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Presta vs Schrader Valves

Schrader vs Presta Bike Valves

Presta vs Schrader valve is a debate that’s been ongoing in the cycling community for years. 

What are the differences between Presta and Schrader valves? Which valve is the better option for my bike, and which valve lasts longer?

Throughout this short detailed article, I explain all of the above and much more. I’ve also put together a more detailed guide to bike valve types, have a read if you want to learn about every valve type in more detail.

I’ve had years of experience working with bicycles and bicycle security, so rest assured your questions will be answered!

Time to learn the differences – Presta vs Schrader!

Table of Contents
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    What Are The Different Bike Tire Valve Types?

    Schrader Bike Valve

    Schrader Valves

    Schrader valves are a common type of valve used with both automobiles and bicycles. 

    Schrader valves tend to be shorter and stubbier than Presta valves and are 25% wider than a Presta valve measuring 8mm across.

    Since their invention in 1891, Schrader valves have remained popular, but usage has declined in recent years as the Presta valve has become the norm for most modern bicycles.

    Schrader valves use a spring-loaded core to regulate airflow through the valve. 

    Learn about the anatomy of Schrader valves and their pros & cons in this detailed guide

    Presta Bike Valve

    Presta Valves

    Presta valves are the most common type of bicycle tire valve and are used by most modern bikes. 

    With their long thin shape, Presta valves have been the go-to choice for road cyclists for many years. At the same Presta valves have become popular with mountain bikers, especially those that ride tubeless wheels.

    Presta valves utilise a locking nut that sits on top of the valve core pin. When the nut is tightened, the valve remains closed. When loosened, the core pin can be depressed, allowing air to pass through the valve.

    Most Presta valves now feature a removable core, allowing cyclists to repair damaged and worn valves quickly. 

    Learn about Presta valves in much more detail here

    Dunlop Bike Valve

    Dunlop Valves

    Dunlop valves also called Woods or English valves are a type of bike valve mainly used in Northern Europe and many developing countries.

    Unlike Schrader and Presta valves, Dunlop valves don’t require any special tooling to maintain and the valve core is removed by removing the top nut. 

    This ease of maintenance is perhaps why Dunlop valves are so popular in developing countries. 

    Dunlop valves use a similar stem to Schrader valves, measuring 7.7mm in width, but are instead inflated by a Presta pump, as their core narrows from the stem.

    Learn all there is to know about Dunlop valves here.

    Where Are the Valves on a Bike?

    A labeled picture with parts of a bicycle wheel - Spoke, Spoke nipple and valve

    Bike tire valves are located on the inside of a bicycle wheel and protrude from the wheel rim. 

    Your average valve will be between 5-10cm (1.96-3.92″) long and will resemble one of the images shown above. 

    If you’ve looked but can’t see a valve protruding from your wheel, your bike may be missing an inner tube or could be using solid bike tires that don’t require valves. 

    If you’re unsure what’s going with your bike tire valves, it’s probably best to take your bike to a local bike repair shop, who’ll be able to assist and help you with any issues or questions you have!

    Otherwise, you may find it helpful to have a look through our detailed article covering the parts of a bike and the purpose each part serves.

    Differences Between Presta & Schrader Bike Valves

    1. Schrader valves use a spring-loaded check valve

    Unlike Presta valves, Schrader valves use a spring-loaded valve core, called a check valve. 

    Presta valves aren’t spring-loaded and instead use a valve core nut that holds the central pin in place. Controlling airflow through the valve is done by tightening and loosening the core nut. 

    When tightened, the valve is held closed, and no air will pass through the valve. 

    When loosened, air will be able to flow through the valve.

    2. Presta valves use a valve rim nut

    Valve rim nuts are used by Presta and Dunlop valves and serve a useful purpose. 

    When inflating your inner tube or tire, a valve rim nut is tightened into the rim, preventing the valve from being pushed through the rim as you pump your tire. 

    Valve rim nuts are convenient when your valve is short as they allow your pump to maintain a firm grip on the valve stem.

    Schrader bike tire valve
    The majority of Schrader valves, like this one, don't use rim nuts

    3. Presta valves require a smaller hole in the wheel rim

    Bike wheels need to be strong to cope with the weight of the rider and any heavy impacts whilst cycling. 

    A solid bicycle rim with no holes would be ideal as the rim would retain as much of its structural integrity as possible. However, we need holes in our bike rims for spokes and also for valves. 

    To put it simply, the bigger the hole, the weaker the area. 

    Presta valves are 25% thinner than most Schrader valves, meaning they demand a smaller hole in the rim of your bicycle.

    Although the difference is marginal this means rims drilled for Presta valves will be slightly stronger across the valve hole compared to similar Schrader rims. 

    4. Schrader valves are more robust and harder to damage

    Due to the increased diameter of a Schrader valve stem, they’re more robust and less prone to bending or damage than a Presta valve. 

    Schrader valves also house their valve core inside their stem, making it harder to damage the core when inflating a Schrader valve.

