In general, I prefer a fatter tire up front. There are lots of ways to rationalize it: front braking performance, cornering grip, normally rear-biased rider weight distribution...
The tires need to work differently, too. If they're going to brake traction on edge, you want the rear to break first. The rear needs to bite the terrain on a tough/steep/loose/sloppy climb. The rear needs to absorb more square edge hits. The FRONT needs to hold on edge and, above all else, grip under braking (reverse traction compared to the rear).
You'll find many riders have strong opinions on tires that are great on one end of the bike, but not the other.
I end up running the same size tire front and rear most of the time. 2.5 Minion DHF's front and rear, 2.5 Intense 909 front and rear, etc. The only time I'll switch that up is when it's really dry and I'll go with a 2.35 in the rear to speed things up a bit.
PSIs definitely play a part, and yeah, a lower tire pressure will result in a larger contact patch.
I always end up with a lower PSI up front, partly probably due to my front tires being larger than the rears. But I don't just randomly pick a PSI.
When I'm in the mood to play around or try a new tire, for my rear tire, I'll fill it up to 40 or 45 PSI and begin a climb, then squirt a little air out and ride some more, etc. At some point I'll decide that I went too low, and that's when I'll break out the pressure gauge to see how low I got it two, pump a couple of PSI back in and call it good. It's amazing that (for example) 40 PSI might cause me to break traction of something steep and loose, while 38 sticks like glue.
I'll do the same procedure with my front tire, but under higher speeds and cornering. Too high and it skips around and doesn't hold a line. Too low and it begins to feel sloppy and I can feel it rolling under, like a flat tire on a car. I'm usually anywhere from 8 to 10 to 12 PSI lower in the front compared to the rear.
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