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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Schrader Vs Presta Valves

If you read my post about Bicycle Mechanics in Leaside Toronto then you know I purchased two things today: #1. A Presta-Schrader valve adapter, and #2. a bicycle pump that is compatible with both Schrader and Presta valves.

I already have a Schrader bicycle pump, which is pretty standard. But I didn't have a working Presta one so I decided to get a new one (that works) and in the event it ever breaks and I need an adapter, I therefore bought an adapter too. I call it the Mechanic's Rule of Tool Redundancy - when in doubt, get two or more in case you cannot find the other tool, it breaks, or cannot be used for whatever reason. This is why you can never have too many toolboxes, screwdrivers or tools in general.

Since the invention of the pneumatic tire many valve types have come along but for bicycles the two most popular that are still in use are Presta and Schrader (or as I like to call them, de French one and zee German one - not because that is their country of origin, just because they sound like they are French and German).

The Presta valve is the skinny one of the two and is slightly more cumbersome to use, having a lock nut instead of a spring to make sure it is closed and doesn`t leak air. The Presta valve is more popular on racing bicycles because it is skinnier and doesn`t leak air easily.

The Presta valve also enabled racers to inflate tires with a simple pump with attached chuck (pump head) and no hose. Having no valve spring to overcome it is therefore faster and easier to pump gas into the tires. If Schrader valves had a valve depressor it could speed up the process, but it would make the pump head larger, heavier and impractical.

Because of the small diameter of the Presta valve it requires a smaller hole in the rim, which means that the bicycle rims can be narrower. This saves on weight and increases overall speed.

However Presta valves break easier, are harder to fix, are not widely used except in racing bikes, and Presta pumps break easier too (based on my first hand experience with them). Some Presta valves have been made with removable cores to make them easier to fix, but demand is so small that they are uncommon. Removable Presta cores can be identified by two wrench flats on the coarse valve cap threads.

In contrast Schrader valves are robust, universally used, and have an easily removable core. And they are easier to fix. Spring closure makes them simpler to use because one needs only to press the inflation chuck onto them at any gas station that has an air pump. With foot or hand pumps, a screwed or lever chuck provides the valve depressor - and it can tell you what the pressure is in the tire too.

My advice for my fellow bicycle mechanics? Get a Schrader pump and a Presta adapter. You might never use the Presta adapter, but at least you will have it when you need it.

Bicycle Mechanics in Leaside Toronto

Sandy's Bikes and Books

Address: 95 Research Rd #1, Leaside, Toronto, ON M4G 2G8
Phone: 416-467-1035

As you can see above Sandy's Bikes and Books is just that, a bicycle mechanic / bicycle store that also doubles as a book store. Oh and vinyl too. Don't forget vinyl.

Sandy himself is very nice, very talkative and I am sure I will be going back there again to buy bicycle parts. Today I purchased a Presta-Shrader nozzle adapter there for a mere $3.04 (tax included).

GEARS Bike Shop in Leaside

Address: 109 Vanderhoof Ave, Leaside, Toronto, ON M4G 2H7
Phone: 1-888-984-3277

GEARS is all about racing bicycles - and I make this review with the knowledge that GEARS has been sponsoring this blog for the last 2 years and hopefully will continue to sponsor the Bicycle Mechanic. So, knowing that these are high end racing bicycles expect that if you want to purchase a bicycle at GEARS that you will be spending a pretty penny. However at the same time I will point out that their service was excellent when I said I was looking for a Presta pump. What I got was an Evo Hurricane pump which is compatible with both Shrader and Presta valves. Cost was $29.99 + HST.

Enduro Sport in Leaside

I am not going to list Enduro Sport's address or phone number here.

Why? Because they snubbed me. I think they saw my GEARS bag and then chose to snub me. Didn't even ask if I wanted help, if I was looking for anything, etc. So I am snubbing them back in return. Nyah nyah!

Seriously though, I have been to Enduro Sport twice before and they were rude both times. This is the third strike / last straw in my opinion. I have given them three chances to redeem themselves and they were rude twice and snubbed me once. I doubt they remember me from the previous times I went there. Both times was in 2009 when I first started this website. So having been treated poorly three times I shall now return the favour.

Call it the Golden Rule of Shopping - If you are rude to the customer with the gold, they take their business elsewhere. And the customer is always right.


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About the Author

Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



Do you own a bike shop and are looking to hire a bicycle mechanic in North America? Just email me with the job posting details and I will post it for you. (Also, please let me know when the job has been filled so I can update the posting.)


If your bicycle is basically junk and you don't know what to do with it then SELL IT TO ME. I will use it for parts. I will give you a fair price ($20 to $30) for your old clunker just so I can rip it apart for parts.

If you need repairs check out my Bicycle Mechanic Services in Banbury-Don Mills.