Three Ways to Always Keep Your Bike Tires Inflated

A good bicycle pump can ensure you’re always able to keep rolling down the road or trail.

Mountain bike
No matter your skill level, having a reliable tire pump handy is a must for any biking adventure.Pexels/Philipp M

If you’ve ever gone bicycling and found yourself with a flat and no way to air up your spare tube after you’ve remounted your tire, you know how frustrating it can be. You should also know how important having a good bike pump—or even two or three—can be to helping foster your enjoyment of the sport. Bike pumps come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, with different types working best for different applications. One of these three types of bike pumps will handle the job for you in just about any situation you might face.

Floor Pump

BV Bicycle Ergonomic Bike Floor Pump with Gauge & Smart Valve Head
This durable floor pump can fill tires up to a pressure of 160 psi.BV

For serious road cyclists that run their tires under high pressure, a good floor pump is a must. Such pumps are easy to use, do the job quickly with minimal effort, and can pump tires up to extremely high pressure. For those who are intent on running their tires at exactly the perfect pressure—and there are many cyclists in that category—look for a floor pump that has a built-in gauge, so you know when you’ve reached your desired pressure. If your eyes are getting a little older, consider a pump with the gauge at the top by the handle instead of down by the base for ease of reading it. Floor pumps are also great for those not-so-serious cyclists that want a good pump at a budget price and don’t mind pumping up tires manually.

Electric Pump

EPAuto 12V DC Portable Air Compressor Pump, Digital Tire Inflator
This portable tire pump runs off your vehicle’s 12-volt DC system and is handy for airing up tires on bikes and automobiles.EPAuto

While most hardcore road cyclists prefer a floor pump, there are few types of pumps handier than electric pumps that run off a vehicle’s 12-volt DC system. These units are lightweight, simple to use, and small enough to easily store somewhere in your vehicle or garage. When shopping for electric pumps, look for features like high psi capacity, auto shut off, and easy-to-read pressure displays. One word of caution about these pumps as they relate to bicyclists: Make sure you have the right adapter for the style of valve your tubes use, and they’ll never let you down in a pinch. An added bonus for these pumps is they can also be used to air up car and SUV tires, trailer tires, and other tires that might need air when you’re traveling. Consequently, they’re extremely handy to have around even if you seldom ride your bicycle.

Frame-mounted Pump

PRO BIKE TOOL Mini Bike Pump - Fits Presta and Schrader
This frame-mounted pump is light, handy, and compatible with both Presta and Schrader valve types.PRO BIKE TOOL

Frame-mounted pumps are very small, lightweight hand pumps that are made to be used in a pinch when you’re out on a ride and don’t have access to other air sources. They mount on the frame of your bicycle in an out-of-the way place. While many look fairly insignificant, they can really save the day if you end up with a flat tire and no way to pump up your spare tube. If you’ve never been there and done that, you don’t know how frustrating it can truly be. A good alternative to a frame-mounted pump is a CO2 inflator, which uses small canisters of CO2 and a screw-on adapter to air up tires when away from any other kind of pump. These are also very lightweight and can be found at a pretty reasonable price.