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Why is My Bike Pump Not Working?

why doesn’t my bike pump work, and how do i fix it

Cycling is an epic sport that many people are turning to for their adventure and fitness fix. Working with your own pedal power and exploring gives us a feeling like no other, and it’s a very environmentally friendly way to enjoy the outdoors. One big learning curve for many people when it comes to cycling is repairing your bike.

The most common issue you will find is repairing a puncture. A vital tool when fixing your punctures is a pump, and the last thing you need is for it to break. In this article, we’re going to tell you why your pump has probably broken and how you can fix it.

Are You Using It Correctly?

Before going any further, we must first mention whether you are using your pump correctly. However, it might seem like a silly question to ask. Many people do get this wrong and don’t entirely know how to correctly use a pump. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before assuming your pump is broken.

Is the adaptor correct?

Typically on the end of a pump, you will have a screw adaptor. This is where you connect the pump to the valve. This can typically be removed and turned back to front. One side is for Schrader Valves, and the other is for Presta valves. Ensure you have the right adaptor for your pump.

Is the valve broken?

The next consideration is the valve on the wheel or innertube could be broken. You will need to ensure it can take air in and also make sure it can let the air out. You can do this by pushing the valve in while air is in the tube.

The Reasons Your Pump Might Be Broken?

bike pump pressure gauge

Now let’s speak about the reasons your pump might be broken. Surprisingly there’s not a vast amount of issues you can get with a pump.

Broken rubber seal leaking air

A very common issue many cyclists find is the seals of a pump can break or move. If you have an old pump that has had a lot of use and has been rolling around a frame bag for years, it is common for the seals to perish over time. I personally have seen this with three pumps, and you can tell they are on the way out because the pump doesn’t feel smooth.

The most common seal to go is around the pump chamber, and you will know it’s gone because it won’t hold air properly anymore. When seals go, typically brands don’t offer replacements. This only happens every few years, so it’s more beneficial to just completely replace the pump.

The handle has no movement

To pump the air into a tire, a pump has a handle that compresses the air and then forces it into the inner tube. Sometimes this handle becomes stuck. It could have a seal moved and got jammed, or it could have just become very unlubricated and gotten stuck. You can tell this issue has happened when trying to use the pump, and the handle will just feel stuck.

There’s not really an easy fix to this issue. You can take some pumps apart, but this isn’t a common trait on pumps. We recommend just purely replacing the pump because there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again.

Is the adaptor broken or missing

bike pump handle

As we mentioned before, pumps come with an adaptor that can switch between different valve types. This is typically located at the end of the pump. A common occurrence on some pumps, especially those that don’t use air hoses, is the adaptors can break. They typically break because when you’re using the pump, they move around, and this damages the air sealing valve in the adapter.

There’s not really an easy fix to this. If you have a similar pump that might have broken, you might be able to swap over the adapter, but typically, you might need to replace the whole pump. If you’re in a situation where this could leave you stuck, holding the adapter on the valve can help get you out of a mess, but it will only worsen eventually.

Loose air hose

Many pumps now come with air hoses. You can tell if you have an air hose because you will have a short rubber tube that comes off the top. This tube will screw onto your valve, and then you will be able to pump from different directions because the hose is very flexible. They are very handy on deep-section wheels or disc wheels.

These hoses are prone when being used to working themselves loose. When loose, they start to leak air and you can’t get enough pressure through them to pump the inner tube. We highly recommend before using a pump to ensure it is nice and tight not only on the pump but also on the valve itself too.

Should You Carry a Spare Pump While Riding?

Bike pump body

Many cyclists ask us if you should carry a spare pump on longer trips. We personally recommend instead of taking a spare pump, just invest a bit more into a pump. If you spend $30 on a pump instead of $5, it’s going to last much longer and do a better job, meaning you’re taking much less risk of it breaking.

What many riders are doing now is taking a pump, then they take some C02 gas canisters with an inflator such as this.

Weldtite Jet Valve Tyre Inflator

weldtite jet valve tyre inflator

This can work as a backup for your main pump and also be an excellent tool if you need to fix a puncture fast or rest your tubeless quickly.


Pumps are a vital tool you need when you’re out riding. We highly recommend investing in a decent pump that will last you years. Unfortunately, cheap pumps are pretty unreliable and don’t perform as well. Brands like PRO and Lezyne make excellent pumps, and we feel they offer the best value for money.

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.