There is nothing more confusing when it comes to bike tires than knowing which valve you have and making sure you have the right adapter for your pump. Presta and Schrader valves are very different and each one has advantages over the other. But which is better, Presta or Schrader? In this guide, I will hopefully provide you with the answer.
For those of you in a hurry:
Presta valves are narrower and longer than Schrader valves, with the ability to hold much higher pressure. This makes them ideal for road bikes where narrow, firm tires are desirable. Schrader valves are more robust than Presta, making them a better choice for off-road bikes and fat bikes, where the width of the tire is less important and the pressure is also lower.
Want to learn more? Then read on…
Which Is Better – Presta or Schrader?
Air pressure is what makes your bike move, and the more air pressure you have, the easier it is to peddle. The two types of valves on bicycle tires are Presta and Schrader, with Presta being more popular on road bikes because it has a narrower valve.
The difference between these two valves is that Presta has a long tapered thread, whereas Schrader has a wider thread. This means an easier installation of the valve on the rim for Presta.
What Is the Advantage of A Presta Valve?
Presta valves are able to hold much higher pressures than Schrader valves. This is because the locking nut that comes with the Presta valve needs to be pushed down in order to inflate the tires and can also be locked when you have finished inflating the tires. With a Schrader valve, the valve is pressure sprung, meaning the pressure in the tire seals the valve. This can fail at a higher pressure and lead to your bike tire deflating.
The Smaller Hole in The Rim
Presta values are narrower than Schrader valves, meaning that the hole in the rim of the tire doesn’t need to be as wide. This makes them great for bikes with narrow tires and means they work well with narrower rims, such as road bike rims.
Various Valve Lengths
Unlike Schrader values, Presta valves come in various lengths, meaning you can get an innertube that is the right size for your bike. This is especially good for those with bikes with deep rims, such as some road bikes. A Schader valve simply couldn’t be used with these rims as creating a longer one would make the valve weaker and more likely to fail.
What Is the Advantage of A Schrader Valve?
Better with Lower Pressure
Schrader valves are better than Presta valves at lower pressure, this is because the valve is more rigid even when the inner tube/tire is less inflated, meaning it is less likely to bend or break when the pressure of the tire is not holding it up straight.
Schrader valves are more robust than Presta valves, meaning they are particularly great for bikes where the wheels will take a bit of a beating, such as mountain bikes and fat bikes. They are also less likely to fail at the point where the valve meets the innertube, again making them better for hitting the trails.
Schrader valves have an easy to remove core, which has two main advantages.
The first is that if there is a failure on the tires due to the valve, you can simply replace the valve without having to replace the whole tire.
The second advantage is that you are able to remove the valve to add slime to your inner tube, which can help protect your bike in the event of a puncture. Instead of your tire going down, the slime will plug the hole and you can keep riding when normally you would have to stop.
Can You Switch from Schrader to Presta?
Yes, you can switch from a Schrader to a Presta valve on a bike, however, you can’t switch from Presta to Schrader without checking the rims of your bike first. With Presta valves being longer and thinner than Schrader valves, you can easily switch to these as they will still fit your rims. However, putting a Schrader valve into a rim designed for a Presta valve is more difficult, as the new valve could be too wide or too short.
When choosing a bike pump, it is always recommended that you go for a pump that can be adapted to pump both types of valve, as they give you the flexibility to change if you want.
Can You Inflate a Bike Tire with A Car Pump?
It is possible to inflate a bike tire with a car pump, however, there are a couple of things you should consider. A car pump will output much more air than a bike pump so you need to be careful not to overinflate the tire. You will also find that most car pumps will fit a Schrader valve, but you may need an adapter for a Presta valve. These adapters are inexpensive and easy to buy from your local bike store or online.
So which is better, well it depends on your bike. Presta valves are definitely better for bikes with thinner wheels, such as road bikes. Schrader valves have an advantage for fat bikes and some mountain bikes as they are more robust and better at lower pressures. You should choose which one you need based on the type of bike you have.