The best mini pumps for road, gravel and mountain bike – 45 tested!

by Dave Rome


When it comes to putting things on my bike or in my pockets, I’m a minimalist. For years I’ve carried just CO2 on my rides and hoped for the best, or cheekily relied on others for a pump on long rides.

However, if you’re not racing, CO2 is wasteful and carries an element of risk. Will it work as intended? Have you accidentally pinched that tube you’re about to fill? Are you about to give yourself a freeze burn? How will it react with your tubeless sealant? And what if you flat again? A pump saves panic.

However, almost every time I’ve used a mini-pump I’m left painfully aware of how inadequate some of them are. Because of that, I wanted to know which ones are worth carrying on each and every ride, and which should be avoided.

This is the most physically painful test I’ve done to date (but I’ve now got arms like The Rock as a result), and while the majority of mini pumps tested put the desired amount of air into the tyre, some took a significant and tiring effort to do so. Some were a fiddle, while others simply rattled consistently when not in use. And a select few, by comparison, were almost a joy to use. And while I’m still yet to find perfection after having tested 45 well-respected mini pumps, I’ll happily settle for a few of the better options.

This article goes in reverse order. First, it’s the winners, followed by information on the selection criteria, the testing protocol, features to seek, and a gallery with size comparisons and other useful images. Let’s jump into it.


The best high-pressure mini pumps for road cycling (over 40psi)

1. Silca Tattico Bluetooth

Silca Tattico Bluetooth mini pump

It may be the most expensive on test (US$120 / AU$211), but the Silca Tattico Bluetooth is also the best. It feels impressively high quality in hand, and the knurled aluminium surfaces help to reduce pumping effort. The pump uses a self-contained hose that works with both valve types, and the locking-lever design means there’s no risk of unwinding a valve core.

Inside hides Silca’s cup seal instead of more basic o-rings – meaning the pump shows no signs of air loss once hot. The volume is decent but is nicely balanced to provide an easy action at higher pressures. At 161g it’s at the heavier end, but its easily forgiven once you consider the external and internal sealing, rock-solid valve head and 100% rattle-free design.

Additionally, it’s the only pump tested that offers a truly accurate pressure gauge. It’s the same system as the Silca Viaggio, and requires syncing to a smartphone app. From there you get 100% accuracy and easy reading that even the best floor pumps would be jealous of. It’s this feature that also makes the Tattico Bluetooth a great travel companion.

At less than half the price, the regular Tattico (not submitted for review) is well worth consideration – especially if you don’t want the Bluetooth gauge or associated price.

2. Birzman Scope Apogee

Birzman Scope Apogee mini pump

Far cheaper than the Silca, it was Birzman’s now-discontinued Velocity Apogee RG pump that initially finished in second place. At the close of testing, Birzman submitted a handful of newer, actually available pumps, and as it turned out, the even simpler and cheaper Birzman Scope Apogee was even better in many ways. I’m a fan of Birzman’s Apogee valve head, something that installs onto Presta valves securely with a single turn. To release, just pull back on the collar – like the Silca, it’s another pump that can’t accidentally unwind valve cores.

The rubber-covered handles make it comfortable to use, and it’s one of the lighter action pumps on test – even a 50kg tester could get a tyre to 80psi. It’s a good balance of weight and size, and is reasonably well sealed from the elements. All that said, this pump offers no hose attachment, and so care is needed when getting up to full pressure – thankfully it’s fairly efficient.

3. Lezyne Road Drive (Large)

Lezyne Road Drive Large mini pump

Lezyne has long been a popular go-to, but hard pumping and loud rattles across a number of models had me underwhelmed. The Road Drive (size large) is the clear exception to that, and while it’s the closest thing to a frame pump tested (in terms of size), it’s also lovely to use.

The threaded valve head is notorious for unthreading valve cores but thankfully Lezyne now includes a tightening tool with the pump. It may be a little slower to use in that you have to thread the hose into the pump, but this model was the most efficient tested (117 strokes to 80psi), it’s rattle-free, and both the pump and included alloy mount are built to last.

