Dirt Bike Tire Pressure – Set it CORRECTLY!

dirt bike tire pressure

Dirt Bike Tire Pressure is a subject of a decent amount of debate.  The correct tire pressure varies from terrain to terrain, but in general will be somewhere between 8 and 18 psi.  Most riders will want 12psi as it is a great all around pressure for dirt bike riding.  

Dirt Bike tires generally consist of an inner tube that sits down inside the dirt bike tire and holds air to keep your tire seated on the rim and inflated.  If you use a Bib-Mousse system, the bib takes the place of the inner tube and will keep your tire at a specified “pressure” depending on the density of the bib mousse.

What is the range of dirt bike tire pressures?

Dirt Bike tire pressure generally ranges from 8 to 18 psi.  The reason for the range is that some types of ridding and terrain will require more or less tire pressure.  While that is a broad range, it also hits the extremes.  95% of the dirt bike riders out there will be running between 11 and 14 pounds depending on the terrain.  

If you are riding on soft or sandy terrain, lower your air pressure to about 11 psi, and if you are running on a hard packed trail or track, raise it up to 14 psi.

What is the optimal dirt bike tire pressure?

I run 12 psi, and I think most other riders do as well.  12 pounds is a very good place to start, and will give you the ability to ride fast enough, while still maintaining a good contact patch with the ground.  

As your skill set advances, you may start to be able to take advantage of subtle tire pressure changes and lowering or raising the tire pressure depending on where you are racing may make sense for you.  But to start, keep it at 12 psi.

How to check your tire pressure

Most automotive tire pressure gauges are not going to be very accurate at the 12psi range.  They are designed to provide accurate readings at a normal car tire pressure of 30-50psi.  So, you will probably want to get a low pressure tire gauge that can accurately read the low pressures of a dirt bike tire.

Make sure you check your tire pressure at the track or trail instead of at your house.  Depending on where you live, altitude and temperature changes can drastically change the air pressure in a tire.

How to fill up a dirt bike tire

I generally fill my dirt bike tires with a bike pump.  Dirt Bike tires use a Schrader valve, which is the same kind of valve that you see on any car tire or bike tire.  I use a bike tire pump because the one I have has a gauge that I can read as I am pumping.  Also, dirt bike tires don’t hold a ton of air, so it is not so much of a burden to hand pump them.  I would never attempt this with a car tire, but it is not too bad with a dirt bike tire.

I don’t use compressed air or an electric pump because they will fill the tire too quickly for my liking.  Rather, I like to slowly get to the right psi, without having to risk substantially overfilling the tube to the point of failure.

What is a Bib-Mousse?

A Bib-Mousse is a spongey tube shaped oval.  It is designed to give you a solid 13 psi tire pressure without the use of air.  The advantage of this is you are not going to get a flat because the Bib-Mousse doesn’t actually hold any air, it is simply a tube with a density that mimics a tube with 13 psi in it.

However, before you go run out and buy a Bib-Mousse, do your research.  While they have the distinct advantage of not being able to get flat, the disadvantage is that they are pretty heavy and hard to install.  So if you are doing a decent amount of off-road trail riding, it might work well for you, but if you spend all of your time racing on a track, it is probably not the way to go.

Wrap Up

So that’s it.  Pretty quick and easy.  Start with 12 pounds of air in your dirt bike tires and go from there.  For most riders, that will be just fine.  If you are a pro rider, or someone looking for an edge during a race, experiment with between 11 and 14 pounds, but make the changes slowly.  Stay safe out there!

Additional Reading

Dirt Bike Maintenance