Whether you are a hardcore cyclist or happen to ride in your leisure time, if you have a bike, it’s likely that you already know how to put air in bicycle tires. If not, well, let’s not give you a headache.
Pumping up the bicycle tires is a fairly easy skill that you can master in no time. However, you need to know what type of valve your bike has and the optimum pressure for your bike tires.
Having the bike tires with optimum air is a prerequisite for smooth-riding irrespective of the road condition. Read on our definitive guide and keep your tires in the best shape. Happy riding!
What Is the Right Bike Tire Pressure?
Ever felt tired of peddling too much? Well, that’s maybe the result of low tire pressure unless, of course, your bike has other defects. The correct bike tire pressure is an important parameter for a smooth and safe ride. It’s essential for your bike’s overall health too.
So, what is the right pressure? It depends on the bike type and other inflation factors like your weight and surrounding temperature. However, most bikes include a pressure range that is printed over one side of the tire.
If your tire lacks one, well, you can use the thumb rule for your bike type. So, let’s look at the conventional tire pressure range for different models.
The mountain bike tires should have sufficient shock absorption and traction for giving a comfortable ride on bumpy-mountainous roads. So, too much air pressure can result in a jolty ride with a lot of bounces. Reduced air pressure means a greater contact surface between tires and road and thus better friction.
Now, the recommended range for mountain bike tires is from 25PSI to 40PSI. While on-road, you can use pressure closer to 40 PSI, and for off-road rides, being close to 25PSI offers the most comfort.
Higher bike tire pressure provides robustness and ease for rolling with speed on smooth surfaces. And road bikes are designed for speed. So, the typical air pressure ranges from 80 PSI to 130 PSI.
You can go as high as 150 PSI depending on your tire quality; however, there remains a risk of tube failure due to sudden on constant over impacts.
Apart from these two bike models, there are kids’ bikes with a recommended air pressure range of 20 PSI to 40 PSI. And hybrid ones have a mid-range of 50 PSI to 70 PSI pressure to make them suitable for both road and mountain rides.
What Are the Valve Types?
A valve can be called an access point or control point of the tire. You inflate or deflate your bike tires via a valve, and it helps to maintain the pressure inside, like a sealer.
And before you pump up your bicycle tires, it’s necessary to know the valve type your tire has. There are commonly three types of valves, Schrader, Presta, and Woods.
These valves are designed for bike tires, and you often see them on regular road and mountain bikes. Presta valves are thinner and longer, 6mm in diameter and up to 80 mm in length.
The thinner diameter means your bike rim requires a smaller hole to fit the valve, making it so widely used on road bikes. Mountain bike does have larger rims, yet most riders prefer using a Presta valve.
It uses a small screw to close it securely. Also, when the pressure inside rises, the valve is shut closed automatically. With Presta valve, you can have a wide range of tube choices as well.
A lot of arguments stand in favor and against the statement as to which valve is better. Although Presta valves are becoming increasingly popular among pro cycle users, Schrader valves have been in use for such a long time for good reasons.
These valves are originally car tire valves. And because of such a wide presence of the valve everywhere, virtually every pump fits a Schrader valve. The assembly consists of a hollow, wide stem of diameter 8 mm with a spring check valve inside that ensures one-directional airflow.
The air is pushed into the tire, applying pressure on the check valve, and while deflating, the pin is depressed to release the air.
These valves have an additional rubber cap on top; this has little to do with sealing air pressure and acts as a dust cap.
Woods or Dunlop valves are widely used across Europe and Asia, but they are seldom seen in the US and UK. These valves are very similar to the Schrader ones. You can use a valve that fits the Presta valve to pump up wood valve tires.
How To Put Air In Bicycle Tires?
If you know which valve your bike has, you can use the following procedure to pump up the tires. Remember, you cannot use a Presta tire pump to blow Schrader bike tires. And Presta valve requires an extra adapter to blow air into the tires.
Below, we present a detailed description of how to put air in bicycle tires with different valve types.
Pumping Tires with Presta Valves
Presta valves are narrower and come with a threaded external surface. They are opened by unscrewing the brass cap on the stem. Follow the step-by-step process below to pump up a Presta valve tire.
- Open the Cap
First, you have to remove the dust tap on top and then unscrew the brass cap. Now, the tiny brass cap doesn’t entirely come off. So, don’t bother about unscrewing too much; if you can hear the sound of air coming out tapping on the valve stem, consider the cap is loosened enough.
- Check the Recommended Pressure
We have talked about the correct pressure for different bike models. So, before getting into the next step, check out the optimum pressure for your tires, printed on one side. This step is essential for you to not over or under inflate.
