The Valve Variations

My fun with Kermit Allegra Spade (official name!) has been put on hold, thanks to a maintenance snafu. Kermit Allegra was originally slated to be my ride across town on Sunday. Filled with zeal, I decided that I’d check her tires before we left.

Walter is an attention whore

KAS did not come with a manual, but I felt especially confident because I have not only a standard Schrader valve pump, but also a Woods/Dunlop pump. What ever was on this bike, I thought, I’d be ready. Then I removed the cap to reveal something completely different. A Presta valve.

Presta valve

Unfortunately I did not stop there and turn to YouTube. It was clear that SOMETHING had to be done with the little brown top before air could be put in the tire. I opened the valve–but made the mistake of putting pressure on it. Whooooooosh, went the air. Flaaaaat, went my tire.

Flat tire

Le Peug and his old-school Schrader valves smiled in triumph and carried me off on the ride. Now I’m in the market for yet another pump to join the crew in my front hall closet.

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30 thoughts on “The Valve Variations

  1. Mr Colostomy says:

    Most of the Woods-compatible pumps I have used are good for Presta valves too. The “nozzle” is the same size on both valve types.

  2. Sara says:

    I just had this problem with my bike last week! Presta valves scared me so I’d always have the bike shop air my tires for me. Well when I noticed I had a flat last week I tried to do it myself and ended up breaking the valve because they are so touchy. I had to take it in and get a whole new tube and the lady at the bike shop gave me a tutorial on Presta valves so I feel much better now. There is also a cheap adapter you can buy to go over it. Good luck!

  3. Stephen says:

    Silca Pista, bella!

    I also recommend (and use) a little pump that fits anywhere and is a work of art (just don’t try to get it through TSA):

    Both pumps handily inflate both Presta and Schrader valves. Do it yourself, and you will be that much more independent!

    • jjfantastic says:

      ugh, i HATE my husband’s Silca. so much that i threw it across the garage once after tearing off yet another valve when trying to disengage the pump from the valve. (he was not happy with me, so i bought myself a different pump that works great but i can’t remember what it is at the moment…will follow up on that when i can get out to the garage)

      the Lezyne floor pump is a thing of beauty and works well from my limited experience borrowing one at Clever Cycles. i also love their frame mounted pump.

      i carry a presta/schrader adaptor in my saddle bag, on the off chance that i will only have access to a gas station air pump or something on a ride.

      • dwainedibbly says:

        I’m still using a Silca pump that I bought in the mid-80s. There are a couple of parts that wear out, but spares are available. There are some newer and easier to use heads available, too. Take some time to learn to use it and it won’t let you down.

        That said, Mrs Dibbly doesn’t care for it and bought herself a Planet Bike pump. I like that company in general, but I don’t think a plastic pump is going to hold up too well. OTOH, it seems like I always end up pumping her tires for her anyway, so the PB pump doesn’t get used much. :)

  4. bongobike says:

    Woods-Dunlop?!?!? I thought they didn’t even exist anymore. You definitely need a presta-ready pump, but Woods-Dunlop?

  5. Cara says:

    Planet Bike’s Presta/Schrader combo pump is a dream.

    Most bike shops also have a tiny little metal adapter that you can screw on to a Presta valve to make it work with a Schrader pump. I have gotten them for $1 or free as a repeat customer. Not a great long term solution, but easier on the wallet in the meantime.

  6. mike r says:

    A Presta pump is the best solution, but here is another. A couple of bucks at most, your LBS has them.

  7. Stephen says:

    I’ve gone through a boatload of pumps over the years. A good bicycle pump is relatively expensive (still way cheaper than a car), but it will last decades with some care, and it won’t fail on you when you need it the most.

    A minor correction: I have a Silca Super Pista with the Schrader/Presta brass adapter. It is moloto eccelente. Fast, bulletproof, will inflate any bicycle tire.

  8. Alfred Fickensher says:

    Being a retired life-long technical guy, I see your most logical long-term solution to be a tube replacement to schraders.

    So long as the rims are good old fashioned metal the valve stem holes can be safely and easily enlarged, and you’d be standardized with a single type pump. Besides, the air hose nozzles at quick-shops, auto repair joints and the like along your riding routes all are configured for schrader.

