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TWC Recommends: Top Pumps for Faff Free Inflation

Here are our three top pumps to keep you rolling...

The bicycle is a beautiful invention – but you know what it’s almost useless without? Air. Lose the plump out of your rubber and you won’t be going very far at all.

In most cases, you’ll be using clincher tyres that are kept alive with an inflated inner tube. In the event of a flat, the tube will need to be repaired or replaced, and then you’ll need to pump up the new tube inside the tyre.

How to Replace an Inner Tube

There are two different styles of inner tube and you do need to use the right one for your bicycle wheel rim, as well as ensuring your pump is compatible. Most road bikes use Presta valves, as do many high end mountain bikes. Shrader valves look similar to those found on cars and are common on hybrid and mountain bikes.

Which inner tube: Presta vs Shrader

So you understand what sort of tube you need and how to change it. But what to pump with? We’ve selected our top three inflation devices – one track pump, one hand pump, and one mini pump…

Track pump: Specialized Air Tool High Pressure Floor Pump – £50 here

A track pump is for home use. Owning one allows you to get your tyres up to full optimum pressure with ease. Whilst reaching 100psi on a road bike with a mini pump might take quite a lot of elbow pumping, with a track pump it will be relatively easy.

What we love about this particular track pump is that it’s specifically designed to make reaching high pressure easier – 30 per cent easier, according to Specialized. Speaking as someone who has been known to (lazily) avoid arm exercise by sitting on the handle of less fine-tuned pumps, that’s a bonus.

We also like that this pump uses ‘Switch Hitter Technology’ to automatically determine if you’re pumping a Presta or Shrader valve, and select the correct mode, and the steel base is great for helping you keep it locked down as you get to work. The max pressure is 180 psi – more than enough for the average rider who will generally never need to go over 120 psi unless using tubular tyres.

Hand Pump: Lezyne Pressure Drive – ~£25 at major retailers

A hand pump is for when you’re out and about on the bike and have to fix a puncture where you are. Though modern versions often claim they can get you right up to 120psi, actually reaching that can be a bit of an endurance affair – but it’s better than loading your backpack with a track pump for every ride for sure!

A good hand pump will inflate you to a reasonable pressure, will be light and ideally have an attachment for your bike. The Lezyne Pressure Drive is by far our favourite.

Lezyne Mini GPS reviewed

Like all Lezyne kit, it’s beautifully CNC machined from lightweight aluminium and we like that it’s available in a rainbow of colours. The party trick is that inside the pump is a detachable ABS Flex Hose that has both a Presta and Shrader end for dual compatibility. This bendable hose fits to the pump, giving you an extra bit of length when it comes to inflation, without the size or weight compromise you might make with other options.

All in all, this little unit weighs less than 100g, and will reportedly (if you pump for a while) get you to 120psi. Having used one myself, I’ve always happily got to 90psi which is more than enough for most of us.

Co2 Inflator: Topeak AirBooster – ~£15 from major retailers 

Want to get right up to rock-hard pressure in seconds? Co2 is what you need. Co2 canisters are fitted to an inflator, which is then attached directly to the valve in order to fill the tube to it’s limit almost immediately.

Ask the Expert: Is it Better to Carry Co2 or a Hand Pump? 

This is great for quick roadside repairs, particularly in a race. However, it’s worth noting that Co2 is fine as long as you have canisters. If you take one, and suffer two punctures, you’re in trouble unless you have a pump as well. That, and you’ll need to buy replacement canisters (around £10 for 5), plus the excess waste isn’t not amazing for the environment, really. All this aside, used occasionally these are a real life saver.

Here the winner is the Topeak AirBooster. It’s Presta and Shrader compatible, weighs just 15g and comes with an adjuster so you can let just a little air in, then stop – great for adding a little plumpness to help prevent pinches when fitting the tube and for ensuring you don’t waste any by over-inflating.

You might also like: 

Pre-Ride Checks for Your Bag and Bike

Roadside Maintenance Tips and Advice

Clean and Maintain Your Bike in 10 Easy Steps

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