Many of us have at home an air compressor that we use to inflate the tires of our cars but sometimes when we need to inflate the tires on our bikes. It is pointless to spend money on a decent bicycle pomp when we can use the compressor and it is easier and faster, but most bicycles come with Presta valves and not with Schrader valves like cars.
Using a compressor to pump air into tubeless tires with Presta valves or into cameras equipped with Presta valves is relatively easy, you just need to use a Presta to Schrader adaptor. Screw the adaptor on the opened Presta valve and now you can use your compressor with ease.
Presta to Schrader adaptors are fairly inexpensive and will allow you to spare the cost of a floor bicycle pump but I still recommend you buy a hand pump to take with you on your rides, it is better to be prepared, a flat tire can be frustrating are you don’t carry the right tools with you.
In this article, I will teach you how easy it is to use the adaptor with your compressor and we will explore which is the safe pressure to pump true a Presta valve, so keep reading!
How to Inflate a Presta Valve with an Air Compressor?
On my first bike, I had Schrader valves and one of the best things about this was that I could stop at any gas station and inflate my tires at the right pressure in a minute without having the need to use my hand pump.
If you decided to go tubeless it is a little frustrating to be forced to buy an expensive pump design for tubeless tires, using your compressor will save some extra bucks that can be used on the more important stuff, like equipment.
Now I will show you step by step how to use your compressor to inflate your tires if you have Presta valves.
Step 1. Remove Your Presta Valve Cap
Some people will not use the caps but keep in mind that they serve a purpose, they protect that valve from dust and rain. So if you don’t want to end up with damaged valves I recommend you use them.
Step 2. Unscrew the Top of Your Valve
To be able to pump air you need to unscrew the top of your valve, now if you push down on the top of your valve it will open and the air will get out.
Step 3. Push Down a Couple of Times the Top of the Valve
If the valve is new, it will be sealed off, so you need to push it all the way down the top of the valve so you will not end up pumping for nothing.
If you haven’t inflated your tires for a long time, this step is highly recommended, your valve may be stuck and when you will pump air it will not go in.
Step 4. Screu the Adaptor on the Valve
Now that the valve can open the only thing you need to do is screw the adaptor in place.
Step 5. Use Your Compressor to Inflate Your Tires
Now you can seal the head of your compressor gun, pump to the desired pressure, and then take it off the valve. Don’t squeeze your pneumatic air gun too hard, you don’t need a high volume of air to inflate bicycle tires.
Step 6. Unscrew the Adaptor and Screw the Valve Back
Some people prefer to leave the adaptor on and use Schrader caps but I don’t recommend this because underneath the adaptor the Presta valve is opened and if dust or water enters there it can get damaged.
After you remove the adaptor you need to screw back the top of the valve so it will be sealed off, do not push down on the valve or it will release air, just gently screw it back into the initial position.
Step 7. Screw Your Valve Cap Back
Now you just need to put your cap back and you are done, congratulation!
Can You Use an Air Compressor on a Presta Valve Without an Adapter?
As a general rule, air compressors are designed to be used on Schrader valves which are different than Presta valves. You can’t seal the valve when you put the compressor pneumatic air gun over it, and for this reason, you can’t use a compressor with a Presta valve without an adaptor.
So the pneumatic air gun of your compressor is not designed to work with Presta valves, you need an adaptor that is very inexpensive and you can buy it at any bike store.
If you need to order it online, you need to couple it with other bike accessories or tools because the shipping cost will be much higher than the price of the adaptor.
How Much Pressure Can a Presta Valve Take?
The limiting factors for pressure are the bike’s rims and the tires, not the valve, you don’t need to worry about the pressure that the valve can withstand.
Respect the max pressure of your tires and you will be fine, go over that and you can get in trouble.
The Presta valve is designed to withstand the high pressure needed for road bikes and has no problem withstanding the lower pressures on which mountain bikers ride.
Schrader valves give you the flexibility of inflating your tires on any air compressor you find, at gas stations or at home, and for this reason, they are preferred by the majority of bicycle owners.
But if your bike is equipped with Presta valves, don’t worry, there are adaptors that will give you the same flexibility as Schrader valves give you. But you need to install them before you use any compressor, so you have to put in more work.
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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.