Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bike Pump Mega Test

Having trailed this 4 months ago (!), It is probably time I started writing it up :-)

The pumps on test are the original four mentioned, plus the newest addition to my pump "stable".
The original four are:
Muddyfox metal Track Pump - about £10 ($16, 12 Euros) from Argos
Crivit Track Pump - about £10 ($16, 12 Euros) from Lidl
Revolution Air Track Pump Sport - £17.99 (c. $29, 22 Euros) from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative
Crivit Mini Pump - about £8 ($13, 10 Euros) from Lidl
and the late entrant is the Revolution Air Mini Track Pump - £19.99 (c. $32, 24 Euros) from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative

stub: check back for more later

Let me start with the
Muddyfox Pump
Overall score: 1
Two words can sum it all up - very poor.
Muddyfox track pump
No instructions came with this pump, and I was unable to get it to fit on my valves (Schraeder-type). So I
took it back for an exchange, and the next one was the same. The only redeeming feature was that the valve-head (a double aperture Presta/Schraeder combination head) was unscrewable, so it swapped it for the one that was on the Crivit Mini Pump (that's what the one mark is for!)

At last - pumping action!

With that head change the pump was now quite serviceable, and did good duty on pumping up tyres to 70 psi (5 bar) quickly and efficently.
BUT, with continued use, the bit between about 50 psi and 70 psi (3.5 bar and 5 bar) took longer and longer.

What was happening was the seals were starting to wear. After about a year of use (maintaining 3 bicycles) the pump was pretty much worn out. The seal where the pressure gauge screws in had started to open up and leak a bit of air, and the general seals were starting to go as well.
Time for another pump!
(of course, after I had the next pump, I transferred the valve-head back to the Crivit Mini Pump).

I paid ten pounds ($16, 12 Euros) for the pump, it being sold at half-price at the time I bought it, and I suppose for occasional use on low pressure tyres it might have been OK for longer, except for the valve-head issues.

How it performs on Presta valves, I cannot say, as we have standardised our bikes to all Schraeder.

Not recommended - avoid.

Footnote: The current Muddyfox Steel Track Pump sold by Argos is a different design, with the pressure gauge much higher up - maybe I'm not the only user who had problems with this pump, and it has been redesigned. Let's hope so. However, after my bad experience, I still have concerns about the quality control of the Muddyfos brand.

Moving on to the
Crivit Track Pump

Lidl "Crivit Floor Pump
(shown with Lidl mini-pump)
Overall score: 8
Two words can also sum this pump up - pretty good!
No instructions came with this pump, either, but it was easy enough to use.

It pumped well - it was quick and easy to get my wife's tyres up to their 70 psi.
A decent length stroke pumps the tyres up fairly easily and fairly quickly.

I used it for a bit, then the long-back-ordered pump from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative turned up, and this became my "spare" pump. It is easier to get it to seal on really flat tubes than the EBC pump, so I sometimes use it as a "starter" pump to get the tube going, then switch to the EBC pump to finish the job.

The maximum usable pressure is stated somewhere on the packaging (ignore the guage maximum - that is usually higher than the pump can achieve!), so I need to look it up. I think it is about 8 bar (112 psi).
No mention of replaceable parts, so when it wear out, it is time to get a new one.
EDIT: I looked it up, and on the pump itself the maximum recommended pressure is clearly marked, and is a bit less than I expected - it is stated as "6 Bar, 87 PSI". So that's more than enough for "Mountain Bike" tyres, enough for "Hybrid" tyres, but not suitable for pumping up the skinny tyres on decent "Road Bikes" that, in many cases, require more pressure than that.

However, the pump is priced WELL below those aimed at "Road Bike" enthusiasts, so is still good value for the rest of us!

Footnote: The current Track Pump sold by Lidl has different graphics and a different "face" on the pressure guage. It, however, looks like much the same pump. Last time I saw one (a few weeks ago) the price had come down a bit as well, so it is even better value for what look like the same pump!

Recommended as a low-price pump for tyres up to about 70 psi (5 Bar), especially mountain bike/hybrid tyres in the 50 psi (3.5 Bar) range.

Revolution Air Mini Track Pump
Overall score: 9 (10 if bought for £13/$21/16 Euros!)
Two words for this pump - pretty small!
Just for the difference, this pump had instructions.
The mini-track pump in use.
Note the angle of the window in the pressure gauge.
I paid less that the price stated in the introduction - I got it in the Winter Sale from EBC, and paid just £12.99 ($21, 16 Euros).

I chose this pump because it is small enough to take on a ride, and it has a pressure gauge.
We use tyres with reinforced sidewalls (Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Marathon Winter), and the tougher sidewall makes it much harder to guess the pressure from squeezing the tyre - the Marathon Winters feel like 3 bar (42 psi) even when they only have 1.5 bar (20 psi) of pressure in them.
The pressure gauge solves this problem nicely.
The pressure gauge, is also dead handy if you encounter soft stuff (or a really bad road surface) partway through a ride, and want to put the pressure back up later on. It would be better, however, if the pressure gauge "window" was on the other side of the valve mechanism on the pump.

The valve head is one of the type that you have to take apart and turn a part over to switch from Schraeder to Presta valves - but it came set up for Schraeder, and that's what my tubes are, so I left well alone.

The pump has a mount that screws onto the bottle mount on the frame, but there are also a couple of extra-wide cable ties (zip-ties) that come with the pump and fit through two slots in the mount if you wanted to mount it to the top tube, or something like that.
There is also a little velcro strap that slots into the mount and helps to keep everything more secure.
All in all, apart from the position of the pressure gauge window, a well thought out piece of design!

The hose is quite short, and if you use it as a track pump, you get to almost touch your toes repeatedly - it is quite easy to use, other than the bending over, though.
You'll want to make sure the valve is near the bottom too - if you wanted to pump up the tyres on an "inverted" bike (i.e. resting on the bars and the saddle), you'd have to use the pump as a hand-pump, and that is OK unless you want higher pressures. I find it best to put the tyre valve in about the "4 o'clock" position, so the hose is just long enough, but at the same time the pressure gauge can be read more easily.
For lower pressures you can just pump it between your hands, but that gets harder as the pressure in the tyres increases, and isn't very practical above 30 or 40 psi - unless you are a bodybuilder :-)

I've pumped 85 psi (using my foot on the foot clip), which is the highest pressure tyre I have. But it's hard work!
Compared to a full-sized track pump, it is a long, hard, job, but hey, the mini-pump fits on the bike, and my full-sized Revolution Pump (which is much better for pumping tyres!) is not really for taking on rides.

It is quite a bit shorter than the "classic" frame pumps we older folks remember from our youth, and I take this pump bolted on to my bottle mount on longer rides.
I am very pleased with it.

Overall: Highly Recommended as a pump to take with you on a ride, but the pressure gauge could be better situated. Nine out of ten (one mark off for the pressure gauge location!).

The mini-pump fits easily even in a small-ish pannier,
like the Aldi Bikemate pannier seen here

The mini-pump is dwarfed by our
"benchmark" pannier, the 17 L BikeBins
rigid-sided lockable pannier

No comments:

Post a Comment