4. Lifeline Performance Road

Lifeline Performance Road mini pump

This is my pick for the best value road pump (US$25 / AU$34). Lifeline is the house brand of the Wiggle/ChainReactionCycles/Bike24 empire, and the Performance Road is a surprisingly good pump given the low price and weight. The self-contained hose locks onto both valve types, while the telescoping design offers a surprising amount of volume for efficient pumping.

The design does have more moving parts than most, so just beware that long-term durability may be a concern. Similarly, this gets hard to use above 80psi.

5. Blackburn Core Slim

Blackburn Core Slim mini pump

Blackburn submitted a number of pumps that had me impressed, but the Core Slim kept it simple and fuss-free. This is one model that will surely last. The threaded Presta-only head sits on a self-contained hose, and the pump is given external sealing to keep it free from contamination and rattles.

I really like the simplicity and clean lines of this pump, but do beware that it’s not the most efficient for its size, the thin handles can be a little slick at pressure, and the valve design will unwind removable valve cores – thankfully a valve core tool is contained at the bottom of the pump.

The best combination Co2 and mini pump for road cycling

Blackburn Core Co2’Fer

Blackburn Core Co2'Fer

This one is comparable to the Blackburn Core Slim, but adds an easily controlled CO2 head to the design. The addition of the CO2 means the pump isn’t quite as efficient in volume, and there is a minor rattle from the head. The included mount holds a CO2 canister on the opposite side. Still, if you want CO2 and an effective road pump, this is the best I’ve found.

Birzman Sheath Apogee

Birzman Sheath Apogee mini pump and Co2

Birzman’s Sheath Apogee is quite similar to Core Co2’Fer, but with its larger form factor comes a more efficient volume and the clever Apogee head. If the seal between the Apogee head and Co2 inflator on my sample didn’t suffer a slow leak, then this pump would likely have won the category. While that leak didn’t make a huge difference to the function of the pump, it does worry me for long-term durability. If you’re willing to take the risk in the hope you’ll have better luck, then there’s a lot of good going for this pump.

Alternatively, the miniFumpa is an option for fast inflation. This has been reviewed in-depth seperately.

Runners-up:

Birzman’s Mini Apogee is the smallest road pump tested and is perfect for the person who rarely gets flats and wants a pump stashed in a saddle bag or jersey pocket. It’s surprisingly efficient for its size, but do be aware that its tiny head and smooth handle makes it tiring to use.

The Silca Pocket Impero is the nicest quality pump on test and will last for generations to come. It’s super easy to use, but I didn’t love the rubber sleeve that would slide down into the way during use, and the lack of mount isn’t for everyone.

There are plenty of decent choices on the market, but it’s the little things that stop them from being great.

Zefal Air Profil FC03 and Bontrager Air Support HP Pro are both fine choices, but each can unscrew presta valve cores and they don’t offer any tools or features to prevent that from happening.

The Lezyne Pressure Drive (Medium) is really good, but suffers a severe rattle from the hose inside the barrel. You can fix it with the right-sized O-ring, but you shouldn’t need to. The provided mount is a little cheesy, and can cause the pump to rattle against the frame. And lastly, it’s super-efficient in volume, but not easy at higher pressures.

The Birzman Infinite Apogee Road fits into the same category as the Lezyne above, and it’s a great pump except for the obnoxious rattle caused by the removable hose.

For absolute low cost and simplicity, the Park Tool PMP-3.2 did everything it needed to and nothing more. It’s a great budget option for rare use.

The Topeak RaceRocket and Blackburn AirStik 2Stage should be considered if you’re looking for pumps that are good for both road and mountain bike (see lower down).

Also tested: Fabric R150 Road, crankbrothers Klic HP, Lezyne HP Drive (Small), Lezyne Pressure Drive CFH, PRO Performance HP, SKS Airboy, SKS Injex Control, SKS Injex T Zoom, Topeak Roadie DA, Zefal Air Profil Micro, Birzman Velocity Apogee RG (discontinued).

(Note: Pumps listed below with a “**” failed to reach the 80psi test pressure.)

