How To Use A Bike Pump: The Ultimate Guide (2021)

A bike tire pump is a must-have accessory for every rider. Using a bike tire pump will help you quickly handle your flat tire in time to ensure your safety as well as your cycling experience.

Currently, on the market, there are many different types of pumps. What are their features and how to pump a bike tire? Let’s learn how to use a bike pump through the sharing in the article below.

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Types of bike pumps

Floor pumps

A bicycle floor pump
A bicycle floor pump

A bicycle floor pump is also known as a stand pump or track pump. This type of pump takes up a lot of space and is often used at home or in bicycle shops. They can deliver more air (many can pump up to 220psi / 10 bar).

With this pump, you always ensure the wheel’s tension every time you cycle around. The floor bike pump is convenient and easy to use. You need to put the pump holder and use your hand to pump the bike.

This type of pump usually has a pump head made of iron or steel. The design is quite simple, using air to pump into the tire. Some modern floor pumps are equipped with a pressure gauge to control the tire pressure easily.

Check out this awesome video about how to use a floor pump in the link below:

Watch video: How to Use a Floor Pump

Hand pumps

The hand pump
The hand pump

The hand pump is a traditional and familiar tire pump. Currently, there are two popular hand pumps: tubed and integral.

The tubed hand pump has a design that uses a tube for connection between the pump and the valve. However, this type of pump has limitations due to the many joints, so the air will easily leak out when pumping.

The integral hand pump uses a rubber wash and a lever to hold the pump to the valve, thereby limiting air leaking out. These pumps provide higher pump efficiency because the air pressure is carefully sealed.

The hand pump is composed of a plastic piston and a cupped fiber. When you pump, the air inside will push the cup forward to form a seal around the valve.  Air pressure will be transferred to the wheel’s inside by a plastic piston through a hole inside the pump.

Mini pumps

The mini bicycle pump
The mini bicycle pump

The mini bicycle pump is an improvement from the traditional hand pump. The mini pump is light and small, making it a quick and straightforward option every time your bike goes flat on the road.

Mini pumps are usually relatively compact, only about 20 – 30cm, not as heavy as other bike pumps. Besides, the mini pump is convenient when going out. The pump mounted on the bicycle frame so that you can easily take it down and put it back in place when the pump is finished.

Despite its compact size, the mini pump is capable of pumping twice as fast as other pumps. However, it is difficult to control the air pressure pumped to your bicycle tires.

Let’s find out how to choose a mini pump in the link below:

Watch video: How To Choose A Mini Pump – What Pump Should You Take With You On Bike Rides?

Foot bumps

The foot pump
The foot pump

The foot pump is a bike pump that uses pedal power, designed, and sized for extended travel, or can be carried outside.

Foot pumps are usually structured, including steel frame, pedals, pressure gauges for convenient pressure monitoring, small or medium rubber pump wire.

The bike pedal pump design can support high-pressure pumps or a two-cylinder pump. It can be used to pump motorbikes and bicycles, and some can pump car tires.

For more information, you can check out this video about foot pump cycle bike:

Watch video: foot pump cycle bike car and balloon

CO2 Inflator

The CO2 Inflator
The CO2 Inflator

The CO2 Inflator is an excellent choice if you need a compact, lightweight, and quick solution to the track’s tire problem. It is popular among athletes and anyone who loves being light while cycling. The CO2 Inflator can stay neatly in a cycling pocket.

Pumping the CO2 for the wheel stabilizes the tire pressure. Simultaneously, the density is small, reducing the bike’s volume, making the bike go faster.

A CO2 inflator set includes one pump nozzle and one compressed air cylinder containing C02 compressed with high pressure. CO2 Inflator is usually only used for one time because the residual CO2 remaining after one pump will leak and escape after a few hours. A CO2 air hose will make sure your wheels are tight, and you can get the most of your ride.

If you like CO2 inflator, click the following link to find out how to use a CO2 inflator:

Watch video: How To Use A CO2 Cartridge To Inflate A Bike Tyre

Electric pumps

An electric pump
An electric pump

An electric pump usually has a compact, highly portable design that allows the user to carry and store flexibly. This pump usually uses high-quality materials, has long durability, is scratch-resistant, and has good heat resistance.

The front is a digital screen that displays tire pressure, LED lights are more flexible when used at night. Some intelligent features are also integrated into this pump, such as determining tire pressure and adjusting tire pressure settings to ensure safety throughout the journey.

