I'm an old-time bike rider who commuted to grad school every day for 3 years on a bicycle. Then after a 20+-year-long hiatus, started riding again with my son. I cannot figure out the fitting on the modern pumps. I can get some air in, but after several cases of the thing flying off or making an embarrassing leaking, whoosh sound with every stroke.

Q: Are pumps with the old-style, screw-on fittings available anywhere anymore?

Q: Is there a good reason I should appreciate the new fitting?

  • 1
    Presta valves have become more common in the last few years. Do you know if you have those or Schrader valves? bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/terminology-index/… and bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/244/terminology-index/…
    – jimchristie
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 16:16
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    From what I remember with screw-on fittings, a significant amount of air was let out when unscrewing the fitting. So you'd have to pump them up a little bit extra to account for the air you would lose when unscrewing the pump. Maybe that's just the pumps I was using though.
    – Kibbee
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 16:39
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    You can be like me and appreciate Presta valves for being smaller and making narrower wheels possible. You can also join me in cussing them out due to the inflation problems you mentioned above. Everything's a compromise. :-) Commented May 9, 2013 at 19:04
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    I will edit this question in a day or two to add a photo. thanks!
    – pterandon
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 20:49
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    Can you fix the title to be more explicit about what you're asking about pumps? Maybe something like: "Are screw on pump fittings available?" The title presently seems a bit like a rant. Thanks.
    – PositiveK
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 20:40

5 Answers 5


There are two main standards: Schrader and Presta. Schrader is the standard auto tire valve, while Presta is thinner and has a little knurled knob on top. Schader is relatively straight-forward to use while Presta requires a little finesse.

Most newer "floor pump" valves are "agnostic" and will fit either style without conversion, but some require flipping a gasket over inside the chuck or some such.

Floor pumps generally have a flip-lever valve where you press the valve on, then flip the lever up to lock the valve on. Sometimes, if the tire is flat, you may need to press your thumb into the tire on the back side of the valve to keep the valve from sliding into the rim as you push the chuck on -- if you don't then the chuck doesn't get on far enough. Plus on some valves you may need to adjust the chuck by tightening a knurled fitting on the chuck, to compensate for gasket wear, etc. And of course there are cheap pumps that won't work regardless.

Presta can be a little tricky. You need to unscrew the knurled knob ALL THE WAY, then press the chuck on. And I like to tap the unscrewed knob once to free the internal seal from its seat -- sometimes they stick, making it hard to get air in. When you're finished filling a Presta, just tighten the knob barely finger tight, so as to not unnecessarily deform the seal.

  • That is why I like the third kind, where you do not need to fiddle other than adding the pump.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:17
  • @Willeke - If you mean Dunlop, I fail to see how it's any simpler to handle than Schrader. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:22
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    When I remove the pump from the valve, there is nothing to touch that lets air out. With both kinds of valve you mention air can get out. I have used both for more than a year each and never liked them. I rather have poor fitting tubes than use Schrader. Presta are worse in my view, sure to leak air when you take off pump and close that little knob.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:27
  • @Willeke - That's odd, I've never had that problem, except perhaps when trying to use a crummy service station chuck. Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:29

I had a similar problem, and I heard someone else in my LBS with the same problem.

Back in the day, we had a pump where you put the pump head on the valve, pushed a little tab down, and then pumped.

But my current pump is the reverse: You put the pump head on the valve with the tab down, and then pull it up and out to pump.

So this is one thing to check for if your pump won't stay; maybe you're doing it backwards.

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    I think this is likely the original poster's problem. I see people do this so often that if someone asks to borrow my pump I will usually air their tires myself rather than watch them try to jam my pump head on their valve in the closed position. The lever position is so counterintuitive that people frequently will do it backwards even as you're explaining the correct method. Also, in my experience, today's quality pumps are much better than those of 20 years ago. The only pumps I've experienced problems with recently are those with screw-on type chucks such as Lezyne.
    – vlieg
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 19:46

A good quality pump will rarely have issues like this. You may have a very cheap pump, or you may have a pump which is designed for one of the other valve styles available.

