Capital City Cycles

Presto what?

Posted in Uncategorized by capitalcitycycles on January 6, 2011

Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery is a fixture in my otherwise rambling web browsery and a recent strip of his hit a nerve:

There are a few different valves on bicycle tires. The most common ones are a Presta Valve and a Schreader valve, but another is a Dunlop valve (sometimes referred to as Wood valve).

Presta                                     Shrader                                  Dunlop (rare in CAN/USA)

The Presta valve is still a mystery for a lot of people and there is, in my opinion, no need to use it for anything except for racing bikes.

We get countless people in the store that are flabbergasted by this crazy contraption and it is simply too finicky for your average consumer. If inflating your tire is an unfathomable mystery, there is a problem with the design. It should not be this complicated.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a movement towards the Presta valve in the bicycle business. Most people just want something that’s reliable and simple and the Presta valve is neither of those things to a lot of people.

The Presta is not all bad. My favorite feature of it is how quickly you can deflate tires on the trail or in a race setting. Also, Presta valves are good for deep dish rims, since you can buy them with long stems (60-80). They’re supposedly better for keeping high pressures for longer, that is, the air won’t leak from the tube as fast as is does with a Shrader valve. Another trait of the Presta is that it requires a smaller hole drilled in the rim and therefore does not compromise the strength of the rim in the same way a Shrader valve does.

But what are the positive traits of the Shrader valve you might ask.

Well, it’s easy to use and it works.

I believe the biggest reason for the overrunning of Presta valves in the bicycle industry is the persistent “performance” factor. In North America the norm has been to try and market bikes with performance as the main selling feature. That is, the “race light” wheels or the high quality materials such as aluminum and carbon are trickling down from the top of the line race bikes, down to your average commuter bike. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad development in general. However, I believe there needs to be some picking and choosing and I think Presta valves don’t belong on commuting bikes. No more than suspension or ultralight wheels do.

I say, keep it simple, reliable and as FOOLPROOF as possible and if that’s an adage then Shrader is king.

“But that’s just like, my opinion.”

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