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How to Choose the Right Bicycle Pump
Whether you ride to work once a week or tour the backcountry every weekend, you should carry a bike pump and a tire repair kit on your bike on every ride, just in case you get a flat. Different kinds of riding require different types of pumps. REI carries models to match just about any riding style.
Step #1: Consider Your Options
- Floor pumps- Leave-at-home floor pumps are perfect for garage and bike shop use. They provide high-capacity air-filling power for a variety of tasks, and they can handle high-pressure pump jobs that smaller portable pumps can't.
- Frame-fit pumps- These convenient pumps snap directly onto your frame without the extra mounting hardware that mini-pumps require. They're heavier and bulkier than most mini-pumps, but easier to use. Their larger capacity will fill your tires more rapidly.
- Mini-pumps- These small, lightweight pumps provide a quick, easy solution to flats on the road or trail. Most can be stored in out-of-the-way places on your bicycle frame using lightweight mounting hardware.
Step #2: Consider the Kinds of Riding You'll be Doing
Base your pump selection on the kinds of riding you enjoy. For road riding, look for the lightest, smallest pump you can find that can handle your tire pressures (remember to consider the weight of the mounting hardware as well as the pump). For mountain biking, choose a durable design that can handle impacts from flying branches, rocks and other trail hazards. Make sure the pump won't be in your way if you have to carry your bike across streams.
For road or mountain bike racing, look for a lightweight pump that can inflate your tires quickly (during the race, you'll want to be pumping your pedals, not your tires). Finally, for general day-touring near home, consider a reliable floor pump that you can use for other tasks around the house.
Step #3: Compare Pump Performance
There are 3 ways to measure a pump's overall performance. You can measure the amount of work it takes to operate the pump, the amount of air the pump pushes out, and the maximum amount of pressure the pump can create in a tire.
- Stroke force- Measures how hard you have to work to operate the pump. The higher a pump's stroke force, the harder you'll have to work to fill up your tires.
- Strokes to inflation- Measures how much pumping you'll have to do to fill a tire. In general, a low strokes-to-inflation number is desirable. But be careful! If the number is too low, it may take a lot of force for each pump stroke.
- Maximum PSI output- Measures the maximum amount of air pressure the pump can push into your tire. Make sure the pump you choose can produce the pressures you need.
Step #4: Check Compatibility!
Make sure the pump you choose is compatible with your bike. Check all mounting hardware and clamp-on pump fittings to make sure they fit on your frame. Also check that the pump itself fits into the areas of your bike where you want to store it, and that it doesn't interfere with other bike attachments like lights or water bottle cages.
Rudy's Cycle and Fitness carries pumps that can be configured for use with either Schrader or Presta and Dunlop valves. Make sure you know how to configure the pump assembly correctly to work with your valves. Or check out the new pumps featuring AVACS (All Valves Adjustable Connecting System)—it's the first system that adjusts to every type of valve without any resetting or adjusting of the pump.
A Note on Gauges
A portable tire gauge can help you monitor your tire pressure and make sure everything's okay. Gauges that are built right into pumps go one step further, eliminating the hassle of switching back and forth between pump and gauge over and over. Built-in gauges also reduce wear and tear on your arms and your tire valve stems.Many of our floor, mini, and frame-fit pumps have built in pressure guages.