Each and every bicycle owner deals with an unfortunate flat tire every now and then, so it just goes to say that you should know how to pump a bike tire, so you can easily remedy this situation whenever it arises.
To help you out, we have provided a detailed step by step guide on how to pump a bike tire, complete with everything you need to know about tire valves and bike pumps!
Know your tire valve type
The first thing you should do is identify what type of valve your tire has, since this will determine how you can connect the tire to the pump. Here are the most common valve types:
One of the most common valve types you’ll encounter are Presta (French) valves. High end bicycles typically feature these high pressure valves, which are narrow and have a removable lock ring that closes the valve at the top.
Another common valve type is the Schrader valve, which is usually found on recreational kids bikes, as well as car tires. These are wider, have a round opening, and feature a spring mechanism that opens and closes the air passage.
For a number of countries in Europe and Asia, you’ll find Woods or Dunlop valves, which feature a wider base than a Presta, but are the same size as a Schrader. These valves can be inflated with both a Schader or Presta valve adapter.
Tubeless bike tire
Finally, there are tubeless bike tires, which are tires that don’t have an inner tube, requiring a layer of casing or sealant to keep the air inside the tire. These tires usually feature conventional clinchers or tubulars.
Get the right bike pump type
The next step is to get the right type of bike air pump for your tire. Here are some of the most common pump types you’ll find, and the difference of each one:
First off, a floor pump, also called a stack or track pump, is a standard pump that every bike owner should have in his garage, especially since it can quickly and easily inflate your tire with high pressure air. Your best bet is the Bontrager bike pump, since it’s durable, reliable, stable, and always ready to use.
On the other hand, it’s also great to have a hand pump to bring along everywhere. These mini portable pumps are great for the accidental flat tire on the road. A great option is the Lezyne pump, which is lightweight, portable, and works for both Presta and Schrader valves.
Specialized bike pump
Of course, if you want a multi-functional pump that’s great for a variety of uses, you will benefit from a specialized bike pump, like a stand pump, electric pump, or CO2 inflator. What’s important here is to carefully read and follow the manual on how to use it, since mistakes can be costly and dangerous.
Remove the valve cap
If you have a generic pump that can’t fit securely on your valve, you can always just opt for a bike pump adapter, which typically features multiple connections to accommodate Presta and Schrader valves, and more.
Once you know your valve and have the pump ready, it’s time to remove the valve cap (or dust cap if you have a Presta valve), then connect the pump head to the valve, either by screwing it on, or pushing and locking it in place. You’ll know it’s attached correctly when you don’t hear any air escaping from the valve.
Look up the correct tire pressure
Before you air up your tire, it’s important to check what’s the recommended air pressure for your tire. You can easily find this imprinted on the side of the tire. If you can’t find it or it’s too worn out, just look up your tire manufacturer online. Then again, if your tire is worn out, perhaps it’s best to just replace it altogether.
Here’s a quick reference for you: if you have a mountain bike, expect 25 to 45 psi, or 40 to 80 psi for a hybrid, and 80 to 120 psi for a road bike.
Don’t go above or below the indicated pressure, or the tire will either feel flat and spongy, rough and lacking in traction, or may even explode from too much pressure.
Inflate the tire
Making sure that no air escapes from the air nozzle, and the bike pump needle is securely attached to the valve of the tire, gently but firmly inflate the tire until you fill it with the right air pressure. Remember, fill it up to the correct tire pressure only!
The best and easiest way to do it may vary depending on what type of pump you’re using, but the general rule is to use your upper body and core strength to pump effectively. The right position is essential in delivering complete and consistent pumps throughout.
To the next adventure
Finally, remove the pump head quickly, making sure not to bend or damage the tire valve. Then, put everything back into place, including the lock ring (for a Presta valve) and the valve cap. You can try pinching and bouncing the tire a couple of times, just to make sure it’s adequately inflated.
Then, go ride on your merry way! Just make sure to ride safely and carefully, and avoid paths with lots of pointy rocks and sharp objects that can puncture your tire. After all, airing up your tire only works if it’s not peppered with holes and tears, right?
That’s it! When it comes to how to pump a bike tire, it really is quick and easy, so you have no reason not to do it yourself. Just follow these simple steps, and you’re good to go! And if you have any questions, feel free to write them down below!