Punctures are an inevitable consequence of mountain biking, and save for CO2 cartridges, the only solution (other than a long walk home) is to use a hand pump. But, luckily, these are available in lighter, compact sizes.
Mini pumps are small enough to carry in your bag, on the frame or in your pocket, but they should also push enough air into your tube. Here are six popular pumps, tried and tested to see where they shine and where they fall flat.
All the pumps inflated the same 650×2.2in tyre to 25psi, measured with an in-line digital pressure gauge. The number of pumps required is mentioned in the product details for reference.
OneUp EDC Pump
The OneUp EDC is a feature-packed and efficient pump Steve Behr
With its high volume, the EDC needs fewer strokes than most to get up to pressure quickly. The alloy construction generally feels pretty solid, up to regular MTB pressures.
The screw-out head doubles as a CO2 inflator — cartridges being held in the shaft. Its efficient pumping and ability to store a OneUp multi-tool (at extra cost) makes it a great overall package.
At 245mm the EDC is long, and the alloy construction means it’s weighty at 278g.
With no lock on the head getting the pump on and off is quite stiff, certainly at first, meaning your knuckles might be at risk from rotors or cassette teeth. At higher pressures, the stroke can bind a touch, as it’s pushing so much air through.
FWE micro MTB pump
FWE’s Micro MTB is good value and easily packable in pockets Steve Behr
Despite a bargain price from Evans Cycle’s in-house P&A brand, the all-alloy construction has a solid feel in use, with little wobble from the shaft.
At a smidge over 160mm it’s the shortest pump out of the six here, yet it still packs in a locking head. The 103g weight should be relatively unnoticeable in a pack or pocket. The small volume but reasonable length stroke means higher (mtb) pressures were handled with ease.
The handle covers more than a hand’s width of the non-moving shaft when fully compressed, so palm-pinching is a real risk. The shallow nature of the head, while locking, does give a little leakage when pushing hard through the pump.
Syncros Mini Pump 2HV1.0
The Syncros 2HV1.0 has an extendable hose and a comfortable feel Steve Behr
This pump pushes air through the long-ish extendable hose and the head on both extension and compression, meaning it’s the most effective pump on test for getting air into your tyres.
Plastic grips make it a comfortable pump to use too, and it has a decent width for a strong hold. The head has a locking mechanism that didn’t leak even when pumping hard.
Despite being one of the priciest on test, it doesn’t quite have the feel of a £30-plus pump, although it’s effective enough.The volume of air it pumps is high, but this results in a stiff stroke, especially when you’re approaching fully inflated pressures.
Zefal Air Profil FC01
Zéfal’s Air Profil FC01 has a quality feel and long stroke, but low overall volume Steve Behr
The extendable nature of the pump means there’s a super-long stroke, despite a sub-200mm pack size (effectively giving plenty of leverage in pumping air).
The screw-on head is also on the end of a flexible pipe, meaning there are no air leaks when furiously pumping. It’s not expensive, but it feels solid in use, with not too much binding in use.
Despite its overall length, it doesn’t push much air, so you’ll be doing a lot of pumping to get your tyres up to pressure. Also, screw-on heads can be prone to pulling out your valve-cores if over-tightened.
Topeak Peak DX II mini pump
The Topeak Peak DX II isn’t compact, but has a light action Steve Behr
The Topeak’s fold-out handle, locking head and grippy plastic makes for a secure, effective pump. The volume isn’t massive, but that means, at higher pressures, the stroke remains fairly light. The locking head allows for easier mounting and removal on valves.
Swapping between valve heads is an easy process, and the largely plastic constructions mean pricing is competitive and weight low-ish at 162g.
That plastic construction doesn’t have a premium feel, though the pump’s action isn’t hampered too much by it, with minimal wobble in the shaft.
There’s a little bit of leakage around the valve unless you hold the pump super-steady as you use it. At 250mm it’s not particularly small, and the locking lever sticks out — not ideal for pockets.
SKS Airboy XL
SKS’s Airboy XL is anything but XL in use, sadly Steve Behr
We’re not sure the XL tag is very apt, as at 180mm it’s the second shortest on test and, at 91g, it’s one of the lightest too. But that makes it pocket-friendly, and despite svelte sizing, its dual pump action (inflating both when compressed and extended) means relatively rapid inflations, and a light feel.
The head barely reaches past the spokes, so given the short stationary shaft length, it’s hard to get a consistent, stable hold on the pump, especially if you want to avoid pinching your palm between the stationary and moving shaft.
Its shallow, non-locking head adapts to both presta and schraeder valves, but is also prone to leaking if it’s not held dead-steady over the valve.