You'd think inflating a bike tire would be pretty simple. That is, until you take a look at your bike's valve. Enter, intimidation.
The most common type of bike valve is called a Presta, and it's a long, cylindrical piece of metal that sticks out from the bike's tire. It has a small tip at the end.
Fortunately, you can pump up a Presta in just a few simple steps, according to cycling coach Garret Seacat, CSCS. All you need to fill your tire is a compatible bike pump (more on that below).
Check out this video and step-by-step instructions to learn how to inflate a Presta valve. Then get ready to ride your bicycle flat-tire-free.
How to Pump a Presta Valve
Step 1. Find and Unscrew the Valve Cap
The valve should be on the inside of your tire. Unscrew the small point (aka nut or cap) near the top of the valve. It will turn in a circle and move upward until it's at the top of the thread. Don't force it past this point, recommends Seacat.
Once the cap is in the top position, press the valve. If you feel a little air coming out, you're ready to go.
Step 2: Attach the Pump
Connect the pump head to the top of the valve and lock it in place. (Some pumps require pulling a lever while others involve pressing a button at the end of the hose, he says.)
Step 3: Inflate the Tire
Start the flow of air, monitoring the tire pressure as it inflates. Continue pumping to the pressure measurement or PSI listed on the tires, Seacat says.
Step 4: Remove the Pump
Unlock the head of the pump and remove it from the valve. (Reverse the motion you used to attach the pump.)
Step 5: Secure the Valve Cap
Make sure to screw the nut of the valve back into place, Seacat says. Tap the top of the valve. If no air comes out, your job is done.
Misplaced your cap or need a new one? You can buy a replacement to keep your tires inflated and valve damage-free
- KEYWELL Valve Cap (Amazon.com, $6.99 for 14)
- Dymoece Valve Cap (Amazon.com, $7.59 for 24)
- TOSVALVE Valve Cap (Amazon.com, $5.07 for 6)
How to Inflate a Presta Valve With a Schrader Pump
While most bike pumps are compatible with Presta valves, some aren't. Scraders are another common type of pump and fit with (you guessed it) Schrader valves. (You can check your bike pump's manual or online product description to figure out which kind of pump it is.)
Fortunately, if you have a Schrader pump, you can still use it to inflate a Presta valve — you just need an adapter. These are super easy to install (generally all you do is screw them onto the valve) and inexpensive to buy online.
The Best Presta Valve Adaptors
- Brass Valve Adaptor (Amazon.com, $5.99 for 5)
- HZJD Valve Adaptor (Amazon.com, $4.99 for 5)
- Presta to Schrader Tube Pump Tool Converter (Amazon.com, $6.98 for 5)