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I'd like to buy a mini pump to keep in my bike bag, but I have some doubts if these pumps are really that usable. My current pump is rated at 90 psi, but I would be surprised if it does 60.

For example, this one claims 160 psi, I doubt it:

Pumps I am considering:

How long does it take to pump up a tire with such a pump? Normally I use 120 psi, I haven't measured the minimal psi I would need to get home from a long trip, maybe around 100 psi.

Does it make sense to get one with a hose or a pressure gage? Probably they can't blow a tire anyway. Any other recommendations?

I prefer a pump to be prepared for multiple flats and not carry expensive cartridges, as well as for environmental reasons. It feels a bit frivolous to use two cartridges for a tire and throw them away afterwards. I am not a pro, just enjoy riding on the weekend.

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Although they appear expensive, consider the cost of a good road bike, shoes and bibs etc over the number of rides before they are worn out, and the CO cost starts to look insignificant. Put down $100 on as many as it buys you and never think about the cost again. –  mattnz Feb 4 at 7:12
    
Understand that the length of a pump affects both the rate at which it pumps and the max pressure it can achieve. There is an amount of "dead space" at the top of the cylinder that is pretty much fixed regardless of pump length. And max pressure is essentially determined by overall length divided by dead space length. Plus, of course, air volume is also directly proportional to pump length. These considerations make a frame pump much more attractive than a mini pump. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 4 at 23:01
    
You should always consider getting a floor pump (even a cheap one) for home use. That way, you only use your mini for emergency use. A floor pump is CONSIDERABLY easier to use than a mini. –  RoboKaren yesterday

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A longer frame pump is advantageous - a lot of them can be mounted along the length of your top tube and work a lot faster/easier than mini pumps. Mini pumps (and frame pumps in general) always take forever (at least, it feels like forever, though some are better than others due to chamber size and if they can inflate on the push and pull stroke of the pumping action among other design factors) and are tough at higher pressures. You just need to get enough air until you can get to a track pump - In theory and by design, you could probably get to full pressure with a good frame/mini pump but in practice, you may not due to tired-ness and other factors that come with a ride. The amount of time and effort it takes obviously depends on the volume of the tires and pressures you're running as well as how quickly you can pump. If you look at some reviews, you can probably find the highly variable measurement of how long someone took to pump their tire in "pumps".

When you use a hand pump like a conventional frame/mini pump, you lose the advantage of weight and upper body muscles you use with a floor (track) pump (aside from the typically smaller volumes) [but you can get this on the go to some extent with a frame-mounted floor pump]. The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HP-HPG looks interesting as a small frame-mounted floor pump (similar to the Topeak Morph line, but oddly much cheaper and possibly more ergonomic) and according to a review does quite well on the pressure and inflation efficiency front.

I don't think a gauge is necessary, but a hose is useful - you avoid transferring your momentum of pumping directly to the valve, which can cause some damage if you do it too much (i.e. not careful). Sheldon has some tips for doing this (my current frame pump does not have a hose, but I do wish it did).

If you do get a mini pump though, try to get one with a CO2 inflator built in as well and carry some CO2 cartridges (or at least a mini inflator). Some day you may be too tired or in need of a quick inflate (e.g. in the rain), and this could really help you (though they can't do minor adjustments of a tire pressure like a pump can). Also, try to avoid flats in the first place - kevlar belted tires, proper tire inflation, etc. will save you the agony of having to use your pump. And always have a way to get home otherwise (e.g. bus, calling someone, etc.).

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+1 for both co2 and a pump. CO2 on it's own is no good because if you get a few flats you're out of luck. But CO2 is really the only way I've found to get up to full pressure while on the road. –  Mac Feb 4 at 5:04

The Topeak Road Morph G is an excellent pump. I have one that's served probably 5 years at this point with no problems, only requiring a spot of grease in the cylinder after 4 years or so. It definitely gets up to 100+PSI, and costs $30. The gauge isn't great but it's better than just feeling the tire. Pumping up the tire to high pressure definitely requires a lot more effort than a floor pump, but the floor pump position allows you to put your weight into pumping up the tire so you can get up to high pressures.

The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive is apparently a reputable pump too, though apparently a piece of plastic on its hose is breakage-prone.

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+1 I've had a topeak road morph as my only bike pump for over a year. It can definitely get you to 120psi. It may take quite bit of pumping, but it's way better than riding on under filled tires. –  Benzo Feb 4 at 19:24
    
Note that the Morph G (13.5" long) isn't really a "mini pump", though it's shorter than your standard frame pump. Your classical "mini pump" is about 8". –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 4 at 23:07
    
Thank you for the details, I will get one of the pumps. I just need one that fits into my backpack, it doesn't need to me 'mini'. –  dan Feb 5 at 5:15

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