How to Pump Up a Bicycle Tire

How to Pump Up a Bicycle Tire
Keeping your bicycle tires inflated to the appropriate pressure will ensure that you enjoy a safe, comfortable ride. Allowing them to run low risks causing a flat tire, damaging the bike and simply having an unpleasant experience. For the best results, check your tires before each ride and pump them up as needed.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Floor pump or other bike pump
  • Floor pump or other bike pump
Step 1
Determine your valve type. There are two primary valve types on bicycle tires: Presta and Schrader. Schrader valves are the more common of the two and are the same type of valve found on automobile tires. Presta valves are taller and thinner and feature a nut on top. They are found more on road bicycles and higher-end mountain bikes. Each type of valve requires a corresponding pump nozzle. Be sure that you have the appropriate pump.
Step 2
Unscrew the valve cap by turning counterclockwise. For a Presta valve, also open the nut on top by turning it counterclockwise until it stops.
Step 3
Attach the appropriate pump nozzle to the bicycle tube valve. Keep the lever on the nozzle pressed down in open position. You'll hear a quick fizz of air rushing out of the valve; continue to press down.
Step 4
Adjust the lever into closed position if your pump head was designed to be closed. Generally this is performed by pulling the lever up so that it is perpendicular to the pump nozzle. However, on some pumps pulling the lever may be the adjustment for Presta to Schrader. Refer to any instructions on your pump or simply experiment to get the right fit. If there is no closing mechanism, hold the head firmly on the valve as you pump.
Step 5
Refer to your tire wall to find manufacturer-suggested pressure for your tires.
Step 6
Pump air into the tire by pulling the pump handle up and pushing down. The pump should move up and down easily. You should notice a difference in tire firmness within seconds. If there are any problems and it's not working correctly, try reattaching the pump nozzle to the valve.
Step 7
Pay attention to the tire pressure on the pump gauge. If you don't have a gauge on your pump, use a separate bicycle tire gauge or simply pump up by touch, feeling your tire for a firm, but not overfilled pressure.
Step 8
Once you've reached the desired pressure, release the pump lever into open position and pull the nozzle off the tire. Perform this quickly to prevent air loss.
Step 9
Close the Presta nut and put the cap back on the valve.

Tips & Warnings

Bring a portable pump and tire repair kit with you when you go for a ride. Learn how to fix a flat and inflate a tire before you ever begin bicycling, or you may find yourself walking home.
Do not over-inflate your tires.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.