No matter what type of bike you own, you’ll need to regularly pump your tyres. There are two options, a hand pump or a floor pump. A small hand pump can be useful, getting you out of tricky situations if you need to pump up your tyres while you’re out on a ride. However, to pump your tyres quickly and with minimal effort a floor pump is the way to go.
Bicycle Victoria published the results of their floor pumps test in the February-March 2010 issue of their Ride On magazine. They put seven higher priced floor pumps to the ultimate test of both performance and endurance – the nine-day 2009 Great Victorian Bike Ride, whereby hundreds of riders used the pumps each day. Only two pumps managed to survive the nine day drilling, the Serfas FMP-500 and the Tioga Super Deluxe. Their sturdy construction, easy-to-read pressure gauge and overall ease of use gave them a good overall rating. The Serfas FMP-500 was the favourite among the participants of the ride. The Topeak Joe Blow Turbo may not have survived the onslaught of use, but it also rated highly and is recommended as the value for money option.
Presta valve or also known as “French valve”, is a narrow valve with an in-built valve cap, which must be opened to inflate the tyre and retightened afterwards to ensure no leakage. Presta valves are more common on racing bicycles because of their narrow diameter.
Schrader valve is larger than Presta and has springs that close the valves. It’s also known as an “American valve” and is the type found on cars, as well as being the most common valve type on bike tyres. The spring loaded pin however, must be depressed before air can flow during inflation. As a result, some air is lost when attaching and detaching pumps to Schrader valves.
What to look for
You first need to consider the type of bike you own, as this will depend on the type of floor pump you'll need. If you have a road bike, you'll need a pump that's quick to connect and disconnect to Presta valves and which will easily inflate to pressures of up to 120psi. However, there is more options available if you own a mountain bike (MTB) or hybrid with Schrader valves that only need to inflate to 80psi.
Before you buy a floor pump, test it out first in the store. Keep in mind the following:
- Does the pump easily inflate to your desired pressure? Try this out a couple of times, does it work consistently?
- Does it have a pressure gauge with a pressure indicator, to make it easy to read?
- Does it have a solid construction that allows for good stability?
- Is it comfortable to use, or is it awkward and tiring?
- Can it fit to Presta and/or Schrader valves? And is the pump head easy to attach and detach from the valve?