goRide’s Quick and Easy Guide to Bike Tools. Let’s gain some knowledge about the bike pump. Learn what it is, why you would use it and how to use it.

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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 tube 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 – termed PSI – pounds per square inch.
  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.

 
 

Why you would use it.

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 it.

Your pump will attach to the valve of your bike tube either a schrader or presta valve  by either being screwed on or pressed on

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.

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.

 

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

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

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.

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.

 

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.

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