How To Properly Air Up A Bike Tire

How To Properly Air Up A Bike Tire

When riding a bike, your tires are the only thing separating you from the ground, so it’s obviously best to make sure they are always inflated to the right amount.

Even when your tires seem like they fully inflated, if they’ve lost even a little air, your riding can suffer.

Tires that are lacking air will result in sluggish steering, and a mushy feeling that can rob you of your speed and pedal efficiency. The solution for this is to always check your tires before rides, which only takes a few second.

Airing up a bike tire may seem like simple stuff, but you’d be surprised at how many people are still largely unaware on how to do it right. This quick guide will walk you through all the main things you need to know to get your tires back to their optimal air amount so you can get back to enjoying your riding.

Examine Tire

If your tire seems unreasonably low, it’s best to first check the tire itself to make sure there aren’t any noticeable punctures from the outside. Turn your bike upside down on its handles and saddle so you can quickly rotate the tires and search for any objects that may have caused a hole. If there are none, move on.

Determine Valve Type

There are two different types of valves on bike tires. Schrader valves are the shorter, thicker valves that are the same size as valves used on car tires. Presta valves are taller and skinnier, and are more common with road bikes and high end mountain bikes.

The valve type is important to know because each requires its own pump, or pump attachment.

Prepare the Valve

Now that you’re ready, unscrew the cap if it’s a schrader valve, or undo the small screw on top if it’s a presta.

Check PSI

Check the sidewall of your tire to see what the proper PSI range is. This is the pressure range you’ll need to stay in between for best results.

Road tires are usually between 80 and 130 PSI, while a mountain tire holds between 30 and 50 PSI.

Attach Pump

Take your pump and attach it to the valve. Some pumps may have a latch that secures the inside of the pump to the valve, while others may simply fit right over it securely. Pumps that have air tubes sometimes need to be screwed onto the valve.

Inflate to Proper Pressure

Use the pump to inflate the tire until you reach the right PSI range. You can either use a separate tire gauge to periodically check the pressure between pumps, or your pump may have a built-in pressure gauge that makes things a little easier.

Once you’ve reached the right pressure, reattach the cap on the valve, and you're good to go until next time.


Tire inflation isn’t complicated, but it does help to know the right procedures, and perhaps even more importantly, maintain vigilance in checking the pressure so you can always get the most out of your riding, while avoiding issues down the road (literally.)

This post was last updated on June 5th, 2018 at 02:06 pm

About the Author Max Shumpert

Over the last few years, I’ve taken my love of the outdoors, hiking, skiing, trekking and exploring to the next level by starting this site. I started a bike shop in Denver, CO, and have seen amazing growth over the last few years. Getting paid to do what I love has been a dream come true for me. That’s also what led me to start In my shop, I spend a large amount of time helping people find the perfect bike for them and the style of biking they’re going to be doing. It only made sense that I expanded my reach and got online, making it possible for me to help people all over the world. If biking and staying fit is your priority, too, you’ve come to the right place.

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