Inflating your bike tire is one of the most common maintenance tasks every cyclist should know. It can be easily performed at home once you have a bicycle pump.
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to inflate your road bike tires.
- Bicycle pump (floor or hand pump)
- Inner tube
- Bicycle tire
- Bicycle wheel
- 1 to 5 minutes
1. Remove the valve cap by turning it anti-clockwise
- Place the valve cap in a secure place as most cyclists tend to lose them easily.
2. Identify the valve type
- Road bikes have Presta valves. They’re also referred to as French or Sclaverand valves.
- Other types of bikes such as mountain bikes might use Schrader valves. They’re also called the American valve and are the same tire valves used in car tires.
3. Ensure you have the right inflator head
- Most bicycle pumps are both Presta and Schrader compatible.
- Depending on your bicycle pump’s model, you’ll need to swap the inflator head by removing the cover and flipping the rubber piece inside.
- Some pumps such as the Topeak’s Joe Blow Booster has a single inflator head that can fit both Presta and Schrader.
4. Unscrew the small locking nut at the end of the valve
- Make sure to unscrew it completely.
- This will allow air to enter as you pump. Schrader valves do not have this small lockring.
5. Insert the inflator head into the tire valve
- Make sure it goes all the way in. Secure the inflator head if there’s a locking lever.
6. Check the tire sidewall for maximum air pressure
- Depending on the combination of tire and rim width, road bikes generally have a range between 60 to 110 psi.
- As a rule of thumb, the wider the tire and rim are, the lower the tire pressure.
7. Start pumping until your desired tire pressure
- Do not exceed the maximum air pressure printed on the tire sidewalls.
- If the air pressure is too high, the tire might get unseated from the rim wall or the ride could be harsh and jarring.
8. Once at your desired tire pressure, give it another half a stroke
- This is to compensate for some of the air that might be released as you remove the inflator head.
9. Unlock the locking lever and remove the inflator head
- Gently wiggle and remove the inflator head from the tire valve.
- Some air might escape, but that is normal.
10. Tighten the valve lockring and insert the valve cap cover
- Repeat for the other tire if needed.