Can You Pump Bike Tires at Gas Stations?

Pumping your bike tires is a very necessary process for every cyclist that owns a bike. So, it is normal to ask a question such as the one you asked. You have probably cycled past the front of a gas station and thought in your head if the air compressors that you saw on the forecourts of the gas station can be used to pump your bike tires. The answer is, “Yes”.

Oooh… Let us explain it. This is what this article is specifically for. We will be giving you a simple guide on how to go about pumping your bike tires at the gas station in case the need ever arises. Because, let’s face it, life happens.

The perks of filling at a gas station

The process of filling up your tires at a gas station could be downright risky. This is simply because the air compressors at a gas station are not regulated in the same way that gas pumps are regulated. The thing with the air compressors at the gas station is that you can never be sure about the amount of air that you are letting out into your bike tires. With each pull of the trigger of the air, compressors come an unregulated amount of air. This would have been perfectly okay if you were trying to pump a car’s tires. But, in your case, it is a bicycle’s tire! A bike’s tire is more delicate than a car’s. The danger with such bursts of air into your bike’s tire is that it is very easy to pop! When a bike’s tire pops so suddenly, there is an initial bang sound that makes you jump and then the sad fact that you would have to walk home that day. Because you cannot inflate a popped tire. Usually, it is the inner tube of the tire that pops from over-inflation.

can you pump bike tires at a gas station

In order to prevent such a “pop” situation from happening, you have to proceed to use the air compressors with extreme caution. Yes, read that again. If a deflated tire situation happens to you while you are away from home and you are stuck, and your only option is to use a gas station, make sure that the attendant at the station gives you a go-ahead first. And also make sure that you are careful not to pop your tire. An under-filled tire is better than a popped one. Having looked at the come-along of filling your bike tires at a gas station, we can now look at the methods and processes you should follow when trying to pump your tires at a gas station.

Pumping a Schrader valved tire at the gas station

First things first, do you even know the type of valve your bike has? If you don’t, no problem. Schrader valves are of the same type as the valves you see on car tires. A valve is that tube that is made of metal that pokes out from the rim of the tire and points toward the center of your bike’s wheel. Schrader valves are also commonly found on mountain bikes. Your normal road bike usually possesses the Presta valve. Schrader valves are wide and shorter than the Presta valves. The nozzle of the air hose at gas stations is usually made to fit Schrader valves. So, if you are using a Schrader valve, you will find it easy to use the air compressor to pump your tires at a gas station. The hose will fit your valve immediately.
– The first step is to unscrew the cap of the valve and put it somewhere safe.
– Secondly, put the nozzle of the air hose on the Schrader valve and push it to fit firmly.
– Thirdly, release short bursts of air into the tire. Check repeatedly/ frequently to make sure that the pressure is right. Over-inflation is risky for your tire.
– Lastly, once the pressure of the tire is okay, replace the cap back on the valve and you’re done!

Pumping a Presta valved tire at a gas station

Since the air hoses at gas stations are designed to fit only Schrader valves, then you need to get a valve adapter that will help the air nozzle to fit your Presta valve. The reason these air hoses fit only Schrader valves is that gas stations are for cars and cars mainly use Schrader valves on their tires. The adapter is very important if you have to inflate your Presta valve tire. The adapter will give you an airtight seal which you actually really need to pump. This means that, if your bike has a Presta valve, you need to have purchased an adapter before-hand. Because gas stations generally don’t sell adapters. So, your adapter should be kept safe and accessible anytime you need it on your biking journey.

– Unscrew the cap on the valve and loosen the locking nut on the valve.
– Screw the adapter to the top of the valve’s tip.
– Now, fix the air nozzle to the adapter very carefully. And then inflate the tire with care.
– Once you are done inflating and you have gotten your desired pressure, remove the adapter and return it to its place. Tighten the locking nut on your valve and screw the cap back on the valve.

All done

In order to avoid the use of gas station air pumps, make sure that you carry a normal air pump with you always on your biking journeys. Because it is not every time that your bike tire will deflate right in front of a gas station. You have to make sure that you always have a safe option. So, buy a mini bike pump. There are many brands of it online and they are very affordable. Bike pumps are also very light and handy. They will fit easily into your biking jersey’s pocket. (The mini ones of course.) Some bike pumps come with an air compressor so that you don’t have to use your strength to pump. And there is the manual air pump option as well.