Bike tires are one of the most important components of a bike; without them working properly, you won’t be able to ride a bike at all. If you’re out for a ride and suddenly feel like your tires feel flat and out of the air, there is one solution for it; look for a gas station nearby.
Can You Put Air in Bike Tires at Gas Station?
The answer is yes; however, it comes with a lot of risks. Air compressors at a gas station are not regulated as gas pumps usually are. So, while pumping air in your tires using those air compressors, you never know how much air is pumping into your tires.
It won’t be a problem if you’ve got big tires to inflate, but bike tires, especially road bike tires, are too thin compared to car tires. The gentle bicycle inner tube can very easily pop due to too much air pressure.
If you accidentally pop the inner tube due to over-inflation, the tire would burst with a bang and become flat. Fill your bike tires carefully so that you don’t have to push or carry your bike home instead of riding it.
If you are left with no other option than to go to a gas station to fill up your tires, the first thing to do is to check if the station allows you to use it, and secondly, follow precautionary steps, so you don’t return home with a burst tire.
This article will discuss a few tips and other important things you need to know about filling bike tires at gas stations.
Different Types of Valves
Bikes come with different valves; before you go to the gas station to see which valve your bike uses. The valve is important when filling up air because it is what the gas pump is attached to.
A valve is a metal tube that comes out from the wheel rim and is attached to the center of the wheel.
There are two main types of valves found on bicycles; the first one is the Schrader valve, and it is pretty much similar to what you see on car tires. You will find this valve most commonly on mountain bikes.
The second type of valve is the Presta valve; it is more slender and longer than the Schrader valve. It also includes a locking nut towards the tip. This valve is found mostly on road bikes or everyday bicycles.
How to Use a Bike Pump at Gas Station with a Schrader Valve?
Schrader valves are a lot easier and simpler to inflate using a gas station pump. The valve on your bike tires would work well with the air hose nozzle. To fill your tires, follow the following steps;
Step 1: Remove the dust cap by unscrewing it. Place it somewhere safe, so it doesn’t get lost.
Step 2: Look for the valve, and then fit the nozzle of the air hose onto the valve and push on.
Step 3: When you feel the air inflating the bike’s tire, make sure you inflate it in short bursts. Check the pressure in the tire frequently as you don’t want it to over-inflate and burst. Too much air pressure can cause your inner tubes to rupture.
Step 4: Make sure to fit the dust cap back onto the valve and close it tight.
How to Use a Bike Pump at Gas Station with a Presta Valve?
Gas station gas pumps can easily fit onto Schrader valves, which is what car tires have. If your bike has a Presta valve, you will need to use another tool to make the air hose fit perfectly onto the Presta Valve.
You will need to use an adapter to connect the air nozzle of the gas pump to the Presta Valve to ensure an airtight seal.
If you already know you have a Presta valve, know that you will need this adapter, and it is not too expensive.
Make sure you already have one before going to the gas station as you won’t find one there.
How to Inflate Tires with an Adapter?
To fill air into the Presta Valves, follow the following step by step guide to make it easier for you;
Step 1: Unscrew the dust cap and keep it in a safe place
Step 2: Undo the Presta Valve lock for the adapter to screw on
Step 3: Put the adapter back on over the tip of the valve, keeping it airtight
Step 4: You can attach the air hose nozzle to the valve to inflate your tire. Be very careful when you do this step.
Step 5: When you feel the air inflating the tire, make sure it is in short bursts to prevent a flat tire.
Step 6: Once you are done, remove the air hose nozzle and the adapter. Screw back the valve locking nut and tighten it properly.
Step 7: Screw the dust cap back on.
Improved Solutions Over Gas Station Air Pumps
Gas station air pumps can be used to fill up air in your bike tires. However, this process needs a lot of care and practice.
In addition, not everyone has a gas station close to their place, and most bikers are looking for an easy way to fill up their deflated tires.
Therefore, a gas station might not be the right place for getting your bike tires inflated.
The good news is there are multiple other options available that are a lot simpler than gas station air pumps.
There are now portable pumps available that you can take with you on bike rides. Even though they may look smaller in size, some of them are very powerful.
Here are the two options most used by regular bikers;
Topeak Road Morph Pump with Gauge
In the past, traditional bike pumps were a lot bigger and difficult to carry around. Not only that, these pumps were only able to blow out only a small amount of air at a time.
Fortunately, those pumps are in the past, and due to the advancements in technology, we now have fantastic pumps like the Topeak Road Morph Pump.
