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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?

    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!

    What Are the Differences? - Presta vs Schrader

    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.

    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.

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

    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 Valves

    Schrader Pros

    Schrader Cons

    Presta Valves

    Presta Pros

    Presta Cons

    How to Pump a Bike Tire

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

    Below I’ll teach you the fastest and most effective way to inflate either valve type.

    How to Pump a Schrader Valve

    To pump a Schrader valve you’ll need either of the below:

    A Schrader compatible pump

     

    or

    A Presta compatible pump & Presta to Schrader adapter

    1. Remove your Schrader valve caps (dust cap) and place them to one side.
    2. Remove any dirt or debris from around the top of the valve using a clean, dry cloth.
    3. Depress the central core pin in the middle of the valve, allowing a sharp burst of air out of the tire. This will remove any debris from around the inside of the valve.
    4. Attach your pump to the Schrader valve. 
    5. Begin inflating until the tire reaches its recommended pressure.
    6. Remove the pump from the Schrader valve and replace the valve caps
    7. Ready to ride!

    How to Pump a Presta Valve

    To pump a Presta valve you’ll need either of the below:

    A Presta compatible pump

    or

    A Schrader compatible pump & Schrader to Presta adapter

    1. Remove the Presta valve caps and keep them in a safe place until finished.
    2. Using a clean, dry cloth, remove any dirt and debris from the top of the Presta valve stem and valve core nut.
    3. With clean hands, loosen the valve core nut until the valve core pin can be depressed.
    4. If the tire was semi-inflated to begin with, press the valve core pin down to release a burst of air from inside. This will flush out any foreign particles that were lingering around the valve entrance.  
    5. Attach your pump to the Presta valve. 
    6. Begin inflating until the tire reaches its recommended pressure.
    7. Remove the pump from the Presta valve and replace the valve caps
    8. Ready to ride!

    How to Deflate a Bike Tire

    When deflating a bike tire, Presta and Schrader valves are deflated in very similar ways. 

    Below I’ll teach you the simplest way to deflate either valve.

    How to Deflate a Schrader Valve

    1. Remove the valve stem cap (dust cap) from the top of the valve and place it to one side.
    2.  Use a pointed object such as a screwdriver, a set of pliers or an Allen key to press down the spring-loaded valve core pin.
    3. Air will begin to pass out of the valve. Continue to deflate for as long as you need. 
    4. If you only aim to lower tire pressure slightly, depressing the core pin in quick bursts is an excellent way to fine-tune your tire pressure, testing the tire pressure after each burst.
    5. If you want to deflate your tube fully, hold the pin down until air is no longer passing through the valve. 
    6. Once finished, replace your valve cap, and you’re done!

    How to Deflate a Presta Valve

    1. Remove the valve stem cap (dust cap) from the top of the valve and place it to one side.
    2. Unscrew the valve core nut until you can push the valve core pin down.
    3. Air will flow out of the valve for as long as you hold the pin down.
    4. If you only want to dump a small amount of air to optimise your tire pressure, press the valve core pin down in short bursts and gauge the tire pressure after each release of air.
    5. To deflate your tire, hold the pin down until all the air has been released.
    6. To completely deflate the inner tube, you may have to remove it from the wheel and squeeze any remaining air out like a tube of toothpaste. 
    7. Once finished, replace your valve cap, and you’re done!

    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

    There is little difference in the method of replacing valve cores when it comes to Presta vs Schrader. 

    Presta valve cores are slightly easier to remove as you can remove the core with almost any pair of pliers. 

    If you don’t have needle nose pliers, you may struggle to remove the core of a Schrader valve without a unique valve removal tool, which can be purchased at a very affordable price.

    Schrader Valve Core Replacement

    To replace a Schrader valve core, you’ll need a unique valve core removal tool or a pair of super-thin needle-nosed pliers.

    The steps below provide the easiest method to remove a Schrader valve core.

    1. Remove the valve stem cap (dust cap) and place it to one side.
    2. If the tire is inflated, deflate it before completing the below steps.
    3. Using your valve core replacement tool or pliers, position your tool onto either flat side of the valve core. 
    4. If using pliers, be careful not to squeeze too hard on the core, or you may damage it.
    5. Gently begin twisting the core anti-clockwise until it reaches the end of the internal threading.
    6.  Remove the existing core from the valve stem and place the replacement on the top of the internal thread, ensuring the threading is aligned correctly.
    7. Slowly begin to wind the new core down the internal threading. Don’t force it if you feel resistance, as this can permanently damage the valve.
    8. Once the core is fully inserted into the valve stem, it won’t tighten any further 
    9. The core is now in place, so remove your tool and inflate your tire to the desired pressure.
    10. Once inflated, replace the valve stem cap, and you’re done. 

    Presta Valve Core Replacement

    To replace a Presta valve core, you can use a regular pair of pliers or a valve core removal tool.

    Follow the simple steps below for the fastest method of removal.

    1. Unscrew the valve dust cap and keep it in a safe place. 
    2. If the Presta tire is inflated, loosen the valve core nut and remove the air from the tire. This will make removing the valve’s core much easier!
    3. Using a pair of pliers or your removal tool, gently place them on either flat side of the valve core.
    4. Slowly twist the core anti-clockwise until it reaches the end of the internal threading.
    5.  Remove the existing core from the valve stem and place the replacement core onto the top of the internal thread, making sure the threading is aligned correctly.
    6. Slowly screw the new core onto the internal threading. Don’t apply too much force or overtighten if you feel resistance, as this can permanently damage the valve.
    7. The core will now be in place, so remove your tool inflate your tire to the desired pressure. 
    8. Once inflated, replace your valved stem cap, and you’re done!

    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.

    And finally, as always, lock it or lose it.

    Ciao for now.

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    Hello! My name’s James, I’m an avid cyclist and the lead editor of BikeLockWiki.

    I’ve invested over four years into researching & studying bicycle security. Now I want to share the information I’ve learnt, for free, with the online cycling community.

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