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  1. #1
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    New Noob Question: Pressure

    I was lucky enough to receive two gifts today from a cyclist friend who moved on to bigger and better things:

    1) A barely used Brooks saddle (not sure I would've paid for one, but for free, I'll take it!)

    2) The "Magic Flute" bike pump from Portland Design Works (http://www.ridepdw.com/goods/inflati...flute%E2%84%A2)

    The pump, while beautiful and tiny, does not have any gauge. What is the best way to deal with this? Do I just pump until it feels "full"? Do I get a pressure gauge and pump & check? Is there a "pass-through" gauge that would work with this pump?

    Also, where do I find the ideal pressure for the tires? The bike arrives next week (finally) and I want to be prepared!

    I appreciate any enlightenment!

  2. #2
    Senior Member nashvillwill's Avatar
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    I understand that budgets can be a restraint, but if you can, you should really get a floor pump for home (with pressure gauge of course).

    A hand pump is really only meant to serve as a crutch while out on the road. You can carry a tire gauge around, or you can just fill the tire until its rideable. Then, once you get home, use the floor pump to fill it to the proper pressure.

    Besides, pumping to 80+ psi on ANY hand pump is not the most fun thing in the world. With some, it's not even possible.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Look on the side wall of the tire. It will give you the size and the recommended air pressure range (min/max), might even have directional arrows depending on the tread pattern.

    You'll want to get a floor pump that has a gauge. Use the floor pump to 'top off' at regular intervals (based upon tire width and pressure- narrow, high pressure tires need to be topped off more often than wide, low pressure tires), as trying to maintain pressure with a mini pump gets to be old fast.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    The sidewalls on the tires will list max pressure. Ideal pressure will vary based on the tire, your weight and what surfaces you ride on.

    I can not feel a 10 or even 20 PSI difference in my tire pressure by squeezing the sidewalls but can definately feel it on the road. You need a floor pump with gauge for home use. The mini pump is just to get you back on the road if you flat during a ride.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    You can get a gauge at Performance Bike for abou $10 - it's their Spin Doctor brand. I don't own one, so check online for reviews.

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    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the new stuff, that is great.

    I also (as others mentioned) suggest getting a floor pump with built in guage. I have one, and it makes it so much easier to know my tire pressures and do quick checks/pumps the night before commute days. That PDW setup is a nice emergency pump, but you likely won't want to use it everyday.

    Your tires will say what pressure they should be at right on the sidewall. I pump mine right up to max (for my particular tires, the range is 75-100 psi, so I pump 'em up to 100). Depending on temperatures, etc., they slowly lose a couple/few psi per day or so (it varies). It is probably a good idea to check them every time before rides until you get a good feel for how slowly they tend to lose pressure (then you can check less often if you want).

    The hand pump will be a nice backup to have. Toss it in a "kit" with a spare tube that fits your tire size and a couple of tire levers (and possibly a 15 mm wrench for rear axle nuts and anything else needed to get tires on/off), and you have a decent flat kit to start with.

    Have fun and ride safe!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by treadtread View Post
    You can get a gauge at Performance Bike for abou $10 - it's their Spin Doctor brand. I don't own one, so check online for reviews.
    Just reading the pressure with a stand alone pressure gauge will cause a loss of pressure. On a car or truck tire the loss is negligible but I don't think its worth the hassle on a bike tire. Just like nearly every other post in this thread I support the purchase of a floor standing pump with gauge for 90% of your tire inflation duties. The mini-pump will more than earn its keep filling your tire after you have replaced a tube or patched one, on the road. With a mini-pump, gauging tire pressure is easy: pump until your forearm muscles scream for mercy, put an additional 10 strokes in and call it good.


    H

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    valve stem includes a check valve.

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    Check valve?

    thank you for all of the advice. I do have a floor pump on the way (a lenzyne), but it is a Christmas present and I likely won't get it until then. I'm hoping I can survive with the hand pump until then.

  10. #10
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Buy a floor pump with a gauge and use the portable only for emergencies on the road.

    Flatting two tires at once is extremely rare so if you do have to fix a flat on the road you can compare by feel with the already-inflated tire. That should get you in the ballpark.

    Keeping appropriate pressure in your tires will dramatically reduce tire-related problems out on the road. Buy a floor pump with a gauge and use it regularly.

