Blackburn Airstik SL pump review£16.91

Tiny yet effective inflator

BikeRadar score2.5/5

The Blackburn AirStik SL is just 16cm long and weighs a paltry 60g so it’s easy to tuck into your pocket as you’re heading out of the door. Unlike many pumps of this size, this one can actually get the job done without too much cursing.

Blackburn claims the AirStik SL delivers 37 percent more air per stroke than comparable pumps and while we didn’t empirically confirm that figure, it does put out a surprising amount of volume for its diminutive length.  

Still, the 16cm overall length yields just a 9.5cm-long stroke. After 200 cycles we were still only at 60psi, pump effort got pretty high and our spindly cyclist arms were running out of steam. 

A little more effort would bring the pressure up to a more reasonable figure but even without, it’s enough to get you home. Don’t even think about using this on a mountain bike tyre, though – you’ll be pumping away until you can’t feel your arms any more and you still probably won’t have as much air as you want in there.

Downsides include a Presta-only press-on head that requires a fair bit of exposed valve and doesn’t seal as well as lock-on types plus an inverted pump body design that doesn’t leave much room for your non-pumping hand to hold on, especially as efforts increase – we'd recommend using caution when pumping to avoid bending or breaking the valve stem.

Overall, the Blackburn AirStik SL gets the job done in emergencies but you might want to consider something a little more substantial if you anticipate anything more than rare-to-occasional use. 

The non-locking head fits presta valves only and the inverted pump body design leaves little room to support the valve end during inflation. : the non-locking head fits presta valves only and the inverted pump body design leaves little room to support the valve end during inflation.

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Age: 40
  • Height: 173cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 70kg / 154lb
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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