    • Amy says:

      That’s what I did to my mixte. It came with one wheel drilled for schrader, the other for presta. I tried using the adaptor for my pump and found it to be less than useful. So I drilled out the other wheel to match and got a schrader tube. My husband’s trike also has presta. I see those wheels being drilled out next time he changes out the tubes.

      • Trisha says:

        You’re both braver than me! I think I’d rather buy a new pump. The convenience of being able to use gas station pumps doesn’t really apply to me since my rides are so short and there are pump-equipped bike shops within walking distance of most of my destinations.

  9. Kara says:

    Oh yes, I realized the whole other world of presta valves when I got my Betty Foy. I had a cheap pump that had an attachment that was supposed to make my schraeder pump work with my presta valve but I was hopeless. Just couldn’t get it to work. So I just invested in a dual head pump and it works great.

    This is the one I have.

  10. Lauren says:

    Trisha, where did you get your Woods/Dunlop pump? I can’t find one anywhere!

  11. kristin says:

    I am really not pleased with Prestas. The “universal” pumps never stay locked on them and I need another person to hold it tight while I inflate my tires. I’m happy the new Globe has Schraders.

  12. Maureen says:

    Too bad about the valves, but it is great that there is a lot of helpful advice here! And I’m delighted that you went with Kermit! Just fits so well!

  13. Kagi says:

    Most recent pumps work with both Presta and Schrader. To switch from one to the other, 1) remove the twist-off cap from the end of the filler nozzle; 2) flip over BOTH of the little parts inside the nozzle: the soft rubber sleeve and the pointy little hard plastic valve depressor; 3) replace the twist-off cap.

  14. Steve A says:

    Get the adapter. I keep one in each of my patch kits. It means I can even use a gas station pump to fill my Presta valve if necessary. Small and light. A buck well spent.

  15. I love Presta valves; they are much easier to inflate than Schraders and don’t collect dirt and leak. have used Woods a few times without pleasure.

    I have a Silca Super Pista, but did not like the brass chuck, so I replaced that with a Topeak Smarthead (which is available without a pump attached); you can use those on Schrader or Presta (or Woods, I suppose) without swapping any parts.

    Been using it for years on five bikes with varied valves; no problems, much joy.

  16. April says:

    I hate presta valves, myself. It’s so hard to get the pump on and off correctly! I, too, have lost all the air in a tire before, and I’ve also bent and broken off the end parts.

    I’m a Schrader fan. Yeah, you gotta fill them more often, but it’s just easier to deal with.

  17. philippe says:

    Yes, a pump good for a dunlop should work with a presta.
    Prestas are a necessity for the thin rims used on road bikes. I’ve been raised with them (in France) and never had any issues. Dunlops are a northern Europe thing (Holland, Germany…) and Schraeders are car’s or MTB’s stuff…
    I use a cheap Zefal floor pump that works wonder with all three standards

    • Trisha says:

      Interesting. Maybe I’ll try my Dunlop pump, though it’s a hand pump and I’m not in love with it. I thought about giving it a shot that day but was worried I’d just make things worse.

  18. Stephen says:

    Ah, the old Presta vs. Schrader wars…Bicyclists are an opinionated lot, no?

    I do like the new website look, BTW.

  19. Thom says:

    Trisha –
    What has happened to me is that when I unscrew that little brown thingie at the end of the presta valve, the whole valve assembly comes out with it and instantly flats the tire.
    I think this is because the brown thingie was screwed down too tight previously,
    or the silver valve body was not screwed down tight enough.
    Green Slime in the tubes sometimes semi-permanently bonds the brown thingie to the silver valve body too.
    The little adapters are cool, but remember to unscrew the brown thingie before you screw on the adapter, or no air will flow in.
    I apologize if this is too much info, but presta’s are pretty cool if you can deal w/the learning curve,

  20. Amy says:

    I second the suggestion of buying a presta valve adapter instead of a new pump! They’re $0.75 at my bike store. You can screw them in backwards and they serve as a valve cap. Since they convert your presta valve to a schrader valve, you can use them at gas station tire pumps in emergencies.

  21. Trisha says:

    An update, in case I don’t get around to posting on it: I got a valve adapter at Halcyon. Worked like a charm. I only need one because I only use it when filling the tires. Best invention ever. Appreciate the advice, all!

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