testing bike tire for flat

How To Tell If Your Bike Tire Is Flat

When it comes to sport and fitness, cycling is one of the most incredible ways to get fit.

Getting out into nature, meeting new people, and having a huge amount of bikes and disciplines to choose from makes it a huge amount of fun and consistently keeps it fresh.

Although cycling is a huge amount of fun, it does come with a lot to learn. Fixing and maintaining your bike is a part of the sport many people neglect, which can easily ruin the experience.

We often see people out on the roads with rusty chains and broken bikes, not looking like they are having an enjoyable time. One issue we see all the time is people riding with flat tires. It can really damage your bike unfortunately.

In this article, we’re going to tell you why you’re going to want to avoid flat tires and how to keep the correct pressure in as much as possible.

how to tell if your bike tire is flat

Why is a flat tire bad for my bike?

Flat tires are really unfortunate for bikes and can cause a lot of damage if not seen too quickly. Here are some of the problems you will find if you use your bike with a flat tire.

1. Can Split the Tire

When running a tire flat, it means the tire isn’t properly shaped. Not only do you weaken the sidewalls of your tires by not running them correctly, but you also run a chance of causing huge rips that can split the tire.

2. causes Rim Damage

Then you also have rim damage. A tire isn’t just to help you ride better. It also has a vital job of protecting your bike’s rim. A rim is the part of the wheel where the tires sit, and if you were to ride with a deflated tire, you run a big risk of knocking the rim and misshaping it or cracking the rim altogether.

Related: How To Deflate A Bike Tire?

3. Causes Poor Performance

Having a flat tire doesn’t just look awful, it will make your bike ride it too. A flat tire creates a huge amount of lag while riding. If you run with heavily underinflated tires, it will be so much slower, and you will have to work much harder.

4. Slipping While Cornering

Slippy cornering is when your tire is low on pressure, and the bike feels like it’s slipping on corners. It makes handling the bike very uncomfortable and does run a high risk of the tire slipping off and the bike giving way completely.

5. Ruins the tire Internals

If you have a flat tire and continue to ride, will you heavily damage your inner tube, or if you’re running a tubeless system, you might cause the sealant to leak out, meaning you won’t have the puncture protection you should have.

testing bike tire for flat

How to tell you have a flat tire

There are three easy ways to tell you have a flat tire, and we will run through each of them next. Some require equipment, and others don’t; a handy term to know is PSI (Pounds per square inch). This is the amount of pressure the air creates in your tire and a judge of how much air is contained.

1. Pinch Test

The easiest way to check is to pinch each side of your tire to see the amount of pressure. Put a finger on each side of the tire and try to touch them together with the tire in between. This will be different depending on the tires you have but what you’re looking for is your fingers to only move a couple of mm max. If you have a lot of flex, you will more than likely need to get more air in.

2. Test with PSI Gauge

A great tool many cyclists use to check their tire pressure is a tire pressure gauge. These are on the value and can sense the pressure in your tires and tell you where it is. It means you always know exactly where you’re at and if you need to inflate it more or even remove some.

If you need a tire pressure gauge, try this gauge here.

3. Ride test

Finally, we have the riding test, which can be done while cycling. When riding your bike, you will want to find a safe place to ride, and while rolling along, stop pedaling and bounce on the seat once or twice. If it feels very bouncy, you might want to stop and do the punch test. If you feel the rim hit the floor, you must stop to pump up your tire.

How much PSI do I need in my tires?

When it comes to tires, it’s up to you how much you fill them up. It can be very difficult to know where you need to be as many factors affect the amount of PSI you should have in your tire. Larger tires will use less PSI, and smaller tires will need more.

The easiest way to find the correct pressure is first to go to the side of the tire and look at the recommended max. It might say 50 PSI max. This means that’s the most it can hold, but we don’t recommend running your tires at this figure. We would recommend going to about 70% of this figure.

If you can seem to find anything on your tire, the second option you have is to use a tire pressure calculator. This is where you will use the size and a few other pieces of key information and put it into an online tire pressure calculator to tell you.

Once you have found the correct pressure and pumped it up accordingly using a track pump with a gauge, then get a feel for how it is to pinch and how it feels to ride, so you roughly know where it needs to be if you’re filling up without a gauge.

bike tire pressure


Riding with a flat tire will do you, and your bike no favors at all. We highly recommend keeping on top of your bike tires and ensuring you’re riding at optimal pressures as much as possible. Thanks for reading our article.

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