If you’re a novice cyclist, you may not be aware that there are two different types of valves on bicycle tubes: Presta and Schrader. So how do you identify which valve is which and what are the differences between Presta vs Schrader? These are commonly asked questions and we frequently answer them here at Bikes Palm Beach. So let’s dive in and learn the differences between Presta vs Schrader valves.
Presta valves are taller and slimmer slimmer than Schrader valves. They were specifically designed to be used on bicycles, so you won’t see them on cars or motorcycles. Presta valves are made entirely out of metal, taper towards the top, and are usually completely threaded. The Presta valve is slightly more advanced to use, having a locknut instead of a spring to ensure closure. This is what makes the Presta valve more secure when it comes to holding air pressure and it can endure much higher air pressures (up to 125psi) than a Schrader valve can manage.
Presta valves are typically found on higher end mountain, road, and gravel bikes for improved performance.
Schrader valves are wider and typically shorter than Presta valves. They are the valve type that you see on car tires, so they are more universal than Presta. Schrader valves consist of a threaded outer wall (to accept a cap) whose bottom half is wrapped in rubber and a spring-loaded check valve in the center. The valve allows airflow in one direction only, so to pump air into the tire, you need to press the inner pin down. This also allows you to check the air pressure in the tire.
Schrader valves are usually found on budget-friendly mountain, hybrid, and city bikes.
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The Differences between Presta and Schrader Valves
While Schrader and Presta valves pretty much do the same thing, they have more differences than similarities.
Presta has additional parts:
- Valve core
- Valve lockring
The valve core on modern Presta valves is removable and can be replaced if your tire starts leaking air or if you gum up the core when adding tire sealant. The valve lockring sits on the outer part of the valve and screws down to secure the valve on the rim and prevent it from moving up and down. Finally, the locknut sits on top of the valve and holds the valve core together. You need to unscrew it when pumping air or replacing the core.
On the other hand, Schrader valves are a lot simpler than Presta. They are made of an outer shell and a removable core with a spring-loaded check valve and a plastic cap on top.
Presta vs Schrader: Which is the superior valve?
Because Presta valves were designed specifically for use on bicycles, they are the best. Presta valves are also more narrow, so they require a smaller hole in the rim, with less interruption to the structural integrity of the rim than Schrader valves.
Presta valves can hold more pressure and do it more reliably because the air pressure itself seals them tightly. They are also lighter and improve the wheel’s rolling resistance. Plus, Presta valves are easily extendable with adapters, so the same valve or inner tube can be used on different types of rims. This is especially handy when switching to deep-section aero rims.
However, Schrader valves may be more convenient to use for novices because their design is simple and they allow you to inflate the tire on readily available service stations, pumps, and air compressors.
How to select a Bicycle Pump
Most bike pumps today are compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves. These are called dual-head designs and come in three main types:
- Twin: This type of bike pump comes with both Presta and Schrader ports. Therefore, you can choose which one to use at any given time.
- Swappable: This type of pump has all the necessary parts to inflate both Presta and Schrader valves. However, they are located inside the pump head and need to be reversed. This can be done in a matter of seconds, without the requirement of any special tools.
- Adjustable: This is the most convenient bike pump type because it automatically adapts itself to either Presta or Schrader valves. There are no additional steps you need to take — just attach the pump head to the valve and start pumping.
We recommend the adjustable or swappable bicycle pumps and carry both models in stock regularly. Stop by Bikes Palm Beach and pick up a new bicycle pump today to service all your bicycles, whether they have Presta valves or Schrader valves.