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It's painful to pay the local price of 15-30€ for a pump that is "very good, durable and small". To me, it is just consumable that I will use until it breaks, so I have no interest in investing too much in such a thing. How can I know what the pump is like? Are there some factors to look at to judge its quality?

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Like mgb says, get a floor pump. bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/811/… - The small ones that fit on your bike are generally for road flats and don't get used all that often, so tend to last a while. –  user313 Feb 11 '11 at 17:23
    
"...use until it breaks..." with a cheap pump seems like a bad idea. The last thing I want is for a pump to break when I'm out on the road with a flat. ;~) –  user313 Feb 11 '11 at 18:44
    
Get a pump that's able to inflate your tire to the right pressure. If your tires need high pressure, you might not be able to achieve that with a small hand-pump. –  ChrisW Feb 11 '11 at 22:21
    
@wdypdx22: low price does not necessarily mean poor quality, it is more about you: are you able to maintain the pump and can you choose the right tool in the right place? I have used 5EUR car leg pump, very durable and very cool meter. I have used 5eur small hose pump and 5 eur small non-hose pump. None has failed when I maintain them with proper grease and at the right place, sure it took some time to dig them and not to get attracted by flashy gizmos, but yeah I am still open to really "good pumps" -- particularly looking for good touring options like durable air-efficient hose pump. –  user652 Apr 19 '11 at 18:51
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

My advice: Get a floor pump with a pressure gauge and an easy way to switch between shraeder and presta. and get one that is servicable. I have the topeak Joe Blow. Take a look at the dual nozzle.

Also get a portable pump. There are several kinds that unfold and remove the pain of portable pumps (I could never get a good pressure in those because they require you to hold it steady while pumping. (One time I tore my freaking valve off my inner tube)

I got a topeak road morph. You can unfold a little foot brace, unfold the handle and it has a flexible tube to attach to your valve, so it is almost as easy to use as a floor pump. I've saved myself some long walks and pumped up other's flats. And it has taken abuse, is super light. I think I got it for $35.00 US. It also has a gauge and, according to this thread, is user-servicable.

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+1 for suggesting a hose pump, I don't like taking all of my touring load from my bike to pump a tire with a non-hose pump. I know there are people who blame to be good at that but I am proud about the lazy way of pumping in good position without risking the inner tube -- excellent point! The topeak road morph sounds promising, very useful thread. Thank you. –  user652 Apr 19 '11 at 18:41
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With your on-bike pump, make sure it has something to stop crud getting in through the valve hole when it's not in use. Otherwise you end up with mud and stuff that you have to scrape out before you can use the pump. –  Мסž Apr 20 '11 at 4:01
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Good, durable and small is tricky - personally I would get a track pump for home and a small cheap pump to carry with you.

In a small pump I would go for simple. So no double rate fast/slow mechanism, no complex foldable handle
Look for a presta adapter that won't just come off and get lost (assuming you need one)
Basically just look for solid feeling construction.

If you are carrying it on your bike I put electrical tape around the valve end to keep it clean.

If we are recomending individual products, I have one of these as an emergency 'get you home' pump. It's presta (road bike) only, but that means no adapter to lose, it's very small and lives duct-taped to the frame.

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how does the pump work? Is that a foldable handle? Sorry but my personal bias is to use car-adaptered tires so I can go to gas-stations to inflate tires. Haven't understood yet the presta thing, does it help you pump a tire more easily? –  user652 Feb 12 '11 at 0:35
    
about Presta, it is a smaller hole so it is easier to pump with hand: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presta_valve, now a dilemma. Can I fill presta tires in gas-stations perhaps with some adapter? –  user652 Feb 12 '11 at 0:49
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@hhh presta is harder to pump by hand because the pressure is so much higher. There are adapters to let you use a shrader (car) pump. I would NOT use an air line, the volume in a road tire is very small so will fill very quickly and an exploding tire is very dangerous. –  mgb Feb 12 '11 at 20:21
    
