If you’ve ever had to buy bike tires, you’ve likely had to choose between different types of bike tire valves. You may even be going through that now and wondering which option you should choose. Should you go with a Presta, Schrader, or even a Woods valve, and are there other alternatives? Also, what perks, if any, do you get for choosing a Schrader valve over a Presta or woods valve and vice versa? Keep reading for answers to these questions and even how to tell apart the different valve types.
A Presta valve is what you get with most modern bikes, and its appearance is pretty distinctive. Typically, they’re long and narrower than most other valves on the market. The Presta valve was invented by Etienne Sclaverand, a French citizen, in the late 1800s and is also known as the French valve.
Owing to their thin stature, French valves are often lightweight and can be made longer to cater to bikes with deep-section rims, such as road bikes. One of the perks of a Presta valve is it allows the rims to be structurally more robust than other bikes since they only need a small hole.
Others, like the Schrader valve, need a larger space through the rim, making the bike slightly less structurally sound.
On the other hand, since it’s pretty thin and lightweight, a Presta valve is typically more fragile than other types of bike tire air valves. As such, you’ll need to learn how to remove a Presta valve cap so you don’t damage it. It’s also more expensive.
If you’re wondering how to inflate a Presta valve, here’s what you need to do. First, you need to remove the French valve stem cap. This allows you to inspect the valve core for dirt and grime. While it is rare that you find debris, it does happen sometimes.
If you find dirt, use a dry clean cloth to wipe it away, and then remove and clean the valve core. To remove the Presta valve core, you simply unscrew the valve core nut until it’s loose. After that, you press the core pin down, allowing the tire to deflate.
You’ll hear a sharp hiss as air is ejected from the tube, and if there’s any debris left in the valve, it will also be pushed out by the air pressure. Follow up by attaching a French valve-compatible pump and inflating the tire to the intended pressure.
Once done, detach the pump and tighten the core nut so air pressure doesn’t escape as you ride. Notably, you might hear a short hiss when you detach the pump, but this is perfectly normal, and you shouldn’t be worried unless it continues for more than a few seconds.
Finally, finish up by replacing the valve cap and ride your bike wherever you want.
Before the popularization of the Presta valve, the Schrader valve Trusted Source Timeline Timeline schrader-pacific.com was the most common valve on both bike and car tires. Currently, it’s still the most widely used car tire valve but is being phased out of bike tires.
The Schrader valve was invented in 1891 Trusted Source Patent Pending Blog - Patents and the History of Technology: The Schrader Valve August Schrader immigrated from Hanover, Germany, to New York in 1843. Within a few years he started a small company making brass fittings for the rubber industry, which had been started only a few years before. In l890, pnuematic tires… patentpending.blogs.com by August Schrader and came with a wide valve stem with a smaller valve core inserted in the middle. Also, the core is built with a small spring that keeps it closed as you ride the bike.
Unlike the Presta valve, which needs you to unscrew the valve core, with a Schrader valve, there’s no need to unscrew anything before you depress the core to let the air out.
What differentiates a Schrader valve’s exterior from a Presta valve’s body is that they’re shorter, wider, and sturdier. Regarding the cost, they’re also significantly cheaper than Presta valves.
As for how to pump a Schrader valve, you simply remove the stem cap and wipe away any visible debris around the top of the stem. After that, you use something thin and hard, like a pen or piece of stick, to depress the valve core pin in the middle of the stem.
Some of the air pressure in the tire will be expelled, and with it, any debris around the core pin. With a clean valve, you can then attach a pump and inflate the tire to the intended pressure. Finally, detach the pump and then replace the stem cap.
Notably, Schrader valves are the only type that will accept a gas station pump. With that, you may be wondering how to put air in bike tires at a gas station if you have a Schrader valve. The process is pretty similar to what’s described above. However, when inflating the tires, do it in shorter bursts since gas station pumps have higher pressure outputs than regular bike pumps.
Ultimately the key differences between Presta and Schrader valves come down to size and the design of the valve core. The Schrader valve is typically short, wide, and relatively sturdy. The Presta valve, on the other hand, is long, thin, and fragile. The length also varies depending on whether it’s meant for deep section or standard rims.
Finally, with a Presta valve, you need to unscrew the valve core before you can depress it to release air. The Schrader valve is kept closed by a spring, and except for the stem cap, you don’t have to unscrew anything else before pushing it down to release air.
Fortunately, some adapters can convert a Schrader into a Presta Valve and vice versa. The Bike Bits valve adapter, for instance, converts a Presta valve to a Schrader, allowing you to pump even at the gas station with ease. The only hiccup may be the size of the hole in the rim. However, in most cases, there’s a workaround, such as using a valve adapter.
Dunlop Trusted Source JOHN DUNLOP The word “pioneer” is frequently used when considering the thousands of minds who put the world on wheels, but John Boyd Dunlop of Scotland truly deserves that moniker. Dunlop is credited with developing the modern pneumatic, or air-filled tire. www.automotivehalloffame.org valves are the least common valves out of the three options. Also, despite being called English valves or Woods, they aren’t common in England or the US. However, they’re relatively common in Asia and a few European countries.
These valves have a lot in common with Presta valves. For instance, they’re long, and the valve core is held in place by a nut that you can unscrew. Once the nut is removed, you can access and even remove the valve core to release the air in the tire.
Often this is unnecessary when inflating the tire since you can just attach the pump as is.
Often, the core of the valve is the one that gets damaged, and it’s likely the only component that needs to be removed and replaced. With the Presta and Dunlop valves, you’ll need to unscrew the nuts on the valve stem fully, and then you can pull out the valve core. You might need a tool like pliers to grip and pull it out in a few cases.
Once the valve core is out, you’ll need to replace it with a VeloTubes Valve Core pack having 10 Presta valve cores since they’re the most likely to break. These cores are made of brass, nickel, and copper for extra durability.
With the Schrader valve, a thin pair of pliers is necessary to unscrew and pull it out since the core doesn’t stick out like in other valve types. There are also available bike valve wrenches in the market that makes it easier to unscrew the Schrader valve core that might be useful to own. However, if the entire valve is broken on a tubed tire, you’ll likely need to buy a new tube altogether.
If you bought a Presta valve while your wheels are designed for a Schrader valve, you could still use it since the holes on the rim are larger than the valve stem.
However, if you bought a Schrader valve while your wheels are designed for a Presta valve, it may be a problem. The valve stem may be too wide for the hole. As such, some people opt to drill larger holes. However, this can reduce the rim’s structural integrity and make the bike unsafe.
If the Schrader valve doesn’t reach the hole, such as with deep section rims, you can also use a Schrader to Presta valve adapter to extend it and make it compatible with your rim and pump.
Ultimately, Schrader and Presta valves are the two most common types of bike tire valves used worldwide. As such, knowing how to inflate and work with both of them should be handy if you’re a bicycle enthusiast. This includes knowing how to remove and replace the valve core if necessary. If Dunlop valves are more common where you live, you might also need to learn to work with them as well.