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It is standard for road bikes to adopt Presta, whereas nearly all else use Schrader.

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I personally think Schrader are better:

  • I've had less Schrader valves break on me than Presta
  • No problems if needing to use car pumps
  • Have also seen long Schrader valves for deep rims
  • Less fiddly
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related although not duplicate? bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/59/… –  Simon Feb 19 '12 at 6:55
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interesting. I have had more schrader issues and breakage than i have with prestas. Personally i love prestas, and use them even in schrader drilled wheels. –  Matt Adams Feb 19 '12 at 22:39
    
I hate Prestas with a passion. I've had so many different bizarre problems with them that just never happen with Schrader valves. The only reason I ever use Presta anymore is because Schrader are just too big for my road bike rims. –  Brian Knoblauch Feb 20 '12 at 20:01
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I'm curious as to what problems Matt and Brian have had. I've never really had problems with any valve. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 22 '12 at 13:01
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Is there a question? What is the question? –  kmkaplan Dec 5 '12 at 23:10
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8 Answers

The main thing is that the Presta valve is thinner, and takes less of a bite out of the rim. This is quite important as the rims get narrower.

Further, the Presta works better with hand pumps in that there's no spring that the pump needs to overcome to get air into the tire. Also, the Presta always has the fully-threaded body (which is possible with Schrader, but rare), so a nut can be used to hold the valve in place -- again, quite important with hand pumps.

Never had a bike valve stem break on me, that I can recall.

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This. Presta valves are purpose-designed for bicycles. –  Stephen Touset Feb 20 '12 at 2:24
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Not all presta valves have a fully-threaded body. Most do, but I've picked up lots of long stem presta tubes at kraynick's bike shop with threading only on the top 1cm or so. –  Benzo Apr 20 '12 at 19:36
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@Benzo -- Then I'd take them back. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 20 '12 at 20:22
    
You can get presta's that are NOT threaded, those of us with push on pump heads appreciate that. The threads and that little nut that screws down on the rim are not really necessary. –  Angelo May 10 '12 at 14:37
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The threads and nut prevent you from pushing in the valve when you push on the pump head. Makes things much easier (and helps prevent tube damage) when inflating a totally flat tire. –  Daniel R Hicks May 11 '12 at 11:05
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This primarily comes up as the pressures in the tires get higher.

With lower pressure wider tires, Schrader makes the most sense, if only because you can hit a gas station for some air pressure.

Presta makes more sense on higher pressure tires, since it allows you to pump in higher levels with a floor pump. Per the comments let me try and clarify. When you use a Schrader stem the valve is depressed by a thingy in the pump head the whole time. With a mechanical constant pressure pump (like at a gas station) this is fine.

But with a floor pump where there is a pause between pumps, Presta works better because each time you release pressure, the valve head closes. Then as you build pressure in the pump, when it exceeds the tires current pressure it forces the value to open, allows air in, and repeat. Thus you can pump to higher pressures with it. (Or at least with poorer quality pumps.

But if it bothers you, get the little one dollar adapters, and you can use a car pump with no issue.

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How does a Schrader limit tire pressure? Semi-trucks run 100PSI plus on Schrader valves. –  KennyPeanuts Feb 19 '12 at 21:55
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Maybe limit pressure is the wrong word? Make it easier to pump in higher pressure would be more correct. In Presta, the valve stem is pushed in the whole time, so the pump chamber has to maintain pressure or lose it. In Schrader, each pump builds pressure till it pushes the stem in, then air flows. –  geoffc Feb 20 '12 at 13:12
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thanks for the clarification, that makes sense. –  KennyPeanuts Feb 20 '12 at 14:27
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I believe he's saying that Schrader valves are harder to get to high pressures with mechanical pumping, which is periodic, as opposed to having a continuous stream of air provided by a compressor. –  Stephen Touset Feb 20 '12 at 19:09
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+1 for mentioning the $1 adapter. With presta + the adaptor, you never have to worry about being stuck with a pump that won't work on your valves. –  Angelo May 10 '12 at 14:34
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Schrader valves are more robust, this is the reason why you see them universally in use for vehicle tires. With Presta, you have to be more careful when putting in or taking off the pump nozzle or you might bend or even break either the rotating (locking) tip of the valve. You could also go to literally any gas station to pump air to your tires if you are using a Shrader valve.

Presta's advantage is that it is thinner and the rim has a smaller valve hole in which case it makes the rim stronger. This can be a factor especially in thin bicycle rims. Another advantage of Presta valves is they can be made longer, a lot longer in fact than Shrader valves. This is especially important when you have deep aero type rims.

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I doubt there is a limit to the length of Schrader valves. After all, truck tires valves (perhaps with extensions) have to go a long way to be accessible. Maybe they just are not made longer in bike tubes for whatever reason. –  PositiveK Sep 21 '13 at 4:53
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I've also had fewer issues with crap clogging the valve with presta valves; as long as you remember to spin the valve closed you don't need a valve stem cap. This is particularly important if you're riding in mud or dirt. I run presta on both my road and mountain bikes for this reason.

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Your rim will be drilled for one of the two. Usually a schrader. A presta (which is thinner) will allows fit in a schrader sized whole, but give more freedom for the valve to move around, often causing a valve wall tear and leading lots of people to think "wow what a useless valve". A typical case of human error. This can easily be countered with a schrader to presta valve converter, a cheap little bit of plastic cushioning which usually costs pennies. Prestas are far more performant in terms of the amount of pressure they can hold, and the rate they can take air in.

Schraders are widely used not just because "they're the best" but because they've become a standard which is hard to break away from.

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Schraders are used because they are well-suited to auto tires, motorcycle tires, et al. (Though, interestingly, not that well suited to drag racer tires.) For the bikes where Schrader valved comfortably fit it make sense to use them, since gas station hoses can be used to fill them. But for narrower tires Schraders simply aren't a good fit. –  Daniel R Hicks Dec 6 '12 at 0:39
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In addition to what others have said, many gas station air compressors won't push the tire pressure past 80 psi. This is fine for cars where the tires are usually inflated to about half that, but no good for a road bike where you probably want 100+ psi. This means that you're stuck using a floor pump, a frame pump, or a Co2 pump alll the time. And as others have mentioned, Prestas just work better with hand pumps. And if you're filling your tires to 100+ psi all the time, you might as well have a valve that works easily with the pump that you'll be using.

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When I was racing sixty odd years ago you either had a valve with a Valve Rubber, or high pressure valves, the thinner high pressure tires and tubes, and Tubs [so called tubeless tires] had these as you call them Presta valves we called them high pressure and I would think they are a refined Schrader valve.

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Welcome to Bicycles. Check out our Terminology index - the names of things change over time. On a personal note, sounds like you were racing when my father was :-) –  andy256 20 hours ago
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The Schrader valves are more durable and are more of a "standard" tube/tire valve than the presta valve is. It's handy to use the air hose at a station if you need air on a long ride. You can get an adapter for a Presta valave that allows a Schrader type connection with a air hose, but like some things in life, I'd never be able to find that adapter when I needed it! Really the only reason I can fathom for using a Presta valve in a wheel these days would be because the wheel was real narrow or the aero type wheel and high pressure road type wheel. There must be quite a few Presta valve fans out there because you now see tubes with Presta valves at Walmart. They're slightly higher priced than those with Schrader valves. To me, the Presta valve connection always seemed so fragile.

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If you use the adapter in place of a valve stem cap on one of your wheels, you'll never need to look for it. –  jimirings Dec 8 '12 at 16:54
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