how to inflate a presta valve

5 Quick and Easy Steps on How to Inflate a Presta Valve [2022]

How to inflate a Presta Valve – Whether you’ve got a puncture out on the trail or are simply doing routine maintenance, knowing how to pump up your tire is a vital piece of knowledge for any cyclist, even total beginners.

This is because flats often occur exactly when you’re at the worst possible moment when you’re miles away from help or your garage and tools and don’t have any cell phone reception or internet connection.

This means that you’ll need to use your own tools and know-how to solve this issue or risk pushing your bike all the way home which is as embarrassing as it is inconvenient.

Being properly equipped with a pump and spare tubes or a patch kit is only half the battle, and ultimately it’s the knowledge that will save your tires in these situations, and this is something many cyclists, even experienced ones, can sometimes forget or need to brush upon.

In this guide, we’re going to look at what a Presta valve is, how to recognize it and how to inflate a Presta Valve so you can get back on two wheels as quickly as possible.

We’re also going to look at a few of the other common bike tire valves you may come across so you know how to recognize them and don’t get mixed up, as bringing out a tube with the wrong valve will land you in a whole world of issues if you end up needing a spare.

But let’s take a look at the Presta valve first, and what exactly it is.

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What Is A Presta Valve?

The Presta valve is a type of pressure valve that allows riders and technicians to put air into tires or inner tubes effectively and efficiently.

It is one of the most commonly used types of valve and is known for being a high-pressure valve that makes pumping up tires much easier and quicker than some other types of valve.

The design of the Presta is able to allow easy pressure management for both pumping up the tire and letting air out of it should you need to replace an inner tube, making this a very effective tire for both road cycling and mountain biking, as well as several other niche cycling disciplines. 

The Presta valve uses an outer valve stem and an inner valve, as well as a lock nut that twists into place to both secure the stem of the valve at the rim of the bike wheel, keeping everything in place.

A valve cap can also be found on a Presta, which will help keep the air in and secure the pressure even when loose or unscrewed. 

The Presta valve has become dominant over the last 10 to 15 years, but before this, the Schrader valve was more popular in bike tires. 

The shift to Presta has meant that most bikes use this type of valve now, so let’s take a look at how to use it!

Use a Portable Mini Bike Pump for Presta and Shrader valves to fix on your bicycle wherever you go.

how to inflate a presta valve mini bike pump

How to Inflate With a Presta Valve?

Identify The Valve

First things first, make sure you’re actually working with a Presta Valve. These valves are usually much narrower and longer than a Schrader type valve and have an external valve stem that is protected by a cap, instead of an internal valve core like the Schrader.

Open The Valve

To open the valve, unscrew the dust cap and place it somewhere it won’t get lost. Next, loosen the small-cap which sits on top of the valve stem. Unscrew it fully – and don’t worry, it won’t fall off entirely.

Test that the valve is open by pressing on the valve stem. If you hear a hiss or feel the air rushing out in a quick burst, you’ve loosened the valve enough and can move on to the next step.

Use The Correct PSI

Using the right amount of pressure is critical to ensuring you avoid more punctures or issues down the line. Ideally, there should be some information on the side of your bike tires in small raised letters and will show an optimal PSI range.

The lower number indicates the lowest safe pressure, while the higher number is the optimal pressure. Use a pump with a pressure gauge to help you stay within these boundaries, especially as a beginner unfamiliar with correct bike pressures. 

It’s important to have a Tire Puncture Repair Kit with you at all times for emergency repairs

how to inflate a presta valve tire puncture repair kit

Use Your Pump

Always bring a pump with you when you’re using your bike, even on short trips! There are tons of small convenient bike pumps for all kinds of valves, even with pressure gauges

Make sure you have the correct valve selected on the pump if it is both Presta and Schrader compatible. The Presta setting usually uses a smaller hole to account for the narrower width of a Presta valve.

Place the pump onto the valve. When doing this, if the pump has a lever near the top ensure it’s in the ‘open position’ before you place the pump onto the valve. 

When in position, pull the lever into the closed position when you’re ready to pump.

From here you can pump the tire up to the correct PSI, then simply flip the lever back into the open position and remove the pump from the valve, replacing the lever and screwing the valve cap back into its starting position.

Then replace the dust cap to keep everything clean and protected.

Letting Air Out

If you need to let the air out of the tire or tube, simply remove the dust cap and unscrew the valve cap, then press down on the stem to allow small bursts of air out of the tire until you are satisfied/have the correct PSI.

What Other Types Of Bike Tire Valve Are There?

how to inflate a presta valve tire pressure testing

Schrader Valve

The Schrader valve is a type of pressure valve used in all kinds of tires on both bikes and even more commonly, on car tires, which is why this valve is sometimes called a car valve.

This design was once widespread on bikes but has been widely replaced by the Presta valve. The Schrader can be recognized by its shorter and wider profile and the valve stem which is inside the main valve body.

Woods Valve/Dunlop Valve

The Woods Valve, Dunlop Valve, or English Valve as it is sometimes known as a type of pressure valve stem design used in bike tires in some parts of the world, particularly in Asia and some European countries.

This valve is quite similar to the Presta and has a similar profile and design, and can function in largely the same way.

Cycle safely with this Lightweight Microshell Bicycle Helmet at all times!

how to infflate a presta valve bicycle helmet

Final Thoughts on How to Inflate a Presta Valve

Being able to pump up your tire is a critically important skill for all cyclists, so hopefully, these tips have given you the confidence and knowledge needed to get out there on some adventures.

Especially when doing solo rides, you rely on your own knowledge to deal with any punctures which may happen along the way! Just don’t forget to bring a spare inner tube, just in case, you forget how to inflate a Presta valve again!

5 Quick and Easy Steps on How to Inflate a Presta Valve [2022]

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