Maintaining proper tire pressure is one of the best ways to increase your riding efficiency, prevent flat tires, and protect your wheels from being damaged.
1. Buy a good floor pump with a gauge (see "How to Buy a Bike Pump," under Related eHows). A small, frame-mounted pump is useful only for roadside repairs.
2. Understand that it's normal for most tires to lose up to 10 pounds per square inch (psi) per week. This does not mean you have a slow leak.
3. Look on the tire's sidewall for tire pressure recommendations. Don't exceed the maximum tire pressure listed.
4. Inflate your mountain bike's tires to 40 psi for dirt riding. You may wish to inflate your tires to 50 to 60 psi for city riding.
5. Inflate your road bike's tires to 100 psi for road riding. Some road tires have much higher psi ratings. However, 100 psi will provide a good mix of performance and comfort.
6. Inflate your hybrid bike's tires to 60 to 70 psi for city riding.
7. Check your tire pressure before every ride.
There are two types of valves: Presta valves (long and narrow) and Schrader valves (like those found on a car). Presta valves are preferred by serious cyclists and are found on the more expensive bikes - they're lighter, simpler and more reliable. However, both types will work fine.
Never inflate your tires at a gas station. Gas station compressors are set for car tires, and you can blow your bike tire off the rim.
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How to Adjust Bike Brakes
How to Inspect a Bike Before a Ride
How to Maintain a Bike's Tire Pressure for Good Performance