  11. #11
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    I don't know if you have a car? but I use a cigarette litter emergency car pump for my bike. here's the one i have http://www.amazon.com/FRANK-MILLMAN-.../dp/B001BQ21KE

  12. #12
    Senior Member AbundantChoice's Avatar
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    one other thing w/ the small portable pump, if you're using it on Presta valves (most likely), be *very* careful getting it on and off and while you're pumping. Since there's no flexible tube between the pump and the head, it's really, easy to snap the valve with torque if you're not careful. I did this to three tubes before swearing off portable pumps entirely and carrying a CO2 cartridge on rides instead. So.... yeah... be careful

  13. #13
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    Ask your bike friend to let you use his/her floor pump with gauge to get to the right pressure, and then feel it. Lean on the handlebars (standing next to the bike) and see how much the tire flexes, then do the same with the saddle and rear tire. That will get you close enough.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    With a mini-pump, gauging tire pressure is easy: pump until your forearm muscles scream for mercy, put an additional 10 strokes in and call it good.
    +1!

  15. #15
    Erik erikerikerik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbundantChoice View Post
    one other thing w/ the small portable pump, if you're using it on Presta valves (most likely), be *very* careful getting it on and off and while you're pumping. Since there's no flexible tube between the pump and the head, it's really, easy to snap the valve with torque if you're not careful. I did this to three tubes before swearing off portable pumps entirely and carrying a CO2 cartridge on rides instead. So.... yeah... be careful
    I had this same problem. The new hand pump and floor pump I have now both screw on to the valve stems. This works well for a noob like me. Both also have pressure gauges.

  16. #16
    Senior Member cyclefreaksix's Avatar
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    I have several floor pumps that I'm no longer using. If you will pm you address and tell me if you need a pump for presta or schrader, I'll send one out to you...

  17. #17
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    Just reading the pressure with a stand alone pressure gauge will cause a loss of pressure. On a car or truck tire the loss is negligible but I don't think its worth the hassle on a bike tire.
    The loss of pressure with a pressure gauge on a bicycle is equally negligible. The chamber of the pressure gauge is small and the pressure in the tire is large. Don't check the pressure a hundred times but checking it once isn't going to release that much pressure.

    I agree with getting a floor pump by the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by jshorr View Post
    Check valve?
    A check valve is a one-way valve that allows air to flow to the tire but not back to the pump. This makes it so that you can pull the plunger back without taking air out of the tire.

    Presta valves are a check valve in that the internal tire pressure closes them when the pressure from the pump lowers but schrader valves are held open so that air can be put into them. Thus when you hear air leaking from the pump with a presta valve, you aren't losing air but when you hear air leaking from a schrader valve, the tire is losing pressure.
    Stuart Black
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  18. #18
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Try doing it twice, and see how much pressure you lose. Easy test.

    FYI - most people will be better off riding at the minimum pressure - especially for the front wheel (assuming you don't way over 200lbs). The problem with that is that performance begins to drop rapidly if you go below the minimum pressure, so going above it gives you some wiggle room.

    Floor pump with a gauge is a good investment.

  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
    Try doing it twice, and see how much pressure you lose. Easy test.

    FYI - most people will be better off riding at the minimum pressure - especially for the front wheel (assuming you don't way over 200lbs). The problem with that is that performance begins to drop rapidly if you go below the minimum pressure, so going above it gives you some wiggle room.

    Floor pump with a gauge is a good investment.
    Assuming that you mean checking the pressure twice, I have done that...many times. The difference between the first reading and the second may be a single psi. It's not that critical.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
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  20. #20
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    Cyclefreaksix: Apparently I am not trustworthy enough to send PMs yet (only 17 posts, need 50 to send PMs).

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Assuming that you mean checking the pressure twice, I have done that...many times. The difference between the first reading and the second may be a single psi. It's not that critical.
    Maybe its me, but three times out of five, when the pressure gauge goes over the valve its not going to be a good seat and 5lbs. are going to go just like that. That's schraeder heads. I'm usually checking car tires with a pressure gauge so, if I let too much air out, checking it, no sweat just put the air chuck back on and Portland General Electric does the rest. On a bike tire I was pumping up with a hand pump... I'd do a thumb squeeze and call it very good.

    H

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