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How to Deflate a Bike Tire?

guide on how to deflate a bike tire

Cycling is a great way to stay in shape, challenge yourself, and also make lots of new friends. It’s not all just about riding a bike, you also have to think about bike maintenance, and there are certain jobs that you need to learn. One of those jobs is how to deflate a bike tire. So few cyclists know how to do it, and it’s a valuable skill and will come in handy throughout your time in the sport.

Why Would You Need to Deflate Your Tires?

Surprisingly there are many reasons why you’re going to need to deflate your tires. Much more than most people think. Here are our top reasons;

To remove extra air pressure

When pumping up your tires, it’s easy to put too much in, which can cause a few issues if you don’t take that extra pressure out. Not only will your ride be very uncomfortable, but you can end up blowing out the tire off the rim, you can cause yourself unnecessary punctures, and can even cause unnecessary wear.

To remove the wheel

On old bikes and bikes with rim brakes, to remove the wheel, you often have to deflate the tire. This is so it can pass the rim brake calipers because if the tires inflated, it’s not possible. This common error is made when fixing a puncture, pumping the tire up too early.

For off road sections

Gravel cycling is quite new to the industry, and typically on a gravel bike, you go on multiple terrains and use tires that are oversized. These tires are incredible and work well on smooth roads and challenging trails. To get the most out of them, you need to adjust your pressure, which requires inflating and deflating them.

For flying

If you plan to fly with a bike, airlines recommend that the pressure in your tires is dropped. This is so no damage is done to your bike when the plane takes off, and pressure at the high altitude changes the air density in your tires.

How to Deflate Your Tires

Image of bike tire

So you need to deflate your tires. Before you start, you need to think about the type of valve your bike has. There are two valves we commonly see on the market. A Schrader and a Presta valve. They work in similar ways but to adjust the pressure, but you have to follow different procedures.

Presta Valve

Step one: Unscrew the valve

A tire presta valve with a pink cap

The first thing you will need to do is unscrew the valve. Identify the valve on the wheel rim and then remove the cap that might be covering it. Afterward, you will need to find the screw on the top and turn it counterclockwise. It might be difficult to turn if you haven’t done this before, and you might need to lose gloves to get a good grip or, worst case scenario, some long-nose pliers.

Step Two: Press to deflate

Once unscrewed, press the valve, and the air will start leaking out. It can be a surprising sound, and you will feel the air on your hands. Keep deflating and pinching the tire until you have the pressure you want.

Step Three: Screw it back up

Screwing the valve back up

Now you have the correct pressure. It’s time to get it all secure. You will need to screw the valve back up clockwise. You are going to want to do this only finger tight, and then when finished, you’re going to want to put the cap back on if you had one.

Schrader Valve

Step One: Remove Cap and Get the Tool

Schrader valve on the rim with a black cap

Locate the valve on the rim, and then you are going to need to remove the cap. Once removed, you will see a small pin sitting in the center of the circular valve itself. Find a small screwdriver or locate an Allen key which you could push this with.

Step Two: Deflate the Tire

Image: Lightly pushing the pin down the schrader valve to start releasing air

Now using the tool you have found yourself, lightly push the pin down, and the air will start to release. Keep checking the pressure by nipping the tire, and when finished, stop releasing any air.

Step Three: Replace Cap

The final thing you will need to do is put the new cap on. It’s not really needed, but it does make the bike look much cleaner and does stop dirt from getting inside.

How Much Pressure Do I Need?

A common question asked by many is how much pressure do you need in your tires. It’s very difficult to answer as there are many factors that make up this unique answer for each person. Firstly you will need a pump that measures PSI, and this typically would be a track pump.

We would recommend using an online calculator such as this from Alpine Trek.

Screenshot of the road bike tyre pressure calculator  from Alpinetrek.co.uk
Alpinetrek.co.uk road bike tire pressure calculator

Though it doesn’t take everything into account, and we highly recommend trying some different pressures to see where you feel you have the most comfort and the most grip.

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Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.