6

The usual trope justifying the use of Presta valves over Schrader valves is no longer logical (in my opinion at least) because of changes in wheel, rim, and tire systems. Let me exemplify by refuting some points made in the 2012 question regarding the valve debate:

Daniel R Hicks: "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."

Rims nowadays have become so wide, even for road bikes, that this fails to be a major issue. Perhaps back when rim widths were like 15mm or whatever it was indeed a problem, but with most new road bikes coming with 19+mm rims and MTBs 25+mm, the difference in valve hole size is much less significant. What's the difference between say, a 19mm rim with a Presta hole versus a 21mm rim with a Schrader hole?

Daniel R Hicks: "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."

Hand pumps can be designed to press the valve core, and fully-threaded Schrader is easily manufacturable.

geoffc: "Presta makes more sense on higher pressure tires, since it allows you to pump in higher levels with a floor pump"

The trend of wider tires means that average tire pressure has lowered, so few cyclists still need to be able to pump 100+psi or whatever. This is a total non-issue for mountain bikers anyways.

cyclo: "Another advantage of Presta valves is they can be made longer, a lot longer in fact than Shrader valves."

A non-issue if greater manufacturing capacity is switched to Schrader.


You get my point.

Additional points in favor of Schrader include the possibility of gas station pumping, greater availability of spares at auto shops for example, stronger valve, stronger valve core, greater internal diameter for injecting tubeless sealant, better flow of air for tubeless installation, etc.

So why are modern bicycles still being sold with Presta valves?

10
  • 3
    I'd say "inertia of tradition" but that's so endemic and entrenched in cycling generally, its hard to notice.
    – Criggie
    Sep 11 at 1:39
  • 1
    Never mind injecting the sealant, but bigger air flow when seating the tubeless tire! Better likelyhood of success just with a track pump.
    – Vladimir F
    Sep 11 at 6:51
  • 3
    I honestly don't get the point. Who goes to gas station to install bike tires? Almost nobody can even patch a punctured tire, so who repairs valves? How do you even break a valve core? Are current rims too strong so you have to introduce a weaker spot?
    – ojs
    Sep 11 at 10:15
  • 1
    the possibility of gas station pumping Fixed: google.com/… so few cyclists still need to be able to pump 100+psi or whatever. So manufacturers would need to have two supply chains instead of one. Sep 11 at 11:27
  • 1
    @ojs It's nice to have the option of gas station for emergencies. Valve core replacement needs to be done because of sealant clogs or damaged cores. Presta valve cores can bend the little exposed threaded part. Yes, rims are strong enough that the loss in strength is insignificant.
    – MaplePanda
    Sep 11 at 17:58
8

I think you are correct; there is no technical advantage of Presta. But many things are not used for technical reasons but rather for momentum reasons.

Personally I prefer schrader for all my bikes, including my tubeless tires. Any rims drilled for Presta, I simply drill out. I only have presta valves on a couple very narrow rims which I would rather not drill out.

Note that shock valves use schrader valves and those are often pumped up in excess of 150PSI, with very small chamber volumes. So even the high-pressure argument for Presta doesn't really hold water.

There's still a compatibility argument for Presta...a Presta with an adapter can be used by any pump, whereas a schrader valve cannot be adapted to work with Presta-only pumps. And likewise, Presta valves can usually be used in Schrader-drilled rims, but not the opposite without drilling. So Presta remains, overall, highly compatible if you can keep a simple adapter.

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  • 1
    I'm proud owner of an adapter that allows me to easily pump Schrader-valve tires with a pump for Presta/Dunlop. It basically consists of a ball valve (like the alligator Dunlop insets), and a pin to press down the spring of the schrader valve. Sep 11 at 11:14
  • 4
    I wouldn't drill out a narrow rim with a presta hole fit a Schrader valve as it would considerably weaken the rim. 2nd reason: there is quite a number of Schrader tubes but all have quite short valves whereas you get presta tubes with valves up to 80mm that fit deep section rims.
    – Carel
    Sep 11 at 15:13
7

Presta (btw: we call it Sclaverand or simply road bike valve here in Austria) has one advantage: You can easily release air.