    Where the valve core pin sits externally on a Presta valve, it’s pretty easy to damage when inflating if you’re too rough or if a tire valve cap isn’t fitted whilst riding.   

    5. Every Schrader valve uses a removable core

    While a small specialist tool is required, every Schrader valve uses a removable core, whether used by a car or bicycle. 

    Schrader valve cores are held inside the valve stem by its internal threading and use a double-toothed removal tool to remove and tighten. 

    Modern Presta valves don’t require specialist tooling, and their cores can be removed with a basic pair of pliers.

    Schrader valve and check valve core
    The core of a Schrader valve is housed internally and is called a check valve

    However, not all Presta valve cores are removable, so if you’re using Presta inner tubes with a non-removable core, you’ll need to replace the entire tube should the valve become faulty.

    6. Schrader valves weigh more than Presta valves

    Before you get your scales out, let me tell you that the difference in weight between these two valve types is marginal. 

    That said, a gram or two difference means a lot to the weight weenies out there that lay awake at night contemplating ways to drop weight by a few grams.

    Whether you fall into the above category or not, you may be interested to hear that Presta valves typically weigh two or three grams less than Schrader valves.

    So if you’re running Schrader valves and you’re losing sleep over the weight of your bike, Presta tubes or tubeless valves could be a welcome remedy. 

    7. Presta valves can be used with deep section wheels

    Ever seen a road bike with super deep rims that look like something out of the E.T. movie? 

    High-spec road bikes use Presta valves, as their smaller diameter reduces any weakness to the rim. 

    Additionally, if you’ve just bought new deep-section rims for your road bike but only have standard length Presta valves (40-50mm), don’t panic.

    Presta bike tire vales on deep section carbon wheels
    A bike that uses deep section wheels will always use Presta valves

    Instead of buying a new tube or valve, you can use some nylon tape and a Presta valve extension to increase the length of your existing Presta valve and make it compatible with your flashy new rims. 

    I cover exactly how to use Presta valve extensions in this short guide.

    8. Schrader valves don't fit Presta rims

    You’re out cross-country bike-packing across harsh terrain, and your replacement inner tube blows out. Oops!

    Unfortunately, in emergencies like this, if your rims are drilled for Presta valves, and the local village shop only sells Schrader tubes, you’ll be out of luck. 

    Schrader valves aren’t compatible with Presta drilled rims. Whereas Presta valved inner tubes will work with Schrader rims.

    While using a Presta tube on Schrader rims is possible, you should only do so in an emergency. This is because the inner tube can rub on the rim’s valve hole, resulting in a puncture or blowout. 

    9. Schrader valves are simpler to use

    Because Schrader valves use a spring-loaded check valve, they’re super easy to use. 

    To inflate a Schrader valve, attach a Schrader compatible pump to the valve and begin pumping. 

    The inside of the pump will depress the valve’s core pin, unlike a Presta valve, where you’d have to manually unscrew the valve core nut before air can pass through the valve. 

    Not a huge issue either way, but you’ll save a second or so each time you inflate a Schrader wheel, compared to Presta.

    10. Schrader pumps are more common

    Because almost every automobile uses a Schrader valve to inflate its tires, Schrader compatible pumps are more accessible than a Presta pump.

    Almost every car workshop, fuel station and DIY store will have a Schrader pump for sale, or even better, one that you can use for a small fee or free of charge. 

    While Presta valves are standard on bicycles nowadays, you’d only expect to find a Presta pump in a bike shop or sports store, which would also sell Schrader pumps!

    So, if you get a flat whilst you’re out cycling and forget a pump, you’d be better off having a Schrader valve than a Presta. 

    Quickfire Pros & Cons - Presta vs Schrader

    So now you understand the key differences in the battle of Schrader vs Presta. 

    Below I’ve sorted both valve types’ strengths and weaknesses into two tables, so they’re easier for you to compare. 

    Schrader Valve Benefits Presta Valve Benefits
    Stronger than Presta valves Presta valves can be used with Schrader and Presta rims
    Schrader compatible pumps are more common Presta valve cores can be removed with a pair of pliers
    Schrader valves have a replaceable core Presta valves weigh less than Schrader valves
    Schrader valves are slightly cheaper than Presta valves Presta valves can be extended with adapters
    Schrader valves are easier to inflate Presta valves are compatible with deep-section wheelsets

    Tire Inflation - Schrader vs Presta

    Now that you understand the differences between Presta and Schrader valves, you may have chosen which bike valve type you prefer.

    Schrader and Presta valves require different pump attachments for inflation. As you’ll learn from our bike pump guide, some pumps are capable of inflating both, whereas others will require an adapter to be fitted. 

    Both valves are easy to inflate and take little practice to get to grips with.

    If you’re struggling to inflate your bike tire, read our simple guide covering how to pump a bike tire and you’ll be back on the road in no time!

    Presta vs Schrader for Tubeless Wheels

    When it comes to your tubeless wheel setup, there isn’t a massive difference between using Presta or Schrader valves.