Model Price Weight (g) Length Strokes to 80psi Valve type Flexible hose Co2 capability Gauge Does it rattle?
Birzman Velocity-Apogee RG (Discontinued) US$40 / AU$70 117 222mm 214 Both Yes No Yes Minor
Birzman Sheath Apogee US$50 / AU$TBC 122 196mm 271 Both Yes Yes No Minor
Birzman Infinite Apogee Road US$32 / AU$60 140 254mm 196 Both Yes No No Yes
Birzman Scope Apogee US$30 / AU$50 105 219mm 208 Both No No No No
Birzman Mini Apogee US$25 / AU$45 79 138mm 305 Both No No No Yes
Blackburn AirStik 2Stage US$25 / AU$45 84 180mm 310 Presta only No No No Minor
Blackburn Core Co2’Fer US$45 / AU$65 101 193mm 314 Presta only Yes Yes No Minor
Blackburn Core Slim US$35 / AU$55 106 250mm 281 Presta only Yes No No No
Bontrager Air Support HP Pro US$45 / AU$50 104 191mm 260 Preata only Yes No No Minor
crankbrothers Klic HP Gauge US$47 / AU$80 143 263mm 223 Both Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric R150 Road US$TBC / AU$60 99 196mm 373 Both Yes No No Minor
Fumpa Mini US$139 / AU$189 182 68mm 40 seconds Presta only No No No No
Lezyne HP Drive (Small) US$30 / AU$45 83 190mm 174 Both Yes No No Yes
Lezyne Pressure Drive (Medium) US$50 / AU$65 107 240mm 135 Both Yes No No Yes
Lezyne Pressure Drive CFH US$50 / AU$75 106 194mm 192 Both Yes Yes No Yes
Lezyne Road Drive (Large) US$50 / AU$65 128 295mm 117 Preta only Yes No No No
Lifeline Performance Road US$25 / AU$34 105 182mm 190 Both Yes No No No
OneUp EDC Pump (100cc)** US$59 / AU$86 163 257mm 56 (60psi) Presta only No Yes No No
Park Tool PMP-3.2 US$18 / AU$40 106 200mm 304 Both No No No No
PRO Performance HP US$N/A / AU$40 90 191mm 334 Both Yes No No No
Silca Impero Ultimate (frame pump) US$165 / AU$267 286 500mm 62 Presta only No No No No
Silca Pocket Impero US$120 / AU$202 150 208mm 209 Presta only No No No No
Silca Tattico Bluetooth US$120 / AU$211 161 245mm 193 Both Yes No Yes* No
SKS Airboy** US$30 / AU$43 61 173mm 300+ (Leaked) Presta only No No No Minor
SKS Injex Control US$40 / AU$57 215 284mm 196 Both No No Yes Yes
SKS Injex T Zoom US$30 / AU$45 180 263mm 247 Both No No No Yes
Specialized Airtool Road Mini** US$25 / AU$35 61 164mm 152 (to 55psi) Presta only No No No No
Topeak RaceRocket US$33 / AU$55 94 180mm 180 Both Yes No No No
Topeak Roadie DA** US$20 / AU$40 96 183mm 250 (75psi) Presta only No No No Yes
Zefal Air Profil FC03 US$50 / AU$70 103 184mm 285 Both Yes No No No
Zefal Air Profil Micro US$20 / AU$30 92 163mm 344 Both No No No No

The best high-volume pumps for gravel and mountain bike (up to 40psi)

1. OneUp EDC Pump (100cc)

OneUp EDC Pump

This pump is genius. It’s the only pump in this test that goes beyond traditional inflation needs, and yet, it’s one of the best pumps, too. The machined aluminium construction gives it a quality feel and plenty of grip in hand. The presta-only press-fit head is no-fuss, and the pump will fill a tyre before you start wishing it had a hose attachment. That presta-only head can also be removed and used as a CO2 inflator.

But that’s hardly the only trick here. OneUp has designed its pumps to work with its EDC tools (US$59) that are best known for stashing inside a fork steerer. Instead, you can store the customisable tools inside your pump barrel. My 100cc sample offers space for a multi-tool, chain breaker, tyre lever, chain masterlink and C02 canister. And despite all of that, it’s rattle free.

Just beware: this pump is made for mountain biking, and while gravel riders can benefit from it too, it will get fussy if pushed near 50psi.

