Best mini pumps for road cyclists

Compact pumps to carry on every ride

Every cyclist’s home workshop should include a track pump – but there’s no way you’re going to be carrying one of these huge and heavy metal constructions whenever you’re out on a bike ride.

Not too long ago, roadies carried frame pumps strapped to their frames, usually right underneath the top tube. But the change in frame shapes and the rise of CO2 inflators have seen those largely vanish. Enter their miniature cousins come into play: the mini pump.

These are designed to be carried on your bike – usually mounted in a bracket under your bottle cage – though some are easily small enough for your back jersey pocket or seatpack. These very small pumps come with a big proviso, though: in our experience, the smaller the pump the less practical they are to use. Small, as your partner may already have told you, isn’t always beautiful.

A small pump will require more strokes to get your tyres up to a decent pressure to get you home in an emergency, and with a particularly tiny pump just wrapping both your hands around it to achieve a decent pumping action can prove tricky.

In this test we’ve tested some of the very smallest available as well as some of their slightly larger brethren.

At BikeRadar, many of us ride with a CO2 and an inflator head in case of a flat — with a mini pump only there as a final line of defense.

How we tested them

We tested these mini pumps by pumping up a 23mm road tyre and seeing what pressure they reached after 200 strokes – before carrying on pumping – and found a wide disparity. The best would get to nearly 100psi and would easily get you home after a puncture, but with the worst you’d still be by the roadside, pumping, pumping, pumping away and building arm muscles like Mr Universe before you can finish your ride.

We haven’t given an exact pressure each will reach, as this could vary depending on factors like the length of stroke and how hard you work, so we’ve given a range instead.

Best mini pumps for road cyclists

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Clockwise from top left: Axiom Blastair HPS, Crank Brothers Sterling Short, B'Twin MNP 500, Lifeline Carbon Mini

Axiom Blastair HPS

£29 / US$42 / AU$45

  • Weight: 85g 
  • Length: 17cm 
  • Stroke: 11cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 40-45psi

This is a very small pump that makes some very big claims on its packaging. In spite of weighing just 85g and measuring a mere 17cm in length it has a claimed maximum pressure of 160psi.

Technically, this may be true. It is, after all, very well made from anodised aluminium and feels extremely tough. It’s super handy too, and will easily get swallowed up by your jersey pocket.

But our tester with his non-Arnold Schwarzenegger-sized biceps fell slightly short of that figure of 160psi. Actually, a long way short. We reached somewhere around 45psi after 200 strokes, but even at this point the pump’s tiny locking lever was struggling to keep the chuck on the Presta valve.

We don’t question its durability, but ultimately this little chap can’t overcome its minuscule proportions. Small may be beautiful in certain circumstances – just not here.

Verdict: Teeny and hardy – but in the real world just doesn’t live up to its billing

www.paligap.cc

Crank Brothers Sterling Short

£30 / US$44 / AU$59.95

  • Weight: 139g 
  • Length: 19.5cm 
  • Stroke: 8cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 50-55psi

This is one of the very few mini pumps out there that has its very own gauge and we found it pretty accurate too. Sadly, unlike with its excellent longer sibling, the Sterling LG, this served only to show us how little pressure we were getting into the tyre… and this was after we flipped the lever that changes the Sterling Short from high volume to high pressure once we’d reached 40psi.

It had reached 50–55psi after 200 strokes, and had managed around 70psi after another 100. We kept going, but anything above 80psi will be a biceps-busting effort, and even 80psi left us with aching arms.

The 2cm diameter shaft ensures that the pump feels tough, but the 8cm stroke length just doesn’t give it enough. And it’s not helped by its shape. The positioning of the gauge makes it very difficult to get a comfortable pumping action and you end up partly covering the gauge with your fingers or thumb.

Verdict: Well-specced and built but just doesn’t have enough grunt

www.crankbrothers.com / www.extrauk.co.uk

Read the review of the longer version of this pump, the Crank Brothers Sterling LG, here.

B'Twin MNP 500

£10 / Not available in the US or Australia

  • Weight: 166g 
  • Length: 23cm 
  • Stroke: 13cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 40-45psi

The sports warehouse Decathlon delivers some very good bikes at great prices, but its MNP 500 doesn’t quite live up to those standards.

The pump certainly feels reasonably solid, weighing 166g, which is pretty chunky considering it’s just 23cm long. This is down to its largely metal construction. It has rubberised grips at both ends, but unlike most pumps without a hose, the B'Twin doesn’t have a locking lever – you just push the head firmly onto the valve. But would it hold? It’s very loud as you pump, with the handle end clipping against the barrel, but the action is good and light – and yes, the chuck does stay on.

The pressure after 200 strokes isn’t that high, but the connection was all right and we reckon you’d get to around 100psi in around 400 strokes. It comes with a standard mounting bracket, though without O-rings or any Velcro, and we’d be tempted to add a strap when it’s on the bike.

