Get Pumped: Proper Bike Tire Inflation

February 25, 2016
Types of bike tire valves: Presta and Schrader
Mahathir Mohd Yasin/ShutterstockBicycle tire inner tubes use either a Presta (left) or a Schrader (right) valve.

Proper bike tire inflation is essential for the safety, comfort, and durability of your tires. A few key tips:

  • Buy a floor pump with an integrated pressure gauge—an invaluable tool for proper inflation.
  • Recommended pressure is listed on the tire’s sidewall and ranges from roughly 30 to 50 pounds per square inch (psi) for wide mountain bike tires to 80 to 130 psi for skinny road bike tires.
  • In most weather conditions, inflate your tires close to the maximum pressure, especially if you’re a heavier rider.
  • For wet and slippery conditions, deflate the tire by roughly 15 psi to put more rubber against the ground and increase traction.
  • Know which valve type your tires have. Schrader valves are the same as those on car tires. Presta valves are taller and skinnier. You’ll need a pump or adapter that fits accordingly.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly. Air escapes over time, especially from Schrader valves.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.