How To Use A Bike Pump

how to use bike pump

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Most of the new gadgets and equipment usually come with manuals, but who really cares about opening them, let alone reading them?

A bike pump, for instance, seems to be a simple tool to operate, but as it turns out, it can be quite frustrating to use it.

A bike pump is a staple to any bike enthusiast.

It helps riders to pump their tires easily.

Now, here’s the thing, for optimal efficiency, tires need the right amount of air, and getting them to the right psi requires some a bit of finesse and the right tools.

Failure to this, it results in a myriad of mechanical issues, more prominently, your bike-handling skills.

In the article below, I shall walk you through a step-by-step guide on how to use a bike pump to allow you roll confidently.

Pick the Right Bike Pump

A common mistake we see with both new and seasoned bikers is choosing the wrong kind of bike pump.

The choice of the best bike pump is ultimately dependent on the type of valve.

While some pumps can be modified or have a dual pump head for the different types of valves, other bike pumps are valve explicit.

Types of Valves

The two common types of valves are the Presta and Schrader.

The Presta valve has a narrow end, and it sports a locking nut, which is loosened to add or release air. 

The Schrader valve, on the other hand, is wider, and it comes with a flat end.

Using a Schrader bike pump on a Presta or vice versa, will not work, regardless of how you try.

Therefore, before picking a bike pump, you need to determine exactly your bike valve type.

An easy way of remembering the Presta valve is that you press to release air.

Some of the valves look a bit different because they do come with a plastic cup. And before you assert that they’re neither Presta nor Schrader, first remove the dust cap by unscrewing.

Preparing the Valve

To prepare the valve, you simply need to remove the plastic caps that cover the valves.

For the Presta valve, you simply turn the plastic cap in an anticlockwise motion.

If you’ve a Schrader valve, lucky for you because you are required to do nothing.

Determine The Tire Pressure you Need

Before pumping, you must check the recommended tire pressure of your bike tire.

The tire pressure is expressed in PSI and is a measurement of Pounds Per Square Inch.

Gladly, most of the bike tires have the recommended PSI range on their sidewalls.

There’re various ways to check the tire PSI, but here are some of the general guidelines to follow when determining the correct PSI on your bike tire;

Personal psi preference is dependent on your weight as well as the riding style.

For instance, if you’re lightweight, we recommend that you choose the lower range of psi, and if you’re heavy, you need to choose the higher end of the psi.

Inflating your tire - Attaching the Pump

Attaching the nozzle to the pump is an easy process.

However, there’re some critical requirements that you need to adhere to.

The first step is to take the cap on the valve and loosen the core.

Secondly, firmly attach your nozzle to the valve by firmly pressing over it.

If you notice that the tire is not filling or the air is coming out, it means that you need to readjust the pump head slightly.

Deattach the nozzle and reattach to ix the seal.

Positioning the Pump Lever

A majority of the foot pumps usually come with a lever for engagement.

For optimal use and efficient air pumping, you need to set the pump at a 90-degree angle.

However, it’s worth noting that not all bike pumps are this way; some of the pumps have a push-in lever.


Check on the tire gauge and determine how much pressure is in your tires.

From here, you can begin pumping until to reach the desired pressure levels.

How to Use a Foot Pump

Foot pumps are the most common pumps in the market.

Here’s to pump using one;

  • Remove the lock by pressing it down
  • Remove the cap on the valve and attach the pump correctly
  • Put both feet on the base of pump and use both of your arms to pull up and push down
  • Once you reach the desired PSI, simply remove the pump head 

Detaching the Pump

Once you reach the desired psi, then the next step is detaching the pump head.

So, how do you do that to avoid losing air?

The correct way is unlocking the pump first, then pulling the head out quickly. Then you need to replace the valve as quickly as possible to avoid losing air.

For a Presta valve, you will first need to attach the screw nut, then turn it in an anticlockwise motion until its tight.

On the other hand, a Schrader is easier to handle since you simply need to put the cap back on before closing it off.

Both ways, time is always of the essence, and you should perform the entire operation as fast as possible to prevent air from coming out.

Go Ride

Once you’ve pumped the tires according to the recommended pressure, it’s time to take a ride.

Ensure that everything gets back in place before hitting the ground.

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