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· I Can Quit Any Time
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Good morning, y'all. I have a super-dumb problem that I hope won't get me laughed off the newbie board :)

So ... background: I've been riding my butt off this year with a goal of getting into centuries this year and racing next year. Things have been going well, lots of awesome people have taught me lots of awesome stuff, I have joined my local bike club, and recently I got around to buying an actual road bike (up 'til now I've been riding my trusty hybrid exclusively). Immediately thereafter, I crashed my hybrid into a lamp post in a fit of idiocy (I am going to play the 'stupid young male adrenaline junkie' card, here), messed up a whole bunch of tendons in my leg, and had to take a few weeks off. Um, oops. That's neither here nor there, however.

Anyway, I'm back to riding again, and have been riding my road bike, and therein lies the rub (well, not actually in the riding itself -- I am totally freaking in love with the road bike). The problem is that every bike I've had up to this point has had Schrader valves, because for a long time I was a die-hard hybrid fanatic, but the road bike has Prestas, and the rims aren't drilled for Schraders. However, I am apparently a total moron when it comes to Presta valves. One could even say I'm Presta-challenged. I went to top my tires up this morning and immediately broke the freaking valve on the front one (yes, at this point, I'm thinking about investing in some adapters :::sigh::: ). At that point, I gave up. Sure, tubes are cheap, but somehow I didn't want to have to replace both just because I'm too dumb to operate a bike pump :)

Has anyone else had this problem? If so, how did you solve it? Should I just take my bike and tubes and pump down to the LBS and ask them to show me how to inflate my tires without destroying the valves? If I do, will they laugh me off the face of the earth (I wouldn't blame them!)? If I were super-rich, I'd just hire someone to inflate my bike tires for me, so I would never have to worry about it again, but alas, I am a student, and must make do.

The road bike looked very sad sitting there with its deflated front tire as I rolled out on my hybrid this morning.
 

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You're joking right?
It literally takes about 30 seconds to learn that you unscrew the top to inflate a presta valve.
Some pumps won't have the appropriate valve to attach to a presta, but once you have that, it's no harder than a shraeder valve.
 

· Registered
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Not dumb

What kind of pump do you have? Pump heads from various manufacturers work differently, and some are trickier than others. Once you learn, presta valves are easier to work with than shrader, especially for high-pressure tires -- with shrader you often lose too much air removing the pump head, since you have to hold the valve open against the spring.

I think you should do exactly what you suggested -- go to the shop and ask somebody to show you how to do it. Just tell them you're new to presta valves and not sure you're doing it right. They won't laugh. And if they do, you can take a little joke, right?

It's possible something is wrong with your pump head, or that you just don't know how it's supposed to operate. Some of the newer dual-function heads, designed to operate with both kinds of valves, are kind of a PITA with presta.

You do understand the basic operation of presta valves, right? The absence of a spring? Since the valve is held closed by pressure difference only (after the nut is loosened), you don't have to push the stem down to inflate, except for a brief push to unstick it before you start.
 

· I Can Quit Any Time
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
tober1 said:
You're joking right?
It literally takes about 30 seconds to learn that you unscrew the top to inflate a presta valve.
Some pumps won't have the appropriate valve to attach to a presta, but once you have that, it's no harder than a shraeder valve.
No, I'm not joking. Wish I was. I did unscrew the top -- that was pretty obvious :) -- and the pump I have is designed to work with Presta valves as well as Schraders -- it's your basic Bonty Turbocharger that I bought to replace a Schrader-only floor pump that was ganked from my apartment's basement (guess I should've locked it up somewhere). I've not tried it with Schraders, so it's marginally possible there's something wrong with the pump, but I'm assuming it's pilot error.
 

· I Can Quit Any Time
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I forgot to answer your question, so I'm including it in an edit. I have a Bontrager TurboCharger which theoretically works
automatically' with both Presta and Schrader valves, as well as a frame pump that works with both, provided you unscrew a little faceplate and flip over the internal bits to the correct side. I'm wondering if the dual-head PITA factor may have something to do with it. The LBS didn't have any Presta-only pumps in stock, but I might look around for one of those, if that turns out to be the problem.