    However, many cyclists opt for Presta valves because of their threaded stem, which enables the use of a rim nut.

    Rim nuts tighten down on the rim and help bed the valve’s rubber bung into place inside the rim, creating a completely airtight seal.

    A small number of Schrader valves come with threaded stems, but these are much less common.

    How to Replace a Tire Valve Core

    When comparing Schrader and Presta valves, there’s not much difference in how the valve core of either tire valve is replaced. 

    Schrader valves are slightly fiddlier to replace, and unless you have a pair of needle-nose pliers, you may need to buy a Shcrader-specific valve removal tool. 

    Fortunately, these are very inexpensive. 

    We’ve put together a separate guide which provides simple steps for valve core replacement for both Schrader and Presta valve types

    Conclusion - Presta vs Schrader - Which Is Better?

    If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. You’re officially a valve nerd and should understand the differences between Presta and Schrader valves. 

    I opt for Presta valves on my bicycles as I own several bikes with deep-section rims, and they’re what I’m used to.  

    Other cyclists still make use of Schrader valves for their robust stems and ease of use. But you’re best off doing what suits you and your bike. 

    Ultimately, the difference these valves make is marginal, and neither valve offers enormous benefits over the other. 

    One item I didn’t cover in this article is valve stem caps (dust caps). Unfortunately, many cyclists aren’t aware of the vital role they provide, so I produced a short guide to dust caps, have a read to find out what you might be doing wrong. 

    If you’d like to learn more about valve anatomy, read my extensive guide to valve types.

    Recent Updates:

    Author of This Post:
    James Grear (Lead Editor)
    James Grear (Lead Editor)

    Understanding how devastating it is to have a bike stolen, I've researched & immersed myself in the world of bicycle security since 2013.

    I then built BikeLockWiki in 2019 to share everything I'd learned with the worldwide cycling community so that cyclists can improve their bike security skills and make informed decisions when purchasing new products and services.

    Learn More about Me & BikeLockWiki here.

    Recommended Posts

    9 Responses

    1. Thanks for the clearly written and valuable information. You mention loosening the valve core nut on presta valves before inflating a tire. I’m wondering why you don’t mention the need to retighten the valve after inflation.

      1. Good point Bill & great attention to detail! Thanks for pointing it out, I’ve now corrected this for future readers. Glad you found this article helpful.

        Best,

        James

    2. I prefer Schrader valves whenever physical possible. The universality of public accessible air pumps being over 99% Schrader only is probably the primary reason. Ease of use, and less procedural steps to inflate a tire is a secondary reason.
      The only valves that have failed in use for me have been Presta valves (two times). They are longer, slimmer, and generate more leverage to the base of the valve when they receive interference from any foreign object that may hit the valve stem. In my years of somewhat serious cycling (1,500 to 4,000km/year) since 1979, I’ve never had a Schrader valve cause a flat.
      I do use Presta valves on my high pressure (125 to 140 psi) on my road racing bicycle with 20mm slicks. I don’t have confidence in Schrader valves to contain the higher pressures reliably. But I could be mistaken.

      1. I agree, it’s much easier to find a Schrader pump whilst out and about, which is an undeniable advantage. I’ve not had a Presta valve break on me as of yet (saying this now, it’ll probably happen tomorrow!), but I’ve managed to bend the core a few times, fortunately, these can be replaced with any set of pliers, whereas I’ve found Schrader valve cores are harder to remove and require either thin needle-nosed pliers or their specific tool.

        Best,

        James

    3. Thanks for the great article!

      Seems the single biggest advantage of Schrader is the universality of air pumps. The simple answer is to carry a Presta valve adapter in your kit bag! 😀

    4. The way Presta valves attach to the the inner tube is EXTREMELY fragile compared to a Schrader valve. I have pulled several Presta valves right off the tube when pumping with a frame pump. Nothing like having a flat and then pulling the valve off your spare tube! This seems to be even more likely when the valve securing nut is cranked down tightly. Loosen the nut before pumping with a frame pump, or use CO2 for roadside repairs if you’re forced to use Presta. I have 3 Schrader bikes and 2 Presta’s in the garage.

      1. Personally I avoid using frame pumps as I’m not a fan of integral pumps as I’ve also had experience with valves snapping when using these. I now opt for a track pump with a long inflation hose and as you said a CO2 inflator when I’m out on the bike.

        Thanks for reading & your detailed feedback, no doubt others will find it useful.

        Best,

        James

    5. Yeah..why ride a street bike and not be able to fill the tire if needed at a gas station, or air pump? Somebody name presta invented a different kind of valve…so now all (most) new bikes have an inconvienient valve. Presta made money but is it better?????

      1. I somewhat agree, It’s a right pain to find a Presta pump whilst out and about, could be worth adding a Schrader to Presta adapter to you bike toolkit? The Presta valve was invented, however, for weight-cutting purposes and the reduced stem hole size in the wheel’s rim makes the wheel marginally stronger.

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