In my previous article I covered all of the big advantages of “Lower Tire Pressures”. In order to do this effectively, it is absolutely critical that you check your tire pressures very often. Believe it or not, I now check my tire pressures around once per week. I regularly set my pressures at 28 psi. I have seen my pressures sometimes drop to 15 – 20 psi in a couple of weeks. That is pinch flat low!
In this article, I will be going over the tools that I use to make running lower pressures easy and with minimal effort.
I do try to take good care of my tires. For the past 3 seasons of rides, I have not had any flats. **Hopefully I did not just jinx things up. LOL!** How do I manage to have such infrequent flats? Besides diligently maintaining good tire pressures, it is also partly because of where I ride (no thorns like in the southwest), and partly because I do not do huge hits or big jumps. I also use good quality Presta MTB tubes. They are specifically designed for higher volume 2.1 – 2.5 wide tires, made of 100% pure butyl rubber, light weight, offer some puncture resistance, and are inexpensive at $4 each.
On my longer rides that are 12 or more miles, I usually have a small frame pump mounted on my bike. I also bring a small pressure gauge, a tiny tire patch kit, a Presta/Schrader adapter, and a multi tool that has a tire lever as one of the tools. Believe me! An 18 mile walk after getting a flat tire is no fun at all. I carry most of this in my seat bag along with my cell phone, keys, wallet, and a paper map. The cell phone is outstanding for emergencies, and the wallet has saved me several times after I ended up way off a planned route and lost. I ended up once more than 16 miles away from the trailhead and it was starting to get dark. I found a near bye campground and I just called a cab to take me back to my car. I even had a beer while I waited for my cab! Not possible without the wallet.
For me, it makes perfect sense to check my tire pressures before every trail ride. For that I like to use my trusty Topeak Joe Blow Sport II floor pump. It is very accurate, smooth, easy to use, and super quick. It looks crazy impressive but it actually is not an expensive pump. This is what I use over 90% of the time to maintain good consistent pressures on a routinely basis. In my opinion, every mountain biker should have a descent floor pump. This is by far my most frequently used tool for bike maintenance.
…And don’t forget to also check your shock and fork air pressures while you are at it. I usually check those once a month with my Botranger shock pump.
Take good care of your tires and they will take good care of you. Stay tuned for the next write-up in this series of “The Frugal Mountain Biker”.