How To Pump A Bike Tire With A Presta Valve Adapter [DIY]

You’ll know when you need to pump your bike tires up. There’s a different feel from riding effortlessly to noticing the rim dragging your bike along the road.

Your bike tires should be stiff to lessen any potential shock from bumps on your path. If your tires aren’t robust enough you could lose control of your riding.

Turning won’t be as sharp and it can become truly difficult to negotiate your path back.

Before the inconvenience becomes a major issue requiring servicing you’ll need to pump them up. 

If that happens you don’t want to be caught out. As a precaution, you should check your tire pressure before going out on a long bike ride.

However, even with the right pressure when setting off you could find yourself needing to pump a bike tire up midway through a ride. Having the right valve adapter can make the difference between safely pumping your tires back up and being stranded.

Don’t leave yourself open to the chance. Learn how to pump a bike tire using a Presta valve adapter and know you can pump your tires back up confidently. 

Why A Presta Valve May Not Be Compatible

Unfortunately, Presta valves are not universal. Some bike pumps have two openings. In that case, the smaller opening is specifically for a Presta valve.

Air pumps with a single opening may need a small internal rubber stop to be reversed to fit a Presta valve. 

One of the issues a lot of cyclists encounter is with air compressors. The Presta valve itself may not be compatible with the connect heads which could require a Presta valve adapter.

Thankfully, it’s quite easy to attach one for use with an air compressor. You shouldn’t be daunted to use a Presta valve adapter.

As the guide shows it’s quite easy to pump a bike tire with an adapter and you shouldn’t leave home without one.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Pump A Bike Tire With A Presta Aalve Adapter

First, get a secure look at your deflating bike tire. You may want to turn it upside down to sit it upright or simply lean the bike against a nearby wall.

Check the tire and give it a squeeze to estimate how deflated it really is. You may want to check for a puncture if it’s very flat yet hopefully this is just a case of having to pump a bike tire up.  

Next, connect the Presta valve adapter to the Presta valve, you’ll find the valve poking out towards the bike’s rim. Screw off the dust cap (it’s usually black and plastic) and put it somewhere safe within reach.

Turn the smaller brass cap at the end of the valve counter-clockwise to allow for airflow. If there is any air in the tire you should hear it escaping if you depress this brass cap once it’s been loosened.

Carefully attach the adapter onto the valve and screw it tightly by turning clockwise. Once it’s on, put the pump head of the air pump or compressor line on top. You’re now ready to pump.

You may have an air pump with a lever, if that’s the case ensure that the lever is parallel to the nozzle when attaching onto the valve.

Once attached, turn the lever until it’s perpendicular to the nozzle which should be the closed position. 

Slowly pump until you can feel the inner tubes becoming sturdy and full of air. When pumping you should use the air pump fully, it’s only at the end of the push stroke that air goes into the tire.

Check the recommended tire pressure which will be in a range written on the sidewall of the tire and measured in PSI. Once the tire is of the desired pressure, remove the air pump or compressor from the valve.

You shouldn’t exceed the maximum recommended tire pressure. However, it’s a better rule to have the tire pressure to be higher than the bottom end of that range. If it’s lower you run the risk of damaging the rim.

If you’ve got such an air pump with a lever, you’ll also need to turn the lever again to remove it once you’ve finished pumping.

Next, you’ll need to remove the valve adapter. Turn the adapter counter-clockwise until it comes off. 

Screw the brass cap clockwise quickly to seal it and put the dust cap back on. The brass cap should be fastened securely so no air can escape. Your tire should now be sturdy and the valve should be upright, not slipping into the tire. 

Turn the wheel a few times to inspect the tire and, once you’re happy, get back on the bike and ride away.

When May You Need To Use A Presta Valve Adapter

Presta valves have a smaller diameter than the second more popular option which is the Schrader valve. That one tiny difference means that there may be several occasions when you need a Presta valve adapter.

These can include at a gas station though their pumps operate at extremely high pressure. If you are caught with a flat tire you should be careful not to burst it so only use the pump at a gas station in emergency situations. 

Ideally, the pump will be digital and you’ll be able to enter a target pressure. Without that, you’re relying on an analog gauge that is located near the nozzle.

Don’t look out for the higher tire pressure to be reached as air machines usually aim to overinflate. Also, use the shortest of bursts due to how little volume of air your tires contain compared to those in a motorbike or car.

There’s a real chance that the air machine will blow up the tire and even damage your wheel rim. After that, it’s a costly job repairing the bike, let alone getting home.

Try to ensure that the tire pressure is 10PSI lower than intended to make sure your tires are pumped but not at risk of bursting. Though lower, you should be able to complete your journey with a slightly deflated tire.

You can always take a proper look at it then.

Reasons To Buy A Presta Valve Adapter

You can identify a Presta valve and its adapter by the slimmer, thinner end. The diameter should be a mere 6mm and the rim holes are smaller than those of Schrader valves.

The thin design means the Presta valve can retain air in the tube better. That feature prevents leaking and the cap will prevent any air from escaping meaning the air pressure will be steadier.

A Schrader valve is 8mm wide making it more likely to compromise a bike by creating a bigger hole in the rim which can act as a weak spot.

This simple reason is largely why Schrader valves are more commonly found on wider tires such as those on automobiles. 

A Presta valve adapter is simply designed to increase the diameter to 8mm to use with a Schrader valve. Having an adapter gives you more options and means you can easily use an air pump without having to worry if you’ve got the right valves. 

Presta valves are also more versatile. They are compatible with several bike tubes and rim holes. They can even fit Shrader rim holes.

If you’ve got bike equipment such as a foot pump or mini pump it’s more likely to work with a Presta valve than a Schrader. However, it’s simply a good idea to carry a valve adapter with you so you’re covered in case of an emergency.

Imagine your tires are flat on a long ride and the gas station only has one type of valve. The only type of valve you don’t have.

That’s a difficult situation you don’t want to be in. You could also be able to help other cyclists who encounter the same problem. 

However, for all the popularity of a Presta, the Schrader valve is comparably more robust. This is one reason why you should look to buy a Presta valve adapter.

The adapter gives me even more options while keeping the functionality of a Schrader valve.

Andrew Daniels