Shock Pump vs Tire Pump (Everything You Need to Know About)

Many individuals that are new to cycling can quickly get confused when it comes to shock pump vs. tire pump. Both a bike shock pump and a tire pump look incredibly similar, but they perform two completely different functions. 

It can be challenging for individuals that are new to cycling to identify which is which, and that can lead to a lot of confusion. However, there’s no need to worry. We’re here to explain everything you need to know so you can differentiate between shock pump vs tire pump!

What’s a Shock Pump

Shock Pump

As the name suggests, a shock pump is a tool that lets you fill air in the bike shocks. Shocks are a part of the suspension system, and they rely on air to help them perform their purpose correctly. If the air pressure in the suspension system isn’t correct, you’ll struggle to see it perform optimally. 

A shock pump allows you to manage the air pressure in the suspension system of your mountain bike and tailor it to what you require. 

The most common features that you’d find on a bike pump are a pressure gauge, a bleeder valve, and a pumping mechanism. There are plenty of auto pumps on the market that’ll effectively do the job for you, but it’s best for beginners to start with a manual pump. 

What’s a Tire Pump

Tire Pump

A tire pump is very similar to a shock pump, but the area of focus is entirely different. The tire pump’s primary purpose is to fill air in the bike tires. There are three main types of bike pumps. A floor pump is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to pump up the tires. 

If a floor pump isn’t to your liking, you can go with a mini pump. These are the ones that people most often confuse with a shock pump. Their design and structure is incredibly similar to what you’d see from a standard shock pump. 

The third type of tire pump that’s available to you is a CO2 inflator. These pumps are efficient, and they utilize cartridges containing compressed CO2 gas. You won’t need to make any effort when you’re using a CO2 pump. It’ll help you inflate tires quickly at the press of a button. 

Why do People get Confused Between the two

It’s easy to get confused between a shock pump or tire pump because they look incredibly similar to one another. The purpose of both machines is to pump air into a particular bike component. 

If you were to present a bike shock pump and a tire pump to a person new to cycling, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Even someone that’s used a shock pump once or twice before might get confused between the two. 

That’s why it’s essential to know how you can differentiate a shock pump vs bike pump. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between the two is by looking at the valve. Bike pumps will typically feature either a Schrader or a Presta valve, while a shock pump features a bleeder valve. 

Identifying the valves is one of the easiest ways to differentiate between shock pump vs bike pump. Alternatively, another way that you can identify the difference between a shock pump vs bike pump is the pressure. 

A bike pump isn’t designed to provide high pressure. It’s designed for pumping in high volumes of air. In contrast, a shock pump is much more capable of managing higher air pressure. 

Even though there are tire pumps with gauges, most of them won’t feature a pressure gauge. In comparison, almost every decent shock pump that your purchase is going to feature a pressure gauge. 

Another way that you’ll be able to identify between a shock pump vs tire pump is when you try to connect it to the shocks on your mountain bike. When you try to use a standard tire pump, it won’t connect properly, and you’ll lose a little air once you insert or remove the shock pump.   

It doesn’t matter if you get an adapter or not. You’re still going to lose some air when you connect a standard tire pump to the shocks. A proper shock pump will make a seal with the valve stem before opening up the valve. 

By creating a seal with the valve stem, the shock pump helps ensure that no air leaves the valve while you’re removing the pump. Both the forks and shocks actually have a very small amount of air in them, so any sort of leak is unacceptable!

These are the main ways you can differentiate between shock pump vs bike pump. Now that you know the differences between the two, let’s move on to the next question that people ask about a bike shock pump.  

Do you really need a Shock Pump?

Many people ask, because of the similarities between shock pump vs tire pump, do you really need a shock pump? Yes, a shock pump is an essential piece of equipment that every active cyclist should have. 

A few years ago, it was common practice among cycle manufacturers to provide clients with a shock pump when buying a full-suspension mountain bike

While some manufacturers still provide clients with a shock pump, it’s becoming an exceedingly rare practice. Nevertheless, it remains an essential piece of equipment that every cyclist needs to have!

One of the most common determinants of your suspension system is the level of air pressure in the forks and shocks. If you want a firmer suspension, you can use the shock pump to raise the air pressure. Alternatively, if you want to enjoy a softer ride, you can use the shock pump to decrease the air pressure. 

The nature of your ride will also help determine how fast your mountain bike can go!

No matter how high quality the bike you use, its suspension will leak air over time if you ride regularly. A shock pump will allow you to effectively measure the air pressure in your suspension without taking the bike to your local workshop. 

Another reason you should definitely get a shock pump is that when you connect a tire pump to the shocks, it’s very likely that some air will leak out. You could also end up damaging the valve, and that’s always an annoying repair. 

Shock Pump vs Tire Pump

How to use a Shock Pump?

The first thing you need to do is get familiar with the anatomy of a shock pump. One of the most noticeable features of a shock pump is the pressure gauge. The pressure gauge is what allows you to manage pressure in the most optimal manner. 

At the bottom of the shock pump, you’ll notice that it features a two-stage valve. The valve is connected to the hose, which is responsible for connecting to your bike and transferring the air.  

These are the two main components of a shock pump that you need to be familiar with to start using the product. 

Step 1: Locate valve on your shock 

If you’re not familiar with the design of your mountain bike, the shock valve is typically present in the front, right on top of the shocks. Manufacturers typically cover the valve with a cap that you’ll need to unscrew to get access. 

Once you unscrew the cap, you’ll notice that your shocks feature a Schrader valve!

Step 2: Attach the hose 

After seeing the Schrader valve, detach the hose from the pump and connect it to the valve. You’ll need to screw it on to ensure no air is let loose and the valve connects stably. 

Once you connect the valve, you’ll notice that there’s another knob on top. The knob is responsible for adjusting the air pressure in the shock. As you tighten the knob, the air pressure will increase. 

Step 3: Start pumping 

Make sure that you have your desired pressure on the shock pump, and then pull out the handle. At the end of the pump, you’ll notice that there are two clips. These clips open up to form a T which makes it much easier for you to pump. 

If you feel like the pressure is a bit too much, you press the release valve, and the pressure will go down. How much pressure you’ll release depends on how long you press the button. 

Step 4: Wrap it up 

Once you’re done with pumping up your bike shocks, it’s time to disconnect the shock pump. You can disconnect the bike pump by first loosening the pressure control knob. Once that’s fully unscrewed, you can remove the bottom screw and detach the shock pump. 

You must follow these instructions while removing the bike pump. Otherwise, all the air will flow out. After detaching the hose, you can move the handle back inside and put your shock pump away. 

Following these four easy steps will help ensure that you always use your shock pump correctly.

Conclusion 

While many people new to cycling get confused between shock pump vs tire pump, identifying one from the other becomes simple when you know what to look for! A shock pump is a must-have tool for anyone that’s looking to get more serious about cycling. 

It’ll let you adjust your suspension freely without having to visit a bike shop every time you want to change something.

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.