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Attach the pump: There are many different types of pumps and the best way to guarantee using yours correctly is carefully reading the directions. Many modern pumps feature a head that fits both valve types. You simply use the hole that fits on the valve (skinny one for Presta and larger for Schrader).

Some pumps have convertible heads on which you must reassemble the parts when you want to pump up a different valve. If you have this type, set it up for the valves on your bicycle and keep the directions handy so you'll remember how to adapt it when necessary.

It's easy enough to attach the pump to the valve. Be sure to open a Presta valve first by unscrewing and briefly pressing on the tip. And, press the pump head on far enough (cover about one to two thirds of the valve).

If the pump head has a "lever lock," flip it to attach the head to the valve and start pumping (photo).

Tip

  • Don't pump too vigorously. Slow and steady gets the job done quickly and prevents pump damage (it's possible to harm the gauge by pumping too quickly).