How to Add Air to a Bicycle Tire

Please Note: Do not use this procedure if you are not certain that you can complete it safely, or if it does not seem accurate. Skippity Whistles provides this information as advice, and cannot accept any liability from your usage of it.

You’ve been out riding all day, or you just want to take the thing out, but the tires seem gushy and squishy. Rats. Need to add some air. 

If you have a bicycle pump, you may have already done this. But chances are you bought the pump at the same time as the bike, and well, here we are… Now, if you don’t have a bike pump, you’ll need to take the bike to a gas station – we’ll talk about that in a second.

It’s pretty easy.

Find the Tire Valve Stem

First, find the valve stem on the tire. It’s about the size of your pinky and should have a nice little cap on it. 

Unscrew the cap and set it aside, but don’t lose it.

The end of the pump hose has some kind of a latch on it – usually a lever that snap this way or that. 

Connect the Air Hose

Clamp the latch over the valve stem and flip the lever. Try giving the pump handle a few pumps. If it’s super hard, the lever is flipped the wrong way.  You might hear a little hissing, and you might have to struggle with it, but eventually you can get the clamp onto the tire.

Add Air

Now get pumping. Keep going until it’s really hard to do. That’s plenty of air. Flip the lever and remove the clamp from the valve stem. Put the little cap back on and you’re done. 

If you don’t have a pump, you can ride the thing to the nearest gas station. The gas station, by law, must have a Air and water stand. It’s the law. Another part of the law is that the air must be provided to motorists free of charge. So go in and ask the cashier to turn on the compressor, and they should do it free of charge.

Now, using a compressor on a bike tire is a little tricky, so take your time. The compressor puts out a lot of air, and the bike tire is remarkably skinny. So go in little whooshes, not big squirts.

Take the cap off the valve stem. The air hose usually has a brass head on it, with a pressure gauge jutting from the other end. There’s a black disk inside the brass head. 

Push the disk onto the valve stem. You’ll hear a little whoosh of air, but then you’ll hear air entering the tire. Again, be careful! Too much air and you pop the innertube in the tire. 

There’s a pressure gauge on the head. Take the tire to 35 pounds – that’s a safe, reasonably stiff pressure.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find the actual pressure rating printed on the side of the tire. Most are between forty and sixty pounds. 

Because we don’t know the history of that pressure gauge, its reading could be a little dicey, so don’t take it all the way to the maximum of the tire. 

Instead, leave at least ten pounds: so, if the tire says sixty pounds, don’t go past fifty on the gauge. 

Put the little cap back on the valve stem and enjoy your ride, but first pat yourself on the back – congratulations! You did it!

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