How to use gas station air to pump bike tires

Written by patrick hutchison
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How to use gas station air to pump bike tires
Gas stations usually maintain an air station where you can inflate bicycle tires. (walley's petrol station image by Tijara Images from

A bicycle ride can quickly become a bicycle walk if your tire is punctured or starts leaking. If you do not carry a bicycle pump with you when you ride, petrol station air pumps provide a welcome source of pressurised air. Petrol station air pumps, however, are designed to inflate car tires, not bicycle tires. The higher pressure and quick flow can overinflate bicycle tires, causing them to explode. Knowing how to use a petrol station air pump to inflate your bike tires allows riders to get back on the road without a trip to the hospital.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Petrol station air pump
  • Tire pressure gauge

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  1. 1

    Check with the petrol station attendant before pumping up your tires. Some gas stations do not allow people to fill up their bicycle tires because of possible explosions.

  2. 2

    Remove the plastic valve covers from your bicycle tires.

  3. 3

    Attach the pump head to your tire valve. Unlike a bicycle pump, petrol station air pumps have no locking mechanism, requiring you to hold the pump onto the valve with steady pressure. If you have Presta valves, you will need a Presta to Schrader converter. You can thread the converter directly onto your Presta valve, allowing you to fill your tire using a Schrader pump.

  4. 4

    Inflate your tire in quick bursts to avoid overinflating it, checking the tire pressure with your tire pressure gauge after each burst. Your tyre's recommended pressure should be printed on the sidewall of your tire. You may need to insert coins into the air machine in order to operate it.

  5. 5

    Replace the plastic valve covers onto your tires valves. If you used a Schrader converter on your Presta valves, remove the converter and replace your Presta plastic valve cover.

Tips and warnings

  • Before attaching the air hose to your valve, give it a few quick bursts of air to clear any debris, oil or water that may have collected in the air hose head.
  • Filling bike tires with petrol station air can be exceptionally dangerous. Always fill tires in small bursts to fill the tire slowly. Never risk overinflation.

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