Choosing the best bike valve is one of the most important decisions you can make as a cyclist. That is why you will see many cyclists debating between Schrader vs Presta valve since these are the two options that are most common.
Both valves vary in their appearance and application. Your choice will depend on the type of bike you have, your riding style, the terrain that you would be riding, and your individual preferences. We will explain how to identify them and their main differences as well as the pros and cons of each type. Some of the features we will cover are wheel compatibility, ease of use, construction, versatility and the cost of the valves. We will also explain how to choose the right pump that will fit your valve.
Bike Tire Valves Overview
Bike tire valves appear similar in construction. They are typically 1.96 to 3.92 inches in length and you will find them protruding from the wheel. Valves are attached to metal tubes that connect to the hose to pump air. This is why you have to choose the right type of valve that is compatible with your bike unless you intend to replace the whole tube. Below we will discuss the difference between Presta and Schrader valves and the advantages and disadvantages of each valve.
This type of valve was originally designed for cars but it is also common in budget-friendly bikes as well as in city and hybrid bikes. Schrader valves are shorter and they have a larger diameter, compared to Presta valves. This makes them sturdier and less likely to be bent or damaged. There are also few chances of damaging the core when pumping a Schrader valve because it is placed inside the stem. The valve core, or check valve, uses spring-load mechanism to control airflow in the valve.
Schrader valves are also referred to as American valves. They are also used in Scuba equipment and air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Schrader valves feature a threaded outer wall to accommodate the plastic cup, a spring-loaded valve core in the middle and a lower half of the wall encased in rubber that prevents air from leaking when the valve is closed. You press the pin down to compress the ring and to open the valve to check air pressure and to pump air into the tire since air in Schrader valves flows in only one direction.
If you compare Presta valve vs Schrader valve airflow, you will realize that they use different methods to regulate airflow. Instead of a spring-load system, the former has a central pin secured in place by a valve core nut. You loosen the nut to allow for air to flow through the valve and tighten it to close the valve after removing the pump. The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) recommends using a Trusted SourceSmart Cycling Tips | League of American Bicyclists Use these tip sheets to learn more about how to ride safely and perform maintenance on your bike. www.bikeleague.org when inflating tires to ensure proper pressure.
Pros and cons
- More durable: Schrader valves are stronger because they are thicker and shorter than Presta valves and there are fewer exposed parts. For instance, the valve core is stored inside the valve to protect it from damage.
- Schrader valves are more affordable: Earlier in our bike valve comparison of Presta vs Schrader, we mentioned that Schrader valves are more common in entry-level bikes. Besides that, Schrader valves are cheaper because they are used in multiple industries and they are compatible with any pump.
- They are universal: It is easy to find a replacement tube for Schrader valves in almost any country because the valves are the go-to option for most, if not all, vehicles.
- Compatible with standard air compressor: Schrader valves work with any type of bicycle pump and you can easily inflate your tires at any gas station.
- Easier to inflate: The internal spring automatically seals Schrader valves once you remove the pump.
- Schrader valves have removable cores: This makes them easier to clean and replace and allows you to use puncture-resistant sealant to tires and tubes.
- Compatible with Presta valve: You can fit the Presta valve stem in the wider Schrader valve hole although we recommend this only as a temporary fix.
- Schrader valves are too wide or short for some tires: Schrader valves are 32 mm in length, which is too short for carbon fiber rims, aero rims and other deep section wheels unless you use an extender.
- Weak wheels: The relatively large diameter of the hole in the rim creates a weak spot that could weaken wheels with narrow road rims.
- Spring-loaded valves are hard to inflate: The spring mechanism takes a lot more effort to overcome. You are also likely to lose a bit of air when you remove the pump after inflating the high pressure tires that are often found in the best bikes for heavy riders. Schrader valves also held less pressure compared to Presta valves.
- Special tools required: With other types of valves requiring no tools to remove the valve core, needing one to maintain or replace the valve core can be considered a drawback.
- Schrader valves are heavier: The difference between Presta and Schrader valve weight is minimal but noticeable. Schrader pumps also weigh more.
Although they are not as common as Presta valve and Schrader valve, Dunlop valves are quite common in Asia, Europe and several developing countries. They are also known as Woods or English valves, despite being rare in UK and USA. One of the advantages that Dunlop valves have over bike valves like Presta and Schrader is that you can remove the core without any special tools. All you have to do is to remove the top nut. This makes Dunlop valves the easiest type to maintain.