2. Topeak RaceRocket MT

Topeak RaceRocket MT mini pump

Where OneUp’s pump has MacGyver himself stashed within it, the Topeak RaceRocket MT is no-fuss, affordable and just as pleasant to use. The aluminium construction is given a rubber grip for comfortable use, while the self-contained hose will work with both valve types.

The pump defies its size and weight with efficient pumping, and can handle higher gravel pressures too. A valve-core tool is provided at the bottom to prevent the threaded hose from causing (likely) mischief.

3. Specialized AirTool MTB Mini

Specialized AirTool MTB Mini

Designed for stashing in a pack or pocket, this tiny pump comes with a tyre lever and plastic frame to wrap an inner tube around. The 101g pump hides a push-on head that locks onto the valve with a twist of the barrel. From there, its volume defies its size.

While it’s not the most comfortable pump to use, if you can’t remember the last time you flatted, then this pump is perfect for stashing away with that long-expired Clif bar.

4. Birzman Velocity-Apogee MG

Specialized AirTool MTB Mini

Between the rubber grips, flexible hose and secure-locking valve, this is the most comfortable pump on test. Once learnt, the Apogee valve head works easily with both valve types, there’s no risk of pressure loss on removal and it won’t unwind a presta valve in the process.

There’s a pressure gauge that sits inline of the hose, and while it works, it would be far better if the scale was tailored towards MTB pressures and not road. It’s only good to get you within 5psi of your desired pressure. Additionally, a slight rattle from the valve head is what holds this pump back from scoring higher.

5. Lezyne Alloy Drive (Medium)

Lezyne Alloy Drive Medium

The medium-sized Lezyne Alloy Drive is quite comparable to the Topeak RaceRocket MT. It offers a proven aluminium construction and an equal third-best output efficiency. Lezyne has solved the issue of unwinding valve cores by integrating a core tightening tool into the hose, and the pressure-release button should help, too.

However, it suffers from an obnoxious rattle, the mount is super flexy and the pump gets tough to use once above 30psi.

Runners-up:

While Silca’s Tattico Bluetooth is far from efficient for higher volume tyres, the Bluetooth pressure gauge is perfect if you want to fine-tune your exact pressure when out on the trail. Its sealing and build quality is certainly up to off-road us, too.

The Topeak Mountain TT is one of the easiest high-volume pumps to use at pressures above 45psi. The chunky shape and similarly efficient volume to the RaceRocket MT is why this pump didn’t make the top ranks.

There were fewer runner ups, and therefore fewer good options worth your money, for mini pumps suited to off-road riding.

Zefal’s Z Cross XL has a polarising (cheap) appearance but is extremely comfortable to hold and its telescoping design makes it efficient in use (equal to the Lezyne Alloy Drive, but with less force required). After the Topeak Mountain TT, this is the second-best at higher pressures (above 45psi). It is, however, quite a large pump.

For absolute simplicity and low cost, the Park Tool PMP-4.2 will always put air where it needs to go. It’d be nice to see an external seal added to the head, but otherwise, it does what it needs to.

The most efficient on test was Topeak’s Mountain DA. However, the Dual-Action design means you’re pushing and pulling with resistance, which makes it extremely tiring to use. It’s the perfect example of a pump with higher volume (and requiring fewer strokes) still being more tiring to use.

The Topeak RaceRocket and Blackburn AirStik 2Stage should be considered if you’re looking for pumps that are good for both road and mountain bike (see lower down).

Also tested: SKS Airboy XL, SKS Injex Control, SKS Injex T-Zoom, crankbrothers Klic HV, Fabric MilliBar MTB, Lezyne Sport Drive HV, Lifeline Performance MTB, PRO Performance HV, Specialized AirTool Big Bore.

