Bike Pumps - Getting to grips with your bike tyre pressure

We get lots of questions about bike maintenance at Halfords, particularly about how to look after your bike tyres. Understanding how tyre pressure works and how to keep your tyres at their optimum is essential if you’re going to get the most out of your bike.

We’ve put together some answers to the most asked questions we get from our customers. We hope it’s helpful and you can always come in store and talk to one of our Halfords bike experts who will be happy to help.

Why is tyre pressure important?

Apart from needing your tyres to get you from A to B, the pressure takes care of three specific factors. The first is your grip on the surface. The tyre needs to make a strong contact with the ground in order for you to have a good riding experience. If your tyre is over inflated, it doesn’t make contact with as much of the surface as it could do meaning you won’t have good grip which can affect speed and create a lack of control.

The second factor is rolling resistance. This is the amount of friction created between the tyre and the surface. More resistance is generated with more friction. For example, if your tyre is under inflated, there’s more contact with the riding surface which is good for cold or wet weather, but not ideal for road racing scenarios. A small change in your tyre pressures can make a big difference

The third factor is comfort. An incorrect tyre pressure will have a large impact on how your ride feels to you. Pressure is about finding the right balance between all 3, depending on the type of riding that you’re planning to do, as well as the conditions of your ride surface.

Puncture free riding?

If you’re concerned about damaging innertubes, or punctures whilst you ride, then why not investigate going tubeless? This is when your tyres are totally sealed to your wheel and offer a significant reduction in punctures as well as the ability to ride on much lower tyre pressures.

If this is an option you are considering, then you will need a tubeless specific pump. These pumps create a large rush of high-pressure air to help “seat” the tyre onto the wheel. A CO2 pump can do the job, but you run the risk of wasting CO2 cartridges in the process.

How is tyre pressure measured?

Tyre pressure is measured in PSI which stands for pounds per square inch. It’s the most common unit of measurement for tyre pressure and it’s used for cars as well as bikes. There is an optimum pressure to set your tyre in order to ensure a smooth and efficient ride.

Too high or too low of a pressure and you run the risk of damaging your inner tube or getting a puncture.

Your bike tyre PSI can be found on the side of the tyre wall. And, when you’re choosing a pump, ideally you want one with a pressure gauge that can read the PSI of your tyres.

Browse the Halfords bike pump range

Do mountain bikes need different tyre pressure from road bikes?

Yes! Mountain bikes have lower pressure tyres so that the tyres can make good contact with the terrain. Whereas, road tyres have higher pressure to reduce rolling resistance.

So, a mountain bike might have a pressure of around 36PSI on the front wheel compared to a road bike which would run at around 90PSI. But best to check your individual bike tyre’s requirements for optimum riding conditions

Can I use any bike pump on my bike?

You need to choose a pump that fits on the valve on your bike tyres. There are two main types:

Schrader valve

You’ll find this valve on kids bikes, leisure bikes and most mountain bikes.

Presta valve

This valve is generally found on road bikes and some performance mountain bikes.

<23 class="mb-20 heading__primary-3">What sort of pumps are available?

Lots! The nature of cycling is that you’re on the move and in different environments where different types of bike pumps might be useful.

Here’s a quick run down of what you could go for depending on the situation you’re in:

As a guide, hand pumps are ideal for quick top ups whilst on the go but will require a lot more effort to achieve higher pressures. The Halfords Advanced High Pressure, High Volume is designed for MTB riders with wider tyres, whereas the Halfords Advanced Road pump was created with Road riders and those with narrower tyres in mind. Both feature an Auto-Adjust valve head so will easily fit onto any valve type without the need for adjustment.

Track or Floor pumps are great for at home maintenance and require much less effort to get your tyres up past 60 PSI. The Halfords Track Pump features a PSI gauge for pressure maintenance, as well as a twin head valve; one side fits Schrader, and one side fits Presta. Perfect for cyclists maintaining multiple bike types

CO2

These fast and efficient pumps reach a high PSI in seconds, so they really suit road and mountain bike riders who don’t have time to waste. They’re compact too and very lightweight making them extremely transportable. These are also helpful when installing tubeless tyres onto your bike.

Check out the JetValve CO2 Injector pump.

Shock pumps

These useful tools are not actually for tyres but if you’re a mountain bike owner they’re essential to maintain the suspension forks of your bike. Just don’t use this pump on your tyres!

So, are you feeling pumped? You should have all the info you need to make the right choice for your bike tyres. We’ve got everything in our bike pump range that you’ll need and look out for our handy list of symbols that easily explain the feature of all the bike pumps.