I'm trying to inflate my bike with thin presta tyres; but the pump I'm using is universal, it fits loosely. I need to keep one hand in the valve in order to inflate but on reaching 50 psi, I need both hands to push the pump thus I can't hold the valve in place.

On another note I've searched online and there doesn't seem to be any presta specifc pumps, all are universal, which implies they fit loosely.

What are your suggestions?

Update 2: The pump works fine on the other tyre, stupidly straightforward. I'm not sure why on this tyre doesn't work. The tyre looks fine, and in fact was almost at full pressure when I tried to fill it; but lost all the air while trying. I'll replace it and I'll let you guys the outcome. Thanks all so far.

Update: I bought a £50 pump I still have the same issue, see pictures:

Presta valve

Chunk attached to valve

Presta adapter

  • 1
    OK, you have a dual-headed chuck, one side for presta and one side for schrader. You appear to be using the correct side. You start with the lever aligned with the inlet hose, then push on the gray side of the chuck all the way down, then you flip the lever so it's aligned with the chuck? And when you remove the chuck, you flip the lever back so it's aligned with the hose, and you still need two hands and pulling on it a few times to get it off?
    – R. Chung
    Sep 1, 2018 at 17:09
  • 9
    I've got the same dual end chuck. The lever doesn't just select the port, it locks on as well. You shouldn't need to hold it on at all
    – Chris H
    Sep 1, 2018 at 17:43
  • 1
    What you do with mine is first set the lever towards the valve or in the middle, then push on firmly and flip the lever. That's good for over 100psi. Just like R Chung says
    – Chris H
    Sep 1, 2018 at 18:46
  • 1
    You have to use the light coloured side. Move the lever all the way to that side. Push the chuck on the valve as deep as the screw part (that would also hold the plastic valve cap!) Flip the lever away from the rim towards the hub. Pump. To remove the chuck, first flip the lever the other way then pull the chuck towards the centre of the wheel. If air escapes when the chuck is tightened on the valve remove it from the valve and tighten the light grey ring clockwise bit by bit before putting it back, it may need several attempts.
    – Carel
    Sep 1, 2018 at 18:59
  • 2
    Looking the pictures, looks like the valve should go deeper into the chuck.
    – ojs
    Sep 1, 2018 at 19:00

2 Answers 2


TL;DR The problem was the tube. The chuck was damaged. Brand new tube solved the problem.

just to let you know that I've managed to get my bike sorted. Here goes the story:

I noticed that one my bike tyres seemed to have a bit of air missing as I could push it down slightly. I had bought an inflator a few months ago but hadn't used it. And so, this was the perfect opportunity to try it. So I stick the chuck into the adapter and try to pump the tyre but air always gets lost, so putting one hand on the chuck and the other on the pump I don't lose air but can't pump this way past 50psi. Hence my original question.

Based on the feedback from you guys, it looks like I'm not pushing the chuck properly. I try to push the chuck as hard as I can and it gets stuck. I manage to fill up the tyre, that by now had lost all air. However, when I pull the chuck out of it, as it's really stuck, I lose all air again. Based on your feedback, it seems that my pump is not a good quality one.

I go and buy the finest pump I can and try again pumping that tyre but I still lose air. I try the other tyre in my bike and I manage to inflate this one easily. My conclusion is then that the original tyre is the problem. I imagine I damaged it when try to pull the chuck from the original pump, after having push it beyond its limit.

I replaced the tyre and fill it up no problem now. (Okay I got a new shiny tube exploding before, but I got here, nonetheless ).


Get a better pump! Well, it seems the asker already has a good pump but I'll leave this here for others who might be having problems.

There are basically three types.

  1. Pumps with a hose that screws onto the valve. Once it's screwed on, you can use both hands to operate the pump.

  2. Pumps with a hose that grips onto the valve when you lift a lever. Again, once it's gripping the valve, both hands are free.

  3. Pumps that you need to press down onto the valve to seal. The hand that's pressing the pump onto the valve also braces the pump against moving in the direction you're pumping with the other hand so, again, you're using both hands on the pump.

As you say, most pumps are designed to fit multiple valve types. In some cases, you'll need to either change a component in the head or use the correct side of the head so that the pump can lock onto a presta valve, which is narrower than Schraeder. (Actually, there are some presta-specific ones: my mini-pump that I take out on the road only does presta.)

You might find that a track pump is your best choice, since that allows you to pump the cylinder down with both hands, rather than pumping with one hand and steadying with the other. Of course, you can't bring a track pump with you on a ride.

enter image description here Image from Wikipedia; there are plenty of other brands.

  • 2
    With regard to not being able to take a track pump on a ride, there are portable pumps (e.g., the Topeak Morph line) that provide two of the key features that make a track pump nice to use: a hose connection between the pump and the valve, and a footpeg for stabilizing the pump.
    – RLH
    Sep 1, 2018 at 16:15
  • @RLH For a second, I thought you were going to say something like, "... you can always bring a trailer!" :-) Sep 1, 2018 at 16:20
  • Not sure what's wrong. I bought the best pump money can buy and still have the same issue Sep 1, 2018 at 16:42
  • @KoenigLear Hmm. Now that you've added pictures to the question, it does look like you have a decent pump. All I can think is that it's broken or you're using it wrongly. Could you edit your question to include the make and model of the pump and a detailed description of how you use it? Sep 1, 2018 at 19:03
  • @KoenigLear: With some (most) dual purpose pump heads the lever moves away from the valve. There are rare exceptions where you have to push it towards the rim. The lever is positioned properly when no air escapes from the open side when pumping.
    – Carel
    Sep 2, 2018 at 19:54

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