How to Inflate a Bicycle Tire With a Presta Valve

How to Inflate a Bicycle Tire With a Presta Valve
For bicyclists who are used to Schrader valves, common on less-expensive bikes as well as car tires, the Presta valve can be a bit disarming. While it requires a more-specific pump, inflating a tire with a Presta valve really isn't much different than inflating one with a Schrader valve.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Tire tube with a Presta valve Pump with a Presta head
  • Tire tube with a Presta valve
  • Pump with a Presta head
Step 1
Make sure you have the correct pump. If you have an old foot pump that you use for your Schrader-valve tires and football, you'll need to purchase a new pump that works with Presta valves. Similarly, the air hose at your local gas station is a no-go.
Step 2
Spin your tire so that the valve is on the bottom.
Step 3
Unscrew the cap and take it off. Put it in your pocket or another safe place where it won't get lost. It's easy to misplace.
Step 4
Unscrew the tiny nut on top of the valve. The nut should stop when fully opened. Press on the nut quickly and you'll feel it release some air.
Step 5
If you're using a convertible pump, be sure that it is configured to the Presta setting. Not all pumps lock, but if yours does, be sure the lock is open when putting the head on the valve. Press the head of your bicycle pump straight down onto the Presta valve.
Step 6
Commence pumping. Use a gauge, either on the pump or as an accessory, to inflate to the pressure indicated on your tire. If you don't have a gauge, pump the tire and test it by squeezing it until it feels the same as your other tire (assuming that tire is filled).
The pump should move smoothly up and down and you shouldn't feel or hear any air escaping. Depending on what type of pump you're using (floor pump, frame pump, etc.) and how much air you're pumping, the task of inflating could take a few seconds or a minute or two.
Step 7
Once the tire is inflated, unlock the pump head and pull it off with a quick, fluid motion. Tighten the nut on the Presta valve and put the cap back on.

Tips & Warnings

Pumps vary in performance and operation. Before riding your bike or attempting to inflate the tires, read the manual for your pump and test it.
Pump to the pressure specified for your tires and avoid overinflating.

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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