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The cyclist pulled up to our shop’s trailer. “Can I get a little bit of air?” they ask.
It’s like this before every ride. By the time the sun comes up, I’ll have aired up the tires of 20 bikes.
And there is nothing more frustrating than grabbing the most expensive “pro” version only to discover that it has decided to stop working.
As a cyclist and bike shop employee, I’ve been through a lot of floor pumps in my life. And when you are standing there, looking at all the options at the store, it can be really challenging to choose.
And when you the customer standing there, looking at all the options at the bike store, it can be really challenging to pick out the best bike pump. Amazon is even worst. Every person making to make money online is having a Chinese manufacturer create a design for them and they are flooding the market. hThen they stuff their listing with fake reviews, creating a field of landmines.
A floor pump is an absolute necessity. Bicycles have tiny tires, and the slightest drop in pressure makes them soft and unrideable. I re-inflate up my tires every single day that I ride.Granted, an air compressor can work if it is equipped to go up to 120 PSI for road tires.
Frankly, I find my floor pump to be a very easy system to use. It fits easily in the back of my car and is always right there beside my bike.
Thankfully, in all of my testing, I have had a few that have way outperformed the others. Some of these are even partially rebuild-able, which greatly extends their life and usefulness.
There are plenty of copy-cats and foreign-made imitators on the market.
But there are also phenomenal innovations built into some of these pumps.
And it is these innovative models that I want to highlight.
Make sure that you get one that has both Schrader and Presta valve attachments. Maybe you only have one kind of valve right now, but I’ve found that when I ride with other people I often need to help them inflate their tires, too, and you need a tool that can do both.
The other trick is to keep it from being “borrowed” by family members. I can’t tell you how many I have lost to other uses and then had to go track down the offender and get it back. In the end, I decided that using a sharpie to add my name to mine was a good idea.
But, once you get a really good pump, you will understand why everyone wants to borrow it all the time. These options are top-notch, affordable, and will make your bicycle maintenance a cinch.
#1 – Topeak Joe Blow Bike Pump Review
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A lady came into the shop with her yellow pump. “It’s not working, can you fix it?”
I had remembered a Topeak rebuild kit in the back and retrieved it. It had all of the right parts.
She eyed the kit suspiciously “I’m not very handy… how much is it for a new pump?”
“Oh, only about $15 more, ” I replied.
She bought the new model, and I offered her $10 for her old one.
I rebuilt it and proceeded to use it for the next 10 years. (It is still going strong). Are there better bike options on the market? Possibly.
And there are folks who have different preferences.
But I’ve seen a lot of customers get 10+ years of use out of their pumps. And then they rebuild them and do it again (the rebuild takes about 15 minutes. Extremely simple.)
Repairable products are a dying trend in America, and I find it a refreshing change.
Some of you like to inflate your tires to above 130 psi. It seems to handle that just fine. I also tend to abuse mine, leaving it in the back of my car for weeks at a time.
I could go on, but I think the fact that it has been one of the top-selling floor pumps for over half a decade is a pretty good indicator of just how solid this is.
I’ve seen these things thrown, dropped and run over. And a lot of times they still work.
I’m coming to the conclusion that if we ever have a nuclear incident, the two things that will survive are cockroaches and Topeak floor pumps.
#2 – Serfas FMP 500 (Best High Pressure Bike Pump)
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Fair warning, this might be the best on the market. If you are serious about riding and want a pump that will make all of your cycling buddies jealous, this is the one.
You may not recognize the Serfas brand name. This company hasn’t been a strong player in the brand-building game. You won’t see them plastered all over at the Tour De France.
Where they win are by consistently delivering high-quality cycling accessories for an affordable price. They then back their products up with a solid warranty program and reliable customer support.
It has been fun watching them grow. Each year, they seem to raise their game a little bit with new and better products.
The FMP 500 is a step into the next level. Some road riders like high pressure. They buy high-end tires specifically designed to go above 160 PSI. For the heavier athlete, this can make a noticeable difference in performance.
Many of the smaller models are rated for high pressure, but you end up working extremely hard to get those last few strokes of air into the tire. With this larger version, you have the leverage you need to easily reach the PSI you need without making your buddies wait on you.
Finally, the best aspect is that Serfas has an easy-to-use warranty, should something go wrong. These aren’t quite as rebuildable as the Topeak, but on the rare case that we’ve gotten a bad pump, Serfas has been good at sending a new one right out to the customer.
#3 – Serfas TCPG Bicycle Floor Pump
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Want to save even more money? This Serfas is an absolute steal.
Currently, the #1 best-selling on Amazon, the TCPG is modeled after much pricier options on the market. However, in classic Serfas style, they put together a smart package that delivers for less.
This has a “smart” head which means no fiddling to switch it between the two types of valves. Just slip it over your valve and flip the switch. It connects instantly.
The big dial is also awesome. It’s clear and easy to read. It also has a small arrow you can set at your desired pressure. This makes it easy to check and air your tires while distracted (I’m always distracted.)
The downside is that it might be a little bit harder to find replacement parts for it that you could for Topeak, however, my Serfas lasted for 3 years before dying, so I think that is a pretty good run for the money.
I’ve had a lot of customers throughout the years who insist on only using this pump. The long hose and easy-to-read gauge are nice features, and when you throw in the price, it is easy to see why it is one of the top ones on the market.
