Tip

Pump Right and Save the Valve

Pump Right and Save the ValveIt’s very important to keep your tires properly inflated. Failure to do so will cause poor handling and excessive tire wear, both of which could lead to a crash.

Presta valves are relatively delicate and they can break right off if you’re not careful when pumping up a tire with a frame-mount pump.

To prevent this, reinforce the valve while pumping by holding the end of the pump with part of your hand and at the same time wrapping a finger around a spoke and resting your thumb on top of the tire. (If your hands are small, you may have to do one or the other.)

You are probably used to Schrader valves, which are the big, fat valves just like on car tires. Some bikes have these, and in that case, any tire pump will inflate your tires.

The basic procedure is to press the pump’s nozzle onto the valve and start pumping. Then remove the nozzle when the tire is inflated.

Things are slightly trickier when your bike has Presta valves, which are taller and skinnier than Schrader valves.
(These are usually found on more expensive bikes.)

In this situation, you actually need a bicycle-specific tire pump that is made for both valve types.

To work with a Presta valve, first you unscrew the little nut at the top of the valve, which will let air in and out.

Then press the pump’s nozzle onto the valve, flip the lever to lock it on, and pump. Once the tire is inflated, flip the lever down, remove the nozzle, then screw the nut back down to close the valve.

Remember to keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure (which is usually printed on the tire’s sidewall for easy reference.) You should check the pressure at least once per week.

Presta valves are relatively delicate and they can break right off if you’re not careful when pumping up a tire with a frame-mount pump.

To prevent this, reinforce the valve while pumping by holding the end of the pump with part of your hand and at the same time wrapping a finger around a spoke and resting your thumb on top of the tire. (If your hands are small, you may have to do one or the other.)

Just do your best to support the valve so that when you’re inflating the tire, the valve is not taking the brunt of your pumping force.