Sunday, August 24, 2014

Schrader valves or Presta valves?

If you have never owned a quality road bike before you will discover that inflating the tires on your new Baseline Bicycle is different than you what you are used to. 
The difference is the valve.
 Everyone is familiar with the Schrader valve shown below. It is found on almost all vehicles with air filled tires including common cheaper bicycles and mountain bikes.
Our bicycles (and almost all other high quality road bicycles) use the Presta valve. The reason being that road bike rims are just too narrow for Schrader valves. Thinner tires have less surface area in contact with the road so give an easier ride. Presta valves were designed specifically for bicycles.They are easy to use and the pressure of the air in the tire helps to keep the valve closed.
Another advantage to the presta valve is that there is a metal ring that screws down to hold the valve to the rim. This keeps the valve upright and prevents turtling (when the valve disappears into the rim).                                                                            Grrrrrr!! Hate it when that happens.
So how do you inflate a tire with a presta valve? First off, unscrew the cap and set it aside. Remember it is always righty tighty, lefty loosy. 
(To tighten, you turn to the right (clockwise) 
To loosen, you turn to the left (counter clockwise). 
Next unscrew the top of the valve (it won't come off).  
Before adding air check the recommended tire pressure to be sure you don't exceed it. 
 On our bikes it is 90 psi.
Now you are ready to get your pump and put air in the tires. 
Your pump is likely one of the three common types of bicycle pumps.
 It may be a pump with a double head. 
If that is the case use the smaller head to put air in your tire.

 Your pump may have an auto select head. 
You just place it over the valve and it automatically adjusts to the valve type of the tire.
Or you may have a pump that only works with Schrader valves. If that is the case you will want to buy an adapter. By screwing it to the top of your presta valve it makes it function like a Schrader valve. It would be a good idea to get one or more of these adapters anyway to keep handy in case you need to borrow a pump or use one at a service station. You can pick one up at your local bike shop or find one online. They should be less than a couple dollars each. 
Use your air gauge and make sure the air pressure is set properly. By maintaining the proper pressure, you will have a better ride and will be less likely to get a flat tire. When you are done inflating the tire, screw the top of the presta valve back down and reinstall the valve cap. 
You are good to go!

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