Verdict: Adequate performance, but there are superior designs out there

www.decathlon.co.uk

Lifeline Carbon Mini

£9 / US$12 / AU$20

  • Weight: 87g 
  • Length: 24.5cm 
  • Stroke: 10.5cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 40-50psi

This is a very small pump by any standards – just 87g in weight and at 24.5cm long small enough for a jersey pocket. And it was surprisingly decent to use, too.

The pressure after 200 strokes – around 40–50psi – wasn’t that great, and it would take something over 300 strokes to get a road tyre up to a high enough pressure to ride home… but you’d get there in the end.

The carbon barrel is responsible for the Lifeline’s minimalist weight, but it still manages to feature a flip-out T-shaped pumping handle that results in a very good grip. The shaft is quite narrow, but the short 10.5cm stroke means you’re not putting undue pressure on it while pumping.

And though reaching its claimed maximum pressure of 120psi would take a near-superhuman effort, overall this is a very decent product at a bargain price.

Verdict: Wiggle’s house brand has delivered another solid product

www.wiggle.co.uk

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Clockwise from top left: Zefal Air Profil FCO2, Zefal Mini RG02, Topeak Hybrid Rocket HP, Lezyne Road Drive Mini

Zefal Air Profil FCO2

£21 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

  • Weight: 108g 
  • Length: 18cm 
  • Stroke: 13cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 50-60psi

This is a very small, light and pocket-friendly design – and compared with a lot of similar pumps, its performance goes a long way to overcoming size-based limitations.

Small it may be, but it is quite chunky, and in spite of being just 18cm long it’ll get you near to 60psi after 200 strokes. This is down to the combination of the hose – albeit one on the shortish side – and a screw-on chuck. This enables you to get in a good pumping position with a secure connection to a Presta valve.

The 13cm long stroke – long for a pump of this size – and the 15mm diameter shaft make for an efficient action that doesn’t strain the valve too, which isn’t always the case with the smaller designs. There’s no flopping around as the pressure increases and the solid, resounding feel gives the impression that it will last.

Verdict: Competent performance for the size, and reassuringly sturdy feel

www.zefal.com

Zefal Mini RG02

£25 / US$TBC / AU$TBC

  •  Weight: 108g 
  • Length: 18cm  Bold
  • Stroke: 13cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 50-60psi

When is a mini pump not a mini pump? When it’s a mini track pump. Like a mini-Transformer this mechanical fella changes into a tiny track pump, complete with a miniature fold-out metal foot and T-shaped handle.

The short stroke and small base mean it’s not exactly a replacement for your ‘real’ track pump, but it is well built, with a long 38cm hose and a quality metal head unit. This has a little hook that the foot clips into when it folds down for storage, which, though not sharp, is something you could catch your hand on.

Performance was decent, reaching around 55psi after 200 strokes.

Given its comparative bulk and weight this is probably more for the cycle-tourer than the roadie, where the few extra grams are less of an issue – at 170g and with that hose it’s certainly not a pump to pack in your back pocket.

Verdict: It won’t replace your track pump, but for non-weight obsessives this is more than just a gimmick

www.zefal.com

Topeak Hybrid Rocket HP

£45 / US$49 / AU$79.95

  • Weight: 95g (+16g CO2 canister) 
  • Length: 19cm 
  • Stroke: 11.5cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 55-65psi

The word hybrid in the title refers to the fact that you get two pumps for the price of one. Topeak makes the excellent Pocket Rocket and similar mini pumps, and here it has merged the same basic design with a CO2 unit in one well-designed, easy-to-use product.

The pump itself will get to a pretty decent 65psi or so after 200 strokes, but you’ve always got the option of the CO2 canister.

True, its small size (it’s just 19cm long) and short hose make it slightly awkward to use – and the screw-on chuck was a little harder to, er, screw onto the valve than some – but the performance is first-rate.

The only other hitch is that the connector for CO2 canister is slightly in the way when you’re pumping. But considering this weighs just 111g even with the CO2 canister, this is still impressive work once again from Topeak.

Verdict: Not perfect, but a still a miniature mechanical marvel

www.topeak.com / www.extrauk.co.uk

Lezyne Road Drive Mini

£38 / US$45 / AU$54.95

  • Weight: 127g 
  • Length: 28cm 
  • Stroke: 18cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 70-80psi

Lezyne’s Road Drive comes in three sizes and we tested the largest – but even that’s only 28cm long and weighs in at 127g.

With a claimed maximum pressure of 160psi it had a lot to live up to – but our doubts proved groundless. The length and the 18cm stroke mean you get up to a very good pressure at double-quick speed. This reached around 80psi after 200 strokes, one of the highest figures of any pump we’ve tested.

