Bikes are endlessly customizable. Practically every component can be upgraded, switched out, repaired, or just made better looking. One often-overlooked component that you’ve probably never even though about rests right on your wheels. Not the tires, not the rims themselves — the humble valve caps. Valve caps serve the important function of making sure grease, dirt and regular wear and tear don’t ruin the valve (and by extension, the whole tube). But those little pieces of black plastic are so easy to lose, and frankly hard to care about. Lately, some manufacturers are going all out to solve this problem, making exciting new valve caps you’ll love to have on your tires. (Bet you never thought you’d hear ‘exciting’ and ‘valve cap’ in the same sentence!) A new day has dawned in valve cap awareness! If you’re looking for bling your bike ideas a bit on the whimsical side, check out the new bike valve caps being made.
Presta or Schrader?
For Presta valves, the choices are still fairly limited. This might be because the extra few grams of weight added by a novelty valve cap would offset the weight saved by having a Presta valve in the first place. There are some sturdy metal versions available in interesting colors (the vivid metallic reds and blues are sophisticated and eye-catching), and a few missile-shaped and bullet-shaped caps, but beyond that, you’ll need to switch to Schrader for the really interesting stuff.
If you already have Schrader tubes, then all that’s left is to find what you like. For the kids (and kids at heart), there’s a popular cap in the shape of the iconic Hello Kitty head. What better way to teach your little one to keep track of their valve caps? (Plus, little hands might have an easier time screwing and unscrewing the larger cap.) Or, choose from the many skull-shaped caps for a macabre touch to your tires.
For the softer at heart, there’s Electra bubble caps. They’re a standard cap topped with an oval picture, usually of flowers, cherries and the like, perfect for those with an indie or retro bent. Skye Supply has caps along the same lines, but the picture is horizontal across the top of the cap, rather than vertical and visible from the sides.
In fact, if you can think of something vaguely round, it’s probably been made into a valve cap. From eyeballs to 8-balls, card suite symbols to grenades and even square dice, there’s really something for everyone.
Finally, if all that selection isn’t enough, why not look into light-up caps? Tech-lovers and late-night riders alike will enjoy blinking valve caps, which give the same effect as spoke lights in a smaller, more functional package. From tiny blinking skulls to minuscule, rainbow-strobing tubes, a light-up valve cap will instantly transform a bike into an eye-catching conversation starter. And as an added bonus, they’ll keep you safer on the road with all that increased visibility.
Who knew valve caps could be so interesting? They’re an affordable, offbeat way to add something special to your bike. Whether you’re looking for a subtle touch of whimsy, that final addition to your fully-customized beast, or just a stickler for color coordination, there’s a valve cap for you.
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