Imagine this; your bike tire is flat, and the only pump you can find is a ball pump. So, you can’t help but wonder, ‘can a ball pump be used on a bike?’
Ideally, you shouldn’t use a ball pump on a bike as it’s slower and harder to use. But if it’s the only pump available and its nozzle fits on your bike tire’s valve, then you can use it.
A ball pump is designed only to inflate balls, which understandably have a smaller volume. So, using the pump on a bike tire means you have to work harder.
Bike tires have specific pumps that we’ll discuss later. They include floor pumps, hand pumps, and CO2 inflators.
But before that, let’s talk more about using a ball pump on a bike.
So, Can A Ball Pump Be Used On A Bike?
You need about 60-121 psi to pump up a 16-20-inch bike tire. In contrast, you only need 8.5-15.6 psi to fill a soccer ball with air and about 7.5-8.5 psi to inflate a basketball.
If you calculate, it’ll take you at least eight times the effort of inflating a ball to inflate a bike tire. So, while it’s possible to use a ball pump on a bike, it’s not the best take.
You have to work more without necessarily working faster, and that’s the most frustrating thing about it.
The other concern is that you have to know how much air pressure your tire needs. That’s easy with a ball pump with an inbuilt pressure gauge like the Morpilot Automatic Electric Fast Ball Pump.
This pump allows you to monitor the inflation and reach the best psi. The best part is that it has a stop function to stop inflation once you attain the correct pressure level.
With most ball pumps, you’ll have to perpetually check the tire hardness by pressing it to ensure it’s hard enough but not excessively hard.
How To Use A Ball Pump For Bikes
I should insist again; a ball pump should be your last resort. But if it’s the only available pump at the time, you can use it to inflate your bike tire by following these steps:
Step 1 – Calculate how much tire pressure you want,
Depending on your bike type, here is a table to use to attain the correct pressure level on your bike tire
|Pressure in PSI
Step 2 – Connect the ball pump nozzle to your bike tire valve
Once you know how much tire pressure you need, connect the pump to the tire valve.
Step 3 – Start inflating
Start pumping the tire, depending on how much pressure you need to get the standard pressure level per the above table (on step 1).
Alternatively, continue inflating the tire as you feel its hardness with your fingers. Do it until the tire is reasonably hard.
Press the tire with your finger to see how much you can push it in. If you can push it in by 1 cm, then it’s hard enough. If you can push it by 2cm or more, it’s under-inflated.
But if you cannot push it at all, then it’s over-inflated and thus susceptible to a blowout.
Do All Ball Pumps Work on Bike Tires?
It’s not just about worrying about ‘will a ball pump work on a bike?’ but also if you can use just any ball pump.
So, how do you know that a given ball pump will work on your bike tire?
Well, if the ball pump nozzle can fit on your bike tire’s valve, then the pump will work on the tire. That means you first have to try to fit the pump’s nozzle on the tire’s valve.
If it doesn’t fit, which is quite rare, you’ll have to look for an alternative way of inflating your bike tire.
But What Pump Does a Bike Tire Needs?
As mentioned, though you can use a ball pump on a bike tire, it’s not an ideal choice. You need a pump that’s easy to use and one that inflates faster.
That brings us to these three categories:
1. Floor Pumps (Stand/Track Pumps)
Floor pumps are the leave-at-home bike pumps that come in bigger and slightly bulkier designs. So, they are not portable.
Their portability concern aside, these bike pumps are fast and easy to use. Some options pump up to 10 bars (about 220 psi), which is incredible.
Due to their high-pressure capability, you can use them on a variety of tires.
A majority of these pumps have built-in pressure gauges to allow you to track how much pressure you are putting into the bike tire.
One such pump is the BV Bicycle Bike Floor Pump.
The pump is Schrader and Presta compatible and enjoys a maximum pressure of 160 psi.
It’s ergonomic in design for comfortable handling and features an easy-to-read pressure gauge.
What’s more, it has an extra-long hose for easy use and comes with a sports ball needle to allow you to use it on a sports ball.
2. Mini-Pumps (Hand Pumps)
Mini-pumps are as small as their name is suggesting. They are also lightweight to allow you to mount them on your bike frame and carry them on the go.
In terms of air pressure, they don’t offer as much air pressure as floor pumps. They are also not as fast as floor pumps. As a result, they are only best for emergency tire inflation.
