If you’ve ever been to a world cup cyclocross or mountain bike race, you’re likely to hear the hum of devices that look like hand-held drills. These (often) Bosch air pumps are now discontinued, and the existing options don’t warrant such a following. The Bosch units were reliable, offered a digital pressure gauge and could easily be converted to work with a Silca or similar pump head. Pro mechanics have been crying for an alternative, as have many amateur tool addicts.
New Australian start-up Fumpa may have an answer to the product few knew existed. The 343g Fumpa is a small red anodised aluminium-encased box that houses a rather powerful brushless motor capable of inflating a tyre to 120psi. There’s a digital gauge, and the pump head is ready to push straight onto a Presta valve or can be flipped for Schraeder use. Inside sits a replaceable Lithium-Ion battery; on the outside, there is an external recharge port (wall-charger included) and an on-off switch sitting opposite.
With an industrial build full of metal connectors and solid casing, the Fumpa is certainly more than a toy or gimmick. The pump itself pushes out a surprising amount of air that inflates a completely flat 700x26c tyre to 100psi in 42 seconds (for reference, a top-end Lezyne pump takes 32 strokes for the same job). It’s not enough to seat a tubeless tyre, but is plenty fast for normal inflation needs.
A digital gauge’s ease of reading should never be mistaken for accuracy. For this, I tested the Fumpa’s digital gauge against a lab-verified gauge. At an actual 50psi, the Fumpa displayed 50psi. At an actual 100psi, the Fumpa read 100psi. That’s an unquestionable pass in my book — most floor-pumps on the market fall well short of such accuracy.
Unlike a proper air compressor, the Fumpa does not have an air chamber to fill. Rather, it directly pumps air into the hose, which slowly gets warmer as the motor heats up. Using the short hose and head supplied with the unit produced enough heat for the valve stem to get hot to the touch.
All of that extra heat means the tyre pressure may drop a little once the air cools, but the effect on the Fumpa unit is more significant. When the motor gets too hot, an internal temperature control cuts the power and you have to wait a few minutes for it to cool. I managed two full road tyre inflations (0-100psi) before this occurred with my sample.
The stock friction-fit pump head and short hose work well, but I found it rather finicky to get it to seal when new. The rubber seal has since worn in nicely and makes for a quick push and press operation of the Fumpa for checking pressure and topping up tyres, but it was still a bit awkward compared to the optional extension hose and head. The dual-head at the end of this hose not only locked onto the valve more securely, it provided more distance for the air to cool before reaching the valve. And thanks to some stealthy quick connectors, it was very easy to fit too.
The optional extension hose is an improvement over the short hose and valve fittings supplied with the Fumpa.
Those that sneak out of the house like a mouse in the morning should avoid using the Fumpa. This little unit is surprisingly noisy! I recorded the noise at 82 decibels at half-an-arm’s length away. For reference, my stick blender making a smoothie generated 87 decibels of racket.
Charging the unit takes just an hour. While some might like to see a USB-compatible charging option, the Fumpa at least could use a battery level indicator to give warning before it cuts out. Pumping the same 700x26c tyre, my sample managed four complete 0-100psi inflations before running out of juice. By contrast, I managed to inflate a 29×2.2in mountain bike tyre from 0-30psi six times before the battery ran out, so it’s high pressures that exhaust the little unit. Therefore, I’d say the Fumpa is well suited for household use, where one charge is likely to provide a couple of weeks of pressure checks and top-ups, but it’s not really going to suit professional mechanics carrying out tyre pressure checks all day long.
Fumpa’s website suggests some riders may be able to take the pump with them on rides. Frankly, I’ll stick with a far lighter, weatherproof and easier to carry mini pump for that purpose. But as a truly compact and accurate item to put in the toolbox and use for checking pressure and quickly topping up tyres before a ride — I’m sold. It’s not cheap and it’s loud, but having lusted after one of the rare-as-hen’s-teeth Bosch air pumps for so long (and having failed with cheaper imitations), Fumpa gets my gadget-geek money.
Price: AUD$179 (~US$129).