Whether you just bought your first bicycle or have been riding bikes for a while now, you have probably come across or even had to replace those tiny black plastic caps. The caps are known as tire valve caps. Although some metal variations have recently hit the market, the valves cover the bicycle’s valve stem and are usually plastic-made. The stem has an internal thread that secures the cap to its end. Since the valves are pretty small, most people forget about them. Bike tire valves are not necessary, although they give life to the tubes. You may choose to take yours off intentionally, but this will open the tire valves to corrosion.
Why You Should Keep Your Tire Valve Caps On
A bike’s tire valve cap has an essential role in the bicycle’s overall health. Although the caps are small, they have an essential job of protecting and covering the sensitive valve internals against particles attaching themselves to the sealing surfaces. Therefore, the valve caps keep the valve clean. Without a tire cap, you expose your bike valve to road elements, including dirt, grime, water, and road salt, which may build up and destroy it.
When the valve is ruined, it becomes ineffective and cannot hold against air pressure or connect appropriately with the pump.
The plastic caps protect the bike stem from any dirt and grimes and prevent it from oxidizing, which may seize up your stem. The valve caps may also help in preventing the fragile system from bending.
But are these tire valve caps necessary? No, they are not, but remember that you will be exposing the valves to corrosion and oxidization without one. They have some significant benefits, and taking them off or attaching them doesn’t take too much time.
Is It Possible to Cycle Without the Valve Caps?
Sometimes you may forget to screw the cap tight enough or even fail to attach it at all. When riding in rough trails, the cap may fall off without your knowledge. Therefore, you may wonder whether it is okay to continue your ride without the valve cap. The good news is that you can. Nothing major will happen if you ride without it until you get a replacement. Even without a tire cap, you can safely and effectively ride your bike.
Moreover, some people take their caps off intentionally, which does not prevent them from riding their bikes. Most cyclists who ride under normal road conditions prefer doing away with them. However, if you would like to join the wagon and remove the caps from your bike, here is a tip: if the valves are the Presta type, you should keep your caps safely so you can attach them when you get rid of the tube.
That way, you won’t poke or tear anything. But if you have a Schrader valve, you should consider using caps for your safety. However, if you don’t have one, that doesn’t mean that you should stop riding.
What Is a Schrader Valve and Presta Valve?
Schrader valves are more popular in mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers, and a few other types of bikes. A Schrader valve is a tube designed with a flap for holding against air pressure. The job of the cap is to prevent grime and dirt from getting into the flap. Dirt causes the flap to be ineffective, and the rider may have to replace the entire tube.
A Presta valve is most common with road bikes and some hybrids. It is a thin and narrow tube with a metal screw feature sealing the valve shut. It’s essential to keep the screws locked so that the cap can protect the stem from dirt and grime and prevent oxidation.
Every Schrader valve used on any tire has threads and bodies of one standard size at the outer end; therefore, caps are universal for the Schrader valves.
Caps are not expensive to replace. Many Presta types have a similar diameter, although the length may vary. Long valves are used for deep-section rims to allow easy pumping. A Presta can be converted into a Schrader by using an adapter, and you will only need to use a Schrader pump to inflate air.
Can My Tires Lose Pressure Without the Cap?
Bicycles do not lose air or deflate if you don’t have the cap. Although the cap is essential in keeping the valve dirt and grime free, it does not hold in air. There are several reasons why your tires may lose pressure, including punctures, damaged valve system, ripped tires, blowouts, road hazards, among others, but a cap isn’t one of them. Therefore, if you have a flat tire, some of the things you could check include:
Tire Wear: if the bike tires are weathered or low in the tread, you will often experience punctures. It’s vital to ensure that you use the correct tire and tread for your riding style to reduce the risks of punctures.
Tube Wear: if you have left your tubes on the tire for a long time or exposed them to rough weather, they will be more susceptible to punctures.
Faulty Valves: your valve may be the reason why you are experiencing frequent flat tires. Ensure that you have the best valve to avoid this common problem. Faulty valves cause the inner tube not to hold in air. Therefore, if this is the case, you should completely replace your inner tube with another.
Quality Of Tubes And Tires: when buying a tube or tire, you must ensure that you buy from a reputable company to avoid frequent deflation. Although you may save some money after buying a cheap tube, you will incur more costs because you will continuously purchase replacements.
Self-inflicted damage-as you change your tube, make sure you follow the proper procedure to avoid damaging the tubes, which will cause deflation. If you pinch your pipe, you will still have the same problem with deflated tires.
Bike valve caps are not necessary, although they are essential in preventing the valves from getting damaged by dirt or grime. If you are worried about riding your bicycle without the caps on, you should know that it is okay to ride without, although you may want to replace them later.