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No matter what I try I can't seem to remove the pump off my threaded presta valve without injuring my hands on my wheel spokes.

I'm beginning to think I'm doing something wrong.

After unlocking, I just pull until the pump valve comes off. Sometimes it is a fairly simple process. Other times I have to use quite a bit of strength. And the worse times I come in contact with the spokes and lose some skin.

Any tips would be appreciated.

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Could you please tell us the model of pump or provide a picture of the head of the pump? Not all pumps attach or lock the same. –  freiheit May 15 '11 at 2:38
    
I own an Avenir Air Source Pro pump with a dual head pump valve, but I think @moz and @Karl have submitted some good general solutions. I'm going to try a combo rotate-karate-chop removal next time. –  ashley May 15 '11 at 17:47
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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I used to skin my knuckles every time I took the chuck off the valve. Then I figured it out (pain is a learning curve accelerator).

Position the wheel so the presta valve is closest to you and pointed away from you. Use your thumbs on either side of the wheel to push the chuck straight off (toward the hub of the wheel).

This prevents the presta stem from being bent/broken and limits how far you hands can move when the chuck pops off. No more bashed knuckles.

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Thanks @Greg! This technique worked best for me. –  ashley May 18 '11 at 0:04
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Invest in a track pump with a dual Presta/Shrader head and a 'lock lever' that you flip over to get a snug fit, regardless of the valve type. Make sure the pump comes with a gauge and keep your tyres at pressure because they are then less likely to become punctured. Check the pressure every fortnight or every month depending on how important speed is to your cycling. If you follow this advice (and make sure no pieces of glass are embedded in the tyres) then you will only need your normal pump on the road, if and when you get a puncture.

When you have the luxury of a track pump you only need a cheap mini pump for on the road, something that just gets enough air in to get you home. Cheap mini pumps are particularly advantageous because they have fewer parts and are less likely to rattle to pieces in your bag than their pricier counterparts.

The aforementioned 'chop' technique is the way to get the pump off the valve, however, even in cheap mini-pump land you should be able to get a pump with a lock lever.

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Completely agree with this answer. Amazed at people resorting to karate chops etc! Just get a pump with a lock, release the lock and the pump slips off with no effort. –  Sam Meldrum May 20 '11 at 11:59
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I just slide a couple fingers under the chuck (and against the wheel) and basically pry against the wheel. Takes very little effort compared to trying to pull, and it pops the chuck off without any risk of banging your hands into anything.

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I find just a short, sharp (karate-style) chop about an inch back from the valve works well. You'll want to make sure it's straight though to minimise stress on the valve.

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Thanks @Karl. I'm going to try your martial (cycle) arts and see what happens! –  ashley May 15 '11 at 17:51
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This seems to be common. I know I have the same problem. I think any pump that uses a rubber cylinder with a hole in it, and compresses that to lock on will have the same problem.

The only real solution is one of the screw-on heads. They're annoying in their own way - screwing them on is tedious. They're also regarded as a high-end option, so you'll pay more for a pump with one. Or less if you go for the old-style frame pump with hose style, which also suck (the hose holds air that doesn't go into the tyre, making it harder to pump your tyre up). Don't be tempted to switch to schrader valves, they have much the same problem.

The best I've found is to adjust the pump/head properly. Most of them have an adjustment for how compressed the rubber cylinder starts out, which affects how compressed it gets. The ideal is obviously that it's loose enough to slide on and off easily, but when compressed is tight enough not to leak. Play with it.

I find that on my "topeak road morph" on-bike pump I have to overtighten the head when I'm not using the pump or the adjustment barrel comes loose and falls off (luckily, into my pannier). But to use it I back that barrel off a turn or so, then pump up my tyre. In theory I could release the compression lever then undo that barrel a little to get the pump off, but it's hard to get at the barrel when it's on a valve.

For my floor pump it's easier - I just applied a bit of thread locking glue, adjusted it properly and left it. Once someone used it, tightened the barrel right up then complained that it was hard to get it off the valve. I have a useful facial expression for situations like that, combining disbelief and irritation.

But even the best adjustment doesn't seem to work especially well. I think as you pump the hot air heats the mechanism, the rubber softens and expands slightly, and it glues itself to the valve. But even the expensive pumps use a similar rubber, so I suspect it's a compromise between effective sealing and longevity. FWIW, I'm aware that the soft plastic used is not really rubber.

Actual safety tips for doing what you're doing now without losing skin... move the valve to the top of the wheel, pull down and use your other hand as a pad over whatever you're going to hit.

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Thanks @moz. Rotating the tire for better leverage makes so much sense. I'm going to try your technique and see if it works for me. –  ashley May 15 '11 at 17:50
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