Although filling up air in your bike's tyres may seem like a mundane task, it is a very important aspect that must not be overlooked. Tyre pressure greatly influences road grip and fuel efficiency, so it is crucial in terms of both safety and economy. Let us see the various effects of under-inflation, over-inflation and correct inflation of the tyres.
This increases the contact patch of the tyre to the road surface. This means that road grip is increased, but, due to increased rolling resistance acting on the tyre, mileage decreases and tyre life reduces.
This decreases the contact patch of the tyre to the road surface. This means that rolling resistance is reduced, resulting in increased mileage and tyre life. The flip side is that road grip is reduced, thereby negatively affecting handling and increasing braking distances, making it extremely unsafe to ride.
This offers the correct level contact patch. It offers the manufacturer-intended mileage and road grip, making it handle and ride as it was designed to.
1) When extra load, in the form of a pillion rider or luggage, needs to be carried, the tyres must be over-inflated in order to compensate for the load applied.
2) During summer, the hot temperaures will make the air in the tyres expand, increasing the pressure by 3 - 4 psi. Therefore it is ideal to set the tyre pressure 2 - 3 psi under the manufacturer recommended limit. This will compensate for the expansion of air due to heat.
3) In situations where maximum possible grip is necessary, tyres will have to be used with very little air-pressure. This will increase the contact patch of the tyre with the surface, thereby increasing the grip offered. This is usually done on race bikes, where the tyres are under-inflated to improve cornering grip.
Make sure to check the air pressure in your tyres atleast once a week. Remember to keep a tyre pressure gauge and a foot-operated air-pump with you at home. With them at hand, you wouldn’t need to rely on the air pump at the fuel station, saving you valuable time in your commute.