The pumping action is very good too, with a Presta-only reversible hose: one end has Lezyne’s excellent screw-on chuck, the other Lezyne’s ‘Slip Fit’, for use if you’re in a hurry. Both work very well, each of them creating a solid connection.

The only negative – apart from the price – is that the barrel can get warm. The bracket, like the pump, is aluminium, but though metal it still only adds 12g.

Verdict: Another well-thought-out product from Lezyne

www.lezyne.com / www.upgradebikes.co.uk

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Clockwise from top left: Jet Black Jet RX Road, Airace Mini Veloce Road, Pro Performance Telescopic, Lezyne Carbon Drive Lite HP

Jet Black Jet RX Road

£23 / Not available in the US / AU$N/A

  • Weight: 114g 
  • Length: 32cm 
  • Stroke: 17.5cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 65-75psi

Australian company Jet Black’s RX Road has a similar design to the Lezyne Road Drive Mini, but at 32cm in length it’s more compact and lighter too, weighing just 114g.

It has a highly impressive pumping action and feels very good to use, with a 15mm diameter shaft and a reversible screw-on chuck that creates an ultra-secure connection with the valve.

The action does start to become harder work after about 125 strokes, but even that would probably be enough to get you home – and we reckon you could hit the claimed 140psi maximum if you were prepared to put in the effort. It doesn’t get as hot as some either.

It’s not super-mini, but it is light – and Jet Black is confident enough to give it a very welcome lifetime guarantee. The plastic mount has two rubber O-rings, so it should be secure on the bike. Sadly, we've been told that Jet Black will be discontinuing this pump shortly without any news on why or what's to come.

Verdict: Efficient performance and lifetime guarantee make this a strong contender

www.chickencycles.co.uk / www.jetblackproducts.com

Airace Mini Veloce Road

£30 / US$47 / AU$TBC

  • Weight: 122g 
  • Length: 27cm 
  • Stroke: 15cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 70-75psi

Airace’s Mini Veloce isn’t quite as mini as its name might suggest – measuring 27cm in length and weighing in at 122g. But it does strike a very good balance between size, usability and performance.

After 200 strokes you’ll have enough pressure to ride home, and you will get to 100psi with patience. The pump feels fairly sturdy and solid in use, helped by the large-diameter metal shaft. It also has a decent length hose, which makes it much easier to get into a comfortable pumping position.

One surprise is the chuck. This looks like it’s going to be a screw-on affair, but it actually has a small metal locking lever that secures very well to Presta valves – and it never felt like it would work loose even as the pressure climbed. The plastic bracket bolts to bottle cage bosses, with the pump secured by a rubber strap.

Verdict: Not the most mini of mini pumps, but one of the best performers out there

www.airace.com / www.fisheroutdoor.co.uk

Pro Performance Telescopic

£30 / $40 / AU$45

  • Weight: 150g 
  • Length: 30cm 
  • Stroke: 14cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 65-70psi

Pro is the component and accessory arm of the all-conquering Shimano empire, so we naturally had pretty, erm, inflated expectations when it came to performance.

At 30cm long and 150g in weight it’s a fair bit longer and heavier than some of its peers, but this translates to a pressure of over 70psi after 200 strokes.

It features a hoseless design with a narrow shaft and a fold-out T-shaped handle. The flip-up locking lever is plastic rather than metal, but still feels tough and durable, and in spite of the narrow shaft it has a good, solid pumping action.

It’s harder to secure the chuck than with a screw-on design and it does feel like you’re putting more stress on the valve when the pressure rises, so you’ll need to take a little bit of care when pumping – but overall this is a very good pump.

Verdict: Well-made and good at its job – a solid choice

www.pro-bikegear.com / www.madison.co.uk

Lezyne Carbon Drive Lite HP

  • Weight: 85g 
  • Length: 18cm 
  • Stroke: 13cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 65-75psi

£45 / US$60 / AU$64.95

Carbon, carbon everywhere – including in this lightweight but expensive pump from the toolmasters at Lezyne. This is very small, and very light – a mere 18cm long, and just 95g including its bracket – which hasn’t always proved a winning combination for a small pump.

The low weight is a result of carbon being used in both the barrel and the handle, which houses Lezyne’s reversible Presta/Schrader ABS hose, complete with pressure release valve.

The 15mm diameter shaft ensures a solid action and the screw-on Presta chuck creates a very secure connection to the valve. Even so, we were still surprised at just how well the Carbon Drive Lite performed. We got to around 75psi after 200 strokes, though once you get higher it does start to get decidedly warm.

This genuinely is a back pocket-friendly, high performance mini pump – though it comes with a correspondingly inflated price.

