If you are a cyclist and have often seen other cyclists inflate their bicycle tires at a gas station, you might be wondering how to put air in bike tires at a gas station. Well, putting air in bike tires at a gas station is not that difficult. However, this task comes with some drawbacks and is often not recommended. Yet, there is nothing wrong with knowing this for the sake of an emergency.
How To Put Air In Bike Tires At Gas Station?
It is not uncommon to put air in bike tires at a gas station. Many cyclists do that, even though this can be tricky. Then again, knowing how to inflate bike tires at gas stations can become very useful in the case of emergencies.
There can be mainly two ways of putting air in the bike tires at a gas station, depending on your tire's valve. So, we have discussed both procedures below.
1. If you have Schrader Valve
Most traditional bikes will have a Schrader valve, and the gas station hose is more likely to fit this type of valve. As Schrader valve tires are similar to car tires, they are also known as car valves. Inflating them is relatively easy.
This type of valves is common in affordable bikes or mountain bikes. They are more comprehensive compared to Presta valves. You can fit the gas station’s nozzle directly to the Schrader valve of your bike tires.
To put air in the bike tires at a gas station, you need to understand how the valve works. First, you need to find the valve stem, which is surrounded by the valve core. Then it would help if you pressed down the branch using some tool that you find appropriate to use, or you can do it your thumbnail as well. Keep in mind that the Schrader valve has a rubber cap at the top. Before putting air, you need to unscrew the rubber cap.
Secondly, you need to identify the recommended PSI for your tires. You can find the PSI engraved on the sides of the tire. The PSI number will be range between two numbers. You have to fill up the air keeping in mind these two numbers. Do not go higher than the highest PSI or lower than the lowest PSI.
Now that your bike tires are ready to be inflated, all you have to do is pump air into the tires. At a gas station, you can ask the attendant about the pressure gauge. Once you find it, fit the nozzle of the pump to your Schrader valve. When you are done pumping, you back on the rubber cap, and you are good to go.
The next step is to inflate your tires carefully. Be careful doing that as air pressure in the gas station’s pump is pretty high. If you accidentally pump up air too much, your tires can burst. To avoid such unfortunate incidents, you have to inflate in short bursts and frequently check the air pressure after every blast of air you put in.
2. If you have Presta Valve
Presta valves are commonly seen in high-end road bikes. However, they are becoming common these days. Unfortunately, inflating Presta valves can be challenging at a gas station because usually, the station’s hose does not fit into Presta valves. In addition, most gas stations’ pressure gauge nozzles are made to fit the Schrader valve, but not Presta valves. However, you can put air in bike tires at a gas station using that nozzle as well.
For that, however, you will need an adaptor. The adaptor will help the airtight transaction of airflow from the pressure gauge to the tire. One side of the adaptor is designed to fit the pressure nozzle, and the other for the Presta valve. Using the adaptor, you can quickly put air in bike tires at a gas station.
Presta valves are narrower and protected by a valve cap. To put air, firstly, you need to unscrew the valve cap. Then you will find a small brass cap on the valve stem and loosen it. It will not come off totally; still, you need to make it loose enough. To know whether the brass cap is flexible enough, you can push the valve stem. If you hear air escaping, you will know that the lid is appropriately loosened.
Like the Schrader valve, you have to identify your tire's Psi and put air accordingly. You cannot exceed the maximum PSI number and cannot fill in the air less than the recommended PSI number. Then again, you will find the recommended PSI on the side of the tire’s body.
For the next step, you can screw on the Presta adaptor to the Presta valve. It will help the Presta valve turn into the Schrader valve. After that, you can use the gas station’s pressure gauge to inflate your bike tires.
Carefully pump your tires as the pressure of air in gas stations tends to be very high. With the slightest carelessness, your tires can end up can flat tires by poping. Pump in small bursts of air and check continuously whether it exceeds your PSI limit.
Once you are done inflating your bike tires, you can unscrew the adapter and tighten the brass cap. When the brass cap is nice and tight, put on the dust cap in place. After that, you are done putting air in bike tires.
3. Risks of Air Pumping at Gas Station
- The choice of inflating bike tires at a gas station should be the last resort. However, even if you must do it, you need to proceed with caution. Let’s take a glance at the risks of inflating bike tires at a gas station.
- First of all, the air pressure of a gas station pressure gauge into regulated. They are meant for cars, hence have high air pressure. But, for ordinary bicycles, it can be overpowering in no time.
- If you are not careful enough and end up putting too much air in your tires, the inner tubes might burst. The bursting sound can be traumatizing. Above that, you will end up with a flat tire which can take you nowhere.
- With unregulated air, the air quality of the gas station is not up to the mark. In addition, sometimes the air has water in it, which can give you a flat tire.
4. Alternative of Pumping Air in Tires at Gas Station
Now you know how to put air in bike tires at gas stations and the risks that it comes with. However, the best alternative to avoid pumping air in bike tires at a gas station is to carry your pump. There are various types of pumps available in the market, and they also come at an affordable price. Some might require some labour, yet they are safer and more controllable than a gas station air.
Many cyclists are inflating their bike tires for years now at gas stations without any problems. Just because you need to proceed with caution does not mean this is impossible to do or should not be done. However, as the air pressure and the nozzle of the gas station are not meant for bicycles, making them work becomes tricky.
However, now that you know how to put air in bike tires at the gas station, doing it will become easier. Once you get a hold of it, inflating tires at a gas station will become a lot less challenging.