- Get a Pump Ready
In the case of Presta valves, if you use the gas station pump, a Presta adapter is needed. It’s a small cap that sits on the valve to make it a lot like Schrader pump, as most gas stations are compatible with car Schrader valves.
If you have a pump at home, make sure it fits the Presta valve. A two-opening pump’s smaller opening is used for these valves.
- Inflate the Tires
If you are using the gas station pump, make sure you ask for a pressure gauge. Applying too much pressure from the gas station’s pump can pop the tires if you don’t pay attention.
Now, as your pump is ready, attach it to the valve head. Align the lever parallel to the nozzle to ensure its open position. If the pump doesn’t have one, you can skip the step.
Next, pump the tires while keeping an eye on the pressure. As your tires reach the optimum, you can remove the pump, close the brass cap, and finally, put on the dust cover.
Pumping Tires with Schrader Valves
Schrader valves suit most pumps, and you can inflate the tire following the procedure below.
- Open the Rubber Caps
These valves lack the brass cap as in Presta valves, and you require only removing the rubber caps on them. Keep the cap close and securely as you need it after inflating.
- Check the Recommended Pressure
As said earlier, look for the optimum pressure range on your bike tires. Ranges vary with cycle models, and it’s better to inflate your tires with optimum pressure. Overinflation and underinflation both cause trouble while riding.
- Get a Pump Ready
Getting the right pump is essential as all pumps might not fit the valve type. And if you don’t own one, no worries, you can use the nearest gas station pump. Again, you need a pressure gauge while pumping in a gas station not to blow your tire too much.
And these valves have an advantage, as you don’t need an extra adapter; attaching it to the valve opening is no big deal.
If you have a pump with two orifices, make sure to use the larger one for Schrader valves.
- Inflate the Tires
Attach the pump to the valve opening and start pumping with alternating up and down strokes. Before that, make sure the lever is in the open position.
Watch for the PSI readings as you pump, and once you reached the optimum, detach the pump and close the rubber cap.
Pumping Tires with Wood Valves
You don’t often see wood valves on bicycles. Mostly European and Asian made cycles happen to have them. It’s almost similar to a Schrader one, except somewhat shorter.
Nevertheless, if your cycle has these valves, inflating the tires is not different from those with Presta valves. You can use a Presta adapter with these to attach them to the pump. And the rest is exactly like blowing air into Presta valve tires.
Bike Tire Pump Types
Understanding the type of bicycle pump is a great help when it comes to purchasing one. If you already have one, don’t bother; we are sure that it is the right one for you. However, for beginners in cycling, clear comprehension of all bicycle tools is of great importance.
The common pump types are stand, mini or home, and electric ones. Let’s get a closer look at how each one functions.
It’s the first choice for any pro cyclist. You can also call it a track or floor pump. It’s the type of tool that every bicycle owner should have at home. A stand pump can generate higher air pressure and provide faster and effortless inflation.
Operating it is as easy as pulling and pushing the handle, which generates airflow into your tires. While some tools come with a gauge, the others don’t.
And most often, the gauges produce a margin of error. So, it’s not ideal to rely on the stand pump gauges. Nevertheless, the pump type is an ideal tool for effortless high-pressure pumping.
Otherwise known as a hand pump, it is an essential tool to have if you are an enthusiast and go on long cycle rides every weekend. Being small in size, they are suitable for emergency uses as well.
Although the best advantage of the tool is that it’s portable, it can’t generate high-pressure airflow and is relatively slow as well.
Nevertheless, they provide a quick fix when you are far from home and don’t have any station nearby. Surely, you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of the road, where the only way to return is pushing your cycle all the way home.
An electric air pump is a versatile tool that you can use to blow up almost anything and everything. It can be used for pumping cars and cycle tires, swimming toys, mattresses, and many more. Since it’s electric, it reduces the manual work of air pumping, making it an ideal home gadget.
How Often Should Bike Tires Be Pumped?
Well, that depends. If you happen to ride through hilly terrain every day, it’s better if you make a habit of checking the tire pressure before every ride. Don’t get mixed up; checking pressure does not necessarily mean you need inflation each time.
You can press the tire with your thumb and check the pressure. While it’s not accurate, you can certainly feel it if the pressure is not right and thus pump accordingly. However, before going on a long bike ride, make sure to check the pressure with a gauge.
Once pumped properly, it should get you through at least 4 to 5 days unless you are riding aggressively or your valves have some defects.
Surely, you are not a fan of flat tires or the one that causes too many bounces. To avoid both the scenario and ensure your safety, make sure your bike tires are properly inflated.
That translates into knowing how to put air in bicycle tires. Our comprehensive article goes beyond presenting the process of tire inflation only and includes various essential cycle components to help you better understand your vehicle.
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