How To Use A Bike Pump

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Experienced cyclists will know that checking your time pressure before leaving is essential. Sometimes you may not have the right pressure for your tires to function optimally.

What’s more, getting the correct psi requires finesse. Even tires that are in excellent condition will need air pressure because of slow air leaks.

To change your air pressure, you need to have a bike pump. In this article, we will share with you how to use the bike pump to inflate your tires.

That way, you don’t need to get stuck when you have a puncture or low pressure. Nothing can ruin your journey, like having a flat tire and you don’t know how to do it. Let’s get started

Know The Type Of Tire Valve You Have

Take a moment to inspect your tire and find out the type of valves your bike has. You’ll find that your bike has either a Schrader or Presta valve.

These matters because they will help you choose the best pump with the correct nozzles. The good news is that modern pumps (floor and hand pumps) will have both.

Some pumps may only accommodate Schrader valves, and you will need to get an adaptor if you want to use a Presta valve. Let’s look at these valves in details:

Schrader valve

You’ll find these valves in children’s and some hybrid bicycles. You can find these valves in car tires. Their cylindrical valve stem has a bare metal on the upper part while the lower part is coated.

The valve is threaded at the top, and it has a cap at the top for securing the opening. If you remove the dust cap, you’ll see a metal pin at the center. The metal pin is the check valve that controls air flow in and out of the tube. When you depressed it, the air flows out. If you remove pressure from it, it seals the tube completely.

Presta Valve

This is a newer design that is created for bike tires. It comes with a slender circumference that is half of that of the Schrader. Presta valves have a metal-design and no coating.

Unlike Schrader valves, they are threaded. Their valve opening has a screw at the top, which secures the opening. If you unscrew the nut, the screw will be depressed to allow the air out.

Determine The Right PSI

Air pressure in a bike is measured per square inch or PSI. When you are riding your bike, you need a lot of pressure to move smoothly and fast. Bear in mind that if you inflate the tire too much, it can blow the entire off.

While the type of valve can determine the inflation process, it won’t tell you how much air pressure you need to have in your tire.

To do this, you need to consider each tire and how you want to use it. You can find the PSI of the bike on the sidewall of the tire. If your tire lacks the PSI info, here are the basic recommendations for PSI:

  1. Mountain bike tire pressure: 25 to 35 psi
  2. Road bike tire pressure: 80 to 130 psi
  3. Cruiser bike / hybrid tire pressure: 40 to 70 psi

For safety purposes, you need to stick only to the recommended PSI. Road bikes usually have a higher PSI recommendation than other types of bikes. Road bikes have harder tires that require high pressure for excellent riding experiences on smooth surfaces. 

On the other hand, wider tires found in mountain bikes have more excellent grip and traction, and as a result, they need a low PSI for a fantastic off-road riding experience.

Pumping A Bike Using A Floor Bike Pump

The floor pump is large and can inflate the tire to 160 PSI which is excellent for most bikes. A floor pump allows you to inflate the tire fast because each stroke moves the air quicker than a hand pump. Here are the steps to follow when inflating the tires:

Step 1: Take off the valve’s cap

Take off the cap on either Presta or Schrader valves. Ensure the cap is kept in a safe place so that you don’t lose it.

Step 2: Unscrew the sealing nut.

This step applies if you have a Presta valve. Unscrew the small nut to allow the air out. Ensure that you have no clogs in the valve and that it is working well.

Step 3: The pump nozzle needs to match the valve

Ensure you have the proper pump nozzle for the valve. Most floor pumps have two connections at the nozzle. The small nozzle is for the Presta valve, while the larger nozzle is for Schrader. Put the valve into the pump head and then engage.

Step 4: Put the pressure on the tire.

To keep the floor pump steady, plant it onto your two feet, grab its handle and pump with both sides of your hand until you reach the correct PSI. When you are done, you will unlock and remove the head pump and finally screw the cap back.

Pumping A Bike Using A Hand Pump

Hand pumps are effective compared to floor pumps because they are meant for bicycles. That said, every cyclist should have one to deal with emergency flats.

 Since they are small, they put out less air and long to inflate the tire. Here are the steps that one needs to follow to inflate the tire using a hand pump:

Note: Follow  step 1 to 3  in the previous step and then come back here if you have a hand pump

Step 1:  Put the pump head to the valve.

Ensure the valve is in line with the pump head. If your pump does not have a way to hold it, you need to hold it manually. Hold it well and ensure the valve is not bending. Next, you need to apply steady pressure.

Step 2: Pump more pressure.

Continue pumping using one hand until you reach the desired pressure. Hand pumps are designed to be pumped using one hand as the other holds the body in place. Once you have steady pressure, you may need to remove the pump head and close the valve using the dust cap.


Now that you know how to inflate your tires using a bike pump. Congratulations!! You are all set to ride your bike on your own or in a group. Knowing how to inflate a tire should be an essential skill every cyclist needs to have. Wherever you go, ensure you have a hand pump and floor pump to use at home.

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