There are a few threaded valve fittings, mostly on fairly high end pumps. Lezyne and Scott Sports (Syncros) both make good pumps with threaded fittings which fit the 2 main valve types on European and US bike styles.

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  • zenbike beat me to it—Lezyne pumps feature threaded connectors for both Schrader and Presta valves—no adaptor to lose. Now if I could just find a threaded Schrader fitting for the compressor in my truck. ;)
    – jaberg
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 16:29
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    Make sure the head is fitted correctly on the valve. Most older pumps had the "locked on" position with the lever parallel to the hose with the lever layed down. . Most new pumps seem to have the locked position with the lever up or perpendicular to the hose.
    – mikes
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 20:22

Answers so far seem to concentrate on floor pumps, but what I haven't seen recently is a full length frame pump that uses a hose connector. But 20+ years ago, that was fairly standard.

I'd recommend getting a floor pump for regularly keeping tyres topped up, but you still need a pump to take on the bike in case of a flat.

If you want an old style pump, Google finds me the Zefal Lapize, but a couple of reviews are unenthusiastic, and suggest that the retro style is the only real reason to consider it.

In a more compact style, the Topeak RaceRocket has a hose connection that fits both main valve types. Topeak also make some "mini-floor" style compact pumps with hoses, the Morph range.

For pumps without a hose :

  • As with the floor pumps, make sure the head is set for your valve type, which might mean unscrewing it, swapping some bits, and putting it back together, might mean picking the right one of two holes, or it might just always work with both. (Or, worst case, it only works with one type, and it's not the type you have.)
  • Adjust any rubber sealing washer in the head to lightly grip the valve when you push the head on, then grip firmly when you press the locking lever in the right direction. (Some cheap nasty pumps have no lever and need the compressing ring tightened while the pump is in place. Some heads without levers you can get the grip just right to push on against a bit of resistance and stay on without adjusting.)
  • Keep the pump barrel at right angles to the valve while pumping. Gripping some spokes of your wheel with the same hand that is holding the pump head can help.

Current pumps are "push-pull On" and "Pull-push Off". ie. you have to push the pump head on the valve, then pull the lever to get the pump head on the valve, then reverse the process to remove it. This new style took a two-hand problem and made it into a three hand problem. I need one hand to hold the tire, one hand to hold the pump head in place and one hand to pull the lever. Old style pumps were "push-push On" and "Pull-Pull Off". It only took one hand to get the pump head on or off leaving another hand to stabilize the bike. That is what is needed. I have no idea why anyone, given the choice, would choose a new pump over an old one, but we aren't given a choice. About 15 years ago, all manufacturers suddenly switched to a poor design and we have been stuck with it ever since.

  • Welcome to Bicycles @Sean. The only big change I've seen in the last 15 years is the move to mini pumps and CO2 canisters.
    – andy256
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 22:16
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    No. We had both of those things 35 years ago. The big change was the way the pump head lever is designed. It used to be easier to use because the lever was pushed or pulled in the same way you were pushing/pulling the pump head on or off the valve.
    – Sean Ross
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 17:26
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    I have only two hands and manage modern pumps fine. I don't understand what you are trying to do, a picture would be helpful.
    – ojs
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 19:36
  • Certainly, you can manage it. I pump up my tires all the time. It is just really clumsy by comparison. I posted a picture on my post on this topic. Can't post a picture as a comment. Current pumps have you PULL the lever back to put the pump head on the valve. Old ones had you PUSH the lever forward to put the pump head on the valve. Much easier and I want one.
    – Sean Ross
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 20:10
  • The issue is the user, not the design. With one hand, you grip both the wheel rim and the pump head and push them together. Then, use the other hand to flip the lever. Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 10:49

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