How to Operate a Bicycle Pump

How to Operate a Bicycle Pump
The bicycle pump is one of the most important tools a cyclist will ever use. It's also one you'll use most frequently. Before you fasten that pink basket and streamers onto your bike and take it for a ride, be sure you have a bike pump and understand how to use it. It won't be long until you get that first flat tire.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Make sure you have the correct pump. Bikes come with either Presta or Schrader valves and pumps are designed to operate with one or the other. Some pumps are compatible with both. Schrader valves, contained on recreational bikes, are just like the valves on your car tire--they're black and have a short, thick profile. Presta valves are long, thin metal valves that contain an open/close nut on top.
Step 2
Familiarize yourself with the pump. There are a variety of pumps, but they all work primarily the same. The main components you need to worry about are the pumping mechanism (i.e. pump handle), the nozzle and the pressure gauge. Check the nozzle to see if it has an open/close valve, which is usually in the form of a lever. Also check to see if it has a switch to change from Presta to Schrader. Get a feel for how to pump the pump. Before you attempt to pump a tire, be sure you fully understand the function of your specific pump.
Step 3
Take the cap off your tire valve by unscrewing it. On a Presta valve, you'll also need to open the nut by unscrewing it until it stops.
Step 4
Hold the pump nozzle so it's perpendicular to the valve. Make sure any open/close valve is open, which is generally achieved by pushing the lever down so that it's flat, parallel to the hose (valves vary on different pumps, though). Push the nozzle all the way down onto the tire valve.
Step 5
Lock the nozzle onto the valve, usually by pulling the lever up so that it's perpendicular to the hose.
Step 6
Pump the tire by pulling the pump handle up or out, depending on your pump, and pushing down. There should be no air escaping from the pump nozzle and you should be able to pump up and down without meeting major resistance that impedes your motion. If you have either problem, double-check that the nozzle is fully engaged with the tire valve.
Step 7
Establish a rhythm while keeping your eye on the pressure gauge to determine when your tire has reached appropriate pressure. If you don't know what pressure you need, check the side of the tire for a recommended pressure.
Step 8
When you're finished pumping, open the nozzle, pull it straight off quickly and close the valve. Put on the cap.

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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