How to Put Air in Bike Tires Without a Pump – A Step-by-Step Guide

Riding a bike with properly inflated tires makes pedaling easier and helps prevent flats. But what if you get a flat and don’t have a pump handy to re-inflate the tire? Don’t worry – there are several methods to put air back into bike tires without a pump.


Having tires with insufficient air pressure can lead to sluggish riding, more rolling resistance, and increased chances of getting a puncture. It’s recommended to check your tire pressure at least once a week and inflate to the PSI range printed on the tire sidewall.

While a bike pump is the ideal equipment for inflating tires, there are ways to add air even if you don’t have one. This article provides a comprehensive, step-by-step overview of 7 DIY approaches to inflate bike tires without a pump so you can get rolling again quickly.

Ways to Inflate Bike Tires Without a Pump

1. Use a Gas Station Air Pump

The easiest way is to head to a nearby gas station and utilize their air pump. Gas stations provide an air line with a pressure gauge and connector nozzle to fill car tires. With the right adapter, you can use it for bicycle tires too.


  • Fast, easy inflation.
  • Built-in pressure gauge gives precise PSI reading.
  • Found at most gas stations.

What You’ll Need:

  • Gas station with an air pump.
  • Air hose connector or adapter for bike valves. Many gas stations have them available. If not, buy a universal one.
  • Quarters/change to operate the pump.


  1. Remove the valve cap from the tire.
  2. Attach the air chuck/connector nozzle to the valve stem. Make sure it’s securely fitted.
  3. Check the PSI on the gauge – inflate to your tire’s recommended pressure.
  4. When done, disconnect the chuck, reinstall the valve cap, and you’re all set!

2. Use a Portable Bike Pump Canister

CO2 inflators are portable 16g threaded canisters containing compressed CO2. They easily inflate flat tires in seconds without any manual pumping.


  • Very fast and convenient.
  • Compact and easily portable.
  • Simple to operate.

What You’ll Need:

  • CO2 inflator with 16g cartridges
  • CO2 cartridges
  • Air chuck/connector nozzle for bike valve stem


  1. Remove tire valve cap.
  2. Screw new CO2 cartridge into the inflator. Don’t puncture it yet.
  3. Attach air chuck to valve stem.
  4. Press inflator trigger to puncture CO2 can and fill tire.
  5. Unscrew empty cartridge and reinstall valve cap.

One 16g cartridge will inflate a standard road bike tire. Carry extra cartridges for multiple flats.

3. Use a Can of Compressed Air

Canned air dusters for cleaning electronics contain compressed air that can be used to reinflate a soft tire for a short distance.


  • Widely available canned item.
  • Fits in a backpack or bag.

What You’ll Need:

  • Can of compressed air/dusting spray
  • Bike tire with some air already inside
  • Rag


  1. Shake the can well and position the straw at the edge of the tire valve.
  2. Press the tip to create a tight seal against the valve stem.
  3. Press the button in short bursts, occasionally shaking the can between presses.
  4. Add air in stages, checking pressure frequently with your fingers to avoid overinflation.
  5. Once you’ve added some air, inflate the rest of the way by riding carefully on the tire to distribute the air evenly inside the tube.
  6. Make sure to remove any air that escapes past the valve stem using a rag.
  7. Ride gingerly and reinflate fully with a pump as soon as possible.

This gets you by for a short distance but isn’t a permanent fix.

4. Use a Bike Hand Pump or Frame-Fitted Pump

Many bikes come equipped with a small hand pump that mounts to the bike frame. While not as fast as a full-sized floor pump, it can get you up and rolling again.


  • Always accessible – mounted on the bike.
  • Compact and portable.

What You’ll Need:

  • Bike with a built-in hand pump.


  1. Remove valve cap and attach pump head securely to valve stem.
  2. Stand over the top tube and use one hand to stabilize bike. Use other hand to operate pump.
  3. Pump vigorously until tire reaches desired PSI.
  4. Reinstall valve cap when finished.
  5. Ride gently to allow air to evenly distribute in tube.

It takes effort to reach full inflation pressure, but gets the job done in an emergency.

5. Use a Bike Tire Inflator Kit

These portable emergency kits allow you to inflate a tire without power. They contain pressurized gas in a chamber that fills the tire when you pump the lever.


  • Very lightweight and compact size.
  • No batteries/power required.
  • Multiple cycles of inflation per canister.