There could also be some small weight savings and aerodynamic benefits. I also think dirt is less of a problem with Presta (assuming you use both without a valve cap).

Even if rims have gotten wide enough to drill holes for both valves: Isn’t it better to keep the hole small?

The greatest advantage of Schrader valves is that you can inflate your tyres at any petrol station or car workshop.

3
  • 5
    release air: I'd have said more conveniently/easily, since it is a bit more tedious, but still quite easy to release air by pressing the inner pin of a Schrader valve. Sep 11 at 11:49
  • Many Schrader top caps have a small protrusion on the top surface. It is the tool to release pressure should you have overinflated the tyre.
    – Carel
    Oct 27 at 17:58
  • Even when I ride with minimal gear, I still cary the tiny adapter to allow inflating my tires with Presta valve at any petrol station. So all in all, I don't think for most cases there is an advantage to Schrader. Oct 28 at 5:01
3

While inertia seems to be the main reason, its not that simple, the bike industry has shown more than ample capability to introduce improvements that are not compatible with older standards.

Designers pushed 1x to free up space around the highly crowded bottom bracket on soft tail. 29" rims on MTB proved too weak with standard width hubs, so a wider standard was introduced. Through axles, disc brakes, threadless head sets, tapered steerers. Logistically introducing a new standard is not something the industry is scared or or inexperienced at.

The full length thread thing would be easy to solve and could come later. Schrader comes in 60mm, so already fits many deep rims, so there is no reason any bike cannot leave the factory with Schrader (many do), yet the manufacturers are not changing ( I suspect its more "Changing very slowly" ).

This leaves the customer. Who makes the decision - the end user in some cases will refuse to buy and ride a bike with Schrader. For decades its been the valve of choice for BSO's, and one mark of a quality bike was Presta valves. Some bike shops themselves perpetuate the myth the Schrader are not as good, and a sure sign of a cheap bike, while others want to avoid having 'that' conversation with the customer (Who is always right) so they prefer to stock bikes with Presta.

2

The valve weight is a testable suggestion - a quick dig in the bike shed shows I have enough for an initial comparison. These are normal valves, nothing here is especially lightened for racing. They've all been cut off otherwise-dead tubes.

Valveses

Weights are in grams

Item Presta Schrader
Plastic valve cap 0.2g 0.3g
Metal valve cap 0.7g 3.7g (only two values 2.8g and 4.6g)
Retention ring 1.0g not available
Valve stem with 22mm of tube 7.2g (includes ring) 38mm 8.8g 34mm, 22% more
Bare valve stem, no rubber 6.0g (includes ring) 42mm 5.2g 34mm 15% less

Upshot - the difference is minimal, under 2 grams.

...unless you have a metal or decorative valve stem cap, or a very long presta valve stem for a deep-section rim,

enter image description here
with 22mm of rubber tube attached

enter image description here
Bare valve stems. I use these as mandrels in my lathe when I need to turn a valve cap.

0

Presta valves are dominant in what bike segment(s)?

From my N=1 experience, most city/recreational bikes are fitted with Schrader for compatibility with gas station pumps. They also run wider rims and do not attempt to save grams.

On road bikes, the dominant valve type is Presta. Probably because of weight, and a smaller diameter.

On kids bikes there is a third type of valve. https://www.baby-express.net/Puky-VP-05-valve-for-childs-bicycle-scooter-Unicycle.html

Can there be one type of valve that is better for all types of bikes? Sure!

Does it make sense to try and persuade all different stakeholders in the industry to accept it? Not really!

For consumers, there are options available, most pumps already work with all types of valves, and in the worst case, you have to carry a small adapter for Presta -> Schrader to be able to use gas station pumps

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