How do you use a CO2 pump for a bicycle? Learn the best way!

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CO2 pumps aren’t ultramodern, high tech, or very luxurious, but very handy! So for many cyclists, a CO2 pump is very suitable.

How should you use a CO2 pump?

A fairly simple question you would think. It may surprise you, but this ‘unfamiliarity’ with the use of a CO2 pump prevents many cyclists from actually using it. That’s a real shame because in many cases they are very handy.

The parts

Before we go deeper into the use of such a handy and compact CO2 pump, it is wise to explain how it works. Fortunately, most CO2 pumps only have two parts: the inflator itself and a cartridge. The inflator is usually considered to be the pump itself.

These parts are quite self-evident. There are two types of pumps (or ‘inflators’): pumps with a regulator and pumps without. With this regulator, you can determine how hard you inflate the tire, without a regulator you can’t see this. Of course, you also have to pay attention to the type of valve. Fortunately, most CO2 pumps fit both a Presta and a Schrader valve.

Then there are the cartridges. There are a few different ‘tastes’ but they are all the same. CO2 cartridges are available in different sizes. For this the following indication/categorization is used:

  • 12g
  • 16g
  • 25g

The larger the pattern size, the harder it will inflate the tire. So make sure you have patterns that fit your tires well.

It’s also important to know the type of connection. Some patterns have threads, others don’t. This also applies to the pump itself: some are suitable for threaded patterns, others are not. Pay attention to this. 

Step-by-step plan: Inflating tires with CO2 cartridges

CO2 Pump
How to inflate a tire with a CO2 pump?

Okay, now that we’ve discussed the parts, it’s time for the real work: inflating the tire. The first 2 steps of this will have to be known already.

Step 1: Deflate the tire completely & check the outer tire

You’ve just had a leak and with some bad luck, you’re on your own somewhere in the ditch. Or even worse: your cycling buddies are 10 meters away in the ditch joking about that it takes a very long time. You should already know this step: deflate your inner tube completely and check your outer tire.

Why should I do this? Often a flat inner tube is caused by glass or a sharp stone. If this is still stuck in the outer tube, a new inner tube doesn’t make much sense. It will create a puncture again. So check this first.

Step 2: Take a new inner tube and fill it with a small amount of air

CO2 Pump
CO2 Pump

Pick up your spare inner tube and inflate it slightly. This can easily be done with your mouth. By doing this you can easily put it around your wheel (rim). After doing this, make sure the inner tube is perfectly positioned and pull the outer tube back over it. Check if everything is actually in place.

Step 3: Inflating

Place the pump, without the pattern on it, around your valve. Doing this will prevent you from ‘spilling your herb’ prematurely. This doesn’t only ensure you that have just wasted your first and only pattern, but also that your cycling friends will tease you with it for at least another 2 years. The latter is of course much worse.

So place the pump first! As soon as it’s in place it’s time to confirm the pattern. Then the tire will be inflated automatically. This happens very fast, normally within 1 to 2 seconds.

Now it’s time to disconnect the pump and clean up your mess. Also inspect the tire thoroughly, just to be sure. That’s it!

Step 4: Replace CO2 with normal air as soon as you get home

CO2 Pump
A floor pump

This step is perhaps the most important one, especially in the long run. As soon as you get back home after you’ve had a puncture, it’s important to deflate the tire again and inflate it with your normal pump.

Why? Well, the CO2 escapes from the tire very quickly thanks to its unique properties. The next day your tire is as good as empty again. If you find this out on your next ride, it is already too late. Don’t forget this step.

If you want to know what a good bike pump should have, klick here and check the tPump X.

Let’s summarize

So, you now know how to inflate your tire with a CO2 pump. Even though you have read this article, it goes wrong sometimes. Most likely at the worst possible moment. You have to take that for granted or just take a few spare cartridges with you. In any case, now you know how to do it and you’ll be fine in most situations.

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