There are generally two types of valves used on bicycle wheels. The Schrader valve (like on a car tyre) is commonly used on mountain and BMX bikes with wide tyres and lower tyre pressures. The narrower Presta valve is commonly used on road and racing bikes with narrower tyres and higher tyre pressures.
The main things to consider when fitting a new inner tube are:
- Always use the right valve. The valve hole in the rim will be bigger for a Schrader valve than a Presta valve.
- Use the right size tube. Look at your tyre sidewall for the tyre size. For example, an inner tube marked ‘700 x 18-25C’ will fit a tyre marked 700 x 25c.
- If there is a threaded lock ring supplied, use it. Presta valves invariably use a lock ring whilst it is common for Schrader valves to not use one.
- Use the right length of valve. If the valve is too short you may have trouble getting your pump on! Typical Presta valve lengths are 36, 42, 52, 60 and 80mm although precise lengths can vary from different manufacturers. Valve extenders can be fitted to cope with deep section rims.
- Note the maximum recommended pressure as marked on the tyre sidewall when inflating your tyres. Use a pressure gauge or a pump with one fitted. Under inflated tyres may result in damage to your rims and an increased likelihood of punctures and tyre wall damage.
- Tubes naturally lose pressure over time. Get in the habit of checking your tyre pressure before every ride. If your bike is in storage over winter, periodically check the tyre pressure. The weight of your bike on under inflated tyres could damage the tyre sidewalls.
Investing around £30 in a track pump will make inflating your tyres much easier and, by using the built-in pressure guage, you’ll get the pressure right. Obviously these are too big to take with you on your bike but are great for checking and inflating your tyres before you set off. A track pump will usually have a connector that fits both Presta and Schrader valves.
The ‘Schwalbe Technical Information’ document below tells you everything you need to know about tyres and tubes.