When you’re hopping on your bike to ride to work or to meet up with friends, often the last thing you want to do is check your tire pressure. Sure, taking the time to inflate bike tires can sometimes slow you down and if you admit to filling your tires to less than their proper pressure for whatever reason, you’re probably not alone (but you are reducing your bike’s full performance capacity).
While it might take time, it’s important to keep your tires properly inflated to guard against flat tires and rim damage, especially if you hit a curb or pothole. Taking the time to inflate your tires is a lot less frustrating than realizing your tire is flat halfway to your destination, in the pouring rain and without a spare… you get the gist. Added bonus: properly inflated tires make your bike easier to pedal, and increases the life of your tires.
How often you need to pump up your tires depends on the tire, but as a rule of thumb: high pressure road bike tires should be pumped up at least once a week, hybrid tires every two weeks, and mountain bike tires at least every two to three weeks.
With bike commuting on the rise, we’re seeing a boost in bike-focused repair stations and most recently a Free Air Station — a unit that prompts riders to first, find and enter their tire’s correct pressure reading and, next, inflate their tire to its perfect level in a super speedy five seconds. What’s more, if you get to a station with over-inflated tires, it’ll let you know and take the extra air out.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see Free Air Stations popping up in cycle traffic-heavy locations like bike shops, coffee shops, breweries and the like in the near future; it only seems a matter of time before retailers realize the benefit of providing an easy space for riders to fill up, so to speak, and potentially stop in during the process. What better way to show your support for cycling than by offering riders with an easy way to increase their bike’s performance and the enjoyment of their ride?
Since the Free Air Stations haven’t hit neighborhoods quite yet, you still want to make sure you’ve got those tires inflated correctly. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it yourself…
- Identify if you have a Schrader or Presta valve. Schrader valves are typically wider in diameter and shorter than Presta valves and inflating the tires will be a bit different for each valve.
- Find the recommended PSI for your tires. This number range is usually on the side of your bike tires.
- Find a pump. Having your own pump is crucial if you’re going to be a frequent commuter or cyclist, so in our opinion it’s worth picking one up from the get-go. If you don’t have one, borrow one from a friend or swing by your local bicycle shop.
- Inflate the tire. Unscrew the rubber cap on top of the valve and put it somewhere safe so you don’t lose it. Put the pump on the valve. If there’s a lever near the nozzle, make sure it’s in the open position (parallel to the nozzle) when you’re putting it on the valve. Snap the lever down into the closed position (perpendicular to the nozzle) when it’s on. Keep an eye on the PSI as you pump. Flip the lever back up to remove the pump, then return the cap to the valve.
Presto! You’ve got yourself a tire that’s ready to ride. If you have questions, just ride into your local bike shop. The community holds a wealth of knowledge and is usually more than willing to help you out.
PHOTO via: Bike World News
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Active Lifestyle, Advocacy, Lane Love, Pedaling Change