In this article we are going to be discussing our tips on how to use a bike pump. The article will cover how to inflate both a Presta valve and a Schrader valve. For a Presta valve you will either need a Presta only pump or a normal air pump with a Presta valve adapter. A Presta only pump has a rubber gasket in the head that will fit snugly around a Presta valve but would not fit a Schrader. A Schrader only pump on the other hand has a pin in the centre of the chuck, used to depress the Schrader’s stem check valve. The Schrader valve is compatible with most pumps.
What is a presta valve bike pump?
The Presta valve is the inner tube valve of a bicycle tyre. This design is often found on road bikes and high end mountain bikes. The exterior of the Presta valve opens and closes with a small screw top. Furthermore, the Presta valve is thinner meaning it requires a special Presta valve bike pump or an adapter.
What is a Schrader bike pump?
Schrader is a type of valve, invented in 1891 and consists of a valve stem into which a valve core is threaded. It is used on most wide rimmed bicycle tyres. The convenient thing about a Schrader valve is that you can inflate this style of valve easily with any regular air pump. You can learn more about the difference between the Presta valve and the Schrader bike valves in our previous article. You can also get a regular air pump and use an adapter to suit either bicycle valve.
How to use a bike pump
The first step involves setting up as well as hot to use a bike pump. The first thing you need to do is to unscrew the knurled nut surrounding the hole. This should be hand tight and has a ‘normal’ thread, that is, it screws anti clockwise, the same as many things do in day to day life such as taps and jars.
Once the nut is undone, you will be able to see a circular piece of rubber with a hole. To remove it, first open the lever, and the rubber pad will lift up. Grasp the rubber and slowly slide it out.
Now you can see that both ends have a hole, the one for Schrader is bigger and the one for Presta is smaller. Inside the pump head there is one more piece, usually made out of plastic. Tip this out of the head. One end has a pointy end (the valve-stem-depressor) and the other end is open.
Take the plastic piece and put it into the pump head with the valve-stem-depressor going in first so that the open end is uppermost. Now put the rubber part in place with the smallest hole facing upwards and the larger hole against the open end of the plastic piece.
You can now refit the external knurled nut. Close the lever and push the rubber seal down. Now screw on the external knurled nut. Don’t over tighten it, it just needs to be finger tight.
Summary of how to use a Bike Pump
We hope this step by step guide has taught you to effectively set up and how to use your bike pump. Watch our video for more information, or, if you are looking for more in depth cycle maintenance information check out our beginners cycle maintenance courses. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
If you want to inflate a presta valve you have two options, firstly you can use a regular air pump with a special presta adapter. The alternative option is to buy a specifically designed presta valve pump. The reason for the different pumps is because the valves are different sizes.
A bicycle pump works by compressing air, when the cylinder is compressed, air is pushed down the tube, out the pump and into the tyre. Some pumps even have a gauge that shows the pressure of air that is forced into the tyre.