No matter who you are or how you ride, you’re going to need to pump up your bike tires. It’s a simple step in basic bike maintenance that can help keep you comfortable on the road or trail and preserve the integrity of your tires. But before you get pumping, you need to know what kind of valve your tires are fitted with and make sure you have the right air pump to match.
There are two basic types of bike tire valves: the Presta valve and the Schrader valve. GT Pro Rider Rachel Strait breaks down the differences between the two.
Presta valves are the smaller of the two valve types, and feature a removable inner core that can be opened when you’re pumping and closed off when you’re done. These valves are seen most often on road bikes and mountain bikes with higher tire pressures.
“It’s also important to remember that the Presta valve sometimes requires an adaptor,” Strait says. “So make sure that the pump has one when purchasing it at the store.”
Schrader valves are likely the valves you’re more used to seeing. They’re used on most car tires, as well as BMX bikes and comfort bikes. They feature a small pin in the center that regulates air flow.
“The Schrader valve is compatible with almost all pumps,” Strait says. “This means you can feel confident that, more often than not, the pump you buy will fit your valve.”
Keep your tires full and your rides comfortable by understanding which valve type your bike uses and making sure you have a compatible pump. And never be caught with a flat tire with this guide to Fixing a Flat with an Inner Tube.
Have more questions about your bike? For help with tune-ups, installations, adjustments and repairs, visit our bike service PROS at your local DICK’S Sporting Goods and discover even more bike tips with Pro Tips.