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I find that I need to pump up my tyres at least weekly and am looking for how to make this quick and easy.

So what is the easiest and quickest method of pumping up a bike tyre?

As an example, I found this device recently. (forwarded to the best part)

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If you're at home, I recommend an air compressor, there's no easier or quicker way than this. Usually these have pressure gauges, and you can even (with some accessories you can) control the max. pressure, just press and it stops when done.

If on the road, the easiest way (and also the quickest) is:

  • If near a gas station, use their air compressor (if available)

  • Otherwise, use a portable air solution (the quickest is the CO2, but mind the cost of the refills), there are really nice hand pumps also, not the quickest, but easy IMO.

Finally, and knowing that in my case I just need to inflate every three weeks, I would recommend getting newer inner tubes, maybe the ones you're using are loosing air quicker than normal? (I mean, inflating every week could be too much, although I understand if you really want them to be tip-top :)

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I'd say that, for high-pressure tires, inflating once a week would be almost too rarely -- I'd suggest twice a week with normal tubes. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 14 '11 at 12:13
    
I like the air compressor method. –  Valamas Nov 14 '11 at 19:53
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I'm an ex-air compressor user. Too noisy, too expensive, and require too much maintenance compared to a simple floor pump. I even top off my car tires with the floor pump now (it's a really nice one, moves a lot of air). –  Brian Knoblauch Nov 15 '11 at 21:05
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prestaflator.com –  Valamas Dec 16 '11 at 1:40
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I would recommend against using a gas station air compressor. They're designed for high volume and low pressure as opposed to the low volumes and high pressure of typical bike tires. If the compressor even can reach high enough pressures, it would likely do so very quickly risking a blowout. –  Stephen Touset May 7 '12 at 20:55

Another Option would be to use the air pumps for the cars by your local gas station. I really like this option, because the pumps there have enough pressure for most mountain- and citybike tires.

If you have a Schrader valve, the air pumps will connect directly. If you have a Presta valve, you can use a converter. It weighs like one gram and will fit anywhere. Eg, duct tape one to your seat rail.

Also, at least in the city where I live, there are gas stations all around. Be careful thought, these pumps fill up a bike tire pretty fast! So if your pass a gas station on your commute, this could be even the fastest option.

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Everyone with Presta valves should carry a converter. It weighs like one gram and will fit anywhere. Eg, duct tape one to your seat rail. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 14 '11 at 23:57
    
Or leave it attached to one valve, and if you're into valve caps use a schrader cap on the adapter. I tend to just tighten the screw-down cap on the Pesta valve and replace the adapter. –  Kohi Jul 2 '12 at 5:00

While the question is directly about easiest/fastest way to pump up a tire, it is worth noting that all the above methods work. It really comes down to fastest.

Try benchmarking against a flat car tire. This is a high volume, low pressure problem, which while different from a bike tires (low volume, higher pressure) is a good benchmark of speed.

It is actually an interesting challenge to pump a totally flat car tire up with a small frame pump, a floor pump, or a CO2 cart. Alas, a compressor takes all the fun out of it,

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I've actually inflated a car tire with a bike floor pump. Takes a long time but it gets the job done. I can't imagine trying to use a compact pump, and one would go through a fortune in CO2 carts. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 14 '11 at 12:25
    
@DanielRHicks Doing it with a compact pump takes effort but is very doable. Patience is the key. –  geoffc Nov 15 '11 at 3:45
    
My back would go out before the rim was off the ground. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 15 '11 at 12:34
    
@DanielRHicks You do it sitting down, much easier on the back. –  geoffc Nov 15 '11 at 18:09
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Try climbing up a mountain carrying a deflated truck inner tube, then pumping it up with a bike pump before sliding down on it. The trip down makes it all worth while (if you survive), but it takes for-freakin-ever to pump up. –  Kohi Jul 2 '12 at 5:01

Definitely a floor pump (with built-in gauge) for regular at-home inflations. Fast, accurate, easy, can handle any pressure.

I've never tried the CO2 inflaters but I assume they work.

Most mini-pumps suck -- too little volume for fat tires and too little pressure for skinny tires -- so for on the road I'd recommend a full-sized frame pump.

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Answer: Mini-Pump in combination with a Track Pump. Read on for my experiences of 'Cyclaire' pumps...

I purchased a 'Cyclaire' portable pump as I genuinely believed it would be the answer to all of my puncture/tyre care problems. It came with a neat bag that I could use to carry it on the bike and worked perfectly.

However, on a day to day basis I carried a mini-pump and over time I forgot to dust off the 'Cyclaire' pump, to eventually never even think about taking it out for longer rides.

If I was on tour with a group then I might just dig it out as it does have a gauge and high pressures can be achieved. This could be useful to maintain tyre pressures 2+ weeks in to an 'expedition'.

As it is, I recommend a small plastic mini-pump for the road and a track pump for back home. The trick with the minipump is to get one where there are no extra gadget features, e.g. gauge, 2-way motion, telescopic barrel or any of that nonsense. These features can make the pump liable to rattle apart, rendering it useless when you need it. The simpler (but not necessarily cheaper) pump just keeps on giving. The portable pump only has to get you home, you can ride on 20 p.s.i. if that is all the minipump can give, back home you can then get the rest of it in effortlessly with a gauge to keep it correctly inflated.

Maybe the 'Cycleaire' strays from 'keep it simple', as does the CO2 cannister. A workshop compressor is nice, but, unless you work in a bike shop and need one on the whole time, then you have to faff with it and wait for its cylinder to charge. For that reason, stick with the track pump (with gauge) and plain-as-possible mini-pump for on the road. If you really want a 'Cyclaire' pump then find a suitable scenario - either the long tour or, if you commute, inside your desk drawer.

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I just leave my Cycleaire attached to the bike in its bag (which also holds some tire irons and a patch kit), it's been handy a few times when I'm out and about. I find it much better than any other portable pump I've used. I tend to use a track pump for regular use (which stays in the house) –  Wilka Nov 14 '11 at 13:41

If you're at home, use a floor pump. They are very easy to use and have a gauge so you can measure the pressure.

Floor pump

When you're on the road, the quickest and easiest way to get you back on the road is to use CO2 cannisters. They are not that cheap though and the CO2 will leak out of the tube faster than air (mostly N2), requiring topping up over the next few days.

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More information is available on Wikipedia

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Just a little nitpicking: When you inflate your tire with air, you are mostly inflating with N2, not O2. +1 otherwise. –  thiton Nov 14 '11 at 9:11
    
@thiton Excellent point. Updated. Thanks! –  Mac Nov 14 '11 at 9:15
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I go for floor pump at home. Since I got mine, I kept wondering why I suffered so much for so long, for not having one. –  heltonbiker Nov 16 '11 at 15:12
    
Do you have a reference for CO2 leaking faster than N2? I would expect the larger molecule to leak more slowly, so I'm curious. –  Kohi Jul 2 '12 at 4:58

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