How to Operate a Bicycle Pump

Written by frances hall
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How to Operate a Bicycle Pump

Airing up your bike tires is easy once you know how. It's something you can do at home with a simple floor pump. Air up your tires often. You should air up your tires before every long ride, or after several days of not riding your bike. The air hose they have at gas stations won't reach the pressure level required for many bikes because car tires are kept at a much lower pressure than many bikes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Floor pump
  • Valve adaptor (if needed)

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  1. 1

    Remove the valve cap on your tire valve. If you have a presta valve, which is skinny with a little knob on top, unscrew the knob gently. These are more common high-end bikes. This knob does not come off, it just gets unscrewed. Push down to feel air release for just a second to ensure the valve is ready. If you have a schrader valve which is wider and more similar to a car tire valve, simply remove the cap.

    How to Operate a Bicycle Pump
    Presta valve
  2. 2

    Determine how much air pressure is required for your tires. The amount of pressure your tires require can be determined by looking at the side wall of the tire. The pressure could be anywhere from about 40 to 60 psi for mountain bikes and bikes with fatter tires, depending on the type of riding the cyclist does to (pounds per square inch) to 50 to 90 for city riding and hybrids to 100 to 120 psi for road bikes with skinny tires. It is important to use the correct amount for your particular bike, though rather than guessing at a range.

    How to Operate a Bicycle Pump
  3. 3

    Attach the bicycle pump to your nozzle and flip the lever up to lock it. If the pump won't fit correctly onto the valve, you need a valve attachment so that your pump will work with your valve. This is not unusual since there are 2 types of tire valves as mentioned above: presta and schrader. You can buy the attachment at a local bike shop.

    How to Operate a Bicycle Pump
  4. 4

    Press down firmly on the pump while watching the gauge. Pressing down delivers air to the tire and the gauge lets you know how much air. The goal is to have the gauge match the correct psi range for your tires and riding as determined in step 2. It can be difficult to press down firmly enough for tires that require a higher amount of pressure but avoid pushing down and balancing your body weight on the pump, this could damage your pump. Instead push firmly and straighten your arms as you do.

    How to Operate a Bicycle Pump
  5. 5

    Remove the nozzle swiftly but carefully by opening the lever and pulling it off the valve. Do not twist it or wrench it off as you could damage the valve. If you have a presta valve, screw the nut back down. Replace the valve cap for either type of valve.

    How to Operate a Bicycle Pump

Tips and warnings

  • Riding on overinflated tires can cause the tube to explode in some cases and will make the ride harsh.
  • Riding on underinflated tires can damage your bike and make riding less efficient and in some cases could cause the tire to detach from the rim.
  • Incorrect inflation makes a tire more prone to various types of flats.

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