In learning how to inflate bicycle tires, first, you need to be familiar with the basic or common types of valves.
Presta Valves, also known as Sclaverand or French valves and usually found on high-end road bike are one of the most common valves. Presta valves are longer and narrower in diameter than Schrader valves. They feature an external valve system that’s protected by valve caps, instead of being surrounded by valve cores (like in Schrader valves).
Quick and Easy Steps on How to Inflate Bicycle Tires with Presta Valves:
1. Open the valve.
- Unscrew the dust cap at the top and loosen the small brass cap on the valve stem. This won’t come off completely, but you can raise it a little.
- Press on the valve stem to check if you’ve loosened the bras cap enough. If you do, you will hear air escaping in a sharp burst.
- Determine the recommended PSI for your tires. This is normally printed on the side of your tires and will include a range. Do not let your PSI go any lower than the lowest figure. The highest figure is the recommended maximum PSI.
2. Get a pump.
- If you will use a gas station pump, you’ll need a Presta adapter. It’s a small cap you could unscrew onto a Presta valve to turn it into a Schrader valve. Some older pumps might also require a Presta adapter. When using a pump from a gas station, look for a pressure gauge and inflate your tires in small bursts. Do this while checking the pressure after each one. Take note that gas station pumps have very high pressure, so be careful not to pop your tires.
- If you are using a pump with two openings, the smaller one is for a Presta valve. Smart bicycle pumps with only one opening will adjust automatically a Presta valve. A bike pump with only one opening may require you to reverse an internal rubber stop to be able to fit a Presta valve.
- Unscrew the face cap and look for the rubber stop. The smaller end should be facing out for a Presta valve. Inflate your tire the open the valve by unscrewing the dust cap and loosening the smaller brass cap.
- Put the pump on the Presta valve. If there is a lever near the nozzle, be sure it is in the open position (parallel to the nozzle) when you are positioning it on the valve.
- Snap the lever down into closed position (perpendicular to the nozzle) when it is on. Make sure you keep an eye on the PSI as you inflate bicycle tires.
- Flip the lever back up to remove the pump then screw the brass cap closed.
Note: To deflate a bicycle tire with Presta valve, open the brass cap and then press on the springy valve stem until all air escapes.
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Watch this video to learn more tips on how to inflate bicycle tires with Presta Valves.