Choose to know what to do with a bike pump…

Let’s gain some knowledge that will help when you are reaching for this particular bike tool under a little bit of time pressure and you need it to work the first time. All you want is for everything to go smoothly so you can get on your way, how hard could that be?

To ‘get ready’ you need to invest a little bit of time to understand your bike tools. Choose to know what to do then you can goRide with a SMILE.

What is a bike pump?

Pumps put air into your tyres through a pumping action which pushes air into your bike tube.  So all pumps will have some sort of barrel and a handle.  They need to have a connection point where you attach it to your bike valve.  These connection points are quite varied.

There are lots of different bike pumps in the market. So we will begin by splitting them into the two most obvious categories…

  1. Floor pump (also known as a track pump). Floor pumps are large, they have a handle for pumping, a rubber hose and connector that attaches to the valve on your tube. The floor pump is designed for use at home or in the workshop. It provides an efficient and fast pumping system and is generally easier to use than a hand pump. It has a gauge that measures the amount of pressure in the tyre – PSI – pounds per square inch. (See riding terminology for a more detailed explanation of PSI).
  2. Hand or Mini pump.  Hand pumps are smaller and designed to be carried with you on your rides. They have a handle for pumping and connectors to attach to the valve on your tube. These pumps are less efficient but essential and very welcomed when you need to get air into your tyres or change your tube while out riding.

NOTE:  Mini Floor Pumps are beginning to enter the market.  They are a cross between the two categories above.  They are large for a mini pump and will have a T handle that folds out and a foot that flicks down so they can be used like a floor pump yet carried like a mini pump.

Range of bike pumps

Floor pumps are great for at home use

Bike Floor Pump Guage

A good quality floor pump will have a gauge showing PSI

Hand Pump

Hand/Mini pumps should always be carried when you ride

Your pump will attach to the schrader or presta valve on your tyre by either being

  1. Screwed on
  2. Pressed on – with some press on systems you will secure the connection with a locking lever.

For more information on what valves are read our How To Buy a Bike Tube story.

The Connection

Different pumps have different ways and methods to connect to the different valves. All these variations make for a bit of confusion but hang in there, here is an overview (See riding terminology for explanation of the valves)

1. A bike pump can have a screw on attachment that self adapts to the valve it is being screwed to.

The extendable hose screws onto both a schrader or a presta valve.

2.  A bike pump can have both a schrader and a presta attachment in different places.

Bike hand pump

Grey end (left) is schrader attachment. Hose end (right) is presta attachment

3. A bike pump may fit both a presta or a schrader valve but a lever will change the direction of the air flow to match your valve.

Floo pump presta and schrader attachment

Twisting the lever changes the direction of the air flow.

4. Others require you to unscrew, the cap on the end of the pump and remove a rubber insert (this can be a little fiddly to get out). Place the wider hole facing out for the schrader valve or the smaller hole facing out for the presta valve.

Bike hand pump

This hand pump has removable rubber inserts that will match your valve.

Why do you use a bike pump?

Bike pumps are used to add air to your bike tube so that could be when your tyre is feeling a little soft – tubes naturally lose air over time.  Or when you are replacing a tube or fixing a puncture.

How do you use a bike pump?

It is important to get a good seal. If it doesn’t seem to be working and you hear air leaking, stop, take it off and try again.

Pumping – the pumping action draws air in (the up or out action) and then pushes air through the valve and into the tube (the down or in action).

  • Floor pump – put your feet either side of the base of the pump to keep it stable and lift the handle up and push down.
  • Hand pump – you may need to hold the connection stable on the valve then push the handle in and out. For both types of pumps make sure you fully open and close the handle.

Removing the Bike Pump. All valves have one way seals in them so the tyre shouldn’t go down when you take the pump off, but you might hear a bit of a hiss when you remove the pump – this is just the last bit of pressure in the pump releasing so don’t worry about it. Release the seal and pull off/unscrew in the same plane as the valve to avoid damaging the valve by bending it.

Blackburn minipump essential bike tool goRide V1

The Blackburn Core Mini Pump is the easiest to use mini pump we have found!

Pre Ride Bike Check.  Pumping up your tyre. goRide

Because a mini pump has no gauge you have to keep checking the tyre pressure by feel

get Ready and goRide –  Bike Tools, the Bike Pump

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Pumping Up a Bike Tyre – A Video

Bike Tool Terms

goRide helps you find your riding SMILE.  Now it’s your turn….Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback will make us SMILE.

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