Inflating your bike’s tires is a common and useful skill you learn after owning a bicycle for a bit of time. The process isn’t that complicated and after a couple tries you should have it down for life. But first you have to have someone teach you how to do it and that’s where we fit in so today we at Kasen are going to go over how to inflate your bike tires.
First Step: What Valve Do You Have?
Bike tires have one of two valves for inflating, known as Shrader and Presta Valves. Shrader valves are the more common of the two, these are usually on mountain bikes, cruisers, or even car tires. You can tell it’s a Shrader valve because they are the thicker of the two valves.
Presta valves are more commonly found on road bikes, or bicycles with thin tires. You can identify these valves as the thin, skinny ones. These valves also have a little screwable knob that you must untighten before pumping air but we’ll get into that in a bit.
Identifying which valve you have is important because you’re going to need an air pump that fits your particular valve. Many bicycle air pumps will identify what kind of valve they fit but if you are unsure you can just remember that Shrader valves have the wider opening and Presta, a thin one.
Some bicycle pumps can also be adjusted to fit either so make sure you grab one that fits. You can even buy a Presta valve converter to turn it into a Shrader but the opposite doesn’t exist.
Step 2: How Much Pressure Do You Need?
Just like with cars, there is a certain range of air pressure you want for your bicycle tires to function properly. This is measured in what is known as PSI, or pounds per square inch. In general, mountain bike tires will have a PSI of around 25 to 35 while road bikes will have a higher pressure of about 85 to 110.
To get the optimum PSI for your tires specifically, the answer is usually on the side of your tires. This will give you the best general range and then you can play around from within it to decide how much you like.
Step 3: Attaching The Pump To Your Valve
Once you’ve figured out what kind of pump you need you can start pumping. Simply unscrew the dust caps that cover your valves and depending on which valve you have, you can attach your pump.
For a Shrader Valve, you can immediately attach your pump while for a Presta Valve, you will have to loosen that little knob until it reaches the end of the valve before you attach your pump.
To attach the pump, depending on what kind you have, you either simply screw it on tightly or with a lever, get the pump on and once secured flip the lever to lock it in place.
Step 4: Pumping
Once your pump is attached, depending on what kind you have, you should feel a little bit of resistance while pumping. Of course with an electric pump, you won’t be physically pumping but you can likely tell if air is filling the tire or not fairly quickly.
One way to tell if you’re doing it right is by checking the pressure gauge. A completely empty tire will have a pressure around zero and you’ll be making your way up. A small to medium sized hand pump will likely take around 5 to 10 minutes to finish a road bike’s wheel depending on how quickly your arms tire!
If you don’t have a pressure gauge on your pump, you can also just feel out the tire with your hands. With a road bike, if you press in with your fingers on your bike, you shouldn’t really be able to press in that much. With a mountain bike however, you should be able to press in about a centimeter.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Once you’ve reached the pressure you want, you can release your pump from your valve. You may hear some air escape but don’t worry, that sound is likely air leaving the pump and not the actual tire.
If your bike has a Presta valve, remember to tighten that knob on the valve before screwing your dust caps back on.
That’s pretty much all there is to inflating your bike tires. Remember, before any ride, just give your bike’s tires a squeeze to see if they need some air. Riding a flat tire is uncomfortable, dangerous, and can damage your bike long term. For more articles like this and more information on eBikes checkout the rest of our blog at KasenSports.com/blog.