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How To Pump Up Your Bike Tires

Inflate Your Tires Before Every Ride For More Fun

The  easiest way to keep your bicycle running well is checking tire pressure before every ride. Properly inflated tires ride great, last long and  resist flats. Plus, keeping the tires pumped prevents wheel damage  should you hit a rock or pothole while riding. Bent wheels hinder  braking and cost a pretty penny to repair. 

pumping tires

Fortunately,  checking tire inflation is simple once you have the only tool required:  a bicycle tire pump (don't use your local gas station pressure hose  because it can overinflate and damage tires). Bike shops sell quality pumps (about $30 to $60) that are easy to use and safe. You might also  have a battery-powered inflator for your car that will work if it reaches sufficient pressures.It's best if your bike pump fits both bicycle valves (Schrader and Presta; the shop will  understand) and sports a built-in gauge, which makes it easy to get the pressure right.

Recommended Tire Pressure
How  do you know how much air to put in your tires? On most tires, the  recommended pressure is printed on the sidewall. It's often written as a  range, such as "90 to 115 psi (pounds per square inch)," which appears  on some high-pressure road tires. You can experiment within this range  to find what feels best for you. Less pressure offers a more comfortable  ride and more air means less rolling resistance. Many cyclists opt for  the best of both worlds and run 100 to 105 psi in their skinny road  tires.

Find the proper tire pressure range on your tire’s sidewall.

If  you're inflating 26-inch tires (common on comfort and off-road bikes),  you may find that the pressure range is wider, say "35 to 60 psi." This  is because these tires can be used on and off road. For the former, 60  psi is about right because it rolls optimally on pavement. Off road,  however, 35 to 40 psi is much more appropriate because it absorbs the  bumps, rocks and roots better and offers greater traction for control  and handling.

Pumping Up Your Bike Tires

Inflating a tire is as simple as attaching the pump head to the valve and pumping. 

You'll need to unscrew and remove the valve caps first if your tubes have them. 

And, if you have Presta valves (they have a knurled tip and are also called "French" valves), you'll need to open the valve by unscrewing and depressing the tip just long enough to let a tiny amount of air out (remember to close it after pumping, too). 

(If you have presta valves you may need a presta valve adaptor that will allow your  pump to work if it isn't set up for use with presta valves. Some pumps come with what's called a "smart head" that works with car tire style  valves (schrader valves) and presta valves.)

Then, attach the pump or Co2 charger and start pumping, stopping when the gauge shows that you've reached the recommended tire pressure.

Repeat with the other tire.

And you thought bicycling only exercised your legs!

Thanks to GCN for this great video!