You wrote: "And if they do, you can take a little joke, right?" Fortunately, yes -- I have a long history of doing really goofy stuff: my choices were to learn to laugh at myself or explode, and laughing at myself seems like a better strategy :) I'll run by the LBS and see if they can teach me how to not destroy my Presta valves.

I thought I understood the principle behind prestas, but I don't think I've ever heard it explained quite that way. Makes it a little clearer, actually. Thanks!

It's also possible that I mangled the valve while clipping the pump head on or something.
 

· Resident Curmudgeon
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I'm not familiar with the pump you're using. I assume it's a floor pump, and if it isn't it ought to be. Presta valves are really no mystery. When unscrewing the cap it's a good idea to use a little care. I usually don't unscrew mine as far as they'll go - I do just enough to get the air in. It's important to put the pump head straight on & take it straight off. When removing the pump heat from the valve, don't pull it off. Grab the wheel rim with both hands & push it off with your thumbs. It's easier, safer, and less apt to damage your valves.

A couple of things I always do...
1.When inflating the tire from a too low pressure, after I unscrew the valve I push it once. Sometimes they get stuck and this frees them up.
2. I always use threadless valve tubes. It's easier to get the pump head on & off, gives a better seal when pumping, and doesn't chew up the pump head like the threaded ones do. My favorite tubes are Michelin, but others make threadless tubes stems as well.
 

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Not a dumb question at all. When filling the tire, be sure to have the valve at the 12 o'clock position. This makes getting the pump head on and off much easier than having it at say 6 or 9 o'clock. Just be sure to use a moderate touch when attaching and removing the pump head -- the prestas are easier to tweak if you are not careful.

As others have said, take your pump and your bike to your LBS and ask them to show you how it is done. They might rib you just a bit, but it will be all in good fun and you'll learn something!
 

· I Can Quit Any Time
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Rider5200 said:
Not a dumb question at all. When filling the tire, be sure to have the valve at the 12 o'clock position. This makes getting the pump head on and off much easier than having it at say 6 or 9 o'clock. Just be sure to use a moderate touch when attaching and removing the pump head -- the prestas are easier to tweak if you are not careful.
Cool, thank you! I'll remember this as well :)
 

· botanical guru
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213 Posts
Just a tip....

When taking the pumphead off of the valve, make sure you're applying pressure underneath the pumphead with your thumb to "push" it off of your valve. This will save your knuckles from bashing into your spokes. Trust me on this one.
 

· turtle killer.
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1,854 Posts
Actually, the presta is a mechanically simpler valve. Air pressure seals it, where the schrader uses a spring. What's this mean? Well, in general it means that the schrader is more likely to lose air pressure while attaching and removing the chuck. This is because the chuck has to depress the valve core stem on a schrader to inflate it. Air pressure does this on the presta.
 

· I Can Quit Any Time
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28 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
"When taking the pumphead off of the valve, make sure you're applying pressure underneath the pumphead with your thumb to "push" it off of your valve. This will save your knuckles from bashing into your spokes. Trust me on this one."

LOL, wish I'd read this before fiddling with it last night! Would've saved me a couple good whacks on the knuckle.

Guys, thanks for all the input. After messing around with things, based on various inputs I remembered from here (especially the 'dual mode pumps can be a PITA with presta' part, which made me think maybe I just needed to apply more patience), I finally got the danged thing to work. It turns out that the pump is, in fact, a bit of a PITA with presta valves. It 'plays nice' with Schraders, which is handy.

I think I'm still going to bring myself and my bike and my pump to the bike shop and get them to do a walk-through with me just to make sure I'm actually not 'doin it rong,' since it's kind of ridiculously tricky to get the pump head off the valve after the tire is pumped up, which just doesn't seem right.

It turns out I didn't break the original valve, either -- just thought I had, b/c I couldn't get the tire to inflate. Of course, did I figure that out before changing the tire?

No, of course not :)

Thanks again, everyone!
 
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