8 quality bike pumps that will make riding your bike even better
Keep your tires firm and taut with these tools.
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Since stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, bike sales have seen a massive spike, with sales of the classic two-wheel transportation device more than doubling where they were last year. If you contributed to this sales surge or you’re considering a bicycle now as fall temps set in, it’s important to also consider the accessories you will need such as a helmet and a bike pump.
Helmets do the non-negotiable job of protecting your noggin. Bike pumps are also vital because they keep your tires in tip-top condition, ensuring a smoother, safer ride—plus, there’s nothing more frustrating than planning a day to go bike riding only to find out your bike’s tires are out of air.
You might assume you can just fill your tires with air at the nearest gas station, but this may not be the case. Bike tire valves are not universal and they come in two varieties: Presta and Schrader. The wider Schrader valve is more common on wide-tired hybrid and mountain bikes and is what you would typically find on your car tire as well. Presta valves, mostly on skinny road-bike tires, are thinner and taper at the top with a check valve that you have to unscrew. Luckily, most bike pumps come with dual or adjustable heads to accommodate either valve; if not, you can buy a valve adapter yourself.
There are also three different types of pumps: hand pumps which are smaller and easily portable, floor pumps that typically have an analog gauge and require manually pumping, and electric compressors, which use an electric motor to fill the tires with air. You should first consider what type of valve your bike has and then determine how you will be using the bike pump. For example, if you need a bike pump for the road, then a mini hand pump is the way to go. If you're pumping your tires in your garage before heading out on a ride, a floor pump should do.
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or you’re a proud owner of a new two-wheeler, any of these bike pumps will make a fine choice for getting pumped for your next ride.
1. For an all-purpose option: a floor pump beloved by a lot of cyclists
Bike accessory brand Topeak is a long-time favorite brand of cyclists—and its bike pump is one of the most popular options out there. It has a sturdy steel barrel, a hammer-style handle, and a twin head which means it has ports that can fit Presta, Schrader, and Dunlop valves, a type of valve used mostly on the inner tubes of European bicycles. If you’re looking for a trusted industry brand at a mid-range price, this pump can’t be beat.
“It is very solid and feels well made,” writes a reviewer. “The handle grip for pumping is large which allows for more pumping force and is very comfortable to the touch. Very convenient to use with either a Presta or Schrader valve. Pump pressure gauge is large and easy to see.”
2. For precision pressure: a floor pump with a digital gauge
Just like with car tires, there’s an optimal pressure that you’ll want to achieve in pumping up bike tires, printed on the sidewall of the rubber. A digital gauge will give you a precise measure and it is much easier to read than analog gauge. Topeak also sells a digital floor pump, which is a nice option for a bike pump with an easy-to-read gauge. It can measure up to 160 PSI (pounds per square inch) or 11bar and has a durable steel barrel with an oversized padded handle for easy pumping and a 360 long pivot hose to prevent tangling. I personally have this bike pump and I like it because it provides a clear, quick, and accurate reading.
3. To not break the bank: a budget floor pump
If you’re looking for a pump that isn’t as pricey, but still gets the job done, this one is a good buy. It only goes up to a maximum pressure of 100 PSI—so check the sidewall of your tires before buying. Still, it’s a good option for tires that can stay bouncy, not ones that require a lot of pressure—and the wide barrel allows for fast inflation.
“It works very well for low-pressure mountain bike tires,” says one Amazon reviewer. “It took only 14 pumps to inflate a 26-inch mountain bike tire from completely flat (a new tube) to 30 PSI.”
4. For techie accuracy: a Bluetooth hand pump
Yes, even a bike pump can connect to your smartphone these days. The Silca Tattico mini bike pump connects to the iGauge app for accurate pressure readings up to 120 PSI, and its compact size—about the size of a water bottle—makes it easy to travel with, though it may take longer than a larger floor pump to top up your tires.
“Two days after my Tattico arrived, I experienced a flat less than three miles into my training ride on a hot and sweaty July morning,” writes a reviewer. “Instead of ruining my day, it became only a minor inconvenience thanks to the Tattico. The diameter of the pump is small enough to easily store in my jersey pocket, but large enough you can get a good grip on it.”
Get the SILCA Tattico Bluetooth Pump from Amazon for $120
5. For a good grip: a floor pump with good ergonomics
The dual-head BV Bicycle floor pump has an extra-wide base and easy-grip handles that make it more comfortable to use. The dual head means it’s compatible with all valve types. It also has an analog gauge that has a maximum pressure of up to 160 PSI, and a 34-inch long rubber hose so you don't have to be right on top of your tire to inflate it. The pump includes a sports ball needle that can inflate basketballs, volleyballs, and the like.
One reviewer says: “My wife and daughter's bikes both have Schrader valves while my mountain bike has Presta valves, and this pump inflates either perfectly. All told, this pump has earned itself a very welcome place in my garage. Definitely a keeper!”
6. For inflation on the go: a portable hand pump
If you’re someone who likes to travel with your bike, this Vibrelli mini pump is a great portable choice. It has a nice compact size and comes with a glueless puncture kit in case you get a flat tire. The pocket-sized pump features a clever valve that’s compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves and comes with a clip-on bracket so you can mount it on the bike frame. Another feature which may not be obvious at first is that the pump has a “low pressure” and “high pressure” mode, depending on how much you need to pump.
One reviewer writes: “I bought three different frame-mounted bike pumps before I settled on this one. It is small and compact. It fits in my saddle bag, which is where I keep it. This pump works well. It locks onto the Schrader valves on my bike perfectly and allows me to pump the tires up quickly, which is surprising for such a small pump.”
7. For emergency inflation: a CO2 pump
If you’re looking for a quick fix, a handheld CO2 pump is what you need. In fact, professional cyclists often use a CO2 inflator because it fills tires much quicker than a hand or floor pump. The Lezyne Control Drive is lightweight and comes with a 16g cartridge, a neoprene sleeve to keep your hands warm during inflation, and a twin slip chuck head which can be used on both Presta and Schrader valves. It’s small and easy to carry with you on the road. Note: After a flat, when you get home, it's best to empty the CO2 and reinflate with regular air, as the CO2 will dissipate fast and leave you with another flat.
“Finally, a C02 tube inflator that works,” writes a reviewer. “Completely worth the extra few dollars. Tried three others that were terrible. The Lezyne CO2 inflator performed exactly as promised. The entire process took less than one minute.”
8. For top-of-the-line tires: A heavy-duty tubeless pump
The Blackburn Chamber Bike Pump is designed only for tubeless tires, an upgrade more serious cyclists may make for their racing bikes. Tubeless tires, as it sounds, don’t have an inner tube but instead use a sealant to block air flow, which makes them more resistant to flat tires. The pump has a sleek design and a more solid feel than most bike pumps because of its steel base and aluminum barrel. The coolest thing about it, though, is that you can customize the 31.8mm stem-style handle and add a handlebar that fits your style.
“The gauge is huge and at the top of the pump so you can see the pressure easily,” writes a reviewer. “And I love the pressure-relief button, so you can dial in the exact pressure needed without needing another tool. The pump work[s] like a charm, no issues whatsoever.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.