Check out this review of this awesome Mi Portable Electric Air Compressor in the link below:

Watch video: Mi Portable Electric Air Compressor (Xiaomi Air Pump) Must Have for Car, Cycle, Motorcycle

The Differences Between Schrader Valve and Presta Valve

Schrader valve

Presta valve

Structure

Commonly found on sports bikes and mountain bikes.

The depressive part of the valve, a tiny pin, is located inside the valve body.

A spring-loaded detachable core inside the valve body keeps air from escaping when the pin is not lowered.

A dust cap comes with the inner tube to protect the valve from road debris.

Presta valves are often found in mountain bikes.

The Presta valve requires a smaller hole inside the rim of the vehicle.

It has a metal screw head mounted on the valve pin that can reduce pressure, helping to protect the valve from air leaks.

Mechanism

Use springs to keep the valve closed.

Presta valve uses air pressure to close the inner valve, thus limiting deflection when dust or sand enters.

Advantage

Schrader valve is easier to use than the Presta valve.

Popular: you can take your bike to any bike repair site to replace or fix it.

Easier to pump by pressing the pump head to inflate.

Easier to check the tire pressure by pushing the meter in to check the air pressure.

It is possible to replace a valve core instead of having to replace the whole valve if the valve is damaged.

The Presta valve is longer and lighter than the Schrader van.

Less area is required, so the rim will be stronger and more durable.

Can be used on thin and light rims.

The small valve head does not lose air pressure when we disassemble the pump.

Disadvantage

When dirt or sand accidentally falls inside, it is easy to deflate.

The threaded internal valve body is bent and broken easily.

The dust cap

The dust cap is an important component.

It helps fully seal the valve and keeps the airtight inside the valve.

The dust cap is not essential.

It helps keep the tire valve clean.

For more information, you can check out this video about Schrader vs Presta Valves:

Watch video: Schrader vs Presta Valves

General Step-by-step Guide To Pump A Bike

Step 1: Choose the essential bicycle pump for your bicycle tire valve

Choose the essential bicycle pump for your bicycle tire valve
Choose the essential bicycle pump for your bicycle tire valve

Currently, there are two main types of valves: Schrader valve and Presta valve. Choosing a pump with a pump head that matches the valve is essential.

Firstly, determine whether your valve head is currently a Schrader valve or a Presta valve. The Schrader head will usually be the big valve head, and the Presta valve has a small valve head.

Once you have known the type of valve, it is next to make sure your pump is compatible with the valve head. Most pumps today are designed for the Schrader valve. You will need an accessory to reduce the pump head if you want to switch from the Schrader valve to the Presta valve.

Step 2: Determine the proper tire pressure

Determine the proper tire pressure
Determine the proper tire pressure

Please do not pump your bicycle tires too tight or too soft as it will significantly affect the strength of the wheel and your driving experience.

You can look at the tire’s sidewall for information regarding wheel pressure. The wheel pressure value is usually expressed in PSI (pounds per square inch).

Usually, a road bike’s tire pressure is higher than a mountain bike’s air pressure. You can refer to the PSI values table for each bicycle type below.

Step 3: Remove the cap from the valve

Remove the cap from the valve
Remove the cap from the valve

Both the Schrader valve and Presta valve use a dust cap to protect the valve from dirt while traveling.  Dust cap covers the valve head, so if you want to pump a bike tire, you have to remove the plastic cap first.

Please keep the cap somewhere that you can easily remember. You can control it somewhere near you or put it in a bag for easy access after completing the pump.

A little note when using a Presta valve is that you must remove the lock nut before unscrewing the cap. Then, you rotate the Presta valve to open the valve and then proceed to the pump.

Step 4: Place the pump on the valve

Place the pump on the valve
Place the pump on the valve

Conventional pumps will have two nozzle holes to be connected to either type of valve. After choosing the suitable nozzle hole, you place the pump head on top of the valve and press firmly down so that they connect.

Step 5: Pull up the pump lever

Pull up the pump lever
Pull up the pump lever

There is a pump lever on each pump. This lever’s use is to lock the pump head tightly to the valve to limit the gas released during the pumping process. Most levers need to be rotated 90 degrees to seal the connection.

Step 6: Pump the tire

Pump the tire
Pump the tire

After fully attaching the pump to the tire valve, let’s start pumping. For a floor pump, place your feet on both sides and use your hands to pump the cake. With some smaller pumps, you only need to use one hand to hold the pump head, the other hand to pump pressure into the tire.

Pump until the pressure gauge indicates the required pressure has been reached. If you do not have a pressure gauge, you can check with the naked eye, but this will not be accurate with a gauge.

