Author Topic: Free Air  (Read 1885 times)

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Offline zerodish

Free Air
« on: February 28, 2022, 07:36:53 am »
Truck stops and Pacific Pride gas stations are a reliable source of free air. I just found a pump at Lowes and I expect they will be going nation wide.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2022, 07:43:38 am »
I usually look for car repair places, i.e., small shop mechanics, tire repair places, etc. while riding as they always give free air.  This is why I also always use Schraeder valves.  Rarely, due to insurance, they have to air the tires up so I always tell them the air pressure and that it only takes a one or two seconds to top off.

All QuikTrips have always given free air.
Of course, there are bike shops but then I feel obligated to buy something so if I need just air, I tend to avoid them. 

I guess I could just pump it up myself but I am too lazy  ::)

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Free Air
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2022, 09:19:00 am »
Wawa c-stores in PA, NJ, DE, etc., have had free air since forever.  I would bet Sheetz does as well.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2022, 12:07:10 pm »
I haven't used "gas station air" in forever. I'm more of a fan of buying a decent portable bike pump. The "mini-floor" models can get you up to full inflation pretty quickly. Not as quick as a compressor, mind you, but pretty quick. And mine has a gauge on it so I know how much air I need.

If you do use the gas station air and have presta valves, remember to bring an adaptor!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Free Air
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2022, 04:47:57 pm »
I haven't used "gas station air" in forever. I'm more of a fan of buying a decent portable bike pump. The "mini-floor" models can get you up to full inflation pretty quickly. Not as quick as a compressor, mind you, but pretty quick. And mine has a gauge on it so I know how much air I need.

If you do use the gas station air and have presta valves, remember to bring an adaptor!
Yeah, me too.  If you have higher volume tires a higher pump is in order.  I have found it a little annoying to fully inflate my MTB tires from flat with my mini pump.  I most often have toured on fairly skinny tires though so the smaller pumps are usually fine.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2022, 05:52:01 pm »
Yeah, me too.  If you have higher volume tires a higher pump is in order.  I have found it a little annoying to fully inflate my MTB tires from flat with my mini pump.  I most often have toured on fairly skinny tires though so the smaller pumps are usually fine.

I know that in Ye Olden Days of Touring, bike frame pumps were not that powerful, and the only way to increase the power was to increase the length of the pump. I'll admit there is something aesthetically pleasing about a frame pump tucked under the top tube, and they can come in handy during a dog attack.

But the mini foot pump with hose and pressure gauge is just so much better, and not that expensive--you can get a good one for $40 to $60. I'd rather have a pump that's not a chore to use instead of finding a gas station to keep my tires inflated.

That being said, some of the new mini pumps are actually really good. I have a Leyzene Pocket Drive that I got because I needed a small pump. I had to use it once, and I was amazed at how fast it inflated!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2022, 06:09:51 pm »
I have the same Leyzene pump and carry it at all times.  I get what you all are saying for for me, I prefer air compressors when possible.  For me, they are quicker, less likely to cause a leak at the base of the valve, and easier on the hands.  To each their own.  ;)

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Free Air
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2022, 12:32:23 pm »
Anyone ever try helium in their tires to lighten the load?

Offline froze

Re: Free Air
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2022, 09:57:42 pm »
I carry free air with me!  Just in case my pump breaks I carry a Presta to Schrader converter so I can use a gas station pump on my Presta valves.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Free Air
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2022, 09:29:52 am »
This "free air" discussion sounds like a nice hypothetical.  Most of the places I've been lately, if a gas station (or more likely, convenience store) even has a pump, it'll cost 50-75 cents for a spin.

That said, floor pump FTW!

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2022, 12:55:32 pm »
Anyone ever try helium in their tires to lighten the load?

I did think about backpacking with some small helium balloons but the trees got in the way and in high winds on the ledges it was a bit scary. :)
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline John Nelson

Re: Free Air
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2022, 08:09:08 pm »
Does the typical gas station compressor have enough pressure for bike tires? It’s been a while, but the last time I tried, I left the gas station with less air in my tires than when I went in.

Offline froze

Re: Free Air
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2022, 09:07:04 pm »
This "free air" discussion sounds like a nice hypothetical.  Most of the places I've been lately, if a gas station (or more likely, convenience store) even has a pump, it'll cost 50-75 cents for a spin.

That said, floor pump FTW!

I would only use gas station air in an emergency, when I start doing some touring, I will be carrying 2 pumps in case one breaks, one will be the main pump, it's a frame pump, and the other will be the backup and it's a mini pump.  Of course, at home I use a floor pump too. 

I forgot to mention that a Presta to Schrader converter can also be used if your pump converts to either that if the rubber grommet in the Presta mode got worn then all you would have to do is switch the pump to Schrader and use the converter.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Free Air
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2022, 09:16:44 pm »
Does the typical gas station compressor have enough pressure for bike tires? It’s been a while, but the last time I tried, I left the gas station with less air in my tires than when I went in.
A lot of CS pumps (the ones you pay for) typically do not get that high.  That is why I use a small mechanic's shop (almost always free) as their pumps always have enough pressure.  As mentioned earlier, I use Schraeder valves not only because I can use a much wider variety of pumps without the adapter which I typically lose, but in an emergency, I could use a Presta tube.  Of course, the reverse is not possible unless you drill for a Schraeder to begin with.   

Offline staehpj1

Re: Free Air
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2022, 07:27:44 am »
I would only use gas station air in an emergency, when I start doing some touring, I will be carrying 2 pumps in case one breaks, one will be the main pump, it's a frame pump, and the other will be the backup and it's a mini pump.  Of course, at home I use a floor pump too. 

I forgot to mention that a Presta to Schrader converter can also be used if your pump converts to either that if the rubber grommet in the Presta mode got worn then all you would have to do is switch the pump to Schrader and use the converter.
FWIW I tend to carry one pump that I trust.  I have never had one fail catastrophically in ~60 years of pumping up bike tires (or at all when on tour).  I have had the rubber grommets wear and get iffy, but that resulted in a slow fail with lots of warning.  Pumps with piston or leather washer failures similarly either failed slowly or just needed a little attention so one pump does it for me.  Most farms or workshops of any sort would have some means of pumping a tire so help is liely available somewhere.  Worst case I'd hitch a ride, but have never resorted to either for a pump failure.

At home I have started using my shop's compressor in recent years.  I find it much more convenient than a floor pump.  Just pull the trigger to go just past the desired pressure and press the bleed button until you get down to the exact pressure you want.  The little screw on chuck puts no stress on the valve stem and I have two inflators one fo presta and one for schrader.  The schrader inflator is almost exclusively used for the cars unless I am working on someone else's bike.

I do carry a Presta to Schrader converter on tour just in case.