How to Use Bicycle Pumps

How to Use Bicycle Pumps
The bicycle pump is an often-overlooked part of cycling equipment. It's such a common thing--every bike needs its tires inflated--that few new riders feel compelled to learn about a bike pump. The result can be serious frustration, broken valve stems and pump valves, and damaged tires.
Many new riders don't like the Presta style valve because of its complexity and fragility compared to the popular Schrader valve. However, the Presta style is used extensively on road bikes and some off-road tires, and it is important that beginning riders learn to attach pumps to both designs.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bicycle pump with pressure gauge
Step 1
Rotate the wheel so that the valve is nearest the floor, and remove the valve cap.
Step 2
Unscrew the locking nut on a Presta valve stem to its highest position. Press down the stem two or three times to loosen any stuck seals.
Step 3
Press the pump's inflation valve onto the tire valve and push the locking lever into place. Listen for any air escaping from around the valve--if you hear a hissing noise, the pump valve has not sealed properly. If this occurs, simply remove the pump valve and repeat this step.
Step 4
Lift and press down the pump arm a few times. You will feel resistance, but you shouldn't have a problem pushing the pump all the way down. Look at the pressure gauge, as well--if the indicator needle jumps several levels unexpectedly, the air is not getting from the pump to the tire. If this is the case, repeat Step 3 and try again.
Step 5
Inflate the tire to its recommended pressure once you have established a good seal. Watch the pump gauge carefully to avoid over-inflation.
Step 6
Unlock the pump valve and quickly pull it off the tire valve. The faster you can get the pump disconnected, the less air you will lose from the tire; however, smoothly pulling the valve up is better than trying to wrench it off.
Step 7
Tighten a Presta valve stem's locking nut and replace the cap.

Tips & Warnings

While many bicycle pumps feature valves that can inflate both tire valve designs, some only work with a single type. Check to make sure your pump will inflate whichever valve you use on your bike.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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