Step 7: Remove the pump from the valve

Remove the pump from the valve
Remove the pump from the valve

You move the lever up to loosen the connection between the pump head and the valve.

Then you pull the nozzle hole out of the valve to remove them. When you pull out the pump nozzle, you should be able to hear the sound of air coming out. This phenomenon is entirely normal and will not affect the pressure inside the tire.

Step 8: Close the valve

Close the valve
Close the valve

For van Shrader, you need to close the dust cap to finish closing the valve. With the Presta valve, be careful to tighten the lock nut to prevent air from escaping. Then close the plastic cap to finish pumping the bike tire.

For more information, you can check out this video about how to inflate a bicycle tyre:

Watch video: How To Inflate A Bicycle Tyre

How To Use A Hand Bike Pump

How To Use A Hand Bike Pump
How To Use A Hand Bike Pump

If you want to know how to pump a bike tire with a hand pump, you need to do the following simple bike pump steps.

First, you remove the dust cap from the valve. Then, you have to attach the pump to the valve and use the lever to lock them together.

Use one hand to hold the pump nozzle into the valve while the other hand pumps air into the tire. Continue pumping until you feel the tire is tight. Some hand pumps have a built-in pressure gauge so you can easily monitor the air pressure inside the tire.

After reaching the desired pressure, you lever up the lever and remove the pump head. Then close the dust cap, and you can let your bike roll.

Optimal Tire Pressure

Optimal Tire Pressure
Optimal Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is briefly understood as the compressed air pressure inside the tire. This pressure has a significant influence on the tire’s critical performance characteristics.

Low tire pressure increases rolling resistance; therefore when the tire pressure is shallow, users still feel exhausted cycling. In addition, it is also prone to puncture, tire explosion, or even off-road bicycle.

The high tire pressure makes the surface rough because the higher the tire pressure, the lower the tire absorbs vibrations. High tire pressure minimizes rolling resistance; when cycling, imported terrain will be quicker, and the reaction will be more agile.

Bicycle tire pressure is not a fixed value. You can refer to the table below for the proper pressure for your wheel:

Bike typesTire pressureTire width rangeAdjust for weight
Youth bike25 – 50 PSI24mm – 25 mmAdd 1 PSI per 5kg
Road bike90 -120 PSI23mm – 25 mmAdd 2 PSI per 5kg
Hybrid bike35 – 70 PSI35mm - 45 mmAdd 1 PSI per 5kg
Gravel Bike60 – 75 PSI25mm – 35mmAdd 1 PSI per 5kg
Triathlon bike90 -120 PSI23mm – 25 mmAdd 2 PSI per 5 kg
Commuter bike35 – 70 PSI35mm - 45 mmAdd 1 PSI per 5kg
Mountain bike25 – 50 PSI24mm – 25 mmAdd 1 PSI per 5kg

Suppose the pressure of the bicycle tire is correct. In that case, it means that it will help the bike move smoothly and quickly and avoid the risk of high tire puncture due to the pump being too under or over-stretched.

Besides, long-distance tires will usually be between 80 and 130 psi (pounds per square inch). In addition, mountain tires would have to be 25-35 psi, and city bike / hybrid tires would be 50-70 psi.

If the rider’s weight is heavier, it means the higher the tire pressure.

For example, if you weigh about 63 kg (which would be equivalent to 140 pounds), you will need to apply a tire pressure of about 90 PSI when riding a road bike. Or if you weigh about 70 kg, then it will need 100 PSI, and if it is about 55 kg, that means the pressure must be 80 PSI.

For more information, you can check out this video about tire pressure:

Watch video: What's The Correct Tire Pressure For Your Bike? | The Explainer

Conclusion

After the analysis, sharing, and some instructions on how to use the pump above, I hope you will see the benefits of owning a tire bike pump and gaining knowledge in how to use them more effectively.

FAQs

In short, how does a bike pump work?

The bike pump operates through a piston.  When you push the piston down, the air is pushed down and pumped into the tire.  When the piston is pulled up, the pump takes in air from the outside for the next pump.

Why is my bike pump not working?

The bike pump operates through a piston.  When you push the piston down, the air is pushed down and pumped into the tire.  When the piston is pulled up, the pump takes in air from the outside for the next pump.

What does the lever on a bike pump do?

While pumping a tire, tremendous pressure will likely blow the pump head away from the valve.  The lever is used to lock the pump head tightly to the valve to avoid the above situation.