@hhh yes the handle folds to give a thin shape to carry but then unfolds so there is something to grip. The small hole is for a road bike (presta) valve. One problem is that without a flexible hose you have to be very careful not to bend the end of a presta valve when pumping. That's why you use a track pump if possible –  mgb Feb 12 '11 at 20:23
    
air line? If you mean gas-station pumps by air line, I have filled my tires that way many times. It takes just 1 second but you need to deflate before filling. Never exploded but very good thing to consider, never really thought about that,thanks. –  user652 Feb 18 '11 at 6:07
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I got a Topeak Pocket Rocket a few years back at the LBS spring sale for ~$25. Works great. I made $10 the first time I used it because I didn't have to pay a $35 cab fare to get back home after a flat on a country road.

Fits in my pocket, the nozzle has a snap-on cover, works with Presta/Schrader, it's made of aluminum, feels solid and most importantly gets my tires to an adequate pressure.

For floor pumps, you can check out this thread: What is the best floor pump?

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wdypdx22: the alu here may be a valid choice, I broke my long plastic cheap-junk pump during winter (no idea what it costs but cheapest possible long one) -- apparently because of old age. But drawback buying expensive looking item is the cost of losing it is then greater. But perhaps some small metallic to carry in bag would be ok, I have only experience of very tiresome small plastic pump and never got my tires inflated with it. –  user652 Feb 12 '11 at 0:26
    
Is it easy to use the small pump? Have you noticed some differences? –  user652 Feb 12 '11 at 0:36
    
It's definitely not as easy to use as a floor pump, but it's not very difficult to use. The purpose of the portable pump is to get me rolling again when I have a flat on the road. It's not for routine tire pressure maintenance. –  user313 Feb 12 '11 at 0:45
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I think there are 3 main factors when reviewing a pump.

  • Valve connection method, clamp/screw.
  • Valve support (not every pump supports both types of bike valve, but most do)
  • How high a pressure tire do you need? (some road bikes need really high, > 100 psi).

A lot of modern pumps use a clamp to secure to the valve. These tend to be awkward when you're completely flat and quite challenging to pump assuming there is no hose between the pump and the clamp because you have to keep the pump rigid while pumping to prevent the connection being broken. I personally favour the more old fashioned way of having a screw on hose. There are some manufacturers who still do them. They're also less likely to break off under high pressure.

There are some extra requirements that might be important to you.

  • Size
  • Bike fitting (may not be that important)
  • Extra features - some contain compartments for puncture repair patches
  • Ease of pumping - pumps will push in different amounts of air per stroke so some are easy but take a long time to pump up.

I have a good bike fitting for my pump but I don't use it on commutes because it's simpler to keep my pump in a pocket on my bag.

Once you've found one that looks like it meets your requirements check out the reviews on the bike shopping sites. They should warn you of potential downfalls with the products. You might also want to see if your local bike shop can let you try out a demo. Do it from flat on your own bike because that will give you the most realistic test of a pump. Pumping an already inflated tire is too easy.

As far as practical recommendations go I personally recommend the small pumps from Lezyne. (I would link to their own site but it's all flash.)

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+1 I like the hose because of easier pumping, cannot understand why they would be old-fashioned. Pumping even 5-6 bar tire with small hose pump is a challenge, any experiment done how such tires should be pumped? I feel it inhumane thing to do in awkward position. Tried it during winter and failed but luckily I had a leg car pump with me that time. –  user652 Apr 19 '11 at 11:43
    
Pumps without a hose can also damage more delicate valves while you're pumping (i.e, Presta valves) unless you keep the pump very firmly held. –  Neil Fein Apr 19 '11 at 12:18
    
Agree on the Lezyne pumps, though they're a bit more expensive than the other pumps. The hose that stows inside the handle is clever, works well, and keeps the most important parts clean. –  freiheit Apr 19 '11 at 17:47
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