Our own experience and a certain amount of reasoning would seem to indicate that:
Ideal tyre pressure is a function, in no particular order of significance, of average smoothness of surface, wheel size, tyre section (profile and functional width), wheel profile / vertical compliance, frame & fork vertical compliance, rider weight and tyre / tube compliance.
The bicycle / rider system can be viewed, crudely, as a suspension system where the wheels and tyres, frame, forks, seatpost, saddle, stem and bars provide the rebound, and the rider provides the damping.
Of these, the only one, for any given bicycle and rider we really have control over, is the tyre pressure. To distill that down into something more useful.
All riders should run perhaps 10% more pressure in the back given an average 45/55% weight distribution.Smaller lighter riders should run lower pressures (less damping => reduce the rebound).
Bigger, heavier riders should run higher pressures (more damping => maintain the footprint and tyre compression relative to a light rider, higher rebound can be absorbed).
There may even be an argument for running a fatter tyre in the front so that the contact patch is closer to the same size front and rear, if indeed that in itself is seen as desirable (regularly done back in the day on BMXs).
If a rider has just spent a period of time having his or her teeth rattled by the road surface, (s)he is unlikely to be able to produce an optimal performance – so the question may be two pronged in any case – is there a difference between what is absolutely optimal for the purely mechanical performance of the machine / rider system and what is ideal for the rider who is actually providing the motive power – does less fatigue win over more rolling resistance?
Oh, one other thing – maximum marked pressures for tyres ought to be read in conjunction with rim manufacturer’s specs for the maximum pressure a rim can safely be used at – there is often an interesting mis-match – usually the rim manufacturer is rather more conservative in maximum recommended pressures.
But, having explained all this, you ought to know that we at Playitas Resort take care of this so that you do not have to worry. Our material at the bicycle center is tuned to the need of the guest.
So next time you come to Playitas Resort, rent a bike and let us take care of the details.
Ride and free your mind! 😉