Dunlop and Schrader valves are similar in size, with a width of 7.7 mm, but Dunlop valves are shorter and thicker than Presta valves. Their narrowing core from the stem means you can only inflate them with a Presta compatible pump unless you are using a valve adapter. Otherwise, Dunlop and Schrader having the same size stem size means you can interchange the two valves on wheel rims.
Older Dunlop valves use a rubber sleeve to control airflow. This rubber sleeve requires more maintenance to prevent it from deteriorating over time. However, the Woods valve which is the modern version that was devised by C. H. Woods is easier to maintain and inflate.
Dunlop valves are found in inexpensive trekking and city bikes.
Pros and cons
- Works with Presta compatible pump: This offers users more options to inflate Dunlop valves.
- No tools required: You don’t need any special tool to remove the valve core
- Inexpensive: Dunlop valves are affordable.
- Unavailable in some countries
- Dunlop valves are the heaviest of the three valves
One thing we can all agree on when discussing Presta valve vs Schrader valve is the increased popularity of Presta valves in modern bikes, especially mid-range and high-range models.
Presta valves are longer and thinner than Schrader valves. They use rim nuts that you loosen to push the core pin and allow for airflow or tighten to close the valve. The locking nut is considered more reliable than a spring-loaded valve in holding and enduring higher air pressure. It is also ideal in short pumps valves because it allows the pump to have a firm grip on the stem.
However, using a nut for closure is more challenging. The removable inner core featured in most of the recent Presta valves is a great addition that helps experienced riders to quickly repair damaged valves, but beginners might struggle with if they unscrew the rim nut too much when pumping air into the tube.
Presta valves are also known as Sclaverand valves or French valves. They are tapered at the top, completely threaded from the top to the bottom and made out of metal. Because of their superior performance, you will typically find these valves in road bikes, gravel bikes and the best mountain bikes for hunting, especially the ones with tubeless wheels.
Pros and cons
- Wheel strength: Presta valves maintain wheel strength and durability in narrow road rims because the small valve hole does not affect the rim’s structural integrity as much as the wider Schrader valves do.
- Available in multiple lengths: Unlike Schrader valves which are only available in 32 mm, Presta valves come in various lengths such as 32, 40, 48, 60, and 80 mm which provides users with more options for deep rims that require longer valves.
- Presta valves can be converted with an adapter: You can use a Schrader pump or rim on Presta valves by converting Presta valves to Schrader valves.
- Superior in holding air pressure: The difference between Presta and Schrader methods of inflating tires accounts for the former’s higher ability to maintain air pressure by using a locknut, as opposed to a spring, to close the valve.
- They are better when inflating high pressure tires: The locknut in Presta valves is better at securing the valve when you attach the pump to inflate a flat tire and it also takes less effort, especially when inflating high pressure tires. This also prevents the rim from damaging the valve.
- Reduced rolling resistance: Presta valves minimize rolling resistance because they are slightly lighter than Schrader valves.
- Minimal tools: You can easily remove Presta valve cores with a set of pliers.
- Fits narrow rims: The difference in the size of a Presta valve vs Schrader valve means that the narrow Presta valves can fit between the tire beads of clincher tires.
- Most common bike valve: Presta valves are easily available as the standard valve in mid-range and high-range road and mountain bikes. They are a common feature of the best full-suspension bikes under $2000.
- They cost more: Presta valves are found in higher end models and they cost more than Schrader valves.
- Press valves are less robust: Schrader valves are less likely to bend or break because they have a shorter and thicker design.
- Only works with Presta compatible pumps: This is a disadvantage since you cannot use a standard car pump. You need a Presta pump which might not be easily available in developing countries, or a Presta converter to transform Presta valves to Schrader valves.
- Not all Presta valves have removable cores: Although all recent Presta valves feature replaceable cores, older versions do not, and this can make it difficult to fix a damaged valve or to use puncture-resistant sealant.
- Learning curve: Although it takes less effort to inflate Presta valves with a locknut, it can take longer to loosen the core nut and there is no spring like in Schrader valves to automatically close the valve after detaching the pump.
A core nut in Presta valves secures the central pin and Schrader valves use spring-loaded core to regulate airflow. All Schrader valves also have replaceable cores.
Difference between Presta and Schrader
Let’s take a closer look at bike valve differences in Presta vs Schrader.
When it comes to Presta valve vs Schrader valve cores, all Schrader valves use replaceable cores but Presta valves may or may use removable or non-removable cores. You need a special tool to remove the Schrader valve cores but Presta valve cores can be easily removed with a pair of pliers.
To regulate airflow by the valve core, Schrader uses spring, Presta uses a core nut, and Dunlop uses a core that is partially or fully removed.
