Punctures are a pet peeve for any cyclist. They can strike at any time no matter how robust your winter road tyres might be – even mountain bike tyres aren’t immune.
Having a good pump at hand is important to avoid being stranded at the side of the road or sitting at home unable to go for a ride because of a flat tyre. While bike pumps come in a wide range of designs, they can be roughly categorised into three types: floor pumps for using at home or in a workshop, portable hand pumps for taking with you on a ride and CO2 inflators, which use single-use CO2 canisters for rapid re-inflation at the roadside.
Scroll down for a summary of some of the best options available to buy now.
The different types of bike pump explained
Mini-pumps are the pocket friendly evolution of the classic frame pump. While the frame pump has its advantages, a mini-pump is much easier to carry, and can be mounted beside the bottle cage for easy reach.
Pumps will attach to the valve with either a built-in valve head or a flexible hose stored inside the pump body. While screw-on hoses can present an extra fiddly stage, they reduce the stress on the valve itself and allow a more comfortable pumping position.
Mini-pumps are available in high-volume and high-pressure options. With high volume being designed for mountain bikes and the high-pressure road-specific models that are capable of reaching 100psi and beyond.
While mini-pumps excel as practical and reusable offerings they can require a lot of effort to reach the desired tyre pressures due to their small chamber size and slim shapes.
2. CO2 inflators
CO2 canisters offer a huge benefit in convenience and speed as well as being very packable in a jersey pocket or saddlebag. Small canisters of compressed carbon dioxide connect to an adaptor and deliver a powerful blast of inflation.
Being able to inflate a tyre in a matter of seconds can be crucial mid-sportive or at the side of the road in the freezing rain. A 16g canister will happily inflate a road tyre to around 90psi and if you have larger volume tyres there are 20g and 25g options available.
As CO2 canisters provide a finite amount of inflation, you’re reliant on having enough cartridges, so consider whether CO2 is the most practical for your ride or a mini-pump should also be taken for backup. An element of care must be considered when using CO2, the discharge of gas will freeze the outside of the canister and unless protected by a cover or gloves, your skin will stick to the metal. The cost factor and waste must also be considered due to the throw -away nature of emptied canisters.
3. Floor pumps
Floor pumps, otherwise known as track pumps, are the most efficient method for inflating tyres at home. With a wide steady base, a large air chamber and being able to use your weight to push the handle makes inflation much quicker and easier than a handheld pump. Floor pumps also have long hoses, which makes reaching valves simple, even if a bike is mounted on a work stand.
Most floor pumps will include a pressure gauge so that tyre pressure can be set up accurately. An analogue gauge is simple and easy to read, however, a digital gauge will provide a more accurate reading.
As the forces that are put through floor pumps are greater than hand pumps, investing in a high-quality pump – rather than cheaper plastic designs – is worthwhile. Often, high-end brands will offer spare parts and replacement seals should you need to service your floor pump.
Best bike pumps: mini-pumps
Topeak Race Rocket HP
A small but powerful pump that will get you re-inflated and back on the road
Max tyre pressure: 160psi | Pressure gauge: No | Weight: 82g | Length: 180mm | Price: £32.99 / $34.95 / AU$69.99Well madeBuilt-in valve core tool Requires a lot of pumping
Topeak has been keeping riders on the road by making innovative tools and pumps for a long time. The Race Rocket HP (high pressure) is a compact and lightweight pump that will easily fit into a jersey pocket while still packing a punch with a max rating of 160psi.
Neatly stored inside the pump body, an extendable hose is combined with Topeak’s Smarthead Threadlock head. This head threads to the valve stem and allows both Presta and Schrader valves to be inflated without needing to change any fiddly internal parts. Topeak has added a handy built-in tool for tightening or removing valve cores as well.
Blackburn Core Slim Mini-Pump
Lifetime warranty gives you confidence that this pump will keep going for years
Max tyre pressure: 120psi | Pressure gauge: No | Weight: 102g | Length: 247mm | Price: £35.00 / $34.99 / AU$55.00Built-in valve core toolLifetime warranty Presta onlyLong body
Blackburn offers two versions of its Core pump, the slim road bike version is the high-pressure model which can achieve 120psi. Blackburn has paid close attention to build quality as well as product longevity by not only offering rebuildable internals but a lifetime warranty, too.
The Core Slim Mini is pocketable but the pump is long so may be better frame-mounted with the included attachment. A rubber seal keeps the pump from extending when not in use and stops grit getting inside the pump body, there is also a rubber dust cap protecting the valve head.
The Core Slim is only compatible with Presta valves and features a thread on the head for a secure fit. A valve-core tool is screwed into the bottom of the pump in case you need to tighten your valves mid-ride.