Cycling down the path of life

Schrader or Presta?

Presta and Schrader bike valves

I’m learning far too much about bicycle tires than I’d like to. However, with two completely flat tires within one-month of riding, it’s no wonder my tire knowledge is increasing. In both flat tire incidences, I didn’t run over a thorn or nail. Instead, stem tears have been the culprit.

In case number one, the back tire was flat within a few days of owning my bike. I chalked it up to the bike shop installing the thicker tubes incorrectly since the tear at the stem was more of a gash and I had only ridden the bike about 4-miles.

In case number two – the front tire and the most recent flat also had a small hole at the stem as well. I didn’t think much about how it happened, just that it was completely flat when I wanted to ride to Starbucks the other day – inconvenient to say the least.

Because presta stems require a nut or grommet to close the gap in the rim opening, not all inner tubes fit my tire. The bike shop actually didn’t have exactly what I needed, so there’s no nut/grommet covering the rim’s opening. Based on forum discussions, I’m beginning to wonder if my next flat will be quite soon. Here’s a snippet of a conversation someone with a similar problem:

If the valve hole is drilled for schrader (car tire valves) and presta tubes are used without a rubber grommet, it could cause the tube to be resting against the sharp edge of the hole.

This is how I felt that day – deflated.

If I had known that my pretty presta stems would be such a problem, I think I would have selected the standard schraeder stems!

Do you use presta or schrader stems? If you’re a presta user, have you had similar issues?

I’d love to hear solutions to presta stem tears! I really don’t want to deal with a flat every month.


  1. Equipment compatability issues are frustrating, I feel your pain. I would call Felt directly to see what the tube recommendation is for your new bike, then I would order from Bike Tires Direct dot com…since your LBS doesn’t stock the right gear.

    So how did you end up getting to Starbucks?

    • How did you get to Starbucks ?

      • I had to drive. :(

    • Excellent idea! Thanks for thinking of that. I’m pretty sure that I just need to switch to Schrader stems. But I’ll definitely call them – I’m tired of flats!