That includes when changing the tire or fixing a puncture on the road or at home. Their advantage, however, is that they are both portable and affordable.
So, if you are on a budget and want a pump that’ll always be on your bike, get a mini pump.
One top recommendation is the BV Mini Bike Pump. It enjoys a 120 psi maximum pressure, equivalent to what you get from some floor pumps.
The best part is that the bike pump also comes with a sports ball needle to inflate sports balls.
3. CO2 Inflators
Technically, C02 inflators are not bike pumps. Instead of putting air into the bike tire, they inject carbon dioxide, which is more volatile.
So, you may have to pump up the tire after some time as the volatile carbon dioxide cannot sustain you for long.
If you want a temporary fix in an emergency, consider a C02 inflator. It’s faster than a mini-pump and does not require any pumping.
Overall, I recommend the Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator because of its ease of use and fast insulation.
Plus, it’s compatible with Schrader and Presta valves and works on mountain bikes and road bikes.
Points to Remember
While the above pumps are the best for bikes, you’ve to confirm that your choice will work on your bike tire valve.
Notable valve options are Presta and Schrader valves. While Schrader valves are standard on mountain bikes, Presta valves are popular on road bike tires.
Also, check the pump’s head. Preferably, it should have a dual adapter compatible with Schrader and Presta valves.
1. Can You Use A Ball Pump On A Bike Tire?
Provided that a ball pump’s nozzle can fit on the bike tire’s valve, you can use it to inflate the tire.
Note, however, that you’ll take more time and even more energy with a ball pump than a standard bike pump.
2. Can I Pump Bike Tires At the Gas Station?
If your bike tire has a Schrader valve, you can pump it quickly at the gas station. But if it has a Presta valve, you’ll need a Presta-Schrader adapter before you can pump up your tire.
I, however, don’t recommend this inflation approach unless it’s your last option. That’s because you can easily over-pump and blow out your tire if you are not careful.
If you have never done it before, ask for help from the gas attendant.
3. What Pressure Should My Bike Tires Be At?
Overall, different bike tires require different pressure levels depending on where you ride and cycling needs.
Here’s a table that shows the pressure levels for different bikes:
|Pressure in PSI
So, can a ball pump be used on a bike? As discussed, it’s possible to use a ball pump on a bike tire if its nozzle fits the tire’s valve.
Not nonetheless that this can be a fatiguing process, and as a result, it should be your last resort. My recommendation is that you get a mini-pump or floor pump and if you want an emergency fix, then get a C02 inflator.
As you’ll realize, most mini-pumps and floor-pumps come with a sports ball nozzle that allows you also to inflate a sports ball. So, you’ll be killing two birds at a go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a ball pump to pump a bike?
No, a ball pump isn’t suitable for inflating bike tires. Unlike basketball or football pumps that have an inflator needle, bike pumps are designed specifically for the Schrader or Presta valves found on bike tires. In my personal experience as an avid cyclist, using the wrong pump can pose problems. It can either damage the valve or simply not work due to compatibility issues. It’s always best to use a pump that matches the type of valve your bike tire has. It ensures the durability of both the pump and the tire, and it saves you from unnecessary frustration.
Can you inflate a tire with a ball pump?
You cannot inflate a bike tire with a ball pump. Ball pumps are built with an inflator needle which works great on balls but fails to connect with different types of valves found on bike tires. During my early cycling days, I once tried to inflate my bike tire with a ball pump – resulted in no success! Henceforth, I made sure to have an appropriate bike pump handy, saving my time and energy.
Can you use any pump for a bike?
Not all pumps can be used for bikes. Bike tires usually have either Schrader or Presta valves, and the pump you use must be compatible with your bike’s valve type. A pump compatible with both Schrader and Presta valves is ideal, as it offers flexibility and convenience. I remember when my family and I had bikes with different valve types, having a dual compatible pump was a boon. It is also worth mentioning that when it comes to kid’s bikes (say a 12″ one), certain bike tire pumps are easier to use than others, thus making the inflating process smoother.
How do you pump up a bike with a basketball pump?
In short, you don’t. A basketball pump is not designed to inflate bike tires. Over my years of biking experience, I’ve found that it’s always best to use tools specifically made for the tasks at hand. For inflating a bike tire, you need a bike pump. You generally cannot inflate a bike tire with a basketball pump, due to the differences in the type of valves used in bike tires and the design of the basketball pumps.