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One of the easiest way to increase safety and performance in dirt bike trail riding is setting the correct tire pressure. While there are several factors affecting how much tire pressure you should set to your dirt bike front and rear tire, some basic knowledge goes a long way.
In this article, we will focus on the principal methods you can use for finding a good setting for your dirt bike. We will also reveal our favorite dirt bike tire pressure settings for different conditions and riding styles.
Setting the front tire air pressure to 11 PSI and the rear tire air pressure to 8 PSI is a great starting point.
But if you want more performance or to understand how to find the sweet spot, keep reading!
Traction and Tire Pressure
Dirt bike tire pressure greatly affects the overall traction available. It also affects suspension performance and the overall feedback felt by the rider. With this in mind, typically lower pressure increases traction and can limit wheel spin.
The goal is to:
- find the lowest possible tire pressure for the riding conditions that will maximize traction AND
- fine tune the suspension performance AND
- match tire sidewall thickness and rubber compound WITHOUT
- compromising safety and durability (to prevent flats).
The most common variables are the trail type, speed and type of tires. If you make a habit of setting the correct dirt bike tire pressure each time before the first ride, you will start noticing how even small changes to the tire pressure affect the riding performance and rider feedback.
We recommend getting a good manual pump and a gauge to effectively set the tire pressure and to measure it precisely out on the trails.
Lezyne Steel Drive Floor Pump (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) – This floor pump has a durable construction so it lasts a long time. It also has an easy-to-read pressure gauge attached to it.
KTM PowerParts Tire Gauge (click to check the current price on MotoSport.com) – This tire gauge is easy to use and read. In addition, it has a convenient pressure release button.
Optimal Dirt Bike Tire Pressure for Tubes
If you are running normal tubes and tires, the primary concern and limiting factor to tire pressure is flats.
Normal factory tires with tubes (the bicycle style rubber inner tube) can break, either by puncture or pinching the tube against the wheel. This is sometimes called as snake eyes. Basically, running into a rock, root or ledge at speed causes the wheel to hit the obstacle and picture the inner tube on both sides.
For normal trail riding, without harsh obstacles, you should start with setting the front tire pressure to 12 PSI. This usually protects the inner tube from pinch flats and can still perform very well.
You can lower the dirt bike tire pressure down to 10 PSI for easy trails and increase slightly depending other factors, such as rider skills and different weather conditions.
Muddy conditions usually lower the average speed and require more traction, so you can start with 10 PSI and increase if the trail has any sharp rocks or if you ride fast enough for flats to be a major concern.
Consider Upgrading to Tubliss
If you regularly ride in conditions where flats are common, such as fast paced rocky trails with ledges and roots, consider installing foam tubes or a Tubliss system. They effectively eliminate flats and allow much lower tire pressure.
The biggest advantage of Tubliss is the capability to set your dirt bike tire pressure the same way you would for a normal inner tube. The 100 PSI inner tube is covered with a thick rubber bladder that also works as a rim lock and it effectively prevents all flats.
We recommend the Tubliss system for advanced riders. The affordability compared to foam tubes, the long-lasting protection to eliminate flats and punctures plus the benefits of increased traction make this an easy choice.
Make sure to read more detailed information about dirt bike tire pressure and how to choose the correct tire protection setup in our advance rider section.
Optimal Dirt Bike Tire Pressure for Tubliss
There are few ways you can protect against flats.
One of the most simple and affordable ways is to get a heavy duty inner tube. That may prevent some flats and allow you to run slightly lower PSI for better traction.
Tubliss is a system that replaces the inner rubber tube with a more durable heavy inner tube that is wrapped into a protective thick rubber layer. This effectively prevents flats and allows you to basically run an empty (yes empty) tire without damaging the wheel or tire. It also works as a rim lock preventing wheel slip.
With Tubliss, we set the front tire pressure between 9.5 to 11 PSI depending of the tire used and the trail conditions. This works well with semi hard rubber compounds and thicker sidewall tires.
An example of these type of tires is Shinko 216MX, one of our favorites. This tire works well with 10 PSI in most conditions.
The rear tire pressure is ideally set to 4 to 6 PSI with Tubliss. Some rear tires are too soft for low tire pressures and can cause a “rolling” feeling in cornering. A higher tire pressure will prevent this but works against the traction.
Read also: How To Change Dirt Bike Tire With Tubliss
Setting the correct tire pressure for your dirt bike is an easy, quick and effective way to ensure great performance and avoid flats on the trails.
We see far too many riders out there forgetting to check and set the dirt bike tire pressure and struggle on the trails. It only takes few minutes and can substantially increase the way you ride and keep you safe out there.
Keep the rubber side down and we will see you on the trails!
Last updated: March 18, 2022