Right Valve length is important to wheels rims
Dependent upon your bicycle fanaticism, a discussion on how to choose a suitable valve length to fit your rim well could be brief, or it could last for pages. Therefore, as we are unaware of your current position, we will do our best to meet everyone somewhere in the middle. The sheer fact that you are concerned about valve length implies more than a mere 12 year old boy level interest in cycling.
That said, there are a few things to cover here. The first is a concise discussion about the three types of valves. Then there will be a conversation about extenders and their uses and we will wrap everything up with an illustration of the import in so choosing.
Three Types of Valves
As stated previously, there are three types of valves: Shrader, Presta and Woods. The Schrader valve is known as an American valve and is most commonly seen on automobiles and lower end bicycles. The Presta valve is a high pressure French model designed for road and racing bikes. Finally, the Woods valve is an English version and is fairly obsolete at this stage. Though the Woods valve enjoyed a brief period of preferential treatment, the Shrader valve’s increased pressure potential pretty well knocked them out of the running.
Thereby leaving us the necessity to really only discuss the main two valves in use today, the Presta and the Shrader. The Presta is a much skinnier valve with a built in cap. These are typically found on higher end competition bikes and should not be used on rims with Shrader sized holes as there is the potential to severe with impact. The Shrader valves are by far the most well-known (think the valve stem on your car’s tire and every cheap bike you ever owned) and will not even come close to fitting in a Presta sized hole.
Valve Extenders and Convertor
Take note that there are adapters made that will enable a Presta valve to safely fit in a Shrader hole and they are necessary if that is the route you choose to take with your bike. Making the proper decisions on valve length is important when participating in competitive riding or in any instance in which a flat tire is possible. It is always best to be prepared and therefore, understanding extenders and adapters is highly advisable.
Presta valves have two types of cores, removable and fixed. A removable core allows you to remove the valve from the valve stem. Why is this important? A deep rim might require the usage of an extender that fits between the valve and its stem in order to allow sufficient exposure of the valve for inflation purposes. Of course, you do not want to overextend the valve, so it is important to understand the rim size for current tires and potential spares. Herein you have another choice: clincher tubes or valve extenders.
The choice is based on how far you need the valve to extend from the rim. Thankfully, a number of companies produce both the tubes and the extenders. One company actually makes 4 extenders for valves with removable cores. The decision is mostly based on the size of the valve stem in the tube you are currently utilizing. Additionally, the inclusion of a disc can alter your measurements so be sure to account for all situations. Ultimately, it is best to keep that disc in mind when choosing your valve length.
Technically, most extenders will work on either removable or fixed core valves. The biggest factor in this decision making process is whether or not you need the Presta valve to extend beyond the race wheel. Notice then, that very little attention was paid to the Shrader valve design. This is because most people satisfied with that valve design are not really concerned about valve length on their rims. In fact, Presta valves are the most prolific ones implemented in modern day cycling.
Why is Valve Length Important?
So, you have done some research. You care about making the bike tires and rims work to the best of their potential but you are still not certain about the import of valve length. Therefore, we would like to provide you a historic illustration that supports the necessity of proper planning and tubeless valve length design. In an early 90’s Ironman race, one of the competitors had a rather deep rim on his bike. Unfortunately, the extender he chose to place on his valve did not seal well. Due to the fact that the joint was between the rim and the wheel, he was unaware of his predicament. The fix a flat substance he used began spewing out of the rim holes as he rode. Embarrassing to say the least.
The truth is, your valve and stem are essential to your racing success. They will make or break the competition for you. If the length is too short, it will be quite difficult to pump up a flat, shoot it with a CO2 cartridge, or whatever may be necessary at the time. If it is too long, it may not cooperate with the disc you are riding. This of course could break the valve stem off completely, or crack it enough to cause significant leakage and certainly slow you down.
Below, please find some possible extender choices to assist you in your search for the suitable valve length to fit your rims. For removable cores there are clincher tubes available for: 36 mm, 40mm, 42mm, 48mm, 51mm, 52mm, 60mm and 80mm valve lengths. Additionally, we recommend pre-mounting extenders on your spare tubes if you will not be utilizing a disc. If, however, a disc will be employed you cannot use an extender in most instances. These are of course just recommendations and will hopefully put you well on your way to locating and choosing the proper valve length, adapter, extender, or clincher tube for your rims. Happy riding.
If you have additional thoughts, experiences or recommendations, please leave us a message in the comments section. Thanks!