How Low of Tire Pressure for Gravel (using Tubeless)? Cush Core yes/no?

I know this is dependent on terrain, tire size, rider size etc . . . but coming from CX where the conversation is always about getting tire pressure low - what is the mindset on tire pressure for Gravel Grinders, specifically re: Tubeless Tires? How low are people really trying to achieve on average? I heard some gravel riders are starting to use Cush Cores so they can go lower. I am not so sure gravel needs to be as low as CX demands - especially in events that have long road segments. I am 5’8 150 lbs riding mainly 32-38mm tubeless tires and have ridden generally 32-40psi. I have never had a problem with burps/pinches. Should I start thinking about going lower? Cush core? Thoughts and notes from your gravel experience my wise old friends of the TR world.

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I am 6ft / 183cm tall and weigh 163lbs / 74kg – I (mostly) ride Schwalbe G-One 700x35c tubeless tires when gravel racing.

I ride 53psi rear / 49psi front. Will go down a point or two if it’s wet. I would also mention, the “gravel” I ride on is Michigan/Illinois gravel (or, east of the Mississippi midwest gravel) which is to say they are mainly dirt roads covered loosely with stones and washboards. They’re fast. It is not slushy, deep Iowa or Kansas gravel.

Also, most of my races have pavement in them… as little at 10%-15% road, and as much as 35%-40%. So take that for what you will.

Good luck :metal:

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  • Interesting that you are higher front vs rear, with what appears to be the same size tire.
  • This seems to be the opposite of what I see for most riders and recommendations. What is your reason for this setup?
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That’s a typo. I’ll fix. Hahahaaaa…

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I’m 6ft / 190lbs and I use 27psi front / 32 psi rear on MSO X’plor 40mm tires. I find that a squishier setup is faster on trails around here. I’m faster when the tires deform to the terrain and I just glide over everything. Higher pressures mean getting bucked around over bumps and being slower.

if I were doing a mixed road/gravel ride I might go 35/45psi and if it was just road with the same tires I’d run 45/55psi.

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I use this to set my pressures. I have two sets of their wheelsets but you can look at the internal rim width of yours and then set pressures based off their charts. I find them spot on. One thing though. If you’re racing on roads with more rocks or washboard you can’t see coming you might go up a psi or two as you may run right into something without seeing it if you’re riding someone’s wheel.

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I weigh 160lbs and ride 35psi front on a 37mm tire, and 40psi rear on a 35mm tire. So pretty consistent with your tire pressures.

I’ve had a few burps when I hit washboard sections fast (or at least I think this is when the burps happen), so not sure I’d want to go a whole lot lower with my current tire sizes / wheel combo.

I can see how Cush cores could help on rocky sections of trail I.e. where the surface has a bunch of big embedded rocks with hard edges that could cause a pinch flat. But on regular gravel, Cush cores or similar seem overkill.

I played around with pressures in my WTB Nano 40c gravel tyres. I have settled on around 32psi for the gravel I ride (~74kg + 8kg bike, 19mm internal rim)

Lower was quicker on the bumpier bits, but could feel the drag on the faster sections. Higher was too rough on the bumpy bits but faster on some sections. This pressure worked as a nice balance for me. Definitely depends on your event though

I ride gravel in Nebraska and in Kansas. I’m 6’3" and 182 lbs. I came from road riding and at first convinced myself to go “all the way” down to 70 front and 75 rear. I use Schwalbe G1 35’s. I continue to experiment and now 70/75 is when I am on dry packed or paved roads and 60/65 if I know flatting and rough terrain are possible. 55/60 if it is going to be sloppy. I tried lower than that and it does seem to slow things down for me, but the ride is supper nice that low. I know I’m the exception when it comes to higher pressures, but I do like the firm feel in the tires and I let my Iso Speed on the Domane smooth out the bumps for me. I just don’t want to feel bouncy with hard pedaling or squirmy with direction changes.

Love that Enve website! That does seem spot on and not far off from what I am doing. I think that cush cor may be overkill but in some rockier stuff I guess it could come in handy - maybe just rear wheel more-so than front wheel. Like many have posted, I do put a little more PSI in my rear than my front.

The continuing harping on about roadies still thinking that high pressure = fast notwithstanding, the following discussion might help the OP. If you are not interested in the physics, then the second half of the discussion gives some specifics: