is, and how fast you plan to go. Slow speeds and short distances on pavement could require less inflation…but a long distance, high speed drive on pavement will definitely require a stop at the station to “pump” up after hitting the trails! Too much pressure in the dirt will cause you to slide… but too little pressure on the road could be dangerous. We don’t ever ride on the road, but if we did…we’d probably start at 20 psi if unable to regulate air pressure during surface transitions. Different tires will respond differently…so start there and find your comfort zone. Cheers, Chronic MX!

  • Duane

    Hey man, I have 2012 Crf 250 r that aim riding in the woods. What tire presser do you recommend

    • Chronic MX

      Hi Duane, thanks for your question. As a rule of thumb, we generally run 13 psi up front and 14 psi rear when riding in the woods and trails. The higher pressure than usual is because of the rocks and roots that could potentially puncture the tire… otherwise we’d prefer to run a slightly lower psi (12/13). If it is really sandy you may want to stay with a lower psi than 13/14…. and if it is really rocky and hard packed…go higher. Hope that helps…enjoy your ride and thanks for following ChronicMX!


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