Bike Tire Won’t Inflate? Here’s Why

If you’ve ever had a bike tire that wouldn’t inflate, you know how frustrating it can be. You pump and pump, but the tire just won’t seem to hold any air.

Here are some of the more common causes of bike tire won’t inflate and what you can do to fix them.

Types of Valves

Before we start talking about tires that won’t inflate, we have to understand the different types of valves in bike tires and how they work. The most common bike valves are the Presta and Schrader.

1. Valve Presta

Presta valves are entirely made of metal. The majority of Presta valves are screwed down and have a slightly tapered top. 

To open the valve, unscrew a textured nut at the top. Rather than a check valve, the pressure within the tube is used to seal the tires.

valve adapters

2. The Schrader Valve

Schrader valves are much wider and have the same circumference from top to bottom as Presta valves. When used on wheels, these are often encased in rubber. 

A cap head – a check valve with a spring that controls the passage of air into and out of the valve – is often threaded into the exterior wall.

Also read: Front Derailleur Not Shifting?

Why Won’t My Bike Tire Won’t Inflate

Your bicycle tire may not fully or partially inflate for a variety of reasons. 

You might be using the improper pump head for your valve stem style, have mounted the pump incorrectly, or have a puncture in your tire. Your bead may be wrongly adjusted if you go tubeless.

Using The Incorrect Valve Stem On A Pump

Most bicycle tire pumps feature two separate valve stem ports. The Schrader valve comes first, followed by the Presta valve

If your tire isn’t absorbing air or something doesn’t look right, you might be using the wrong port.

The Valve Stem Has Been Damaged

If you need to replace a tube in your tire, you will need to buy a new tube as well – but make sure they are the same size and diameter as before.

The Pump Was Installed Incorrectly

If you hear a hissing sound from your pump or compressor, it may be because of an improperly installed port on the valve stem.

You must ensure that the seats are level and far enough down to prevent air from escaping.

A typical problem is when the valve prefers to force itself down into the tire, making it impossible to properly seat the pump on the stem.

The Tire Has A Puncture

You either struck something sharp or squeezed the tire between the ground and the wheel, resulting in a cut or puncture. This is an undesirable aspect of riding, particularly in the realm of mountain biking. 

The simplest approach to determine if your tire or tube has been damaged is to spray a soapy water combination along the tire. 

If bubbles appear anywhere, that is where the puncture is.

Tire Has A Puncture

The Tubeless Bead On The Tire Is Not Properly Placed

Mountain bikers may prefer to ride tubeless, which means that air directly fills the tires rather than filling a tube, which then fills the tire. 

This creates a bead along the wheel. If this bead fails, or not enough air was available o push the tire against the wheel wall, air will escape the wheel. 

The Compressor Or Pump Has Failed

To find out if the compressor or the pump has failed, observe if any air is coming out of the wheel, after turning on the compressor or pump. Make sure to keep the pump tube away from the stem valve.

Also read: Bike Chain Slipping When Pedaling Hard?

How to Fix Bike Tire Won’t Inflate

Now, I will go through numerous reasons why the tires may not be deflating. You’ll also uncover solutions that are simple to implement.

Concerns About Sealants

Over time, sealants form a skin-like structure within the valve, and these plugs may prevent air from entering the tube. 

Sealant issues are fairly common, you can read more here.

To open the valve, turn it and remove the valve core.

Making Certain the Pump Fits Properly

Bike tires are frequently not inflated because the pump does not fit correctly on the valve. Make that the screw at the top of the valve is slack, allowing the Presta valve to take in air. 

Maintain consistent pressure on the pump’s handle to assist you to realise which position the pump is inflating the tire.

Not Using the Correct Pump

Even after you’ve poked the valve plug, you may discover that your tire isn’t getting filled. 

In such circumstances, you’ll need to remove the valve core and drill a larger hole. Some pumps may only support Presta valves, while others may only support Schrader valves. 

Many pumps may employ both types of valves.

O-Ring damage

If the tire pump’s O-ring is not linked to the tire’s valve, it might prevent air from entering the tube. 

O-rings are located on the pump’s chucks, which are the pieces that go over the valve.

How do you inflate a bike tire that won't grab the rim?

There are a few reasons why a tire won’t grasp the rim when you try to inflate it. If the valve stem is not fully open, air will not flow correctly into the tire and will leak out. Check if the tire bead is correctly set on the rim; if it is not, air will leak from within the tire as well.

How do you inflate a completely deflated bike tire?

If you have a fully deflated bike tire, you must inflate it using a unique procedure. The key is to locate a Presta valve adaptor, which is available at most bike stores. After removing the nut, screw the adaptor onto the valve. You’ll need to unscrew the pump cap if you’re using a manual pump.

Certified bike mechanic based in Orlando, Florida. With over 15 years of knowledge and experience in the industry, I can help you diagnose issues and fix them.

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