Read on for a 'dummies' guide on how quickly and confidently pump up a bike tyre.
It’s a perfect day, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. You decide to go for a bike ride but your tyres are down. You have a bike floor pump but aren't confident in how to use it. Here is a foolproof guide on how to pump up your bike tyres.
Get a bike floor pump
Bike floor pumps are the quickest and easiest tool for pumping up bike tyres at home before you set off on your ride. These types of pumps can have either a single head (pictured on the left) or a twin head (pictured on the right). Single head floor pumps can be used to pump up both types of bike valves. Twin head floor pumps can also be used to pump up both types of valves, however each end of the pump nozzle head is designed to fit either presta or schrader valves, they are not 'universal fit'.
Know what type of valve you have
There are two kinds of valves, Schrader valves (SV)(aka car valves or American valves and A/V for short) and Presta valves (P/V)(aka French Valves or F/V for short). This guide will show you how to inflate these two kinds of valves.
This is a Presta valve
This is a Schrader valve
Presta Valves - How to Pump Up Presta
First we’ll look at presta valves.
STEP 1 PRESTA VALVES
Unscrew the tiny nut on the valve as shown in the clip below.
STEP 2 PRESTA VALVES
Push the pump head over the presta valve. If using a pump with a twin head, make sure you insert the end of the bump head with the narrow opening over the valve.
Push the narrow end of a twin head floor pump over a presta valve.
Push pump nozzle as far as it will go onto the valve
STEP 3 PRESTA VALVES
Push the pump head lever away from the tyre whilst holding the head firmly in place.
This is how the twin head should look once inserted onto the valve and secured in place by the lever.
This is how the single head should look once inserted onto the valve. Be sure to pull out the lever to secure it in place before you pump the inner tube up.
STEP 4 PRESTA VALVES
Inflate tyres to desired pressure.
If you are unsure what pressure to pump them up to check the side wall of your tyre. A min and max tyre pressure range will be displayed on the sidewall of your tyre as seen in the photo above.
STEP 5 PRESTA VALVES
Remove the pump head from the valve by returning the lever to the central position (same on both pumps) and pull the pump head firmly off. Screw the valve nut back in to keep all the air in.
Schrader Valves - How to Pump Up Schrader
Now, we’ll look at how to inflate Schrader tyres.
STEP 1 SCHRADER VALVES
Push pump head firmly onto the valve as far as it will go. If using a twin pump head, be sure to use the end with the wider opening (it also has a little cross in the centre of the opening).
STEP 2 SCHRADER VALVES
Pull lever into the vertical position whilst pushing down on the pump head firmly.
STEP 3 SCHRADER VALVES
Inflate tyre to desired pressure.
STEP 4 SCHRADER VALVES
Push lever back to horizontal position and pull the pump head off the valve.
STEP 5 SCHRADER VALVES
Screw the valve cap back onto the valve. The cap keeps the air from leaking out.
The Short and Sweet of It
Use a bike floor pump about once a week as they are the quickest and easiest tool for pump up bike tyres at home. Then identify what type of bike inner tube valve you have; insert pump head over valve; pull lever into vertical position; pump tyre up to desired pressure; replace lever to horizontal position; remove pump head; and finally, screw valve nut back in (presta valves) or screw valve cap on (schrader valve).