Bike Tire Pumping Instructions
Every bike rider has those less-than-ideal days when you find yourself with a flat tire at the worst possible time and, of course, there is no one around to help (I suggest you invest in a portable bike pump if you don’t already have one). Or maybe you are doing your routine bike maintenance (which we recommend!) to ensure that your tire pressure is at the recommended pressure level. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand the correct procedures involved in pumping air into your bike tires. In this article we will discuss the steps involved.
Determine The Type Of Valve
The first step in the process is to determine the valve type of your bicycle. The two basic valve types are the Presta (typically found on road bikes) and the Schrader (typically found on mountain bikes). The Presta valve is long and slender and is typically found on high performance bikes that require high air pressure. Schrader valves, on the other hand, are wider and more secure than the Presta counterpart. Therefore, the head of bike pumps differ depending on the type of valve in place.
Once you have identified the type of valve used on your bike, you then want to select a pump that is compatible with that valve type. These days, most pumps have dual compatibility and have attachments that can be used to fit either valve. To verify, quickly check the packaging of the pump to determine the type of valve it accepts.
Attach The Pump To The Valve
The next step is to attach the bicycle pump to the valve. If there is a screw covering the valve (typical for Presta valves) this must first be removed. When attaching the pump be careful to ensure that it is pressed down snug to prevent air from escaping. If when you are pumping you realize that the tire is not inflating, that may be a sign that the pump is not attached correctly – try readjusting the pump to ensure that there is a tight seal. Additionally, when pumping into a Presta valve be careful not to cause damage to the thin pin in the center, as it is fragile. Damaging this pin could mean replacing the whole tire, as the pin typically cannot be replaced.
Pump Air into Tire
Once you have attached the pump correctly you want to ensure that you are pumping the correct air pressure into the tire. The optimal air pressure of the tire is often given in psi (pounds per square inch) and can be found on the sidewall of the tire. When selecting an air pressure, lean towards using air pressure in the higher end of the recommended range for your tire. A standard rule of thumb for air pressure is 85 – 130 psi for road bikes and 30 – 50 psi for mountain bikes; this can be helpful to bear in mind if you are not sure about how much pressure to use. However, be careful to stay within the range recommend so as to prevent over-inflation.
Most bicycle users tend to have a track or floor pump at home and a smaller portable hand pump in case of emergencies. Using a track pump is a great option to easily get the correct pressure for your tire with minimal time and effort. There are several bike pumps these days that have a wide range of capabilities and features; depending on your cycling needs it may be worth investing in one or two quality pumps.
Over time, as can be expected, the air pressure of your tires will slowly go down due to use, therefore be sure to monitor the air levels and continue to pump in air as needed. It is important to maintain the right amount of pressure in your tires, as low air pressure can damage the rims of your tires and also increase your chances of getting a puncture. Developing a routine for checking your tires’ air pressure before riding can help you to reduce the unnecessary risk associated with a low-pressure tire. Depending on how often you cycle, you may find yourself topping up with a little air every time you cycle, or once a week if more appropriate.