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.
Topeak Roadie Dax
Topeak Roadie Dax Immediate Media
This Presta-only pump has a dual action, which means it inflates on both strokes – albeit with a ‘kissing’ sound! Combine this with its long 26cm body and we got to around 60psi in 100 strokes and over 90psi by 160, though it was hard work by then. The press-on chuck feels secure, overall quality is good and weight is a reasonable 119g.
Blackburn Core Immediate Media
Weighing 123g and 23cm long, this has a claimed maximum pressure of 90psi. The brushed aluminium-barreled Presta-only pump exudes quality, and it reached 80psi in 170 strokes. The ergonomics are good, the large screw-on chuck is solid and it’s good for low-pressure mountain bike tyres. It has a handy valve core tool for tubeless tyres.
Lezyne Lite Drive HP
Lezyne Lite Drive HP Immediate Media
Unless you’ve got arms like The Hulk, you may struggle to reach the 160psi max, but we got to a very satisfactory 85psi in around 170 strokes. It has a reversible Presta/Schrader valve and the 14mm diameter internal shaft and 15cm stroke deliver a super-smooth action, though it heats up as the pressure mounts. It weighs 85g and is 23cm long.
Birzman Velocity Apogee
Birzman Velocity Apogee Immediate Media
Birzman’s chunky push-on head works with Presta and Schrader valves – and links securely if enough Presta valve is visible. It weighs 104g and is 19cm long, but its 13cm stroke will get you to 60psi in around 170 quite easy strokes. It takes more effort after this but we reached over 90psi in 250 or so. Very good figures and a quality pump.
Flynt HP1.RD Immediate Media
Price: £25 / $29 / AU$38 ( Check availability for delivery to USA and Australia )
A tough and well-made 99g pump, but the Flynt was not totally able to overcome its small size – 18cm long with a 12cm stroke. Compared with others, the reversible screw-on chuck didn’t feel as secure on Presta valves, and it took more of an effort to reach a decent pressure, 180 strokes to 50psi, and nearer 300 to reach 80psi.
FWE Aluminium Immediate Media
Price: £10 / $12 / AU$15 ( Check availability for delivery to USA and Australia )
Small didn’t prove to be beautiful for this 86g, 17.5cm-long pump that has a secure push-on reversible head. After 220 strokes pumping up a 25mm tyre we’d reached around 70psi, which will get you home at a push. Getting closer to 90psi or more will require a lot of effort, and the 120psi max feels well out of reach for the less muscular rider.