Beginner’s guide: how to inflate a road bike tyre
The visual differences between the two are obvious, with the Presta (pictured above) being slimmer, lighter and having a lock nut to close that you can see on the top. Schrader valves are wider, more robust and have a spring mechanism on the inside to keep the valve closed, rather than a screwable top section.
The valve on the right is a Schrader valve. The Schrader valve is the same valve that’s used on car tires. So a bicycle tube with the Schrader valve can be pumped up at your local gas station if no hand pump (or CO2 cartridge) is available.
Check The Valve & Deflate The Bike Tyre
What types are there?
Bikes typically come with one of two types of valves. Schrader valves are what you may be most familiar with; they’re the same as those used on cars and are found mostly on inexpensive bikes’ tires. Most higher-end bicycle tires, however, are inflated with a Presta valve, a design created expressly for bikes. Here’s how to tell the difference:
Presta valves are thinner than Schrader valves and made entirely of metal. They’re usually found on road bikes and performance bikes as they’re lightweight and capable of holding higher pressures.
How to: Pump up your Bicycle Tyres
The Schrader valve is similar to the valves used on cars, motorbikes and pram wheels. It’s fatter, and the central pin valve sits down inside the outer tube. Unlike the Presta valve, there are no nuts that need to be loosened here.
Bike Pumps Buyers Guide
When considering which pump to buy, think about whether you need higher pressure or more volume; pumps that put out a lot of air with each stroke might not be able to reach pressures as high as those that only put out a little air each time. Because of this, many brands offer pumps specific to road biking (where higher pressures are needed) or mountain biking (where more volume is useful).
Pumps buying guide
One of the most essential items to have in your shed or workshop as well as with you at all times on the road or trail, a pump’s single but crucial job is to put air in your tyres – or more specifically, to ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure.
How to connect the pump
As each valve is different, unique connections at the pump head are often required to pump up the corresponding tyre. Schrader connections require a pin to push down the spring, whereas presta valves are opened via the lock ring.