Model Price Weight Length Strokes to 30psi Strokes to 35psi Valve type Flexible hose CO2 capability? Gauge
Birzman Velocity-Apogee MG US$40 / AU$70 145 224mm 150 175 Both Yes No Yes
Blackburn AirStik 2Stage US$25 / AU$45 84 180mm 182 211 Presta only No No No
crankbrothers Klic HV Gauge US$47 / AU$80 150 263mm 170 197 Both Yes Yes Yes
Fabric MilliBar MTB US$TBC / AU$60 234 232mm 103 120 Both Yes No No
Fumpa Mini US$139 / AU$189 182 68mm 60 seconds 70 seconds Presta only No No No
Lezyne Alloy Drive (Medium) US$50 / AU$65 135 233mm 105 124 Both Yes No No
Lezyne Sport Drive HV US$20 / AU$30 97 190mm 180 206 Both Yes No No
Lifeline Performance MTB US$25 / AU$34 118 182mm 171 198 Both Yes No No
OneUp EDC Pump (100cc) US$59 / AU$86 163 257mm 109 124 Presta only No Yes No
Park Tool PMP-4.2 US$19 / AU$33 132 264mm 165 191 Both No No No
PRO Performance HV US$N/A / AU$40 101 210mm 329 383 Both Yes No No
Silca Tattico Bluetooth US$120 / AU$211 161 245mm 255 295 Both Yes No Yes*
SKS Airboy XL US$30 / AU$45 90 180mm 226 264 Both No No No
SKS Injex Control US$40 / AU$57 215 284mm 164 192 Both No No Yes
SKS Injex T Zoom US$30 / AU$45 180 263mm 175 203 Both No No No
Specialized AirTool Big Bore US$45 / AU$50 155 202mm 107 124 Both Yes No No
Specialized AirTool MTB Mini US$25 / AU$35 101 165mm 170 198 Both No No No
Topeak Mountain DA US$22 / AU$40 128 220mm 93 108 Both No No No
Topeak Mountain TT US$33 / AU$55 196 220mm 125 151 Both No No No
Topeak RaceRocket US$33 / AU$55 94 180mm 242 281 Both Yes No No
Topeak RaceRocket MT US$40 / AU$70 126 201mm 132 152 Both Yes No No
Zefal Z Cross XL US$35 / AU$50 182 233mm 105 121 Both No No No

Best mini pumps for road and mountain

This category is a little tricky as all road pumps can be used for mountain bike, and a small handful of mountain bike pumps will get you to rideable road pressure. These two pumps are claimed to be good for double duty, and while they’re both a jack-of-all-trades (master of none), they’re worth considering if you want one pump for all bikes.

1. Topeak RaceRocket

Topeak Race Rocket mini pump

This is effectively a higher-pressure version of the RaceRocket MT pump and can, therefore, hit a higher pressure at the cost of efficiency. For the road, it’s one of the more efficient pumps tested, although it also requires significant force when near or over 80psi. Off-road it’s not terrible, but will take almost double the strokes of more dedicated pumps.

It’s rattle-free and built to last but the rubber grip did begin to slide at road pressures. You’ll want to use the included valve core tightening tool to prevent the threaded valve head from pulling your valve core.

2. Blackburn AirStik 2Stage

Blackburn AirStik 2Stage

The Blackburn AirStik 2Stage is another super compact option that can perform double-duty. It can be switched between a high-volume and high-pressure setting, with the latter needed after about 40psi. Where the Topeak RaceRocket is perhaps better for road, this one is better at off-road volume/pressures.

It’s an impressively compact pump that has an air volume that defies its size, but it does carry compromises. Namely the tiny press-on (presta-only) head quickly becomes uncomfortable to keep stable, and there is a very slight rattle heard.

Also worth considering in this category is the miniFumpa, however, being electric it carries its own compromises.

Selection criteria

It’s surprising how quickly this test grew to include 45 mini pumps. And that’s only scraping the surface of the hundreds and hundreds of models on the market.

While I’ve inevitably left a few out, my first selection criteria was to include all the largest and most globally available mini pump brands. From there, I looked at the best-selling options across leading online stores, models that were highly reviewed by other publications, and I spoke to various brick and mortar stores, too.

With the brands selected, I asked them to supply their most popular and favourite mini pumps that balanced carrying size, weight and use. Seeking the “best” price wasn’t a factor, but despite that, and somewhat surprisingly, no brand provided a carbon fibre version (Topeak and Lezyne offer such things, among others). Often, my request was a simple one: “send the pumps your own staff would choose to carry on a ride”.

Regret
It was at this point that I was beginning to regret what I had started.

I requested their favoured samples for both road and mountain bike – or high volume and high pressure (I’ll come back to this). Some brands, with enormous and overwhelming ranges, sent a number of pumps, and wanted to send even more. Others provided just one or two samples. And that’s how I got to the 45 tested samples.

