Which bicycle valves are available?

Beitrag vom:9. April 2024

A brief valve overview for anyone who is confused

Picture shows a close-up of a pump head on the valve.

Presta, Dunlop, Sclaverand, Schrader, Flash. What do these words have in common? They are all the names of valves on bicycle inner tubes. The names of the valves are actually more numerous than the types of valves available: There are in fact only three. In this blog you will find out how you identify them and what you have to take into account when inflating tyres, so that you can show off with your knowledge at the next party! Did you know, for example, that the three most common bicycle valves were invented by an Englishman, a Frenchman and a German? We will introduce you to the Presta, Schrader and Dunlop variants in more detail: 

Legacy of a tyre manufacturer: The Dunlop valve (DV)

The advantage of this valve is its ease of use. It works with a check valve and is very sturdy due to its broad design. The maximum pressure is 6 bar. The Dunlop valve is standard on city and trekking bikes because the exact air pressure cannot be measured precisely. It is rather unsuitable for sporty bikes. Who invented it? The Brit John Boyd Dunlop, founder of the tyre manufacturer of the same name. Whether the valve is also called a flash valve because it can be used to inflate tyres in a flash can only be surmised. However, always check before inflating your tyres whether the union nut at the head of the tube is closed. The nut must not be loosened as this will release the valve from the shaft.

Presto presto! The Presta valve (SV)

The valve developed by Etienne Sclaverand is also known as a Sclaverand or French valve. It withstands an air pressure of 15 bar, can also be used for narrower rims and is therefore ideal for racing bike tyres. It is used for mountain bikes because of the high rim stability. By the way, the word presta or presto stands for “urgent, immediate”. But even if you want it to go fast, you need to be careful when inflating tyres: The valve can quickly become deformed! First, set it to the 12 o’clock position and unscrew the knurled nut a little. Then press the pump onto the valve without tilting it. A locking lever, such as the one on the INJEX bicycle pump, provides support. 

Woman pumping up a bicycle tyre. The bicycle valve is in the 12 o'clock position.
Ideal pumping in the “12 o’clock position”

Tip: The AIRFLEX EXPLORER mini pump is equipped with a pull-out hose. This can be screwed onto the valve and offers sufficient clearance for pumping so that the valve is protected. By the way, you can change the valve head from a Schrader to a Presta valve. A rotating movement releases the mechanism, pull the head apart – done.

Picture shows the reversible pump head of the SKS AIRFLEX pump on the valve.
Valve-friendly: the AIRFLEX bicycle pump with a hose

Fresh air at the petrol station. The Schrader valve (AV)

As the name suggests, the Schrader valve or car valve as it is known, is not only used on bicycles. It keeps the air in car tyres. The valve was named after its inventor, the German engineer August Schrader. Touring and everyday bikes are often fitted with a Schrader valve. The reason: Especially on longer trips, tyres can occasionally be inflated at petrol stations – very conveniently with a compressor. Of course, you can also use an air pump. The valve has a sealing pin inside the shaft that is pushed down as soon as you attach the pump. Schrader valves are suitable for a maximum pressure of up to 10 bar. 

Valve heads with a cap

Now you know the differences and which valve you have. But which pump is suitable for your valve? SKS GERMANY offers various solutions to use all three types of valves. There is, for example, the MULTI VALVE valve head, which is fitted to many SKS pumps. The pump head can also be purchased individually and easily retrofitted. Our ROOKIE and AIRBUSTER CO2 mini pumps are fitted with a reversible head that can be rotated and adjusted. The VX frame pump has a duo head and is therefore also suitable for all valve connections.

Picture shows the MV EASY pump head, which fits all bicycle valves.
The MULTI-VALVE head for all bicycle valves

Which bicycle valve opening do I need to pump into?

If your pump is fitted with a valve head for all types of valves, all you have to do is select the appropriate inlet. The larger opening is intended for Schrader valves and the smaller opening for Presta and Dunlop valves. You can’t go wrong. The Schrader valve is too wide for the small opening on the pump, and if you insert a Presta or Dunlop valve into the opening for Schrader valves, the pump head will not hold. It is important to press the head far onto the valve so that it opens and allows air to enter the inner tube.

Picture shows a list of the three common bicycle valves.

Finally we come to the most important question:

Dust cap – yes or no?

Opinions are divided here. Some think it’s unnecessary to use a valve cap, while others think that the small cap protects their valve during dirty escapades. However, the rolled-up spare inner tube should be fitted with a valve cap! It actually protects the edges of the valve so that they do not cut into the inner tube wrapped around it. After all, even the best bicycle pump for all bicycle valves can’t do anything if your spare inner tube has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.