What You’ll Need:

  • Bike tire inflator kit containing inflator, hose, and pressurized canister.


  1. Attach hose end to valve stem.
  2. Flip lever to “inflate.”
  3. Pump lever vigorously up and down. This punctures the gas canister, releasing air into the tire each time you pump.
  4. Pump until desired PSI is reached.
  5. Close lever, disconnect, and reinstall valve cap.

Very easy to operate and gets you rolling again fast.

6. Air Inflation by Volume Displacement

You can artificially inflate a tire using volume displacement – submerging the wheel in water to force air through the valve into the tube.


  • No supplies needed.

What You’ll Need:

  • Wheel with tire attached
  • Water source deep enough to submerge wheel


  1. Remove the tire valve core to allow free airflow (use a valve core tool or small screwdriver to unscrew it).
  2. Submerge just the wheel/tire underwater while keeping the valve stem pointing up above the water. This will force water into the tire and displace the air, pushing it through the valve.
  3. Once bubbles stop emerging, remove from water and quickly reinstall valve core to seal in air.
  4. Repeat submersion as needed until partial inflation is achieved.
  5. Ride carefully on tire to distribute air evenly and fully inflate with a pump ASAP.

Very makeshift approach but works in remote locations with water access and no supplies.

7. Inflate by Removing and Reseating Tire Bead

You can manually inflate a tire by temporarily releasing one side of the bead from the rim, allowing air to enter through the gap.


  • Don’t need any tools or supplies.

What You’ll Need:

  • Bike wheel with deflated tire


  1. Start by fully deflating the tube until both tire beads are loose from the rims on both sides.
  2. On one side of the wheel, push the tire wall further into the rim valley to release the bead fully. This gives access for inflation.
  3. Hold the freed section of the bead away from the rim with one hand. With your other hand, rapidly squeeze and twist the tire to force air through the bead gap into the deflated inner tube.
  4. Add air in bursts, periodically checking inflation by feeling the tire. Stop before tube feels overinflated.
  5. After adding partial inflation, pop the bead back onto the rim to seal it, then distribute air evenly by riding gently on the tire.
  6. At earliest opportunity, use a pump to inflate to full pressure per the tire sidewall.

Very difficult manual method but works in an absolute emergency with no supplies or help available.

Additional Tips for Inflating Without a Pump

  • Carry a patch kit – inflating an already punctured tube will result in rapid deflation again. Patch first if the tire is completely flat.
  • Know your tire’s PSI – don’t over inflate. Refer to the sidewalls.
  • Distribute air evenly by riding gently after inflation.
  • Always use a pressure gauge for accuracy.
  • Replace canisters and cartridges after each use.
  • Bring a hand pump for any ride longer than a couple of miles.
  • Learn proper tire repair to fix punctures.
  • Regularly check inflation pressure before rides.
  • Invest in a quality bike pump – it’s the proper equipment for at-home inflation.


While a proper pump is recommended for bike tire inflation, there are a variety of methods to add air when caught without one – from gas stations to CO2 canisters to using the wheel itself. Understanding these techniques allows you to get rolling again fast in the event of a flat tire, providing a temporary fix until you can fully reinflate using the proper equipment at home. With the right preparation and supplies, you’ll stay on top of maintaining proper tire pressure and won’t need to hitchhike home the next time you get a flat!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much air do I need in my bike tire to ride safely?

A: Check your bike tire sidewalls for the recommended PSI range for proper inflation. Road bikes are often inflated to 80-110 PSI. Mountain bikes run 30-50 PSI. Incorrect pressure leads to poor bike handling, slow rolling, and flats.

Q: What’s the quickest method to re-inflate a flat road bike tire without power?

A: CO2 inflators with 16g threaded cartridges provide instant inflation, taking just seconds to fill a road bike tire. They are very lightweight, compact, and don’t require manual pumping.

Q: Can I use an air compressor or gas station pump without a pressure gauge?

A: It’s not advisable. Without a gauge, it’s easy to overinflate the tube and cause it to burst. Always utilize a gauge to accurately hit your tires’ proper inflation PSI.


Biker And Author | + posts

Mahin Abrar is a passionate writer and outdoor enthusiast. As a regular contributor to, Mahin shares his knowledge and experiences in the fields of biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. With a deep understanding of these activities and a keen eye for detail, he offers valuable insights and practical advice to help readers get the most out of their adventures. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, Mahin's writing is sure to inspire you and guide you on your journey.