How to Pump a Bicycle Tire

How to Pump a Bicycle Tire
From monitoring your tire pressure to repairing a flat, pumping up a bicycle tire is one of the first skills that any biker should learn. This very simple procedure will be an invaluable tool. Learn how to pump up your tire, check your pressure often and be sure that you're riding on properly inflated tires every time you go for a ride.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Get the appropriate pump. Unfortunately there are two common types of valves, so you'll need to get a pump that matches your valve. Presta valves are found on road bikes and higher-end mountain bikes and are long, thin and metallic. They feature a screw-on open and close nut on top. Schrader valves are wider than Presta valves and are the same type of valve that is used on car tires. If you're not sure, or have multiple bikes with different valves, get a convertible pump that is compatible with both types.
Step 2
Check the pressure needed for your tire. This should be written right on the sidewall of the tire for your convenience and will tell you how much air you need to put in the tire.
Step 3
Remove the top from the tire valve by unscrewing it. On a Presta valve, open the nut on top by turning it counterclockwise.
Step 4
Open the pump nozzle (usually by pressing the lever down, but this varies by pump). Hold the pump nozzle straight over the top of the tire valve and lower it down directly onto the valve.
Step 5
Close the pump nozzle on the valve. As you press the nozzle down onto the valve, you'll hear a little air escape; continue to press the nozzle down and close it by pulling the lever up (or alternate means necessary on your pump). If there's no open/close valve on your pump, simply hold the nozzle flat and straight on the tire valve.
Step 6
Check the gauge on the pump to determine what the pressure is. Assuming it's low, begin pumping. Pay attention to the gauge and pump to the appropriate pressure.
Step 7
Open the pump nozzle and quickly pull it off. Close the Presta valve and replace the top.

Tips & Warnings

If air escapes as you pump or the pump is extremely difficult/impossible to move up and down, you'll need to take the nozzle off the tire valve and refit it because this means there's something wrong.
Don't overinflate.

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.

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