It is actually a simple and painless task to inflate bicycle tires, as long as you have the right tools. You simply have to identify the type of valve you are using, follow the tips below, and pump accordingly.
A Schrader valve is also known as American valve or car valve. The valve stem is surrounded by a threaded valve core. In order to press down on the stem, you have to use a tool like a cap of a pen or just your thumbnail. Typically, Schrader valves are wider in diameter and shorter than Presta or French valves. They are usually used in cars, less expensive motor bikes and bicycles.
Here’s how to inflate bicycle tires with Schrader valves:
- Unscrew the rubber cap at the to to open a Schrader valve.
- Find out the recommended PSI for your tires. It is usually printed on the side of your tire and will indicate a range. Do not let your PSI go any lower than the lowest figure. Know that the high figure is the recommended maximum PSI.
- Get a pump. If you are going to use a gas station pump, you wouldn’t need an adapter for your Schrader valve. Ask the gas station attendant for a pressure gauge and then inflate your tires in small bursts. Remember to check for the pressure after each small burst. Take note that gas station pumps have very high pressure so be careful not to pop your tires. If you are using a bicycle pump with two openings, know that the bigger one is intended for a Schrader valve. Smart bicycle pumps with just one opening will automatically adjust to fit in a Schrader valve. But it may require you to reverse an internal rubber stop first. To find the rubber stop, just unscrew the cap. The larger end should be facing out for a Schrader valve.
- Then inflate your tire. Unscrew the rubber cap on top of the Schrader valve and keep it somewhere safe. Your back pocket is an ideal place. It would be a huge hassle if you lose this tiny object.
- Position the pump on the valve. If there is a lever near the nozzle, be sure it is in the open position which is parallel to the nozzle, when you are placing it on the valve. Then snap the lever down into the closed position which is perpendicular to the nozzle, when it is on. Make sure you keep an eye on your PSI while you pump.
- To remove the bicycle pump, flip the lever back up.
- Then quickly return the rubber cap on to the valve.
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Watch this video to learn about how to inflate bicycle tires with Schrader valves. You can also learn some tips about Presta valves and Presta valve adaptors in this video.