Your mountain bike’s suspension system is what allows you to ride safely and comfortably through the roughest of terrains. The suspension’s functionality majorly depends on the air pressure inside your bike’s shock or fork.
With a shock pump, you can easily tune the pressure to your preference or refill the air as needed!
Now, shock pumps share a lot of similarities with regular tire pumps. This naturally leads to the rise of a question in the minds of many cyclists: Can you use a shock pump for tires?
Yes, you can technically fill your tire using a shock pump, but it will take so long that it would feel like an eternity. Let us explain why!
How Does a Shock Pump Work Compared to a Regular Pump?
It’s essential to understand how a bicycle suspension pump works if you want to find out how it will perform when handling regular tires. We’re also going to show you how shock pumps function differently from regular pumps, despite their resemblance.
Shock pumps are designed to deliver high air pressure and push a low volume of air. Before even opening the valve, they make a seal with the valve stem in order to prevent air from escaping during pumping.
The “low volume high pressure” feature makes them ideal for your MTB’s suspension. As a result, a mountain bike shock pump fills a small volume of space with each stroke, although the pressure is high.
Regular Tire Pumps
Regular tire pumps are the exact opposites of shock pumps because they are designed to push a high volume of air and deliver low air pressure. You will be able to fill up your bicycle’s tires within a few minutes as they are capable of pushing a lot of air with each stroke.
Why Using a Shock Pump for Tires Isn’t Ideal?
Let’s dive deeper into the question: Can you use a shock pump to inflate a tire?
Unlike shocks or forks, tires require a high volume of air to have their large space filled quickly. As shock pumps push out a very small volume of air, it’s going to take tons of strokes to fill the tires.
In fact, it can take over 2,000 strokes, which is just way too many! You will have to keep pumping for over 12 hours just to inflate one tire. So, unless you’ve got lots of free time on your hand and looking for an alternative way of exercising your arms, you better stick to using regular pumps.
Besides, depending on what kind of valve you’ve got on your wheels, you might have to buy an adaptor to make it work. Using the adaptors can be a super-annoying.
So, as you can see, it’s technically possible to use a shock pump to inflate a tire. There is literally no harm in it. But the fact that it takes over thousands of strokes to fill a tire using a shock pump makes it extremely impractical.
Imagine having to inflate your tire with a shock pump in a remote area. You’d be pumping for an entire day before your bike is ready to move again. Is that really something you want to experience? Obviously, not!
So, if you have to carry a pump on a ride, make sure it’s a regular tire pump because it will be more useful to you.
Why Should I Get a Shock Pump Then?
Shock pumps may not be ideal for your tires, but if you want to keep your suspension working, you must buy a shock pump. It would be best if you didn’t use a regular pump to tune your bike’s shock/fork.
A shock pump will allow you to make your suspension more firm or plush. After long-term riding, your suspension will lose a bit of air. With this pump, you will be able to maintain an optimal pressure to get the most out of your fork. It’s a must-have piece of equipment if you want to keep your bike working in peak condition.
Although most shock pumps are high pressure, low volume, it’s possible to get your hands on a low-pressure shock pump as well should you ever need one.
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If you’d been wondering if you could kill two stones with one bird, now you’ve got your answer. Although it’s possible to fill a tire using a shock pump, the massive amount of effort and time that would take makes it an almost impossible feat.
So, you can use your shock pump for tires. But there is no way you would want to do that. Spending an entire day to fill a single tire just isn’t worth it.
You should stick to using shock pumps for shocks and tire pumps for tires as a general rule.