The need-to-know of different bicycle pump heads Get pumped up with a handy guide on pump heads and valves

The need-to-know of different bicycle pump heads Get pumped up with a handy guide on pump heads and valves

A bike tyre valve plays a significant role in the overall success of your ride. For such a small component, it requires more knowledge than you may expect.

When you pump your tyres, you might notice that some bikes have a familiar Schrader valve, while others come with a more exotic Presta valve. Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between the two, and how certain pumps cater to both valves.

Bikes typically come with one of two types of valves. Schrader valves are more common and are the same valves used on cars. They are mostly found on more entry-level bike models. Most high-end bicycle tyres however are inflated with a Presta valve, a more slender, exotic model, designed specifically for bikes.

Before pumping up your tyres, remove the dust cap from the tire valve. For Presta valves, unscrew the locking nut at the end of the valve. Wipe off any mud or dirt from the outside surface of the valve stem; this ensures the pump’s Clever Head will work properly. Also, release some are from the tube by pressing the air release tip on the valve to clean its inner parts.



Many modern pumps cater to both valves.

These are the most common styles of heads you’ll find on pumps:

A bike pump head that features both a presta and schrader valve chuck

Twin head


Found on some floor pumps, the chuck features separate gaskets for Presta and Schrader valves. This Bontrager TLR Flash Can is a great twin head pump that makes inflating tyres a breeze.

A high-volume mountain bike hand pump

Swappable head


Found on some frame and mini-pumps, this gasket has a conical hole. One side is narrower for Presta valves, while the other is wider to cater to Schrade valves. Unscrew the chuck cap, flip the gasket to the side that matches your valve, and screw the cap back on. This Bontrager Air Support HV MTB Pump has a reversible head that caters to both valve types.

Image of a bike pump head

Adjustable head


The newest and most common style pump has an adjustable head that fits both the Presta and Schrader valves, without having to swap any internal parts. To operate these pumps, all you have to do is press the clever head onto the valve stem as far as it will go and open the thumb lever to the locked position, and start pumping. This Bontrager Dual Charger Floor Pump has an auto-selection head that instantly fits both Presta and Schrader valves.

A man and a woman ride bikes across a bridge at sunset

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About the Author: Trek

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