If you are a regular biker, you must be familiar with a flat tire situation. I know it’s annoying and sometimes, very frustrating while you are biking on a long trail. But a hand bike can ease all the pain with just a course of a few minutes. You only have to know how to use it properly.
I won’t say it’s an easy job to use a hand bike pump to inflate the tires, but I won’t say it’s that hard either. You just have to know some things and follow some steps carefully.
Most hand pumps are designed to work on both type of valves; Presta and Schrader. But some only have the feature to work on one specific type.
However, if you don’t own a hand bike pump, get yourself one that can inflate air through both types of valves. Still, if you know your bike’s valve type, you can stick to a pump that is only for that type of valve.
Using a hand bike pump
It’s essential that you know how to use the bike pump. If you are on a long bike ride and the tire deflates at the midway, you know you won’t always find a store always nearby. So, you should be prepared with your stuff for all kinds of situations.
There are only a few steps to follow. Let’s start to know the steps and processes of using a hand bike pump.
Checking the valve type
To use a pump, at first you need to know which type of valve your bike has. A valve is a thing that attaches the inner tube of the tire to itself. The two valve types that are used in the bike and car tires are Presta valves and Schrader valves.
Most road bikes’ tires have Presta valves. Higher end bicycles, motorbikes, mountain bikes and cars generally possess tires with Schrader valves.
A Presta valve is thinner and taller than a Schrader. It has a screw nut on the outside. When you turn the screw to loosen it, the air deflates from the tire. A Presta valve is easier to pump air through. A Schrader valve is thick and robust.
It doesn’t have any nut to keep it closed, but it has a spring mechanism on the inside for the job. When you remove that spring, the air comes out of the tire. With that spring opened, you can pump up the tires of your bike.
Point to be noticed, as these valves have different characteristics, you cannot possibly interchange them. You can’t try to fit a Presta valve in an inner tube that is supposed to have a Schrader valve.
A Presta valve is more accessible to pump through than a Schrader. A Schrader valve needs the pump to have an inner device to depress the spring and then inflate the tire.
On the other hand, a Presta only requires you to open up the screw nut and press the valve down. Then you can inflate it easily with a pump.
With the spring of the Schrader valve depressed all the air of a tire will come out of the tire if you don’t put the spring back in place. But when the top section of the Presta valve is open, the air won’t come out unless you press the valve down.
Checking the pump
As the valves have a lot of differences, you can’t expect one specific pump to serve you with both kinds of valves.
- Bike pumps either have a Presta head or a Schrader head to work on those valves respectively. However, today’s hand bike pumps have been improved a lot. Most of the bike pumps now have dual head attachments. So, you can use one pump for both types of valves.
- After you checked the tire’s valve type, now it turns to have a pump compatible with the valve type. As we are using a hand bike pump, we have to check its nozzle or head or whatever you might call it.
- If you don’t have a pump already and are going to buy a hand pump, I’ll suggest you pick up the ones that have interchangeable head attachments. So, whether your bike has a Presta valve or a Schrader, you can pump the tires with using only one pump; not two!
- Some hand pumps have dual head attachments. They have one valve nozzle on one side and the other type on the other side. And some have dual nozzle feature on one head. So, you have to screw the nozzle loose and attach whichever nozzle you have to use. You’re lucky that there are only two types of valves!
- Read the manual that comes with the pump if you have any trouble understanding the process.
Attaching the pump to the valve
This process is easy when you have got the right kind of pump for the valves.
- For Schrader valves, you will only need to remove the cap off the tire valve. It will release all the air out of it. Keep the cap in a safe place from where it won’t get lost.
- If your bike’s tire has a Presta valve, you need to loosen the nut from it first. Do it by turning the nut counterclockwise till it reaches the end.
- Once the cap is removed, or the nut is loosened, you have to press the end of the valve. This will release the air.
- After this, you have to attach the pump head to the valve. Take the compatible nozzle and attach it to the pump head. Next, press the nozzle into the valve and seal it. Some pumps have a lever to seal the thing properly so that no air goes out while inflating but some do not. In that case, you might have to use your hand to keep the nozzle in place sealed by applying some pressure.
Inflating the tire
After attaching the pump, it’s time for inflating.
- When you are holding the pump locked and steady with one hand, reach out the pump handle with the other grip. Now, push and pull it down. The tire will start inflating. It won’t take a lot of time to inflate the tire wholly.
- Keep an eye on the tire gauge. When the gauge shows that the tire has reached the required level, you can stop pushing the pump. If you don’t have a gauge, you can just check the air pressure by pressing the tire with your palms. If it feels just perfect, you can stop inflating.
- The fear of over-inflating doesn’t go away. An over-inflated tire can explode or run out of the tube and cause a severe accident. We don’t want to over-inflate or under-inflated. So, what do we do? What you can do is, reading the suggested pressure range on the tube of the tire. Most of the tires have it on them. You should inflate the tire to the pressure somewhere between the lower and the upper range as required.
Detaching the pump
When you think you are done pumping the tire up, you can detach the pump from the valve.
- At first, you have to unlock the pump. Then you need to pull the head out quickly. After that, you have to close the valve or else the air will release.
- For a Schrader valve, you need to put the cap back on it and close it off. For a presta, you need to attach the screw nut back. Turn it clockwise on the valve till you cannot turn it anymore and till it’s tight. Do the whole thing in a hurry so that the air inside the tire doesn’t come out.
- However, if after detaching the pump and closing the valves you still feel like the air is running out, you should fit the valve again correctly.
These steps are basically how you should use a hand bike pump. The phases are easy, aren’t they? You have to follow all the steps carefully so that you don’t mess the things up. A hand pump is more comfortable than most other types of pumps. The smaller ones take a lot of time to inflate the tires. But they are convenient to use and carry.
You need always to check out the state of the tires. The air of the tires or the pressure naturally lessens over the time of use. So, keep track of that if you want a smooth ride and not one where you have to spend half an hour under the sun inflating the tires.
I hope you won’t be facing any further problems with your hand bike pump because now you know how easy they are to use. Small hand pumps can fit into your jersey pockets or a little bag. You won’t have to take the burden of a flat tire in a no-pumping-workshop road if you have your hand pump with yourself. So, learn the steps and apply them. And I assure you, you’ll do it right this time.