Verdict: If you can stomach the price, and don’t mind hot hands, this is an impressively weeny pump

www.lezyne.com / www.upgradebikes.co.uk

winners: winners
winners: winners

From top: Truflo Road CNC, Birzman Swift, Zefal Air Profil LL Mini

Zefal Air Profil LL Mini – best bigger pump

£21 / US$TBC / AU$N/A

  • Weight: 124g 
  • Length: 32cm 
  • Stroke: 23cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 75-80psi

At 32cm this is much longer than a lot of mini pumps, but it weighs just 124g – plus an extra 10g for the carrier and Velcro strap. But that extra length allows it to pack in an awful lot of performance, and you won’t be that far shy of 100psi after 200 strokes.

Certainly the 80psi or so should be enough to get you home – and put in the final heroic efforts and you’ll get to a ton or more. This again shows that size really does matter when it comes to pumps.

The metal head assembly and locking lever all feel very solid and it’s only the 8mm shaft that shows any signs of vulnerability. You might also find you need gloves as the pressure rises to maintain grip.

This may not be the most portable pump but is 124g really too much to carry for the extra peace of mind a slightly larger pump affords? We don’t think so.

Verdict: A little extra size and weight reaps considerable in-use benefits

www.zefal.com

Birzman Swift – best tiny pump

£20 / US$28 / AU$TBC

  • Weight: 97g 
  • Length: 19cm 
  • Stroke: 12.5cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 55-65psi

The Taiwanese outfit Birzman has a reputation for innovative, high-quality tools, and it has delivered again with its Swift minipump – one of the best pumps of its size.

It’s just 19cm long and weighs a mere 97g, but its performance is very impressive. After 200 strokes you’ll get a road tyre up to about 60psi, and around 100psi after around 400 strokes.

The plastic handle doesn’t feel quite as durable as some metal-handled pumps, though the massive metal chuck is a screw-on chunk of reassuring toughness and solidity, and sits at the end of a 12.5cm rubber hose.

But that plastic does have one very distinct advantage – when the pressure mounts it doesn’t get anywhere near as hot as metal will do, which helps with the action.

Good things don’t always come in small packages, but in this case that cliché holds true.

Verdict: Reasonably efficient, great ergonomics and an excellent all-round package

www.birzman.com / www.i-ride.co.uk

Truflo Road CNC – overall winner

£30 / Not available in the US or Australia

  • Weight: 117g 
  • Length: 27cm 
  • Stroke: 16cm 
  • Pressure at 200 strokes: 70-75psi

Truflo’s Road weighs 117g and is 27cm long, which means it’s not quite the lightest for its size. But any extra mass it may be carrying seems to translate into a pretty hefty pumping performance.

The 18cm rubber hose is capped with a very sturdy-looking reversible chuck unit that creates a great seal with a Presta valve, and the Truflo had a very impressive reading after 200 strokes. The 75psi pressure reached would get you home at a pinch, and you could carry on going.

The only downside is that this does come at the expense of tired arms and warm hands – you could even feel the heat of the pump through a pair of gloves as the pressure got higher. But this straightforward design has a reassuringly solid feel, and its weight is still under five ounces in old money, even with its carrying bracket.

Verdict: There are lighter options, but few of them pump as far above their weight as this does

www.madison.co.uk

Verdict

As we’ve discovered in previous tests of portable pumps, small doesn’t always equate to beautiful. And as before, the very smallest pumps here came up short – in every sense of the word.

That said, if you really do want to go small, we don’t think you can go better than Lezyne’s Carbon Drive and the Birzman Swift – with the Birzman being much better value. It weighs less than 100g but packs in a pumping performance that belies its proportions. It may be small, but the integrated hose, screw-on chuck and large diameter shaft ensure an efficient pumping action, and it comes in at just £19.99. A last-minute Christmas bargain.

If budget is really crucial, then Wiggle’s Lifeline delivers decent performance for under a tenner and edges it over the BTwin. Spend more, though, and you won’t regret it.

Topeak’s Hybrid Rocket HP combines a high-performance mini pump with a CO2 canister for maximum versatility, but with a weight of just 120g it’s light too – though it is the most expensive here.

If you’re not so worried about weight, Pro’s Performance justify its extra bulk with good ergonomics and efficient pumping, but of the larger pumps we’d plump for the Zefal Air Profil LL Mini – which isn’t actually that mini. It weighs little though, and is well made and will get the job done well.

In the middle-ground come a lot of very good pumps. Lezyne’s Road Drive is very impressive but pretty expensive, and we’d also happily recommend the excellent Jet Black and Airace pumps, but our overall winner is the Truflo Road CNC.

It’s similar to the Airace, with a nice wide shaft, a good size handle and an integrated hose with a very chunky and secure screw-on chuck. It’s not ideal for the back pocket, but carry it on the frame and you won’t notice its 117g weight – but you’ll certainly appreciate its performance when you’re unfortunate enough to puncture.

This article is based on reviews originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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