Amongst all of this, keep in mind that there are only two major pump manufacturers in Asia, and the bulk of the pumps tested show similarities that reveal they’re manufactured by one or the other. Given this, if you see another brand of pump on the market that looks and measures the same as one tested here, it’s highly likely it is closely comparable. And for this reason, this test only features a few generic brands.

Pressure versus Volume

Your choice in mini pump should depend on your desired riding style. The design criteria for pumping a 29in or 650B 2.4in tyre is quite different to getting a 700x23c tyre to a safe pressure. Take a garden hose for example – if you want to fill a bucket you’d put the nozzle on the widest setting to get the most water (volume) in the shortest time; whereas if you wanted to create pressure, you’d reduce the volume to restrict the water to be pushed out a smaller opening.

Pumps designed for road use are optimised for higher pressures, and for a given size, will produce less volume per stroke.

On the flip side, pumps designed for mountain bike or gravel tyres are designed to produce a higher air volume but only need to achieve relatively low pressures. These are optimised to reduce the number of strokes taken, but can quickly become highly inefficient (you become the required force) at producing pressure.

The inflation requirements of these two tyres are quite different. Consider that the tyre on the left is about as skinny as mountain bike tyres go these days…

And there are dual-purpose pumps that claim to cover both high-volume and high-pressure needs. Some achieve this with clever volume capacity switches, while others attempt to find a happy medium in the output. However, as my testing proved, there is always a compromise.

In my testing, I found that claimed maximum pump pressure and volume per stroke don’t mean much. Rather, the maximum claimed pressure is what the pump seals can handle, not what you can push. In many cases, high volume pumps simply become impossible to use at higher pressures, while high-pressure pumps are painfully inefficient at producing large volumes of air.

Think about what your pressure and volume needs are. If your road bike has 30c tubeless tyres that you’re running under 50psi, then a high volume (mountain bike) pump with an easier stroke force may be the best choice. Likewise, if you run 70psi on your gravel bike, then certainly consider a high-pressure (road) pump.

And if you must have one pump to cover your mountain bike and high-pressure road needs, then get either a dual purpose pump or a high-pressure pump (ideally one with an efficient volume). The latter will be slower and more tiring to use on the mountain bike, but it’ll eventually do the job.

Testing protocol

This test was run over a number of months, with the field being narrowed down early on based on initial volume efficiency, stroke force, ease of use and severity of rattles. Much of this testing used a calibrated inline digital pressure gauge assembled by Kappius components. This allows for live pressure testing and reduced the number of testing variables.

The gauge is set up for Schraeder valve use, so I used a brass Presta adapter on one end, and a unique Schraeder-Presta adapter from CantitoeRoad at the other end when a pump was Presta-only.

High-volume mountain and gravel pumps were tested with a 650x47mm (27.5×1.9in) Panaracer GravelKing tyre (and tube) on a Hunt Adventure Carbon rim (24mm inner width) – inflated to 35psi as an average pressure for gravel tyres. The same wheel setup was also measured at 30psi for the mountain bike-specific test. Road-focussed high-pressure pumps were tested with a Schwalbe Durano 700x25c clincher tyre on a Fulcrum Racing 5 rim (15.25mm).

The number of full strokes (top out at top, bottom out at bottom) required to go from zero to the required psi were counted. And the testing method was cross-referenced and double checked with various pumps, numerous times, to ensure consistency and repeatability of the process. My method differs from the more common test method of measuring the pressure at 200 strokes, mainly because the custom gauge I used allowed for such a method without risk of pressure loss.

To put the pumps tested into perspective, a Silca Impero Ultimate frame pump (medium size) did the road tyre to 80psi in 62 strokes, while a Silca SuperPista Digital floor pump inflated it in just 23 strokes.

Force of stroke was measured subjectively based on how much of a strain it was to achieve a single stroke past the tested pressure. A smaller tester (50kg) also provided a baseline for these numbers, where pumps that I found difficult at the final tested pressure were literally impossible for them to use – and similarly, with those same pumps, they were unable to get anywhere near the testing pressure.