For most of my readers, this is the one you should go with. The only reason it is not #1 on my list, is because the Topeak (my #1 pick) is one that I’ve personally used for over 8 years.
Note: I’ve noticed a lot of folks selling something that looks identical to this pump under different brands. However, I would choose this one over the “copycats” since it has a trusted company behind it, and you’ll have much less hassle with warranty repairs.
#4 – The BV Bicycle Pump
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This one is ideal as a family pump. You can use it for your bicycle, but the kids will appreciate inflation for their tires and basketballs.
BV’s brand popularity flows and ebbs. But what doesn’t change is this pump. It’s a big tool that can air you up in record time.
The key with this pump is its huge chamber and the fact that it rapidly airs up your tires with much fewer strokes than most other options.
It also has a really solid feel to it, so when you are using it really feels like you have a lot of leverage on the pump — which is nice for those higher PSI applications.
One of the neat things about this one is that it has a dual-headed valve so that all you have to do is slip it over the valve stem of the tire and flip the letter. The one head has both Schrader and Presta valve compatibility,, making it easy for even newbs to use this one.
The steel body of this one gives you a solid setup that is designed to last. In fact, you will probably find yourself using it on your lawnmower tires and wheelbarrows. It’s a handy tool to use for both cyclings and for those around-the-house needs.
#5 – The Topeak Turbo Morph (Bike Frame Pump)
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This is a frame pump. In other words, you will want to hook it onto the frame of your bicycle — and it comes with a handy bracket for doing just that. It is designed to give you a source of air no matter where you are — especially on those long rides that take you hours from home. (Especially important if you happen to be Dave Matthews)
The Topeak is one of the best-designed mini pumps out there. It has neat features, such as a little foot stand that flips out for you stand on while you operate it (a lot of options are designed to force you to shove both ends at each other — much, much tougher to use). It also has a “T” handle that folds out, so you can get a lot of force on it.
The gauge is another huge feature that you don’t typically see on these portable pumps. It’s pretty easy to get these up to 100 PSI — more than enough to limp home on. And, with a little determination, you can hit that 120+ PSI mark, if you insist.
I typically just use these for emergencies, but I’ve known people who have used this option for all of their needs. Frankly, the “air tube” is so small that you have to work like a maniac to fill up a tire, so I don’t care much for using it more than I need.
But, when you need it, you are so glad that you have it.
Bonus – Genuine Innovations (Emergency CO2)
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Because these frame pumps take so long to fill up your cycle, I am a big fan of using pre-filled CO2 cartridges when out on a long ride. That way, you can inflate your tire — or the bulk of your tire — without working endlessly.
This Genuine Innovation combines the best of both worlds to create an emergency air source. It has an orifice for fitting a CO2 cartridge for airing up your tires.
These cartridge systems are simply the best way to go. Instead of spending ten minutes pumping furiously trying to get an ounce of air in your tires, you can simply twist and deploy.
It’s the only way I go. After all, you just want enough air that you can continue your ride. It’s ok if it is a little bit soft.
However, if you get more than one flat, you’ll appreciate having the backup feature that can air up your tire. In addition, if you have a tire that needs more pressure than the CO2 cartridge will deliver, this can “top off” your air needs.
Once again, this would not be a primary tool, but a nice emergency setup to take along with you when riding.
(You’ll want to choose either the road for high pressure or the mountain for higher volume pumping — match the choice to the riding style you do)
Frequently Asked Questions
My gauge doesn’t work?
In every instance, I’ve noticed that the hose has to be clipped, and then you need to give it a stroke of air to get the system engaged so you can get a reading on the gauge. This is especially true on Presta valves since they don’t allow air to flow until pressure is in place.
Do I need an adapter?
All of these work without an adapter on both Schrader and Presta valves. However, I do carry one with me at all times in case I end up in a situation where I need one.
What does psi mean on a bike pump?
It means pounds per square inch. More specifically, it’s how much air the pump can force into your bike’s tire. The greater the psi, the more air you’ll be able to get into that tire. Note that road bike tires typically require a higher psi than mountain or hybrid bikes, just as a friendly reminder so that you don’t overdo it.
Should you inflate bike tires to their maximum psi?
If the tire pressure is too high, it can make your ride feel very bumpy and harsh but may increase performance on fast turns. With mountain bikes, high pressure can also cause a tire to “bounce” off obstacles rather than roll over them smoothly. On the other hand, lower pressure can make your bike handle sloppily and reduce efficiency but can improve traction and provide a more comfortable ride. The downside is that you increase the risk of getting a flat tire.
Generally speaking, you’ll want higher pressure if your weight is high, and you’ll want lower pressure if your weight is lower than average. However, if you want to hit the sweet spot of psi, you don’t need to look at a chart. Just inflate your tires to their maximum capacity without going overboard. Then ride your bike for a while to get a feeling of how maximum psi feels like. Once that’s done, reduce the pressure by 5-10 psi and ride it again. From there, keep adjusting until you feel that the ride is the most comfortable for your needs.
The Bottom Line
Getting a good bike pump is essential if you want to get the best experience out of riding your bike. And once you hit that sweet spot between comfort and psi, you’ll be on your way to glory. I hope this article has been helpful to you. Good luck!
Video: How To Air Up A Bicycle Tire