A Guide to buying bike pumps
The most important piece of bike equipment in your arsenal - should be your pump.
The right tirepressure is essential for a smooth comfortable ride. What the right pressure is - is dependent on your set up, your riding surface and a set of other factors. Ensuring that you leave your house with the right tirepressure, can help you avoid most flats.
When you have to purchase a new pump, you will discover that the choices are many. There is a wide variety of pumps for sale in all price ranges, and for all kinds of usage. You can use this guide to ensure some kind of clarity and help you find the right pump for you. We have listed the different pumps in categories with a short description and added pros and cons for the different types of pumps. The categories are:
1: Mini pumps / hand pumps
2: CO2 pumps / CO2 cartridges
3: Frame pumps
4: Foot pumps
5: Suspension pumps
6: Tubeless Inflator / Tubeless Tank
So get comfortable and read through this guide and find the perfect pump for you and your bike/bikes. If you want to be sure that you have reached the perfect tirepressure - we recommend buying a pump with a build in pressure gauge - a so called manometer - this helps to ensure that you reach the right pressure every time.
Mini pumps / hand pumps
Handpumps and minipumps are pumps the pump air into your tire using handpower. The size of the pump is equivalent to the size of the airchamper. That means that you have to pump more times with a smaller pump, than with a larger similar pump. Some pump are none the less constructed to release air both with the pulling and pushing motion.
These are the things you have to take into account when looking for a hand- or minipump:
3. Valve fit
Most pumps in this category is constructed to either be mounted on your bike or to fit inro your backpocket. You obviously have to choose a pump that is not to heavy or unhandy - or it will become a nuisance when riding. You have to make sure the pump fits your type of valve - or multiple types if you want it as a multipurpose pump. Besides this the ergonomics of the pump is important. There is nothing worse than a pump that results in blisters or skin getting caught during usage.
The majority of hand- and minipumps is made with a kind of closing mechanism that ensures a tight fit between pump and valve.
Pros and cons mini pumps and hand pumps
+ Easy to use
- acquires a certain amount of effort
- Can be a nuisance to carry
- Lack of precision
CO2 pumps / CO2 cartridges
A CO2 pump is a little pumphead to by the help of a CO2 cartridge pumps pressurized CO2 into your tire. A CO2 pump is often chosen because of its size and its leightweight construction. The pumps are available in very small, very handy and almost cool versions. I is easily fitted into a backpocket or a saddlebag. Because the pump is constructed to only fit one valve type it is essential to buy the right type.
As the pump only fits one kind of valve - you have to by multiple pumps if you more than one bike with different valves. Usage of the pump requires a little getting used to. You have to make sure that the fit between the pump and the valve is perfect - and that the valve is open - before letting out the CO2. If this is not ensured you risk letting out all the CO2, without it ending inside your tire. This will result in a bike with a flat tire, and a empty CO2 cartridge with is the last thing you want during a ride. Fortunately this properly only will happen once, especially when you have to walk home from a ride.
What to look for when buying a CO2 pump or/and CO2 cartridges:
3. Cartridge size
4. Whether your pump uses threaded or smooth cartridges
As described most CO2 pumps are very miniscule, so it is important to find a pump that is the right size and fit the size of your hand and fingers. Do not buy one to small. You have to buy a pump that fits the valvetype of your tires. CO2 pumps are produced to work with different sizes of cartridges. These are found with or without threading. The size of the cartridges are different depending on how many grams of CO2 they contain.
Pros and cons for CO2-pumps and cartridges:
+ Possibility of high levels of pressure
- Correct fit is needed
- Prize (every time you use your pump a has a cost)
- Loss of pressure (CO2 escapes the hose faster than O2)
Even though pollution is written as a con - it has to be taken into consideration that the amount of CO2 used is almost non existing.
A framepumps is what you ordinarily think of as a normal bikepump. Even Though the most sold type today is a minipump. The framepump is a pump that is fitted to the frame of the bike. The framepump works in the same manner as a mini- or handpump - look at the description of these in the top of the guide. The framepump is larger than a minipump. This results in a bigger airchamper - so the level of effort needed to pump the tire is equally smaller.
Pros and cons for frame pumps
+ Always accessible
Footpumps are larger pumps that normally works by you standing on some kind of plate - hereby fixating the pump - and forcing air into the chamber by raising and lowering a handle. The footpump often has a manometer and can be adapted to fitting multiple valves. The footpump is easy to use, durable and quite robust compared to handpumps. It is fast to use and can pump the tire to quite high pressure, it is versatile and can be used every day for many years.
Footpumps pros and cons:
+ Safe to use
A suspensionpump is used to adjust the suspensions of a bike with airpressurized front- and backsuspensions. A lot of riders do not adjust their suspensionpressure or leave it to the mechanic. But if you invest in a suspensionpump it is relatively easy to adjust the pressure yourself. To adjust the pressure you usually have to remove a small plasticcover on top of the suspensions. Fit the pump and a the wanted pressure. If you want a specific pressure - remember to add 4-5psi because a little amount of air will escape when removing the pump.
Tubeless Inflator/Tubeless Tank
A tubeless inflator is a pump used to pump tubeless tires. It is either an advanced footpump that can reach the high pressures that tubeless tires can handle - or a pump mounted with a tubeless tank of a set amount of pressurized air that is delivered in one go. If your prefer to ride tubeless tires a investment of this kind of pump will save you multiple trips to the mechanic - and make the maintenance process easier.
What to look for when buying a Tubeless Inflator / Tubeless Tank?
3. Hose length
When you have figured out whether or not this kind of pump is needed - you can, with an advantage, invest in a more expensive pump. First time buyers has to make sure that the hose is long enough for your needs. A long hose makes everything easier. Be sure to buy a sturdy pump that can handle the pressure you need.
Tubeless Inflator / Tubeless Tank pro and cons
+ Good for tubeless
+ Ease of use
- Only necessary for tubeless
This was what we wanted to write about the different kinds of pumps. We hope that you feel prepared to make the right purchase. Use a little more time to find the perfect pump for you - if you find a pump that fits your needs and i quality - it will be a valued companion for years to come. Tire pressure is as described in the beginning essentiel for a comfortable and fast ride.
Written by: Jakob Aas Thomas for Velomio