Bicycle nipples – types, selection tips

The bicycle today is a complete vehicle, which is becoming more popular every day. Its construction seems simple and straightforward, but it is the combination of primitive mechanisms and assemblies that ensures the perfect operation of this unit. The bicycle nipple is one small part with a big history. It is on it depends the functionality of the wheels, and today we will talk about this small but important connecting part in more detail.

The nipple – what it is

nipple device

On the wheel you can find a small metal tube that connects the tube and the check valve. This is the nipple. It is designed to pump air into the tire and keep it in the tube.

As a manufacturing material is most often used brass, but there are also steel products. The main task of the part is to hermetically hold the air in the chamber. The same term is used for the nuts that hold the spokes and the rim of the wheel.

History of origin

John B. Dunlop

Not many people know that the automotive industry is closely related to the device of the bicycle and some of its mechanisms. And this relationship began when a good Englishman, John B. Dunlop, decided to improve the wheels of the children’s bicycle a little. He put them on the ancestor of all those tires, which today drive on the roads. That’s how, thanks to one children’s bicycle, the era of comfortable cars began.

The commonalities between the bicycle and the car can also be found in their construction. For example, the nipple. Without this small detail, the wheel would be just a piece of rubber. The importance of the nipple is difficult to overestimate, so today we will talk about his device and varieties, talk about how to choose and replace the part, as well as check its condition.

Types of bicycle nipples

types of bicycle nipples

There are only three of them:

  1. Schrader
  2. Dunlop
  3. Presta.

They differ in design features, area of use and other characteristics. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Read also Bike handlebar pad – what’s it for, pros and cons


Common type of nipple with a tube diameter of 8 mm. Design: spool with a rubber seal that closes the hole in the tube. When the pump is connected, the middle pin inside the hose slightly opens the valve, through which the air enters.

The Schrader product is unpretentious in terms of maintenance, protected by a cap against dust and moisture penetration. Adapted for car compressor, which is available at almost every gas station.


It is known to many since the days of the USSR. Ruthless design, the memories of which cause internal shudder, may break at the most inopportune moment. Operating principle: a tube is screwed into the wheel, the hole on which is closed by a rubber tube or a casing. Occur very rarely: for example, in models of old design. The mechanism is unreliable, and very vulnerable: microscopic stones or particles of dust which fall under the rubber valve, instantly disabling the old-style bicycle nipple.



This is probably the most common type of bicycle nipple, which has a more modern design. True, there is a nuance: inflate the camera with a car compressor does not work – you need a special nozzle or a regular bicycle pump. Diameter of Presta spool is 6 mm.

Similar products are installed on highway and mountain models.


nipple adapters

Varieties of nipples for bicycles and their distinctive features have created some problems for cyclists. In particular, each nipple is different individual characteristics and application. The way out can be special adapters that level out the problems with different standards of products. Such an accessory can be purchased in almost any store of cycling goods, the cost is low, so avid cyclists should be concerned about the acquisition of such a practical and reliable element.

Purpose of caps

As a rule, it is a plastic part that tightly covers the top of the valve. The main purpose:

  • In the Dunlop system prevents clogging, keeps the pressure release;
  • In the Schrader nipple – not only protection from dirt, but also a key that allows unscrewing and screwing in the spool;
  • in the Presta system- protects against dirt and prevents pressure release.
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There are also caps, acting as a decorative element. For example, some manufacturers produce illuminated neon caps, which increase the visibility of the cyclist.

In addition, the cap can become an element of bicycle coloring. And at night, thanks to the bright backlighting, it creates the impression of a luminous circle with a diameter of the rim. Looks very impressive.

Suggestions for selection

Presta and Schrader are the most popular nipple models: they have many similarities. When choosing a product, you should pay attention to the rim holes – if their diameter is 0.6 cm, then only the first standard corresponds. To install the “Schrader”, you should drill the diameter to 0.8 cm and at the same time take into account the need for additional edge protection (a common sealant does a good job with this).


The nipple is a small but very important detail of the bicycle, which appeared back in the XIX century. Nowadays, it is an indispensable element of both bicycle and car wheels. The main purpose of this element is to hold the air mass inside the tube. There are three varieties of bicycle nipples, each of which finds its application in different models of bicycles.

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Comments: 1
  1. Jonah Davis (автор)

    I have a ball that’s deflated and has this thing in it, so now I can’t inflate it because I don’t have a pump. All the YouTube videos advise you to use a syringe to pierce the ball, but that’s the stone age. I’m looking for a better way.

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