This pump has an included mounting system that helps it attaches to your bike frame perfectly. This system will also help you remember to keep it with you.
The best thing about this gas pump is that it is compatible with both Schrader and Presta valves and can provide pressure of up to 140 PSI.
In addition, it has a fold-out foot and handgrip, and these features make this pump more manageable and easy to use.
However, one drawback of the Topeak Road Morph Pump is that it requires some time to fill up the tires, so you might want to sit and relax at a café after recovery.
Lezyne Twin Kit CO2 Inflator
Lezyne Twin Kit CO2 Inflator is one of the most widely used bike pumps. It uses compressed cartridges of CO2 to inflate bike tires. The good news is this pump already comes with cartridges, so you won’t have to go looking for them.
This gas pump blows air through the nozzle into the tires to inflate it, and one cartridge can fill up around 1 to 2 tires. It is advised to take at least two cartilages of CO2 and the nozzle with you when you go out for bike rides.
This kit is easy to carry around with you while riding bikes because it is compact and small. It won’t disrupt your rides and would come in handy if you get an unexpected flat tire on the way.
Like the Topeak Road Morph Pump, the air nozzle on Lezyne Twin Kit CO2 Inflator works well for both Presta and Schrader-style valves. You can easily buy the cartridges online.
Unlike the other pumps, this pump inflates the tire within seconds, and it isn’t as tiresome as the other pumps. You can quickly fill up your tires and then go about your bike ride again.
Can You Ride a Bike with A Flat Tire If No Gas Station Is Available?
Every biker knows how important it is to have tires in perfect condition with an optimal level of air pressure.
However, many riders ignore the air pressure out of laziness and will still ride their bike with flat tires to nearby places.
The rider would still be able to ride it, but the speed will be a lot slower; this isn’t a good idea and can be dangerous for the rider.
The Risks of Riding a Bike with A Flat Tire
As we discussed, riding a bike with flat tires can be dangerous whether you’re on a recreational ride far from home or riding your bike to commute.
A flat tire can be an inconvenience no matter what situation you are in, and depending on where you are or on what type of trail, a flat tire could potentially lead to injuries.
Technically speaking, you can ride your bike with a flat tire for at least a little while, but due to the risks attached to it, you really shouldn’t. The only situations where riding a flat tire bike is acceptable are the following:
- Firstly, when you have no other source of transport at home and have to get somewhere immediately.
- Secondly, there is no other choice than to ride a flat tire bike to protect your safety. For example, your tire bursts in the middle of the trail, and you’re alone without a fixing kit. However, there are ways to go about it. You can always get off the bike and walk it with you.
- Lastly, the tire is only a little bit flat or just a slow leak. However, you will eventually find it more difficult to pedal your bike and ride a lot slower and poorly; this could result in a severe accident if you’re in a crowded traffic area.
You risk your bike and yourself when riding a bike with flat tires. It is very likely you can fall off the bike if you’re riding it in that condition and risks injury. Make sure you’re wearing a helmet and knee pads to ensure you don’t get hurt.
Other than that, it is a lot more difficult to pedal a bike with flat tires; with it, you might strain the muscles and tendons of your legs if you go long distances without fixing your bike tires.
In addition, even if you don’t fall while riding, there is always this stress associated with flat tires. In other words, you’re constantly worrying about falling, and this does not make your trips out enjoyable.
The bike is also at risk of damage. The wheels, rim, and other parts are completely unsecured and vulnerable to damage if the tires are not properly filled.
The tension and pressure and the bike’s incorrect positioning can cause the bike to bend or shatter in a variety of areas.
Related bike articles:
- How Fast Can a Road Bike Go?
- How to Clean Disk Brakes on a Road Bike
- Can Road Bikes Go on Grass
- How to Clean and Lube Your Road Bike Chain
- Can a Mountain Bike Be as Fast as a Road Bike?
- How to Use a Rear Bike Rack
Wrapping This Up
Riding with a flat tire is a risk to yourself and your bike, which can be heavy on the pocket. Also, it is now obvious that it is possible to fill up air in your bike tires at the gas station, but it should be used as a last resort due to the risks involved.
As long as you’re an expert at it and constantly check the air pressure, the gas station air pump should work just fine. However, gas stations are not always available in the area.
Therefore there are better alternatives available, and they are a lot safer and easier to use. These can be used on both Presta and Schrader valves, so you won’t need an extra adapter to go with gas pumps. Consider investing in those if you are a regular biker and want to make your life easier.