Wheel rim aperture
Presta valves can fit Schrader valves but Schrader valves are thicker and incompatible with Presta drilled rims.
Safety and durability
Both Presta valve vs Schrader valve include features that promote safety and durability. They include encasing fragile components like the valve core to prevent damage and automatic closure of the valve after removing the pump to prevent leakage.
The difference in Schrader valve vs Presta valve is apparent in their design. Schrader valves have wide openings that can fit Presta valves but not vice versa.
There is marginal difference between Presta and Schrader weights, with the latter weighing 2 to 3 grams more.
Schrader valves have universal presence and a simple design that is suitable for new cyclists. They are also easier to inflate tires because Schrader valves are compatible with almost all pumps and regular air compressors.
Presta valves hold more pressure, improve rolling resistance and you can extend them with adapters to accommodate different types of rims, including deep section wheels. This makes Presta valves a more versatile option.
Easy to use
It is easier to inflate the spring-loaded Schrader valves because you don’t have to unscrew any valve core nut manually to allow for airflow.
Schrader valves are cheaper and more accessible than Presta valves because they are used by every automobile to inflate tires. They also work with any pump so there are no additional costs.
Wheel compatibility: tubeless and deep section
You can use Presta valve vs Schrader valve on tubeless wheels, depending on the type of rim. However, Presta valves are more preferable for wheels such as Pirelli P Zero Race Tubeless Tire that is available in multiple sizes. This is because Presta valves have threaded stems and rim nuts that provide an airtight seal to inflate tires at higher pressure, and most of the recent versions come with removable cores to add sealant.
Presta valves are the best for deep section wheels and their smaller diameter strengthens the rim.
Which One should You Choose?
Choose Presta valves for deep section rims. They are specifically made for bikes and they have advantages such as the ability to extend with adapters, hold more pressure and maintain the rim’s structural integrity due to their narrow diameter.
Fans of Schrader valves like their simplicity, practicality and availability. They also feature robust stems. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your bike and the surface you will be riding.
Here, we answer the most pertinent questions regarding how to pump bike valve for Presta vs Schrader. If you cannot find information on the maximum recommended pressure for your tire, you could try Trusted SourceFix-a-Flat Tutorial If you ride a bike, eventually you’re going to get a flat tire. But don’t let that keep you off the road! Fixing a flat tire is easy, you just need a few inexpensive tools. www.umt.edu as a safe choice.
How to pump Presta valve?
To inflate a Presta valves, you need a converting adapter, or a Presta compatible pump. Remove the cap and clean any dirt and debris in the stem and core nut with a dry cloth. Next, loosen the locknut until to press the valve core pin and then attach the pump to inflate the tire to the recommended maximum pressure.
After that, disconnect the pump and tighten the nut and then replace the valve cap.
How to pump Schrader valve?
To inflate Schrader valves, remove the plastic dust cap from the Schrader valve and wipe off any dirt around the top with a dry cloth. Press the core pin to remove any debris in the valve. Connect the pump and inflate the tire to your desired pressure. Finally, remove the pump and replace the top plastic cap.
How to Deflate Bike Tire?
We will briefly explain how to deflate Presta valve vs Schrader valve to optimize tire pressure.
After removing the dust cap, unscrew the nut to press down the valve core pin. Press the pin until you release all air and then replace the dust cap. You might have to remove the inner tube from the wheel to completely deflate it.
After removing the dust cap, use an Allen Key, screwdriver or another pointed tool to depress the core pin. Hold the pin until there is no more air flowing through the valve and then replace the valve stem cap.
How to choose the right pump?
You can use both Schrader valve vs Presta valve with most bikes with dual-head designs such as Topeak Joe Blow Sport III which has a TwinHead DX pump head that fits Schrader, Presta and Dunlop valves.
These versatile pumps are available in three types:
Twin: This bike pump is compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves.
Swappable: The pump comes with the components required for Schrader and Presta valves. You can access these parts and reverse them without any special tools.
Adjustable: This is the most convenient choice for both bike valves, Presta vs Schrader, because the pump adapts itself automatically to either of the two valves.
Cyclists have more options now than ever for their bikes. They can choose from different types of valves that will match their bike and riding style, and even find pump heads that can be used for all the three types of valves. We have explained the major differences between Presta and Schrader valves, including their design, functionality, capability, maintenance, and ease of use. For example, some valves are limited to certain regions and others to specific wheel sizes. This is information you should know before choosing the best valve for your bike to determine availability, compatibility and affordability. We hope that our Schrader vs Presta valve review has provided you with a deeper insight that will ease your decision.