How to Pump Up Your Bike Tires

Christine H. Groce10 Apr 2022

Properly inflating your tires is an essential aspect of riding a road bike. Aside from enabling you to enjoy a smoother ride, it also helps protect the wheels for prolonged use. But as simple as the task may seem, so many riders are still yet to master the art of pumping air into the tires. After all, there is a lot that goes into getting it right. This post provides a step-by-step guide on how to pump your bicycle tires.

What you should know

Before you start inflating your bike tires, you need to keep a couple of things in mind. Some of these include:

Type of pump

There are three main types of bike pumps: hand pumps, CO2 pumps, and electric pumps. Hand pumps are the most affordable type of pump for bikes. They are small, portable, and easy to use. CO2 pumps are the most common type of bike pump because they offer a quick fix when you need them. Electric bike pumps offer more power and speed than hand or CO2 bike pumps, and they don't require any physical effort on the user's part.

Valve types

There are three basic bike tire valves: Presta, Schrader, and Dunlop. Presta valves are thin and have a threaded nut on top. They're used on high-performance bikes, such as racing and mountain bikes. Schrader valves are the most common type of bike tire valve. They have a round shape with a small plastic cap that screws off to reveal the valve's opening. Dunlop valves are also round but longer than Schrader valves and don't have a plastic cap to protect the opening from dirt or debris. The valve type is essential for choosing the right pump for your bike.

Right tire pressure

You also need to determine the proper tire pressure for your particular bike before you start pumping. Like car tires, bike tires pressure is measured in PSI or Pounds Per Square Inch. Generally, you will need enough pressure to roll fast on the road surface but not too much to compromise your stability. Furthermore, you can blow off your overinflated tires when you roll on something sharp. To know what the manufacturer recommends as the ideal tire pressure, inspect the tire's sidewall. But if you can't find this information, experts suggest a tire pressure of 80-130 psi for road bikes.

How do you pump air into bike tires?

Once you have figured out all the factors discussed above, follow the steps below to inflate your bike tires:

Select Your Bike Pump

There are different bike pumps to choose from- the best one to use will depend on your needs. The hand pump is the most common and most convenient to carry around, but it requires more effort than the electric pump.

Determine Bike Tire Pressure

You should be able to locate the recommended tire pressure on the sidewall of the bike tire. Remember to use a pump with an accurate pressure gauge to avoid overinflating the tires when you start pumping.

Remove the cap from the valve

To install your pump head, remove the cap and place it over the end of the valve. Then tighten it by turning clockwise until you feel resistance. If this is a Presta valve, unscrew the lock nut before installing your pump head and continue to twist it anticlockwise.

Inflate the tire

To get pressure out of a pump before attaching it to the valve, press on the top of the pump with moderate pressure until any air or liquid in the pump has been released. Place the pump over the valve and start pumping. Use your thumb to test for proper inflation by pressing on top of the tire.

Remove the pump from the valve

Once you finish inflating, remember to remove the pump from the valve. It will ensure air isn't leaking from your tire by putting the valve in the off position. People sometimes have to do this more than once.

Check If its overinflated

Use a pressure gauge to check the pressure on each tire. This may be an optional step for riders who want to ensure adequate inflation and ride comfort! It's always advised to check different bike gauges as they have different scale levels.

Close The Valve

Finally, you want to close the valve on your bike tire by pushing it down into place. Proceed to press the lever until a hissing sound is produced by the tube. This helps to eliminate any excess air that could result in overinflation.

What is the ideal tire pressure for a bike?

The correct tire pressure for a bike depends on a few factors. One of them is the weight of the rider. The heavier the rider, the higher pressure they should have in their tires. The other factor is what kind of bike they are riding. Road bikes generally require lower air pressures than mountain bikes because they are more aerodynamic and have thinner tires to reduce rolling resistance on the pavement. Most mountain bike owners will have their tires inflated to around 8 PSI. Road bike owners should have their tires at around 10-12 PSI.

How often should you pump road bike tires?

Every rider has their preferences regarding how often they should pump their bike tires. Some riders prefer to pump their tires after every ride, while others wait until the tires are showing signs of wear. Many factors can affect how often you need to pump your bike tire. It is essential to check your tire pressure before each ride and make adjustments. The type of terrain, temperature and weight of the rider can all affect how often a rider needs to pump their bike tire.


Riding a road bike with the proper tire pressure goes a long way to affect the bike's performance and the overall biking experience. You will figure out how to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure from the above guide.

Christine H. Groce

Christine H. Groce

Christine formed a passion for cycling back when she still had training wheels as a kid. She wants to write about her adventures, along with tips and tricks for beginner cycling fans.

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