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My front tire has the skinny valve (I believe it is a Presta) and so does my rear tire. But my rear tire also has a screw-on piece that goes over the valve which I believe to be an adapter. Do they simply provide one adapter because it is cheaper and you can move it from one tire to the other?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Because you only fill one tire at a time. The adapter screws off and can be used on either tire if needed. It can also be easily stored with your patch kit, so it doesn't need to be on the bike. I only keep one around in case I get stuck with only a schraeder pump at my disposal.

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Yes, you can remove the adapter and put it on the rear tire.

The reason for putting on an adapter is so that you can use air-compression equipment which is available at gas stations etc. You don't actually need it if you have a good pump at home which is two fit (presta and schrader).

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Just be careful with gas station equipment. It tends to be designed for high volume tires and can get out of hand quick. – Jack M. Aug 25 '10 at 21:06
You definitely want to avoid filling your tires with air compressors at gas stations. The air compressor pumps a large volume of air all at once and you don't know how big that volume is. If it's big enough, it'll blow your tire (OUCH)! – 42-17 Aug 25 '10 at 22:18

The adapter is only meant to be used while pumping up the tire. You shouldn't keep it installed while riding.

Many bicycle pumps can be used with both presta and shrader valves, but I'd reccomend that you keep a pump around that can pump presta natively so that you never need to mess with the valve adapter.

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Do you have a reason not to keep it installed while riding? – Jay Bazuzi Oct 14 '10 at 16:36

I used to always keep my adapter taped to my bike, in case I needed to use a car pump. Most bike pumps will deal with Presta valve, so you should not have to use the adapter often.

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