How to Put Air in a Bicycle Tire

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You just ran over a jagged rock and flattened your front bike tire. You've never changed the tire and aren't even sure how to pump it up. Assuming that you have the correct pump, inflating a tire is a quick, easy process.

Things You'll Need

  • Bike pump with correct valve
  • Determine the type of valve you have. Bicycle tires almost always come with Presta or Schrader valves. Schrader is the more traditional of the two and are wider black plastic valves with a cap; they are just like the valve on your car tires. Presta valves are small skinny metal valves with a little screw nozzle at the top. A third type of valve, Woods/Dunlop, is very rare and can be inflated with a Presta pump attachment.

  • Unscrew the valve. For a Schrader valve, unscrew the cap and take it off. For a Presta valve, unscrew the cap and then open the nozzle by unscrewing counter clockwise.

  • Make sure that you have the right pump for the type of valve that your bike tire uses. If it is a multi-valve pump, be sure you are using the correct attachment or setting.

  • Secure the pump to the valve. If there is a locking lever, be sure to lock it, which is usually done by pulling it up. If there is no locking lever, hold the pump head firmly to the valve.

  • Pump up your tire by pressing up and down on the bike pump.

  • Use the gauge to check the pressure based on your tire requirements. If you don't have a gauge, squeeze the tire to make sure it's filled enough.

  • Open the pump lever and pull the pump off the valve.

  • Screw the nozzle and/or cap closed, and you're ready to bike.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have a pump, gas station air pumps will fit Schrader valves, but be sure to pump in short increments so you don't over inflate your tire. Compact CO2 pumps require no manual pumping action and fill your tire using the air from a CO2 cartridge. Simply screw on and press down on lever if included on the pump.

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