Bike Pumps - Getting to grips with your bike tyre pressure

Keeping your tyres pumped up to the right pressure is essential at keeping you safe and stable while you’re riding.

To help you, we’ve put together this basic guide to tyre pressures and pumps. You’ll also find answers to the frequently asked questions.

What is tyre pressure?

Tyres provide the crucial contact between the bike and the surface you’re riding on. Tyre pressure is a measurement of the amount of air inside your tyre (or more accurately, within the tube inside your tyre).

You’ll find tyre pressures listed as either Bar or PSI (pounds-per-square-inch). We don’t need to go into details about the differences between the measurements, and thankfully all pumps with tyre pressure indicators display both.

Every tyre manufacturer develops a safe operating pressure for their tyres. This is a minimum and maximum pressure for the tyre. To make it easy, you can find the upper and lower limits printed on the tyre well.

Why should I care about my tyre pressure?

Tyres play a crucial role in the riding experience. They provide grip, transfer your pedalling power to the road and make riding more comfortable.

When your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, they achieve all three things. They provide optimum grip, maximum power transfer and the best comfort.

If your tyres are underinflated, you’ll find grip is reduced. Handling can be dramatically affected. Low tyre pressure will see more of the tyre’s surface pressing down, increasing rolling resistance. Put simply, you’ll need to put in more effort. Finally, you’ll find riding a bike with underinflated tyres uncomfortable as lumps and bumps are transferred to you.

Riding with underinflated tyres also means you’re more likely to pick up punctures, as debris from the road becomes stuck inside your tyres.

Over-inflated tyres are also dangerous. Pushing tyres and tubes beyond safe limits means they’re more likely to experience punctures or blowouts. You’ll also push out tread positions, which means less grip on the road.

In some cases, experienced riders may choose to play with their tyre pressures, to provide more grip on an off-road descent for example. If you know what you’re doing, you can experiment, but for most of us, sticking to the tyre pressure recommendations is the safest approach.

How often should I check tyre pressures?

Over time, all tyres will lose pressure. Before every ride you should check that your tyres are inflated, but it’s not essential to check the pressures every ride. If the pressure is stable, then you can check once a week or every couple of weeks.

If you notice your tyre pressures are dropping every day, it’s worth investigating the cause. Check the valve is seated correctly and investigate the tyre for any splits or tear that could have penetrated the tube. It’s much easier to change a tube at home than on the side of the road in the rain.

Does riding at the right pressure stop punctures?

When tyres are inflated to the correct pressures you’re less likely to experience punctures than if they’re over- or under—inflated. However, any bike with a traditional tube and tyre set-up is at risk of punctures.

There are new developments in tyre and tube technology that can help. Some off-road riders go tubeless, essentially sealing your tyres to your wheels and dispensing with tubes altogether.

The risks of punctures are lower and an added benefit is that you can safely run your tyres at lower pressures. If you’re considering going tubeless, check out our in-depth guide.

Another alternative is puncture protection fluid. This sticky fluid is sprayed inside your tyre and is self-sealing. If something enters the tyre wall, the fluid solidifies, sealing the gap and protecting against punctures. You can read more about the benefits of puncture protection fluid in our guide.

Browse the Halfords bike pump range

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 some mountain bikes.

Presta valve

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

To achieve the correct tyre pressure, you should choose a pump with a pressure gauge.

What sort of pumps are available?

There are four main pump types you’ll find for sale at Halfords, including hand pumps, track pumps and C02 pumps. Here’s what they are and why you might need one.

Hand pumps are ideal for quick top ups whilst on the go but will require a lot more effort to achieve higher pressures. You can slide a hand pump into a backpack, pannier or jersey pocket (alongside a spare tube and a set of tyre levers). A hand pump is an everyday cycling essential.

The Halfords Advanced High Pressure, High Volume is designed for MTB riders who need maximum inflation on the move. The Halfords Advanced Road pump is for those looking for high-pressure pumping for speedy rides. Both feature an Auto-Adjust valve head so will easily fit onto Schrader and Presta valves.

Track or Floor pumps are high-volume pumps for precision inflation. They’re able to pump much higher volumes of air each time, meaning less effort to get your tyres up to pressure. If you’re serious about cycling, you should have one in the garage, bike shed or broom cupboard.

The Halfords Track Pump features a PSI gauge for pressure maintenance. The twin valve makes it easy to swap between Schrader and Presta vales.


C02 pumps use pressurised cartridges to inflate your tyres in seconds. They’re fast and efficient, and can reach high PSI levels almost instantly. They’re compact and cost-effective but may take some time to get used to. If you’re going tubeless, you’ll benefit from a C02 pump.

Check out the JetValve CO2 Injector pump.

Ready to pump up the volume?

Hopefully by now you understand what tyre pressures are, why they’re important, and why you should keep yours at the suggested levels. If you’re searching for a new hand pump, track pump or C02 pump, you’ll find a massive bike pump range  at Halfords.

Shop online, or drop into a Halfords store today.