I hate rattles. Most mini-pumps will be attached beneath the bottle cage and left on the bike full-time, and in my experience as a mechanic, it’s quite common for people to complain about a rattle in their bike that can be traced to the pump. So if the pump noticeably rattled once strapped into its mount, it was out of contention. This ruled out a few otherwise lovely pumps, such as the crankbrothers Klic HP.

Even the best mini pumps will get warm to touch by the time you’re at your desired pressure, and it’s not that rare to hear the occasional whisp of air sneaking past the internal shaft seals once the pump is hot and under pressure. The inline gauge allowed me to see some pumps suffer in this regard, while more premium versions, such as those from Silca, purposefully address this issue in the materials used.

Ease of use is largely subjective and was based on how intuitive the pump’s usage was, how quick it was to start using, general ease of use at the valve attachment, and how comfortable it was during use. Pumps that caused arm cramps to keep them on the valve, unwound valves without a solution, or those with pinch points and/or slippery handles didn’t fare so well here.

Features and considerations

There are many little details that make a workable pump, a good pump.

Perhaps most obvious are the ergonomics and materials used in order to make the pumping experience easier, especially given you’ll likely end up using the pump with wet or sweaty hands. Pumps with perfectly smooth finishes and no shape aren’t ideal here, and you’ll end up using more energy just to hold on.

Other designs offer a fold-out handle for easier pumping, some are great, while others give you something to pinch your fingers with. Many of my favourite pumps on test kept it simple with an inline handle, and simply added knurling, or rubber texturing for easier and more comfortable use.

Do you have bikes with both Schraeder and Presta valves? Many readers will be able to get away with a presta-only pump, but most pumps on the market can do both. Some will adjust to the different valve types automatically, others require you to flip a threaded chuck, and many still require you to open the valve head and flip the valve pin and rubber gasket.

Many of the pumps tested feature a hose connection. It’s become a trend for good reason. (Pictured is Birzman’s Apogee valve head.)

It’s amazing to see how many mini pumps have moved the pump head to the end of a hose, all but solving the risk of breaking a valve as you lever it back and forth while pumping. Rather, a pump that uses a hose allows for more negligent pumping and is typically easier to use as a result.

Still, the hose is an added feature that can impact on volume, weight and size. Additionally, threaded hose designs introduce the potential for unwinding valve cores, such as those found on tubeless valves and many European tubes. As a result of this, it’s increasingly common to find hose-equipped pumps supplied with a valve core tool. Simply make sure your valve cores are tight and you’re unlikely to experience issues.

If you’re planning on keeping the pump on your bike, then look for one with weather sealing at the head and barrel. Keeping the valve head free of dirt and water will ensure it works for many years to come, while a seal on the barrel isn’t as common, it is often used to prevent rattles.

Speaking of keeping the pump on the bike, you’ll need a mount for that. The Silca Pocket Impero, Birzman Mini Apogee and Fumpa Mini (electric) were the only pumps on test to not include a mount for carrying the pump on the bike. All other pumps offer comparable mounts to be attached to standard bidon cage bosses, although some are certainly better than others.

A mini pump should be viewed as an emergency-only item, and for that, a press of the tyre to feel that it’s firm should be all you need to continue your ride. Still, pressure gauges on mini pumps are a popular selling feature. Generally speaking the gauges are so small that, unless we’re talking about digital gauges, they’re almost impossible to get an accurate and consistent reading from. In many cases, the gauges were only good for getting to the nearest 10psi.

Do you view the mini pump as a back-up to your CO2? If that’s the case, then it may make sense to get a pump that doubles for CO2 duty. Many of these are surprisingly good – and often better than a lot of CO2 chucks people carry – plus they’re harder to lose.

Many thread-on valve heads have a habit of removing valve cores. Many of the better pumps that are at risk of this now include a valve core tool.

Finally, there are the extras. A number of pumps with threaded hoses offer a valve core tool – simply solving a problem they create. Then there’s the clever pump from OneUp which hides an entire tool kit and puncture repair within itself; or the pump from Specialized which is tiny and can be wrapped in one with an innertube and tyre lever.

Gallery


Given all of this, what’s your pick? Mini pump, CO2, frame pump, Uber or support car? What have you had great success with?

Editors Picks