September 19, 2021

How to put air in bike tires at a gas station?

When learning or regularly cycling, knowing how to put air in bike tires at a gas station is an important skill to have because you will never know when your tire will get flat.

It always happens without a warning.

However, before we proceed in discussing how to put air in bike tires at a gas station, it is important to remember that many cycling enthusiasts advise against having your bicycle tires filled with compressors at the forefront of the gas stations because they are regulated differently. As a result, you could easily pop your tires instead.

As a result, not only will you need a new tire, you will also be stranded, and if not, exhausted from the long haul that you have to do when pushing and pulling your tireless bike all the way home.


Before you proceed, to inflate your tire, remember that you have to determine whether the valve of your tire will suit the compressor at the gas station.

There are two valves to consider:

  • Schrader Valve – similar to the ones you have in your car tires
  • Presta Valve – commonly seen in bicycles, these are longer and thinner. In addition, it has a locking nut at the tip to ensure minimal to no air escapes its tires

Once you have determined what your bicycle’s valve type is, you may proceed with caution.

If what your bicycle has is a Schrader Valve, then it should not be a problem considering that the gas station compressors were built to accommodate this valve type. If your bicycle does have a Schrader valve, these are the steps to follow:

  1. Remove the dust cap. Make sure that you put it in a safe place because this is a vital piece to keep the air from escaping when you are done
  2. Attach the nozzle to the valve
  3. Inflate the tire in small bursts. Make sure that you regularly check the pressure of the tires. Too much pressure can cause the tubes to burst which may result with your tires popping which should be avoided
  4. Re-place the dust cap back on

As you can see, it is easy enough.

However, if your bicycle tires have a Presta valve rather than a Schrader, the only difference is having to replace the former with an adapter. Once you have an adapter attached to the Presta valve, it is as easy as following steps two to three above, then you should be good to go.

Word of advice – if getting your tires reinflated at a gas station is your only choice, ask the attendant first if they are happy for you to do so. They know more about the machine they have at the station which is why you should take their decision to refuse as a word of warning.

On the other hand, there are more suitable options that are also easy to carry that help reinflate your tires all the same without running the risk of popping them. However, that is a topic for another day.

Reinflating your bicycle tires in a gas station is never recommended. However, flat tires are emergencies that tend to happen without having a warning, and more often than not, you are left without a choice.

Still, it is a good skill to have. However, it is good to remember that, “A flat tire is better than a popped one,” but having this skill in your back pocket is a convenient skill to have. Just always be cautious and only use it as a last resort because you can never be too careful.

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Writing about bicycles since 2008!
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