How To Check Tire Pressure Without A Gauge – Bike Maintenance Tips

What do you do when you have to check the tire pressure but there is no gauge? You don't worry! You can easily check the tire pressure without even using a gauge, in this guide we will tell you how!

Cycling is fun and addictive, no matter how many trips you take with it, there will come a time when you have to check the tire pressure and see that everything is fine. Sometimes the situation would force you to check the tire pressure without a gauge, it could be in the middle of nowhere or even a professional race.

This can be a very stressful situation, we know but you cannot alter the situation all by yourself. When a situation like this happens, we are not left with that many options? Do we check the pressure now or do we continue riding? These are some of the questions that we have to answer all by ourselves, well that is not the case now!

In this guide, we will show you how to check the tire pressure of your bike without the need for a gauge.

Important Note: There is no need to worry if you don't have a pressure gauge when there is a need, there are always alternate methods that you can use to check the bike's tire pressure. You can check the sag and confirm the visual condition, there are plenty of ways to be short. All you need to know is that this is a temporary fix, the accurate information will be provided by a gauge when it is available!

Different Methods To Check Tire Pressure Without A Gauge

Before we get started, you have to know that all of these methods will give you estimates and temporary results, you cannot rely on them always. Getting to know your way around these methods also takes a lot of time and experience.

New Cyclists should stick to checking the tire pressure through the gauge. Professional Cyclists on the other hand should use these methods but then again: Just as estimates!

PSI stands for Pound Per Square Inch, it is the scientific measuring unit for tire pressure. Using these methods will land you to the nearest estimate. Let us get started!

The “Feeling” Touch

Let’s start with the most basic method, you can check the tire pressure by simply touching it. As I said, these methods are for professionals only and with time, they get to know the whole feel of their bikes, including how the tire feels when it has full pressure.

If the bike feels unoptimized then there is certainly a tire-related problem. The moment you will touch the tire, you will get to know about the current pressure. This goes both ways, a professional would be able to tell if the tire has too much or too low pressure.

How do you know between under and over-inflated tires though? If the tire pressure is too low then the bike will be very hard to control and steer, you may even feel that when you bump into some obstacles. If the tire is over-inflated meaning too much pressure, then the bike will feel more responsive than usual, there will be a certain loss in traction, overall, there will be lower stability.

It is recommended that no matter what happens check the tire pressure with a gauge before going out on a trip, that will save you the trouble down the road!

Cyclist Checking Wheel Pressure
Cyclist Checking Wheel Pressure

The “Pincher” Test

The Pincher Test is the most famous test to date, if you grew up riding bikes then this would be really familiar. This test involves using your thumbs on the tire sidewalls, you simply have to pinch them. The tire sidewalls are over the rim of the bike and you check them for tightness.

Again, this will only give you an estimate, you will not be able to layout actual readings using this test.

 The “Sag” Test

For this test, you will need the help of another rider, so if you are riding out with family or friends then this is actually a really good method to use.

Checking the pressure in your bike is actually hard, the tires flatten down as soon as you sit on the bike. The other rider will come in handy here, they can check the tire pressure as you sit down or vice versa! Once you have the whole picture, you can add the correct amount of pressure.

How To Know The Condition Of Your Bike’s Tires?

Avid Readers and Professional Cyclists would be able to know the condition of their bikes just by one look! The hard part is when you have to check the tire pressure. You can never know if there is enough air!

As a safety measure, most riders over-inflate their tires. This is a double-edged decision, which will lead to both advantages and disadvantages.

In order to check if your bike has enough tire pressure, you can do the following.

  • Go For A Test Ride: You can always go for a test ride! If you know how your bike feels at its best then you would be able to know from the get-go. If the tire pressure is optimum, then the bike will feel responsive as you like it. It would have just the perfect traction!
  • Go For A Pincher: The Pincher test can never go wrong! Well, it has been around for ages, hasn’t it? You just have to pinch the sidewalls and you would know about the tire pressure. The resistance will show how much tire pressure there is. If the tires are over-inflated then it would be too hard to pinch.
  • Go For A Sag Test: In order to check out this way, you will be needing a fellow rider. When you sit on the bike, they can check the sag in your tires. If you ride very often then you will know about the sag almost instantly!
Check Bike Tire Pressure
Check Bike Tire Pressure

Should You Go For Over-Inflated Tires?

Filling your tires with extra pressure is very tempting, especially if you don’t know for how long you would be out but as we discussed, this method is not to be recommended because it also has disadvantages. Now we may have tried this method once or twice, these are things that could eventually happen if you fill your tires with extra pressure.

The first thing that you will get to experience is Less Rolling Resistance. This isn’t such a bad thing but if you have over-inflated tires then it could be a really big problem for you. Having a lower rolling resistance means that your bike can become faster and you can easily maintain the speed but this only occurs on smooth surfaces. If you hit a bump or an obstacle, you are back to square one and all that progress is lost!

You can Lose Traction if you have over-inflated tires. Did you know that whenever you are getting the best grip, your tires deform a little? When there is too much air in the tires, they don’t deform and that leads to a loss of traction. If you make turns a lot then this could become particularly dangerous.

You will feel Extra Bounce if you have over-inflated tires. When there is too much air in your tires, they can become stiff like extra stiff and that could cause problems. Yes, the bike does get a lot more responsive but loses stability. A small bump in the road could result in a much larger “Bounce”.

If you have over-inflated tires then chances are that they can be Damaged or Ruptured Completely! If your tires don’t deform then they won’t be able to off-load that extra air and that could damage the tires.

Other Tips To Know About!

Apart from checking tire pressure, there are also other things to know that could help you with the bike’s tires! Let us discuss them!

Every different type of bike will require different tire pressure, there is no universal tire pressure.

The type of weather is also going to affect your bike’s tire pressure. If the temperature drops by 10 F then that would lead to 10% tire pressure. For example, if it drops from 90 to 60 degrees then your tire pressure can drop from 100 to 94. (Rough Estimates)

The type of road that you usually ride on also affects the tire pressure. If it is a flat and smooth surface then you should have maximum tire pressure. If it is a rough terrain then keep it down to the optimal level for best performance.

The rider’s body weight also affects the tire pressure. The more the bodyweight of the rider the more pressure has to be in the tires! For the best performance, use the manufacturer’s instructions!

FAQs

How Do I Know What Pressure My Bike Tires Should Be?

Every bike tire manufacturer has the recommended PSI printed on the tires. It is usually written in ranges as you would see. For example, 100-130 would be the best!

How Do You Manually Check Tire Pressure?

By following the techniques that we showed, you can easily check the tire pressure manually!

Is 40 PSI Good Tire Pressure?

Usually, good tire pressure is from 30-40 PSI. If you are using hybrid bikes then it is perfect!

Recap

Riding a bike is easy, maintaining it is the hard part! Cycling is a passion and it should be treated as such, with the utmost care and respect. There will be tough challenges and you should be prepared for everything! Checking the tire pressure without a gauge is one of those challenges.

With this guide, we hope that you would be able to check the tire pressure easily and have more valuable information that would benefit you in your cycling journey! Happy Biking!

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