I have recently bought a Specialized women's road bike and for the last couple of weeks was borrowing my boyfriend's hand pump with no real issues.

Last night I finally purchased my own (Topeak RaceRocket HP) but each time I try to inflate the tyre (just a top up of air, not from flat) I can either hear air hissing out (I believe the pump isn't screwed on enough then) but even a quarter of a turn too far means the pump won't work as the air pressure seems to be too much and this would suggest I've screwed it on too tight. Just can't seem to get a happy medium.

It could be resolved with a floor pump but as I've just dropped £30 on this, I want to be sure before I spend another load of cash just to eliminate possibility.

Any suggestions? Should I return the pump or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks :) x

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of What do I do if my bike won't pump with an air pump at all?
    – PeteH
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:29
  • 1
    Thanks I read this question before I posted :) The trouble with mine is that it can't be clogged as I haven't ridden it enough and I can pump the air into the tyre when the pump is loosened, but the air hisses out at the same rate so I get nowhere with it. 300 pumps and still no change in pressure
    – Suzy
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:42
  • 1
    Also I am definitely unscrewing the actual Presta valve knut enough to let air in :)
    – Suzy
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:45
  • 2
    okay, I see that pump has both presta and schrader connections, are you sure you're using the right one? That you hear air hissing suggests that the pump is ok, and the problem is with your technioque - but unfortunately those minature pumps are always a bit crappy. Worst case, do you have a bike shop nearby? Tradition is that they'll have a track pump you can use, and I'm sure if you ask them nicely they'll help you out. A decent track pump would be a good investment btw, and not that much more expensive than what you've just paid.
    – PeteH
    Nov 11, 2015 at 9:03
  • 1
    that your boyfriends pump works suggests that you know how to pump up a tyre and that it's not the valve that's the problem. Can you try pumping up a different tyre with the same valve type? That will confirm whether it's the pump, at which point you need to go back to the shop. They might be able to say "oh, do this" and fix it, or they might replace the pump. Also, retracted my close vote.
    – Móż
    Nov 11, 2015 at 9:12

3 Answers 3


As other have commented since you can fill the tires with another pump the issue is not your tires. If you bought it at your LBS (local bike shop) I would bring it in and have them demonstrate its' proper use. If they can't get it to work they should replace it at no charge. While the listed capacity is 160psi, the amount of effort required to generate the pressure will vary with pump design. A larger diameter pump will require fewer pumps to inflate a tire but with more effort. While not as much of an issue with a floor pump the difference can be considerable with a small pocket pump.


I was unable to inflate a presta tire. After much experimenting found that the valve was not opening and closing with each mini-pump stroke, as it should. If I did not unscrew the collar nut all the way, but only a turn or 2, then it worked properly.

  • Thank you for that - its a valid point and hasn't otherwise been mentioned as a possible cause. Do take a moment to browse the tour too.
    – Criggie
    Aug 23, 2019 at 12:17
  • Another thing to do when attaching pump chucks to Presta valves is to wiggle the chuck after it has been locked onto the valve. This mechanical movement tends to help the valve to fully open and "connect" the tube and the pump chamber. Nov 28, 2019 at 9:41

So I think this thread can now be closed, thanks to everyone who replied. I went to the shop who sold me the pump and they had no issues. Still struggled when I got home so I removed the wheel from the frame before inflating it, and this seemed to work. So from now on I guess I'll remove the wheel!

They confirmed I had set it correctly in Presta mode so they were confused too haha, but at least I have a solution. Perhaps the weight of the frame was pushing the valve down...!

  • 4
    Removing the wheel should not be necessary. If that helps somehow, then the problem is angles, and the angle you're using is different when its on the bike vs off the bike - it sounds like a technique problem now. Just practice and try and spot the differences. It'll come. You're the OP - you need to accept an answer as correct to finalise the question. Click the tick box / check box to the left of this answer, below the up/down buttons.
    – Criggie
    Nov 12, 2015 at 11:00
  • This suggests that you were not getting the chuck all the way onto the valve. Nov 12, 2015 at 12:27
  • If one of the provided answers adequately addressed your question you should select it (you can select your own answer if needed). This "closes" the question.
    – Rider_X
    Nov 12, 2015 at 20:45

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