Summer may be over, but there’s still plenty of great riding to do. So here’s a quick reminder that keeping your tires inflated to their recommended pressure helps prevent flats and keeps you safer and more comfortable on your ride. And, if the tubes inside your tires are equipped with Presta valves, then carrying an adapter (top) in your pocket or bag can help save a few dollars and minutes when you stop for air at a bike shop or gas station.
Presta valves are typically found on bicycle tires with thin rims, such as road bikes and some mountain bikes. You’ll know it’s a Presta if you see a small attached screw on top of the valve (right) that has to be be opened to allow air flow.
You’ll need an adapter because the heads of air compressor hoses, as well as many floor pumps, work with a different kind of an inner tube valve called a Schrader. To convert a Presta to a Schrader, all you have to do is open the screw, attach the adapter to the valve, and your tire is ready for air.
Bike shops usually charge $1 for these tiny gizmos, so carrying your own keeps you from burning cash and time at the register when you’re running late on your commute. (Note that most bike shops disconnect their hoses when they close, so a gas station is often your best bet for after-hours air emergencies. Some charge for air, so that’s one among many reasons to carry a few bucks on your ride.)
Even if you don’t have Presta valves, it’s a good idea — in the name of universal bike karma — to keep an adapter in your bag. It always feels good to be able to help out a fellow cyclist who’s in need on the road.
I carry an adapter in my change purse, but I also like this key ring shown below. It keeps an adapter and your bike lock keys together in one handy package.
The Bullet, Key Chain Attachment for Pump Adapter, brass, $3.80.