1. Purchase the necessary bicycle pump for your bike’s tire valves.
Depending on your bike, the bike tires will have either an American valve or a Schrader valve. If you are unsure which is which, we have provided photos in the FAQ at the end of this article.
Once you know the type of valve you are using, make sure your bike pump is compatible with that type of valve. Most bike pumps are compatible with Schrader valves. If your bike tires have American-style valves, you may need an additional adapter.
You can use a floor pump or a hand pump. Below, we outline how to pump up your bike tires with both types of pumps.
Do not over-inflate or under-inflate your bike tires. Look at the sidewall of your bike tire to determine the minimum and maximum recommended tire pressure in psi.
A general rule of thumb is that road bike tires require higher pressures than mountain bike or hybrid tires. Generally speaking, the recommended tire pressure is 80-130 psi for road bikes, 40-70 psi for cruisers or hybrids, and 25-35 psi for mountain bikes.
How to inflate a bicycle tire
3. Unscrew the cap from the valve.
American and Schrader valves usually have plastic caps that you will need to remove. Be sure to put the cap somewhere you won’t lose it, like your back pocket. The purpose of the cover is to prevent dirt or debris from entering the valve opening.
If your valve is an American style valve, in addition to removing the valve cap, you will need to unscrew the lock nut. Before installing the pump, rotate the American-style valve nozzle a few turns to open the valve. If your valves are American style, this extra step is not necessary.
4. Place the pump on the valve.
There are several different types of bicycle pumps. A floor pump is a great option to store in the garage, ready to fill up the tires at home. Overall, floor pumps have a larger capacity and can pump bike tires to a maximum pressure of 160psi (which is more than you need).
A hand pump is a portable pump that you can take with you while riding or in your car. If you are a long distance rider, commute by bike often, or ride alone, a hand pump is a worthwhile investment.
Typically, both floor pumps and hand pumps have two nozzle holes that can be used for both American and Schrader valves. Place the pump on the valve, select the correct nozzle and push it onto the valve.
5. Pull up on the pump lever.
Now that the pump is on the valve, it is almost ready to start pumping. Most bike pumps have a lever that needs to be rotated 90 degrees. The instructions for this process vary from pump to pump, so check the instructions for your specific pump.
6. Inflate the tire.
Now that the pump is securely fastened to the valve of your bike tire, it’s time to pump it up! This step is self-explanatory. This step is self-explanatory. For a floor pump, put your feet on either side and start pumping with both hands.
For a manual pump, use one hand to hold the nozzle on the valve and use the other hand to pump. Not all manual pumps have a pressure gauge, but we recommend getting one that does, as “staring” at the tire is not the best way to determine tire pressure.
Pump until the desired air pressure is reached.
7. Remove the pump from the valve.
If you have to pull up on the pump lever, push the lever back in. Then, pull the nozzle off the valve. Note that when you remove the pump, you may hear a little air leak. This is completely normal and should not make a substantial change in tire pressure.
8. 8. If you overinflate, remove some air to achieve the correct air pressure.
For Schrader valves, press down on the valve with your fingernail until enough air is expelled. For American valves, with the lock nut open, press down on the valve until enough air is expelled. 9.
9. Close the valve.
In the case of American valves, simply place the plastic dust cap back on the valve. If it is an American style valve, be sure to put the lock nut on and then put the plastic dust cap back on.
If you inflate the tires in the correct poundage range, the tires should feel solid. Now, back to the roads and hills!